Monday, September 8, 2014

Back to Paris Part II: America is my country and Paris is my hometown

Thursday 19 June 2014
We got up early today and had a quick breakfast provided by the hostel. It was actually pretty good…coffee, croissants, butter and jams, cereal. The breakfast room was very crowded and I felt like I was back in a college dorm :P

We jumped back on the train with all our bags to find our Airbnb apartment in the 15th arr. We were supposed to meet with the owner last night to get the key, etc because she is leaving town, but with our train delay…that didn’t happen, so after many worried texts from the owner...we got the key out of the mailbox.

The funniest thing about this new apartment is that it comes with a cat!! The Airbnb ad was upfront that the owner leaves her cat and you just have to let him out during the day, in at night, and make sure he has food and water. I think I’d feel weird about leaving my pet with total strangers, but I was excited all the same. I love cats!!


Crapule, the cat (I asked Mara---it has no French meaning. Is the cat crappy?? Hehe!!) was super cute. He met us at the door in the courtyard and led us up the stairs to show us the apartment.

Crapule!!

I forgot to take a pic, so stolen from Airbnb

We showered and got ready to head to Mara’s to meet Slavko, Pam, and Christina.

It was SO nice to meet up with friends in Paris. Paris has begun to feel like coming home. Gertrude Stein said, “America is my country and Paris is my hometown”. I can agree with this sentiment. I still find Paris somewhat intimidating because of the language barrier, but I feel comfortable here.

Luckily, we were only 2 metro stops from Mara (I’m the best ;)), so we were there quickly. Preston was really excited to see one of his best friends. It was for Pam and Slavko’s wedding that we returned to Chicago in May.

Mara was at work, so Slavko, Pam, Christina (Pam’s sister), Pres and I headed out to a busy pedestrian street for Slavko’s favorite crepes.




Like Mara, Slavko attended the American University here in Paris and so speaks the language and really knows his way around.

Choosing our crepes

Agree :P



We got our crepes to go (it’s about half price to do it this way!!) and enjoyed them on the steps of a church. Gosh, they were magnificent…feta cheese, egg, tomato, onion…yum!!




Our little group continued walking cross the river and up to the Champs de Elysees so that Slavko could change some money at a place he knew gave a good rate.



All of a sudden, it's crazy crowded here
Without knowing our plan to walk so far (Preston thought they’d be tired), I mistakenly wore my Toms-the totally wrong shoes and after a short while…my feet were throbbing!! I’m actually quite disappointed in the Toms brand. I know that they are a good company that donates shoes, but they aren’t all that comfortable and mine started falling apart way back in New Zealand after only a couple wears.



Walking walking

We took the metro (Thank God!!) to Notre Dame and snapped some photos. It was a gorgeous, clear day. Preston and I were marveling at the change in weather. Most of our time in Paris has been cloudy, rainy, and cool.










After sitting a while along the Seine, we continued across the river, again, into St. Germaine. We weaved through the busy streets of restaurants, cafes, and shops before making our way back in front of the Invalides to Maras.




After a quick stop at the store for snacks, we continued our tradition of gorging ourselves with wine and food at Mara’s. This has truly been one of my favorite parts of Paris---hanging out at Maras…eating, laughing, talking, and leaning out the window to peak at the Eiffel Tower.




Mara joined us after work and we headed down to sit with the throngs of people along the Seine. Again, Preston and I can’t get over the difference a few weeks has made in Paris. It’s so warm and CROWDED. We could hardly find a place to sit…on the ground!! :P










The six of us sat along the river in a cramped space as the sun went down. We formed our own little circle and enjoyed some wine and good conversation.










Around dark, we headed back towards Mara’s. Along the way, Preston and Slavko found a soccer ball and had fun kicking it in the street. We are sooooo European ;)






We found a little bistro and had a late night dinner. On the walk back, Pres and Slavko kicked the ball violently back and forth until they lost it over a wall. I think Preston is SO happy to hang out with a dude :P





Pres and I said goodbye for the night and caught the metro home to Crapule.




Friday 20 June 2014
We had planned today to go and see Les Catacombes. I was reallllly looking forward to this burial ground beneath the city, but by the time we got going…it was after 2pm ( I blame the late night and the hazards of trying to organize 5 people).

After a bit of a mix up as to where to meet at the metro, we finally found Slavko and co. and jumped on a train.



Unfortunately, we arrived too late. The line was so long that the attendant told us that we’d end up waiting and not get in. Boo :(

Saddened, we walked towards another nearby metro. On the way, we wandered through the old cemetery that Preston and I had passed a few weeks ago. It was cool to see all the old elaborate gravestones and monuments.





We hopped back on the metro to Montemarte. We chose a station that had over 100 steps to exit. Challenge accepted ;) It was dizzying to go up and up and up in such a tight spiral.

Recovering


We came out into the artsy village and grabbed a quick crepe for a snack.
From there, we walked down the steps and enjoyed some time in the sun-so different from the last time we sat on these steps with Gavin in the rain.



The guys bought some beers from the dozens of men selling beer, wine, and water from plastic bags full of ice. It’s funny, because whenever a policeman comes into the area, these guys SCATTER.




Life is super rough here
We walked through the church and then headed back down the hill to meet Mara at her friends place near the Bastille.

Mara called down to us from the balcony (so cute) and we went up to the home of Cyril, Coralie, and their adorable puppy Hutch. In their French accent, Hutch sounds like “Etch”, so we thought they were calling the puppy “H”. Too funny.

We enjoyed a GIANT bottle of champagne and headed down to a pedestrian area full of people to watch France play in the World Cup.





Mara found a pub with a huge table and an open window for people to also see from standing outside. It was perfect. We settled in for a GREAT game!! France played wonderfully and it was an exciting game with many goals. The energy in the pub was electric and we had SUCH a fun time.




We had a fun time teasing the four Swiss people good naturedly about their loss. It was a perfect night. :D 



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