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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Parisian Adventure Day 1

Who would have thought that our first day in Paris would turn out to be such an adventure. Our flight to Reyjkavik, Iceland was a long seven hours on the plane. My butt was so sore, but I did catch some zzzz. Once we landed in Iceland, I was hoping we would have some time to check out the airport, but unfortunately it was a quick layover and off to our final destination which was another 3.5 hours.

The shuttle picked us up at Charles De Gaulle and we met a korean couple who was on their honeymoon. We impressed them with a few korean phrases and they were so ecstatic to meet foreigners who understood common korean. As the shuttle driver pulled up to our 19th arrondissment Etap hostel where we planned to spend the night, I asked if it was a decent neighborhood, in which he replied "it's not the best, but it's nice." But added that we should not walk around at night with our bags. Hmmm....I learned over last weekend from my Australian sister-in-law's little brother that when foreigners say "it's nice" they are just trying to be polite, but really mean it's not so good.

So we scoped out the street, which was dirty and sketchy, but were willing to give it a try. Once we got to the counter, Michelle asked the front desk gentleman if this was a safe neighborhood, in which he replied yes. So, we semi-willingly took the elevator to our top floor room but once we entered, the smell of urine permeated the minute space. I almost threw up! The hostel was completely filthy with the sink next to the bedroom and the bathroom and shower separated by a "airport" style bathroom door.

I immediately suggested that we move locations, in which Michelle agreed. Haha. I didn't think I could feel so disgusted by a cramped and unsanitary place such as this. Although Lucy had warned me, I thought she was just being extra picky. But that was definitely not the case, and we understood what she meant when she said she had to get out of there immediately. I quickly got on the internet and booked us another hotel in the 8th arrondissment.

After hauling our heavy luggage through the metro and trying to navigate an unfamiliar territory, we were completely exhausted when we arrived at our new hotel. To our pleasant surprise, the area was completely well lit and clean, and the hotel was up to par with our expectations, since nothing could be worse than that hostel. We saw a few Ferraris, and Porsche's and knew we were in the "right" neighborhood.

We dropped off our goods and headed straight down the street to have lunch at Laduree on Rue Royale. There was a line but it moved amazingly fast. Our server Clyde was a complete gentleman, even though he knew we were Americans. There were two sweet 19 yr. old Brazilian girls also visiting Paris, whom we had a pleasant conversation with during our meal. The hazelnut and chocolate pain was to die for, and the chicken sandwich was very tasty. Of course we were there for tea and macarons, and devoured those as well.

After a fulfilling meal, we walked toward Place de la Concorde and down the Champs Elysee toward the Arc de Triomph. The crowd was bustling in mid winter's cold air, we felt as though we got a taste of what real Parisian life was all about. Women were decked out in fur coats and winter boots, most adorned themselves in gloves and scarves to keep warm. As we headed to the Eiffel Tower, I barely felt my toes, which I guess was a fortunate thing considering if I did feel them, I might have felt a lot of pain. We tried to take in the beautiful scenery and architecture. What I loved most was how much character and history this city has. We even managed to successfully metro it back to our hotel.

Topping off our night, we stopped by a pizzeria called Scus'y next door to our hotel and had a delightful meal with the chef and owner of the restaurant. A Naples born Italian man who has been living in Paris for 27 yrs and spoke a little bit of everything (Italian, French, Spanish.) Between Meesh and I, we were able to carry on a long conversation with him about life, children, travel, and the internet. The margherita pizza he made was amazing, and who knew we would be eating Italian food in Paris, but it complimented our Italian rose wine quite well. For dessert, he made delectable tiramisu as a complimentary dish for the two of us. Because it was late and we were the only diners in the kitchen, we were able to eat freely, laugh freely, and sing along with the chef.

What a perfect end to our first Parisian adventure. I have to say that the people here have been more than hospitable, have offered to guide us even on the street. We felt a sense of comraderie and joie (joy) because the city of lights welcomed us with open arms.

Bonne Nuit...we're off to Dijon and Beaune for the next few days.

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