December 6, 2007

Auberge Schmanzien

Posted in Exploring, Visitors tagged , , , , , , at 11:45 am by Lauren

Our closet apartment turned into a hostel this past week as no fewer than three visitors arrived to welcome December to Paris. Every day we saw a new face, as Cheryl arrived on Thursday, then Elizabeth on Friday, and finally Sara on Saturday. Phew! Our tiny floor disappeared under the air mattresses and luggage. On Saturday morning before Sara arrived, Elizabeth, Allen, Cheryl, and I went on a shopping expedition to Lush and Le Bon Marche for solid perfumes and Christmas ornaments respectively. Since Cheryl was buying ornaments, I determined that I also was allowed to buy small, fragile blown bits of glass that would crumble in my return suitcase. Hooray! I allowed myself four, but I make no promises of restraint in the after-Christmas sales.

We arrived home in plenty of time to teach Cheryl to play Peanuts before Sara’s arrival. When Sara did finally get to our apartment, we could hardly interrupt our game to answer the door, but eventually we decided that we shouldn’t leave her outside on her birthday. We all bundled off to Montmartre, getting a bit too familiar with our “new friends” in the packed metro trains, and then panting up the stairs of Sacre Coeur. (An aside: There was an interesting new money-making scheme at Sacre Coeur, which I could not figure out. At least 20 Africans were chasing after tourists with what looked like a friendship bracelet, encouraging them to put their finger through the loop at the end so that the African could continue making the bracelet. What was the purpose? I wanted to ask what the catch was that convinced the tourists to hand over the change.) After following the stream of people through the basilica, we headed to a nearby overlook for more picture-taking and then up to Place du Tertre to gaze at the displayed paintings.

Dark was falling as we led the group to the metro and took a convoluted three-transfer route to a stunning view of the Eiffel Tower. It was the same view we’d seen from Trocadero the weekend before when we’d been Christmas shopping, and we pretended “it’s got to be just around a corner here” as we walked up on the vista. The Eiffel Tower suddenly appears, lit-up and twinkling! So, another round of picture-taking ensued, with everyone trying to hold their cameras still for the night shots.

Then came the forced march, in which Allen and I ensured that everyone would sleep very, very well that night. By the time we arrived at L’Epicerie Fuxia, our favorite little Italian place, everyone was tired and hungry. (Success!) Sara and Cheryl had the stuffed eggplant, Allen ordered his usual lasagna, Elizabeth had a pasta dish that I don’t remember (but that looked mouth-watering), and I enjoyed a fusilli with fresh artichokes and sauteed peppers in a lemony sauce. Afterwards we gleefully forced ourselves to share two large pieces of tiramisu, which were just as amazing as I’d hoped they would be! (I’d seen the tiramisu once before, and it looked exactly as perfect tiramisu should look.) Though it was only 9:30 when we left the restaurant, we were all happy to turn in early in anticipation of the next day’s free museum rush.

We woke up early on Sunday morning – the first Sunday of the month, otherwise known as a journee de patrimoine, which roughly translated means free museums all day! Sara and Elizabeth overslept at the hostel (the real one, not our apartment), and we didn’t get to the towers of Notre Dame until about 10 am. We had an hour before Sara needed to get herself to the train to the airport. Sunday was a dreary, gray, rainy day, and we stood under soggy umbrellas as we waited for admission to the towers. We only waited about half an hour though, and then we climbed the hundreds of steps to the top. The towers of Notre Dame are very much worth a visitor’s time, if for nothing but the gargoyles. Too soon though, we were rushing to get Sara’s luggage and get her on her way.

Next stop was the Musee d’Orsay, where we found a line snaking around the plaza so many times we couldn’t see much of it through the mass of people. It took less than a minute to abandon that for easier pursuits: the Musee Rodin. There, we found no line and the most atrocious mullet I have ever seen in my life. (The front of her hair was cut as if she had a short haircut, poufed up a little on the front and the sides, and then the back was shiny, straight, fine hair hanging past her rear. Amazing. Efforts to capture this on film were unsuccessful.)

After a short lunch out of the rain, we beelined to a metro and got back home around 3 pm, determined to dry out. We only came out again at dinner for some mediocre crepes at a nearby restaurant, and then we returned again for more Phase 10 and Peanuts.

Monday morning, Cheryl left before we rose, and Elizabeth and I did a bit of shopping both Monday and Tuesday before her train. That would have been my cue to then return home and start packing my bags for my flight to the U.S. on Friday (tomorrow), but that’s exactly what I’m procrastinating from doing right now!


1 Comment »

  1. Marjorie said,

    Whew! Sounds like a whirlwind trip! It sounds like you a fabulous time, though, and am looking forward to your post-trip commentary when you return. Bon voyage!


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