Friday, November 16, 2007

Part II: We Arrive In Paris

November 4

Our plane landed in Paris at about 5:30 a.m. Once we were through the passport checkpoint, I busied myself by taking pictures of airport chairs while Ish waited in line at an ATM, hoping that the dollar had possibly maybe become worth something overnight.

It hadn't.

We then took a cab to our hotel. Our driver did not speak English, so I was incredibly relieved when Ish was able to direct him to our hotel in French.

::Sidebar::

I started taking French classes when I was in the 4th grade, and continued them through my first year of college. That's ten years. TEN.

Ish, on the other hand, took one year of French sometime in high school, and perused a few books before our trip.

The result? Right. Ish did all the ordering and direction-giving, and I said "oui," "non," and "noir" a LOT.

Awesome.


Here is what I can tell you about Paris on a Sunday morning in November before 7 a.m.: it is not only quiet, it is also still dark.

Naturally, our hotel room was not ready at 7 a.m., so we left our luggage with the front desk and went wandering around the Champs Elysees. First stop? The Arc! (Which I kept referring to as "The L'Arc," because I thought it was very funny to call it, essentially, "THE The Arc." Hoo boy. That IS a real knee-slapper, huh?)


Pictured: The L'Arc

Ish: Okay, now you stand in front of it.

Me: I don't want to stand in front of it.

Ish: How will they know you were really here?

Me: They aren't going to think someone ELSE took all these stupid pictures.

Ish: Just one of you, come on.

Me: I haven't even changed yet. And my face is chubby and I have a million hours of plane on me and my hair...

Ish: JUST STAND STILL.


Pictured: La Chubette, giddy as a schoolgirl.

We continued to wander around and stare at lots of unopened cafes and shops.

I can't say I was terribly surprised that there was a McDonald's, but I had never stopped to consider how the tagline "I'm Lovin' It" would translate in French. You know, for people who generally serve better food to their pets.


Pictured: I'm lovin' it = C'est tous ce que j'aime = It's all that I love. How creepily romantic.

Eventually day started to break, and people started to stir. We headed back toward the direction of our hotel in hopes of finding an open cafe.


Pictured: The L'Arc in near-daylight.


Pictured: The L'Arc in daylight, as viewed by a bald man.

We did, in fact, find several open cafes, and this was great. San Francisco cafes tend to open late (like 10 a.m.), and this is something I have never understood. But in Paris, not only could I have coffee and croissants (and bread and jam and butter, oh my) at 8, I discovered the most wonderful breakfast treat in the world: vin chaud.

For those of you NOT as fluent in French as I (what with my TEN years and all), that translates to "hot wine."

Voila!

Pictured: Hot wine. Figures that my "good" photo would be of booze.

It was quite good.

However, after the flight and breakfast and a glass of hot wine, I discovered I was too tired to stand. We headed back, again, to the hotel in hopes that our room would be ready before long.

On our way, Ish pointed out that enough dark and fog had burned off so that you could see just past The L'Arc.


Pictured: What's that in the background??


Pictured: It is! It's the Eiffel Tower!

Truth be told, I was deliriously happy to see it, but also just delirious. We desperately needed to nap.

Luckily, our room was ready not long after we got back. And it was fantastic! (Thanks, UpTake!!)

Here is some of what the room looked like, from a not-very-good angle:

Pictured: A hotel room.

The windows opened as doors out to a small balcony, which was amazing:

Pictured: Room view #1


Pictured: Room view #2

Even with the lovely views, however, it took about 4 seconds before we both passed out.

When we re-emerged, it was late afternoon. We felt refreshed and ready to take in the city. First stop: taking the Paris metro.


Pictured: Uh, sign of the metro.

While we were on the metro, and I was sitting, completely overwhelmed with how wonderful and cool and romantic and European everything was, a guy got on the train somewhere behind us. He started playing his guitar and singing, and it was immediately obvious that he was an American (or at least had been at one point). And he decided to play 'Til There Was You.

Now, as couples tend to do, Ish and I have organically developed a list of songs we consider "ours." It's not a very long list (uh, and for reasons inexplicable, Don't Phunk With My Heart is one of them). But Til There Was You was one of the first songs Ish ever off-handedly sung to me, and so you might well imagine that when we were suddenly hearing it, live, on the Paris metro, I couldn't help but cry just a little.

Pretty great stuff.

We got to our stop, and so walked around some more.

I couldn't have told you where we were at any point, because I wasn't paying attention to the big stuff. I just loved every little thing. The sidewalks, the trees, the people, the accents, the dozens of street vendors selling light-up Eiffel Towers they referred to as, bleeng bleeng.

But I can tell you that I was just wandering along in my own world when Ish stopped walking and just looked at me.

Me: Huh?

Ish: Uh, look.

Me: What?

He pointed.

OH!

And all of a sudden, there it was.


Pictured: Like you don't know.

And um, there I was, too. In the same place! I even stood in front of it without protest.



And then it got all super sparkly!!!



So we got closer, on the idea that we were going to go up in it. But by the time we got to the base, I decided I'd had enough terror for the day (since the only thing I'm more afraid of than flying is heights), and the lines were long, and while I'm sure the view is great from it, the view of it was perfectly marvelous.



Instead, we decided to take a tour of Paris from la Seine! Ooh, la la!

It was the perfect thing to do on our first night: Get a feel for the layout of the city, see some of the historic sites from a cool perspective, you know. I did also think it would be a terrific opportunity to take some photos.

From a moving object in the dark.

Thus we have these four gems:


Pictured: Scalp of German female tourist. Also, something very historic in the background.


Pictured: Scalp of German male tourist. Also, opposite perspective of something very historic in the background.


Pictured: Definitely historic building and wall and trees.



Pictured: My favorite photo of all. Of a dark historic building. Or possibly a boat. Or maybe a wall. Plus with more scalp.


Right.

So After our picturesque tour, we strolled along and found a cafe for our first glass of French (non-chaud) wine.

Here, Ish makes his best "French" face.


Pictured: Ish thinking his wine is better than your wine.

Next to him on the cafe wall was a poster, and I found the phrase "provided in following web" tres charmant!



It was fun in the cafe. I loved that people were eating and drinking coffee and wine and some were lovers and some were friends and one woman behind us was just studying. Even in SF there are very few places that have the all-in-one feel of a cafe/restaurant/lounge where you could have a meal or not, linger or not, smoke or not, and drink coffee or wine or Perrier. It felt great.

We had dinner nearby, and then made our way back to our hotel.

And there in our room, with the windows open and Ella in the background, we danced.

20 comments:

  1. I'm all verklempt. So wonderful!

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  2. oh your holiday sounds so nice.

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  3. Seriously, these things happen in real life? Because I would have thought that people in love dancing in a hotel room in Paris with the windows open was not a movies-only type of thing.

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  4. I mean I would have thought it WAS a movies-only thing. Damn. Perhaps there has been too much vin froid around here already. (I have a minor in French and used about six words while in France. I think it was performance anxiety.)

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  5. omg, i know it's the cheesiest thing ever. and yet wonderful. and yet cheesy. but then, when do i ever write about romantic things, really?

    also, superfantastic -- i TOTALLY agree! i feel so much better now!

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  6. I just love Paris, it is so effortlessly beautiful isn't it? I can't wait until part three!

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  7. I am so happy for you(s)!!
    In high school, my friends and I promised we would not(ever)never,
    1. marry w/out having had traveled Europe.
    2. wear poly-blends.
    3. die our hair blond.
    4. stay fat after our pregs.
    married= 24yrs never overseas
    poly=waering it now
    hair=coloring=highlights=blond
    kids 8-22yrs=faaaaattt
    oh well, maybe I'll go to Paris for my 25th annivesary fat, blond and la chub.
    XXOO,
    Meg

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  8. Beautiful. What a fairy tale! Of course, I couldn't help but look up a clip with 'Til there was you' on youtube as soon as I finished reading this. The dancing, the vin, and Ella... I've got goosebumps!

    -Jenny in SJ

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  9. Oh, I am so living vicariously right now. That looks wonderful. I wish that I was living your life in Paris. Instead, I took 3 littles to the Wisconsin Dells. A midwestern Branson, if you will. It was fun, but there was no warm wine at 8, no fabulous sites to see, and lots of water therapy (Ie overpriced indoor water parks.) But I've got a great imagination. I PRETENDED that I was in Paris...
    I am so happy that you had a great trip. It looks wonderful. I am also glad that you let some photos of yourself be taken. I, too, am camera shy. I think that you look beautiful. You'll be glad that you have all of those great photos to show your family a million years from now.

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  10. Thank you for a lovely post. I felt like I was riding along in your suitcase. :D

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  11. AWWWW I teared up a little reading this! :)

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  12. i'm verklempt too!

    can't wait for the rest of the tale...

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  13. Either you write so very beautifully or it was just a beautiful experience (or both I guess should also be a choice...anyways) I did notice that you and I tend to take the same exact pictures. I think it's because, at the moment, we are so inspired so we must take pictures. Then we get home and we all like "What the hell?"
    It does sound like you had a great trip. I'm kind of jealous. I want to go!

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  14. That first pic of you where Ish insisted looks great. A photographer's trick is to stand to the side and then turn your head towards the camera when you want to look skinnier.

    I don't drink alcohol but that wine with lemon pic makes it look really good.

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  15. Oh I'm all teary-eyed reading about the Metro....

    Post more soon....

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  16. oh, i love Paris. LOVE. And i was only there with a group of friends. It has to be 20x better with the one you love.

    Can't wait to read about the rest of your trip. (also can't wait to go back...)

    Vin Chaud? Sounds like the breakfast of champions... :)

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  17. You should seriously warn a girl that she might need a tissue while reading your blog. So sweet!

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  18. mmmm, vin chaude. Think anyone in the office would notice if I started drinking that instead of coffee in the morning?

    Sounds like a lovely fist day in Paris :)

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  19. Oh, lovely post. Sounds like a wonderful trip and not too cheesy (really!)

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