We took the Chunnel from London to Paris and it was the perfect travel vessel. My mom and I weren't sitting together on the train; she was with three peace sign flashing tourists from Tokyo and I was next to a crying baby, a singing child and their two parents. I was a bit nervous that this family would be awful to sit with. Everything I heard about Parisians was that they were rude, pretentious, and not enjoyable people to be traveling on a train for a couple hours. Well, this family was quite the opposite. Their daughter Alice sang French nursery rhymes to me as we played with her stickers and their parents shared all the details about what to do in Paris and how to get around. We said our goodbyes and hailed a cab. I specifically told my mom, 'begin by saying Bon jour or else they will be rude to us'. What does she say to our cabbie, but good old, 'hello'. Way to go mom. He ended up being just fine, but that was the beginning of learning my mom is stuck in her American ways (you know I love you mom).
We were starving and decided to go to a brasserie near our hotel. I tried to convince my mom that we should just get a sandwich that all the boulangers sell, but she insisted we sit down at a restaurant. This time, she said Bon jour. we ordered two bowls of French onion soup and shared a quiche Lorraine. We couldn't have got anymore of a stereotypical French meal. Oh wait, but then I ordered champagne, so I guess we could have. This meal was so disappointing, until we ordered our next meal, then it would have been considered gourmet. We walked all around Paris and saw some of the major sites and planned our course for the next day which was going to be a busy one. For dinner, we weren't starving, but wanted to try something new. Paris has nearly 25,000 restaurants and only 1/5th of them are good. We stumbled on the bottom 1/5th and ate what was possibly the worst meal of my life. We thought it would be fun if we got wine, cheese, and meat (Vin, fromage, et charcuterie - yep, I'm learning French). We walked into the restaurant and it had a rather distinct smell to it, but we didn't let that scare us. When our server brought us the food, my mom and I looked at each other, out at the Notre Dame (never eat by tourist sites) and down at the food and decided to dig in. There was some ground meat product that I cannot even begin to describe other than car vomit so we did our best to avoid it. We spread Camembert cheese on stale bread and realized what the smell was in the restaurant. It tasted as if I licked a sweaty fat mans armpit. Absolutely awful. I tried to chase it with my wine, but it was obviously from a bottle that had been open for a couple of weeks. We ate what we could and then threw in the towel. When we got the bill, it was even worse! That disgusting meal cost us nearly $50 euro! We were glad that day was over and ready to begin the next day. I have a picture of this charcuterie plate on my camera and will have to share later.
The next day we started our day with chocolate croissants. Much better. We walked to the Louve and toured there for hours. We were later told that if you spent just 30 seconds at each piece of art, you'd spend 9 months there. Here are some of the highlights:
After the time at the museum, we had definitely worked up an appetite. My mom finally let me choose our lunch and we settled at a patisserie and shared a prosciutto sandwich with a side salad. With drinks and tip or was less than 10 euro. Much better. We had a 5:30 tour of the Eiffel Tower and had a couple hours to spend so we walked down one of the famous shopping streets with Chanel, tiffany&co, Prada, etc. It's really fun to window shop and admire the rich people wearing fur coats that can afford these things. We made our way to the Eiffel Tower and I've never been so amazed at such a beautiful structure. Here it is all lit up and twinkling on the top of the hour. Absolutely breathtaking. We went to the top and had high plans to sip champagne while looking out over the city, but the champagne was like 20 euro a glass and it was about 40 degrees with 30+ mph winds. Not ideal sipping conditions. I always crack up when I imaging something one way and then it is entirely different than what I imagined.
After the tour, we stopped at a restaurant our guide recommended and it was a real glimmer of hope that there are good restaurants in Paris. We ordered an arugula, sun dried tomato, and shaved Parmesan salad, a mushroom and ham pizza, and wine per the suggestion of the waiter. It was a delightful meal and I couldn't have been happier. Pizza is my favorite food, so I shouldn't be suprised that I enjoyed it, but the entire experience was great. We left completely stuffed and took a train that smelled like roses back to our hotel. My mom didn't trust my navigation skills on public transportation so that led to quite an entertaining event. I must say, I'm so happy I take after my dad because it is frightening seeing how her brain works in these situations. She gets turned around walking from the bathroom to the table we have been sitting at for over an hour. Oh well, it's added an element of fun to the trip.
Looking at how long this has become, I think I'll share the rest tomorrow. Today was really amazing and could go on for awhile. Stay tuned!