Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Euroblog, Take 4 - Paris, Round 2

You might think a little diversity in the menu is desirable. And you're right. But that only works in Paris if money is no object, and for us, "money is no object" can quickly take on the sense of having no money at all. Which I object to. Thus we essentially only ate three things while we were in Paris: pizza, sandwiches, and a third meal that will become obvious if you further read this. Incidentally, I have to wonder which is better: a French waiter saying "bon appetite," or an English butler saying "what can I do to help you, sir?" Take into account the accents.

To get back to Paris from Geneva, our only ride to the train station left in the morning, while our train left in the late afternoon. That equals seven hours in the train station coffee shop. Fortunately, they had comfortable furniture, so I put my feet up and went to sleep. A couple hours later I was awakened by high-pitched harsh-sounding French not too far away from me. I groggily looked up to see the waitress staring right at and just going to town on me in French. I tried to tell her I only spoke English, but it didn't phase her one bit. After she had ranted to her satisfaction she sped off and left me there to wonder what I had done. I learned from a nearby customer that she objected to me just sleeping in her coffee shop. So I bought a sandwich to appease her. Then I went back to sleep.

We got back to Paris around ten in the evening not having eaten anything since lunch. There was a legit Italian restaurant a few blocks away from where we were staying that we were hoping against hope would still be open when we got back, because nothing else would be. Now, I would first like to say that our hosts were very fun and very caring people and we had a great time with them. But we were mortified of having to eat at our hosts' place because they would always offer us was the flattest tasting lemonade I've ever had and stale French bread that you would have to rip at like a caveman if you want to have a bite. Sometimes I wondered whether they only bought that bread because of the fancy French wrapping it came in. What made the food issue worse was the fact that they were very controlling people, so they would get out the stale French bread and the flat lemonade and insist that we have some - and we couldn't say no. On top of that, since they were both controlling people, their relationship consisted a lot of the time of them having to explain to each other every solitary detail both of what they wanted to do and what each of them thought we should be doing with our time there. At times I would sit there with there staring at my stale French bread and flat lemonade listening to them discuss how dishes should be put into the dishwasher and I would just want to tear out every last hair that I had. So maybe now you can see why we thought all our hopes of not going to bed starving rested on this Italian restaurant.

We went by the house to drop off our stuff, and Carly promptly started to get into a conversation with our hosts. I quickly ended it for her and we ran off to the Italian restaurant. People were still eating when we walked up, and when we asked the waitress for anything edible... they were closed. We walked back towards the house as depressed as we've ever been on the trip. But then what seemed like a miracle happened. A guy on a motorcycle drove by us with what looked like a large stack of pizzas on the back. We flagged him down and it turned out he was in fact a pizza delivery guy. I got the phone number for the place and we had renewed hope. We called the place looking for anything edible... they were closed. At this point I was wondering what the next cruel twist would be - was I going to discover a frozen pizza in the freezer only to burn it black in the oven? Fortunately, our hosts came through in the clutch and fixed us a bunch of spaghetti, of course accompanied by the the customary bread and lemonade. Perhaps the whole thing was a test of character - we definitely could have told the pizza guy that we had ordered it, paid for it, and run off with it. And in the end we got a providential meal.

Having yet to actually visit the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, those were next on the list. But first we visited some street shops. We had thought about buying a weird hat that whoever was the last person to say something stupid would have to wear. Carly found a potential candidate, but I apparently upset the shopkeeper by putting in on and trying to take a picture of myself to see what it looked like. I slowly became aware that he was angrily addressing me as "woman" and signaling me to remove the hat from my head. Guess what? He got no business from me. We had another typical American tourist moment at the Louvre. As soon as we got in, we rushed to see the Mona Lisa. Now, the Louvre is tens of thousands of square feet of world-renowned paintings and architecture, but after we had spent five minutes at the Mona Lisa, we turned to each other thinking, "Now what?" The Eiffel Tower was of course legit. We made it all the way to the top, courtesy of some tickets from some older English folks who didn't want to stand in line, or "queue," as the Europeans call it. One thing I thought was interesting to see was that from the top of the Eiffel Tower you can see the actually curvature of the world. Perhaps if the motivation behind the Tower of Babel hadn't been so wrong: 1) we all could still be speaking the same language, and 2) the western hemisphere would have been discovered earlier because people wouldn't have been afraid of sailing off the end of a flat world.

We also visited the palace of Versailles, which was the most ornate place I've ever seen. The front was nothing too gawk at, and you probably wouldn't expect much based on first impression. However, the rooms toward the back and the gardens behind the buildings were incredibly lavish. The walls and ceilings of the rooms were covered with classic paintings, intricate woodwork, plush materials, and decorations made of precious metals. The gardens weaved back for probably a quarter mile before ending in an amphitheater. The palace of Versailles has the personality of a mullet - business in the front, party in the back.


Steve (while visiting the Musee d'Orsay and the Louvre): I've never seen so much human anatomy in my life.

Helen (to Matt, after he messed up a line from Pride and Prejudice that she taught him): I taught you that sentence for you to be elegant, but now you look like a fool.

Carly: When I was young I read a really scary picture book.

Steve: You ready to leave?
Me: I really like Napoleon.

Helen (several times after we taught her the word "fruity"): That's so flowery.

Next we head over to Stuttgart in Germany. We wonder if there are any Nazis left. Are we typical Americans? Possibly. We'll see what happens next...

No comments: