Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bones, Graves, and Heaven

I've been so busy running around Paris trying to see everything I can that I haven't even had time to blog, email, or communicate with anyone in the U.S., but I've finally set aside a little time. Here's what has happened in my first week here in Paris. . . .

The first night in town, after a less than delicate nap, a group of us walked from St. John's (our school here) to the Eiffle tower. We moseied around for a good while just chatting and making friends with our noses pointed up toward the sparkling steel structure. I'll admit, that sufficed as the perfect welcome to Paris.

Because this is my fifth time to Paris, I really want to know the city as if it were another home to come back to one day. In order to do that, I've had to explore the streets like a leopard to its prey, stalking, pacing, and learning exactly what its enemy can do. I, unlike the leopard, don't find the French people to be my enemies, but I do not want them to think the oposite. So, I'm trying to blend in by wearing "European" clothes, mumbling in French, and appearing to have nothing to do but sit in a park all day. Ok, that last one isn't quite true, but I swear that's what most of the Parisians do here all day. Do they have jobs? I momentarily thought they might all work at night or something, but no....everything closes at the convenient hour of 9:00! I suppose I can understand why my mom has always loved the French and their culture so much, because they hate to work and love to sit around in nature while eating the freshest baguettes.

And oh! those baguettes are worth every bit of simple sugar, because, when they're fresh from the boulangerie, the crisp break of the exterior and warm pull of the interior bread, immediately invokes those persistant glands under my tongue to produce saliva. It's actually happening right now with me just thinking about the breads and pasteries here. Despite their seemingly perfect composition, I've been holding back on the intake so as not to over-do it. However, after the crepes I had last night at the Sacre Coeur, which overlooks all of Paris, I may have to ease my self-discipline as well as my belt!
I've climbed the stairs to Sacre Coeur three or four times now, and three or four times I've also had crepes from the exact same vendor. He's my favorite because he makes the crepes fresh before my eyes and he also knows minimal amounts of English, which makes me hope he's a little bit more ligitimate. This time around, I couldn't even wait for my friends to get their crepes before my fingers fixed and tugged on the pancake. But what made this crepe even better was that we had just finished walking ten miles around Paris, from the Catacombs to Cimetiere Pere Lachaise (where lies the tombs of many famous Frenchmen/women). It was almost as if the newly-formed calluses on the bottom of my feet even thronged for the warmth of a French crepe. To top it all off, we were able to watch the sun set behind the city-skewed horizon while slowly savoring the combination of flavors.

Sacre Coeur, of all the wonderful places in Paris, might just be my favorite. It is a very quaint little area with cobbled streets, street painters, and busy restaurants, but all of the people seem so calm and so content as if the world below didn't exist anymore. I don't know about you, but I've only found that feeling a few times and it usually involves a forest, a pond, and some songbirds!

It has been a short, yet action-packed, week already and I'm not about to give up on my adventures. Since the first night, I've been to Le Louvre, Le Rodin, Champs-Elysee, Luxembourg Gardens, the Catacombs, Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise, Sacre Coeur, the Eiffel Tower, several cafes, and many more exciting places. I'll try to post at least every week, if not more, but for now, I have to go pack for a trip to the Loire Valley.

*A note about the pictures: The first one is in the Catacombs (which are the tunnels under Paris filled with bones). The second picture is me with my roommate Peggy and our friend Ryan in Luxembourg Gardens. 3 is of me eating my crepe at Sacre Coeur. 4 is the Sacre Coeur. 5 is of Peggy, Ryan, and me on the stairs of Sacre Coeur. 6 is in the gardens under the Eiffle tower just today. After yesterday's crazy walking, we were pretty tired, so we all fell asleep after climbing the steps of the Eiffle. Ryan was the only one still asleep, so I tried to put a little flower behind his ear. He for some reason thinks I'm a hippy because I like to pick flowers and put them behind my ear! And 7 is of me with my friend Chelsea (who is basically a personality clone of me, seriously) overlooking Paris at the Sacre Coeur.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bienvenue a Paris!

Well, I'm finally in Paris and have actually had a few adventurous days already. I would estimate that I've probably walked about eight miles a day....which is wonderful. I surely missed that about London. So, I've been to the Louvre for the fourth time, the Rodin for the second time, and of course, had a few croissants. But of the few things I've done, my favorite so far was just sitting in Le Jardin de Luxembourg. My friends and I found a hang-out tree where we plan on spending a lot of park lunches. Well, I'm about to make some more memories with a visit to the Paris Flea Market, and I will definitely write a more in depth blog later. For now, I just wanted everyone to know that I was here and safe and making my way around.