Saturday, September 17, 2011

Our First Day of Adventures in Paris!

Bonjour de Paris! (Hello from Paris!)

Husband and I have been in the City of Lights for about 36 hours:

approx. 10 hours sleeping,

approx. 4 hours on metro trains,

8 hours visiting the sights,

and about 14 hours eating.



But here's a quick blow-by-blow of the first day, in case you're interested! =)

We arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport yesterday morning, having slept between 1 and 4 hours on the transatlantic flight.  Fortunately for us, Delta has nonstop flights between Pittsburgh and Paris, so we had none of those pesky layovers.  When we arrived and got our bags, I got us 5-day Paris Visite passes, which give us unlimited access to the city and surrounding region via rail, bus, and metro, for about 10 euros each per day.  Considering how much we've used them so far, I'd say the pass is a good deal!

Then I picked up a croissant and some espresso in the airport cafe.  After quickly pacifying our bellies, which were grouchy after the airplane breakfast and coffee, we hopped on our train and began an arduous trek through the Parisian public transportation system, carrying about 150 pounds of baggage between us.  It was a little awkward (and rough on my tender, post-chiropractor-visit shoulders), but we changed metro trains, got off at the right stop, and found ourselves immediately at the beautiful Hotel de la Perdrix Rouge!

We got ourselves settled in what is possibly the World's Smallest Hotel Room, complete with a tiny toilet, a smallish sink, and a diminutive douche (that's French for "shower").  However, our room is quaint, clean, and charming, and the view is quite lovely!

Across the square from our fourth-floor room is a phenomenal patisserie where we bought breakfast this morning.  Just about everything we could need - restaurant, pharmacy, bookstore, grocer - is right in this square!

For about nine seconds, I convinced Husband that this church across the street from us was actually Notre Dame.  He's pretty quick, though.  He figured it out.

Unfortunately, we don't have pictures from much of the first day, because our camera arrived in the mail on the day we left and needed to be charged before use.  We left our bags at the hotel and strolled around, trying to blend in.  We found a huge, beautiful park, the Parc des Buttes Chaumont, which we will re-visit with our camera as time permits.  We had a TOTAL PARISIAN MOMENT when we hiked up to the top of the little winding spire in the middle of the park, where there was a tiny deserted folly (fake ancient ruins).  Just as we got to the folly and looked around the horizon, it started to storm!  Thunder rumbled and lightning flashed as we hid together under the roof of the fake ruins (for we had no umbrella), but it cleared only a few minutes later, and we were able to walk back down unscathed.

We wandered around some more and then realized that other than the croissant and airplane food, we hadn't eaten in about 12 hours, so we stopped in the cafe near our hotel, wherein I had my first true mastery test of the language: ordering our lunch.  I managed to convey our desire for a croque-monsieur, a croque-madame, salads, and some water.  Croques are like toasted ham-and-cheese sandwiches on steroids, sprinkled with fairy dust, and fanned by angel wings.  They are MAGNIFICENT.  Husband's croque-madame also had a cooked egg on top, adding to both the deliciousness and the arterial challenge.  Not to mention that they toe the line between street food and pricier restaurant fare, so our wallets were as happy as our stomachs.  We ate, we paid, we conquered!

However, as potentially nervous as Husband was about not knowing the language, I think I might have been even more nervous knowing the language.  I mean, if you're just a tourist, the locals kind of expect that you won't know their language; but if you attempt it and sound awful, then you just seem like a poseur who trotted into their town like you own the place.  At least that's the scenario that continually played in my head whenever I went to order something or ask a question.

But I wore a big scarf and tried to not seem SUPER EXCITED ABOUT EVERYTHING BECAUSE HOLY CRAP I'M IN PARIS!!!, and I think that helped a little with the whole blending-in thing.  Here's me practicing my disinterested face in our hotel room (after a shower to rid myself of travel grime, and a nice long nap):

And here's me, all ready to go out and find some dinner!  I forgot to look disinterested because I was hungry again.

We took the metro down to the river, where Husband got his first glimpse of Notre Dame (the real one).  We ate at a cafe called Aux Vieux Chateaux, where he selected aigneau avec d'aubergine gratin (lamb with some kind of delicious eggplant-cheese dish), and I gorged on the classics: soupe a l'oignon (French onion soup) and boeuf bourguignon (beef burgundy).  We shared a mousse au chocolat for dessert.  It was so impossibly rich that I actually got a small nosebleed on the way back to the hotel (weird! ... but worth it).

We slept through the night (at least I did -- Husband can't sleep through city noises like I can) and were officially un-jet-lagged when we woke up this morning and got going.  It's been a long, pleasant day, so I'm quite tired now, but I'll catch up on travel-blogging tomorrow.

I'll just leave you with this parting preview: there's really nothing like waking up and saying to your spouse, "Hey, let's get some coffee, and then... do you feel like going to the Eiffel Tower today?"

Paris, je t'aime! :)

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