Time is running out for the euro adventure. Lots of stories and advice to share. Here are a few pics to tide you through.
Off to Lindy hop on the seine!
“Now what do you want to do?”
The first night in every city is daunting. Do you want to see the highlights your first day or save some for your first full day?
My travel pattern so far has been to explore that first day/night to get an idea of the transit system and where things are located. It has proved successful do far.
Staying in Montmartre is a bit far from the main attractions of Paris which are mostly in the 7th arrondissement. Alors, we hopped the metro and ventured off to see PARIS!
After walking around a bit we realized we were near the louvre. Then a few more turns and, in the distance, we saw the glass pyramid designed by I.m. Pei. I squealed. I’m not ashamed. Maybe I pranced with a bit of frolicking. It wasn’t my most masculine moment but I don’t care. We snapped some pics then soldiered on pointing at buildings we’d long read about but had never seen in person.
A few more turns and I saw it. Bright in the night. Just the narrow, skeleton top. Le Tour Eiffel! This is one of those moments in your life when it’s ok to pee your pants. Just a little bit. It’s amazingly impressive to see an international landmark. Le tour Eiffel quintessentially IS Paris.
Nous faisons une promenade à le Tour Eiffel. There is a mini arc de triumph which we initially mistook for the real thing. Le grande arc is a ways up Le champs des Élysées. It took a while to get there on foot. But when you do…
It is breathtaking. Unquestionably impressive and beautiful.
Every hour at night, the tower sparkles for 5 minutes. Make sure you stay to see this. Overall, there’s no better way to see a city then to visit some of it’s quintessential attractions at night. So what if it’s touristy. You ARE a tourist.
Vivre le grande vie!
After battling frugality-induced starvation in Venice, I was glad to see so many shops while walking to the hôtel in Paris. I saw tous les mots I learned years ago in French class: boulangerie, pâtisserie, supermarché. I read a few articles on budget-friendly restaurants, but most listed were about €20 for dinner.
After wandering around Montmartre we started to get hungry. Typically deciding on a place to eat takes a while. We are both indecisive and have no clue if the food is good. Each pick is a pick out of the chapeau.
Aside from 1-2 meals on this trip, the food has all been good with a few great dishes. So, we can’t really go wrong. We decided on Chez Ginette.
Pour dîner, nous decided on ratatouille et un croque monsieur. Yes, I have watched “Ratatouille” and loved it. I had tried making my own in the past and at restaurants. Neither came close to the original. Theirs was heavy on bell peppers. Plus it came in this mini cast iron pot.
The sandwich came with fries and a petite salad. On our way to Paris we listed a few dishes we were hoping to try. I’d had the grilled cheese with ham variant in the past. Chez Ginette served it as an open-faced sandwich, but the shining factor was the basket of frites. I want it. Badly.
Another dinner sur les livres. I find my years of français are slowly coming back. Les Parisians aren’t as likely to acquiesce and start spending English. This has forced me to awaken that part of my brain that once knew how to form simple sentences in another language. The first night was rough, but we were able to order and request the check. Not très mal pour un homme qui n’étudie pas français en 7 ans.
It only took an hour water taxi, 90 minute flight and an hour on the trains to get from Venice to Paris. After 7 hours in transit, I wasn’t fired up to go exploring. But I was hungry.
Coming to Paris I’d commonly heard how unfriendly the French are. So far I’ve found that to be markedly untrue. Two people helped us at the train station to navigate our way to l’hôtel. One went as far as googling where we needed to go and printing a map with his written directions.
After checking in and studying our maps we set out for food and Montmartre. We got this baguette with Brie and tomatoes.
I didn’t fully realize the altitude of the area. There are beaucoup d’escaliers.
We climbed and climbed some more, finding a cemetery, Au lapin agile and the first Starbucks of the trip. No, we didn’t get americanos. Instead we headed back to the hotel to disco nap before exploring the main attractions of Paris. I’ll share those photos later. For now it’s off to le petite déjeuner. Then Versailles!
A bientôt mon amies!
We had hit all the main sites on our agenda in Florence and decided to visit one more before departing today. Our “wrong” turn led us up a monstrous hill to see this potter working on a clay teapot. While watching from the street a woman came up and slowly opened the door to the workshop revealing the friendly dog.
The potter started speaking Italian, then when she saw my face, which can best be described as that of a person who is lost, drunk or supremely disoriented, she began speaking English. She said she’d been working on the teapot all day.
“I hate it,” she jokingly growled before picking it up and giving it a look of a displeased parent.
I love it when wrong turns turn out to be the best turns.
Whether at the grocery back home or wandering the streets of Firenze, I always enjoy people watching. Yesterday was my first full day in Firenze. While there are fewer unique characters than in Roma, the more relaxed pace and overall calmer vibe are a welcome relief to the overwhelmingness of Roma.
The leisurely tempo can best be seen in workers taking a moment for a cigarette or to stare out the window looking at the tourists.