Saturday, February 27, 2010

Carnaval 2010, aka best spring break ever, PART ONE

Hello! Bonjour! Hola!

A snippet of multilingual spring break part one this year! In France, I spoke spectacularly hilarious mangled French and then listened to spectacularly hilarious mangled English in response (am now convinced that all stereotypes about Parisians replying in flawless English to anyone speaking lackluster French is completely false, their mastery of English [despite being obligatory in their formative years of education] is only slightly better than the French I've never learned, which is yet ANOTHER strike for Europeans not living up to the reputation that they are all polyglots.) while speaking in Spanish to clarify through my interpreter friend, Anna, what was missed through the other two languages. In short, hilarity ensued. Also, at times it was really boring because everyone only spoke French so no one could translate fast enough so I was just hanging out listening.

Anyway, so, to begin explaining my awesome adventures!! My flight got into Paris on Friday evening and then I was on a 70 minute bus ride to actually GET to the city. By this point I am exhausted because RyanAir and Madrid were sort of being complete jerks and I had to run around the terminal trying to find stairs so that I could find the desk to get a stamp that I was told I didn't need but actually did, all right before the flight. I was running through the tunnel to board, too! Luckily, I made it and my running skills paid off while I was schlepping around a suitcase and going up- and downstairs. Ok, right, the bus. This was boring. It was dark and snowy so I couldn't see anything anyway. When I got to Porte Maillot (some congressional palace thing), I waited for Anna and then we had a huge miscommunication trying to find each other inside and outside this massive building. Eventually, success. Then her friend Elodee came to pick us up and take us to her apartment. OMG SHE HAD PET RATS. I STAYED IN AN APARTMENT WHERE THEY HAD RATS ON PURPOSE. Sick.

After chomping on some food, we fine-tuned our plans for the next four days and then went to sleep. Thank goodness, I was zonked. Once we woke up, there was definitely no rush here, haha, we went to the grocery store IN THE SNOW and then ate lunch and then meandered to the Louvre. Holy cow, this place is nuts. To say it is gigantic would possibly be an understatement. Also to say it is easily navigable would be a lie. But it was quite the spectacle, and in low season!, and had very fascinating little sections. Of course the Mona Lisa is the big draw, so we fought our way through the crowds to take pictures of the tiny painting encased in glass then pictures of all the people taking pictures. After we made our way out, we walked toward the Cathedral of Notre Dame and then the Pantheon where Napoleon is buried then went to meet up with Elodee and her friends at the Bastille. Don't be fooled, IT DOESN'T EXIST ANYMORE!! I sort of had this expectation that there would be a huge prison tower there and basically they just had a memorial obelisk statue thing. But it wasn't for nothing, I had some tasty crepes and chocolat chaud! The less than ideal part was waiting outside for nearly 2 hours to get a cab to go to Elodee's apartment, in freezing temperatures, fighting in line with all the other people.

The next morning, Anna and I got up early and headed to Versailles!! We had to take a special train to get there (their metro system leaves the most to be desired. It is like two systems in one, quite illogical and confusing.) and then we went into the palace. I think I have sort of reached the point where a palace is a palace is a palace. I kind of wish I had gone in the summer/later spring because I could really see how the gardens would be really impressive, but in the winter they were muddy, snowy, dead and walking around on the ice was kind of perilous! But not to worry, we survived. Back in Paris, we went to Notre Dame again but this time went inside. Regretfully, we couldn't go up the tower because of the icy weather, but still. After this, we went to the D'orsay museum with all the impressionist paintings, then on to the Arc du Triomphe. We passed through a park with other memorial things (Paris is sort of parallel to the Louvre, there are so many gorgeous works of art, but people only focus on the really famous things, so they miss all the smaller ones) to get there. And then stand in the middle of the street to take pictures!! This was even more hazardous than all the ice. Actually, probably borderline stupid with all the traffic, but whatevs. We were able to go up the elevator for a city vista, but they didn't accept my fake French student ID so I actually had to pay, haha. The view was gorgeous; on the hour, the Eiffel Tower has special sparkly lights so we got to see that from the Arc as well as a general plan of the city. Very beautiful! Very cold!

The next day we went to the Eiffel Tower, this day was a little more relaxing because we did so much yesterday, but still, waiting in lines and ascending the tower took like FOUR HOURS. Then we went on a boat tour which was TOTALLY COOL! AND IN ENGLISH! We hung out on the Seine for an hour and heard stories about the buildings that are architecturally gorgeous but basically have some unknown purpose, then we learned about silly traditions involving bridges, and where famous ex-pats lived while in Paris. It was a very interesting tour.

Finally, the last day we went to the Moulin Rouge (just the outside, no worries), and Sacred Heart and Montmarche or something. We met up with one of Anna's friends who is from southern Spain but is at Anna's school in France, and she was really fun. We went to the Opera and then decided it would be way more awesome to see the Catacombs/ossuary instead. And it totally was. It was like thousands and thousands of bones layered up 60ft below the streets. After that we walked around the Isle of St. Louis, where Notre Dame is, some more and then tried to find the right metro stop to get back to the apartment. There we packed, said our goodbyes, ate crepes (it IS Mardi Gras day after all!) and pastries, and went to sleep. I woke up like 4 hours later, to get on the subway to go to the bus stop to wait 2 hours outside - stupid RyanAir - then finally got on the 70-minute long bus ride, then hustled through security to board. The next non-photo entry will be about going to Valencia with Manu. Stay tuned!



  1. your wonderful fatherFebruary 28, 2010 at 1:36 PM

    Nice to know that you are having fun on the other side of the world, while I'm dressing in 1860's pioneer garb, watching pigs being skinned and butchered, standing over a fire making soap out of lard and lye, all the while answering questions from little brownie scouts at Mahaffie's Stage Coach winter on the farm event while standing and walking in the mud. You were actually having a better time. Glad you had a great trip!

  2. Paris sounds tremendo, except for the pet rat thing! Quiero mas fotos pronto. Y ahora Valencia and your first marathon??? This is better than most TV shows!
    Muchos besitos,
    Susan D


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