This past weekend I went on my first excursion to Paris! I'd been looking forward to Paris because I've always been entranced by the culture. The art and writers that have come out of Paris or written of Paris with such love have inspired me for a long time. I departed London by myself to meet 4 other friends from my Uganda trip this past summer. Starting off I was ready for the adventure and not at all stumped about being alone, although I was feeling kind of sick. That is until I got to the airport and tried to order a croissant. It dawned on me...oh yeah, new language, and I nervously mumbled "uhh latte and kra-sawmrnt". I got my latte. Maybe the barista thought I was actually just coughing. Who knows. This was the point when I got a little nervous because I knew NOTHING. I waited for my other friends at the airport and we took the train into the city. I knew what stop we had to get off, and I knew the street was called "Rue" so I thought we would just find Rue and escape the cold. Think again. Rue actually just means "street." I should have learned some French for this. After walking down multiple "rue's" and getting turned around, our friend Bree found us. She is the one who speaks French, and I begged her to teach me some basics so I could survive a little better. At this point, my sickness was growing and we were all exhausted, so we ate dinner, had a pint, and went to bed.
The next morning was "walk all over paris day" and to stop our cold whimpers as we started walking, we grabbed massive pain au chocolats. During our stroll, I noticed that everyone actually does walk around Paris with a fresh baguette in their hand, nibbling away as they run their errands. I made a note to take part in that tradition later on. We hit the sights - The Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, and my personal favorite, Shakespeare & Co. Bookshop. That bookshop is where Hemingway spend a lot of his time writing when he lived in Paris. The shop is small, but full of so many eye-catching things. They also have a piano you can play and free classes to read and share original material to get critiqued on.
That night we did the baguette and brie thing in our apartment, and went to meet some friends of Bree's in town. We went somewhere far away and had a few drinks at The Barbershop. That establishment was prime for people watching. Everyone there is pretty young, and beautiful and oh so French. One of Bree's friends said he heard a French man comment that I "looked good like pizza," which is probably the best compliment I've ever gotten.
Sunday morning we grabbed our daily croissants, which I now knew how to order (completely in french!) and went to go see Miss Mona at The Louvre. She is a fine looking lady. So many people stand there to take pictures of her, or with her, and after I got my share of those, I really tried to just look at her. There are about 7 guards standing around her and there are many signs saying to watch out for pick-pocketers. It's really popular to happen right in front of her because everyone is so mesmerized. Pretty smart, French Fagin. Pretty smart.
Post Louvre, I grabbed my backpack and took the long, complicated trip back to the airport because the public train to the airport was conveniently closed. But I found my way! I can't wait to come back to Paris, maybe with a little more prep on the language, the sights, and better weather. Good thing its a mere train ride away.