Saturday, June 5, 2010

Paris Epilogue

So, I'm back! I stopped in Dublin on the way home to transfer flights. It was pretty cool. I'd like to go back someday. I went home and didn't do much. Now it's time to look for jobs the rest of the summer. It'll be exciting.

For more exciting vacation adventures, check out Julia's blog!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Paris Days 8 and 9

Belated but here!

We woke up pretty early and went down for a breakfast of some sort of juice, mediocre croissant, and bread. It was free. Then we left for Chateau de Vincennes. At first we were unimpressed. Then we realized what they wouldn't let us into was just the gatehouse. The Castle itself was pretty freaking cool. They let us right in with our museum passes, and then we got to walk around.

I liked it a lot better than Versailles. Here, we could touch everything, and there were no stupid tourists. No furniture, either, but that was okay. We got to look out from the battlements through the arrow slits, then we went up to the tower to look out over the grounds. It felt very royal.

Then we went into the main castle. We got to see all the prisoner's graffiti and the king's bedrooms, plus, of course, the castle latrines. It was all very cool. Also we saw the cell in which they kept the Marquis de Sade. That was pretty neat. There were some great blank screens, too.

After that, we went to the Saint-Chapelle. It's beautiful inside, with huge windows of stained glass. There were some cool old instruments in there too. No banjos, sorry Dad.

Then we decided to take the train to the Grand Arche. It's a big square arch type thing visible from the Arc de Triomphe. It's very cool-looking, with neat glass elevators and a computer museum in the top. Unfortunately, it was closed for repairs. Still, there was a mall and a movie theater near by. We had lunch, ate on the steps of the arch, then went inside to wander the mall a little. Then we watched Prince of Persia. It was an entertaining enough movie, though very much lacking in substance.

Then we headed home. Julia took a nap and I caught up with the internet, then we left to eat at 7. We had some absolutely fantastic pasta. Julia's ravioli was better than my lasagna, but they were both very good. Then we went to see another movie, Kick-ass this time. It was pretty funny, and very gory, but I enjoyed it.

Then we went to bed.

This morning, we missed breakfast. That was okay, though, we just went to a different Boulangerie and bought croissants that were a lot better than the ones they served at the hostel. Then we took the Metro to the Louvre. We decided not to explore the Louvre more, and instead walked through the Tuileries to the museum that housed modern art not by Monet. It didn't open until 12, so we started walking back to the gardens. A creepy man told me I was "très jolie" and asked me for a kiss. He started following us until Julia yelled at him to go away. Then we sat around for a while until noon.

There were really cool photographs from the 1940s by an artist named Lisette Model. They were mostly of regular, every day people sitting around, or singing, or anything. There were a lot of fat models. Also some famous musicians like Louis Armstrong. We had a bit of trouble with les toilettes at one point because they were both marked occupé, but clearly it wasn't the case. Turned out they weren't as locked as they seemed, though. We managed to go. Then we watched a little video about a slug on a fern and some musicians. It was neat.

We left the museum and had some hot chocolate outside. Like all the hot chocolate in this city, it was magnificent. We headed to La Carousel under the Louvre, which is basically a mall. There wasn't really anything to do there, so we headed to a different mall, Lafayette.

It was a weird mall. For one thing, there aren't a bunch of stores. Just one with different little sections for everything unseparated by walls. It's also a beautiful space. There's a big, colorful dome over everything made of stained glass and arches. It almost let me forget that we were deep in enemy territory. That would refer to the mall. Malls are my enemy territory.

We had Chinese food for lunch, which made Julia very happy. I enjoyed the spring rolls and fried rice, and even tried a dumpling! It was all good, though the beef satay was one stick short of perfect. And a little spicy. Still, an enjoyable meal.

We shopped around a little more before heading back to the hotel. Which brings us to where we are now.

I'll do a final update tomorrow after landing, but I suspect this sums up the interesting points of our trip. Thanks for following my blog, everyone! It's been fun!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Tonight's blog entry will be delayed due to me forgetting to write it until it was late at night and I felt like sleeping. Check back later for an update!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Paris Day 7

Today Mom, Dad, and Elise abandoned us. It was tragic. No, not really, we knew they were leaving without us. We packed up and finished off the cheese in some eggs in the morning, then went to the train station. There, we separated, Julia and I to the Oops! Youth Hostel and everyone else to the airport.

We found the Youth Hostel pretty easily, but we couldn't check in yet. They did let us leave our suitcases there, though, so we left with only our backpacks and purses. We took the Metro to the Pompidou. It's a very cool museum. The escalators are on the outside in big see-through plastic tubes, so you can look out over Paris as you go up. Julia's camera broke on the way up. We're looking into fixing it, but it's possible that this is the end of Paris photos. I guess I'll just have to keep up my thousand words, huh?

We started at the top floor. There were two galleries we couldn't visit because they cost extra money we didn't feel like paying, but there was also a restaurant we couldn't afford. More important than the restaurant was the restaurant's host, our very own Laura Jude. We said hello and chatted for a bit, then agreed to meet up another day.

We went down to the Museum proper. The art in it was very cool and modern, and occasionally creepy. There were a lot of naked women who seemed rather uncomfortable, like the one on video using a hula hoop of barbed wire, or the one holding a headless chicken as it wriggled. Our favorite parts were the fractal images, a giant, green plexiglass oval with the "sortie" symbol, a pile of rubble with a hole in the ceiling that suggested parts had fallen out, and then there was our favorite exhibit.

It was called "Night During the Day" or something, and when we went in the screen was black. It was all dark except for a bit of light illuminating the seats, and the faint glow of the black screen. There were bird noises all around. We sat down to look at it and see if anything would happen other than the screen being blank. It seemed like the screen was moving away from us, but we weren't sure if it was just our imagination or not. We sat there for a long time, staring at the blank screen and thinking about what it was. Then a bunch of loud people came in and we left. On the wall we saw something about a film schedule and realized that maybe we hadn't been actually looking at a work of art, it was... just a blank screen. I'm pretty sure that's not true, but the fact remains that the exhibit we liked best, that we thought about most, was a freaking blank screen. I find it hilarious.

Then it was lunch place. We stopped at a little crepe and sandwich stand. I got a sandwich, Julia got a crepe. The server was so creepy. He kept asking us how long we were in Paris, and when we said only a few days, he went, "Oh, that is not enough time for us to date, how will I make you love me?" It was very sketchy. We decided to take our food elsewhere to actually eat it. He also spent forever making Julia's crepe, even after he finished cooking another, similar crepe he'd started at the same time. Still, we both loved our food. I need to have more savory crepes in my life.

We walked around for a little bit searching for either a movie theater or a place for Julia to get a cute little notebook. We found neither and decided to head back to the Youth Hostel neighborhood. We wanted to watch Iron Man or Robin Hood, but neither was showing at a good time. So we kept walking. We couldn't find ice cream, which was too bad because I really wanted some. We did find a nice patisserie where we bought a mini croissant and a mini pain au chocolat.

When four o'clock struck, we went back to the Hostel for check-in. The stairway and downstairs are nice enough, but the room is not very nice. I suppose it is what it is. Cheap student housing. Still, I plan to sleep in my clothes and not use the blanket. It hits my texture squick hard.

We hung out in our room a while, then went to see Robin Hood. They only had Iron Man dubbed, and that's no good. Robin Hood had subtitles, so the only problem was when people spoke French and the normal, English subtitles they had were gone. Luckily, I know enough French that I could follow along, and Julia had already seen it. Good movie, though I could only enjoy it the same way I enjoy TV shows like Merlin and Smallville. Fun, good story, pay no attention to the legendary inaccuracies behind the curtain. But I did like it.

It ended around nine o'clock, or in other words, dinner time. There was a cute pizza store a few blocks down, so we went in. The waiters here were sort of creepy too. They kept making French jokes I barely understood. The pizza was very good, though. Julia had delicious chocolate cake for desert, and I had decent chocolate mousse. I liked hers better. They brought us free drinks with the checks and tucked a sparkly stick thing into Julia's hair. Like I said, they were creepy. The drinks were good, though. They looked like tequila sunrises, but they had no alcohol in them. I guess that's the mixed blessing of being young, attractive American girls in Paris. Creepy waiters flirt with you, but they also bring you free drinks.

Then we went back to the hostel and rented towels. There were two Argentinian men in the room who are staying in the bunk across from ours. They're backpacking across Europe, apparently. One is very tall and plays basketball. The other doesn't want to get addicted to computers. We chatted for a while, then they left for a club. Which brings us to now.

And the new Scott Pilgrim trailer looks awesome. I cannot wait for that movie.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Photos and Books

Some things I should mention before I forget.

Julia's got pictures up here. You need to be friends with her on Facebook to view them.

Also, the book I've been reading is Fool Moon by Jim Butcher. It's Book 2 in the Dresden Files. It's about a wizard named Harry Dresden who works in Chicago. It's part fantasy, part noir, and I like it a lot.

Paris Day 6

Today's entry's gonna be short due to my head feeling like I ate my wife when she was pregnant and now our full-grown daughter is inside my head in full battle armor clambering to get out.

We had delicious croissants for breakfast. Then we rode the Metro to L'Arc de Triomphe. The statues were undergoing maintenance, but they had pictures of what they were supposed to look like over the real ones. We stood underneath and looked around for a while before going up. Yay for museum passes that get us places free! The stairs were long and winding and took forever to get up. At the first level, we saw a bunch of random statues and exhibits, plus a screen that showed the view from above of all the tourists down below. We went up to the level with the gift shop and all sorts of other exhibity things. Then we went up to the top where we could see the city. Great view. I saw a bunch of places we've been. Then we went down again. I lost my family when I went to the bathroom, but I found them at the bottom. Then I went to the center and made faces and waved at the camera. I cared not that I looked like an idiot, I showed those spying bastards that I know they're watching!

Then we walked down the Champs-Élysée. I finally got a watch. We quit about half way through and got lunch. It was delicious. We caught the Metro to the Left Bank and wandered around a little before heading to our relatives' houses. I didn't know about these relatives until this trip, but they're pretty cool people. Albert has a huge collection of African masks that were on the walls. There were a lot of other people there of ages varying from 15 to I-didn't-ask-but-old. Some of us could only speak French, others only English. Then there was a group (myself included) that could speak a bit of one and were fluent in the other. Still, it made conversation interesting and multi-lingual. I did manage to explain what NaNoWriMo is in French, though. That was cool. There was a lot of food. Albert kept bringing out different fruits and pastries. It was pretty nice. It was also four hours of socialization. It may be the origin of said horrible headache, though I had none of the champagne.

Then we went to have a pizza/lasagna dinner at a place that wasn't terrible, but wasn't amazing. I enjoyed it, though. I left by metro because my head hurt and I wanted to get home, and the rest of the family followed more slowly.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Paris Day 5

We had a late start today. Lots of sleeping in and that kind of thing. It was nice. We had a wonderful, fresh from the oven baguette and warm milk for breakfast. Then we straggled out of the apartment and to the metro. I started reading my book. That proved to be a mistake. Thanks to my family knowing how I get when I'm absorbed in a book, I did not end up in Lyon or something, but it was a very near thing. We went to Montmartre and came out near the Moulin Rouge. It was very cool. There were topless women in the pictures, but none of them had snakes biting their nipples... that we noticed. Snake-biting-nipple count remains at two.

We started ambling up towards Sacre Cœur through the narrow streets. They were paved with stones and very beautiful. There was a cupcake shop! Cupcakerie? I don't know. I sort of wandered away while Elise was looking at shoes and my dad was doing... something because remember what I said about my book? I really wanted to finish my chapter. As would soon become a theme in my day, I almost lost the rest of my family, but didn't.

We started walking again, and dad claims he saw Van Gogh's house, but I'm not certain he's telling the truth. It might be a different house with a plaque we couldn't read in the photograph. Then we kept walking.

It started to rain, and we took refuge in a food place. The waiter was very mean, cutting me off when I started to ask for an omelette with a sharp, "No omelettes!" So we left. Maybe their food would have been good, but it wasn't worth it.

We crossed the street to a square surrounded with art. There were tented food place in the middle with much nicer waiters. The food was mediocre. My burger was pretty good, though.

We didn't go far after we paid the bill. Our main reason for visiting Montmartre was to get portraits done, and this is where the portrait artists congregated. The problem was picking one. Everyone felt the need to accost us, offering us "special prices" just for us, apparently lower than their regular prices. It was difficult to say no, but really, not too difficult. We found someone to paint Elise, Julia, and me. In that order. That meant I got to wander around being accosted by other painters for a while. I did see one artist who did more interesting portraits. He had a minimalist, water color and marker type style. It was different. And beautiful. I got him to do one of me. It's awesome.

While I was posing, apparently there was a naked woman painting herself blue in the street, but I did not see it, only heard about it from Dad and Elise.

I finished right as the family artist finished drawing Julia. Time for me to sit still staring at an artist for another decade! Elise and Dad had caricatures done while they were waiting. Reportedly, Elise's is great and Dad's less so. Julia had a portrait done by an artist who made a beautiful picture, but it wasn't of Julia. Then the parents decided to get another portrait of the two of them by the artist who drew the three of us. I went to a cafe for hot chocolate, crepes, and reading. I really like my book. The waiter was really nice and we talked about my studies. Then I got cold.

You have to understand, I was wearing a dress. It's a very cute dress, purple and flowery with a skirt that goes down to a bit above my knees. It's wonderful in the summer, less so when it's windy, cold and rainy and I have no sweatshirt. I tried calling the family but couldn't find them. I walked through the church, hoping they were there and also enjoying the lack of it being freezing in there. No family, though. After walking around a little more, I located them where I'd left them. I hung out with them a little, then walked away on a futile quest for an affordable yet cute sweatshirt that didn't say "I <3 Paris" or anything. (Seriously, it could at least be J'<3 Paris. I mean, come on.) Everything was crazy expensive. I finally made a successful call and told the parents I was going home. One metro ride later, I wandered up to our warm apartment and curled up with some Buffy.

Meanwhile, every tourist baiter in the city targeted the rest of my family. Some French-Africans who constantly said "Jumbo Jumbo Hakuna Matata" made them buy friendship bracelets. They went to the church too. That's all I really know about their time without me.

We went to a great place on the corner for diner. Then we went back to the apartment to a movie for them and more Buffy for me. I'd already seen the movie.