Monday, February 04, 2013

cinco*

After the crazy energy of day 4, day 5 left me feeling a little sluggish. I woke with Patrick and after breakfast at the hotel, headed to the Musee d' Orsay. I got there soon after opening and it was so nice and quiet for the first hour. Also? Free coat check! Very nice. I wandered around snapping photos whenever the guards weren't looking and just enjoying the quiet. I sat on a few benches. I saw LOTS of boobies. I took a break in the cafe. It was a low key morning and nice to be inside as this was the first day that felt kind of cold out there. (It was around 25 compared to the +30 temps of the previous days.)
This suite of art nouveau woodwork took my breath away.
Talk about built-ins!
I've always loved this painting so it was wonderful to see it in person.  Winslow Homer's Summer Night.  Crappy picture due to guard just leaving room and me trying to hurry.  :)
Tucked away in the back corner I found an area full of furniture.  I loved it, it was amazing.  See me there in the mirror?  I was so stealthy.  :)  I also felt naked without my (by this time) customary scarf that I had left in my coat pocket.  At least in the winter, 99% of Parisien women wear scarves.  Seriously.  EVERYONE.  I was so glad I brought a lot of them because 1) everybody else was doing it 2) they help keep you warm and 3) they broke up the monotony of all of my black and grey clothing.

One of the main reasons I went to this museum was to see the building itself.  It is so gorgeous.  It was a train station and sat unused for years before being turned into this.  Can you imagine?  They almost destroyed it.

As the morning slipped away the museum filled up.  Suddenly there were large tour groups everywhere (smugly getting educated while I wandered around with only my eyes to guide me, having bypassed the audio headset and then kind of regretting it but being too lazy to walk back and get one) and traffic jams in certain rooms.  I decided to leave and the coat check was turning people away as I retrieved mine.  So, another benefit to getting there early...coat check!

From here I made my way to Notre Dame.  See it?




I cannot say this without sounding kind of lame but I must be honest...Notre Dame didn't do much for me.  It is definitely beautiful and I felt lucky to walk through it but I just wasn't in the mood to dig deeper on that particular day.  Also, the towers were closed up to the top so I didn't bother walking up to the second floor.

Maybe my hunger had something to do with it, but I left after a while and searched out some lunch.  I decided on a nearby cafe and had my second icky lunch of the trip.  (I hadn't yet learned to avoid restaurants right by major attractions, obvs.)  The food wasn't cold but it just wasn't very good and I left feeling kind of bummed out.  Also, Berthilion was right across the river but it was so chilly out I wasn't in the mood for ice cream.  I did walk past it and managed to have a scoop at a creperie a couple of days later.  It was good but I'm sure it's much better fresh from the source.  Next time.  :)

After wandering around a bit more, and getting stopped for directions from a french speaking couple (!!) (although they were obviously tourists), I headed back to the hotel for my afternoon break.  I ended up doing this nearly every day because I 1) always needed to use the bathroom and got sick of searching out places to do so 2) had stuff to drop off and 3) might lay down and read for a while and check my email.  On this afternoon, I was weary.  I later laughed with Patrick and told him I was sick of my clothes, sick of wearing scarves, sick of saying "Bonjour", sick of ham and cheese and sick of the grey skies.  I also missed real books as I only brought "books" on my kindle app and it just isn't the same.  I know wah, wah, wah.  :)  But I was missing my real life a little that day.  I took a ten minute power nap and woke up with an idea.  I googled "english book stores in Paris" and was on my way again a few minutes later.  :)

The closest to our hotel was "Tea & Tattered Pages" and sadly, there was a FOR SALE sign on the door with a note saying the owner had died this past summer and if anyone was interested in buying it, call her daughter.  :(

I got on the Metro and found WH Smith with no trouble at all.  I spotted a huge garden which turned out to be the Jardin des Tuileries.  As it was getting dark, I decided to walk through the garden first and then visit the bookstore.  It was mucky and grey but I could imagine how beautiful it would be in the spring/summer/fall.

side note:  I did not see very many runners in Paris.   Maybe 2 dozen the entire week? 




Once in the bookstore, I sighed with relief.  It was so nice to look around and be able to read everything.  I needed a little familiarity and this was it.  I picked out two paperbacks and browsed around for quite a while.  They had a food section upstairs with UK specialties and a small US section.


You know, just some of our best offerings.  ;)

I walked down the stairs and had to step around this beautiful woman sitting on the stairs, sipping champagne and sporting a large bird on the back of her cape.  They were setting up a book signing for Cameron Silver's new book, Decades.  Here is a picture of her in line to buy her book:  (I have no shame)


That cape really was stunning and I got the impression she was someone.  I later overheard that she was from Dubai and would catch up with Cameron again when he was there in the next month or so.  He seemed friendly and was joking about the lack of people lining up to meet him.  :)


After this I headed back to the metro and hit one of the busiest times I ever had.


It was crazy packed.

I was happy to be home (the hotel) and reading a real book.  I got The Expats which is set in Luxembourg and Paris and centers around a woman who is a  mother by day and CIA agent by night.  It made me really wonder about my friend Ann who just moved to Luxembourg recently.  :)  (Ann also sent me lots of very tips about Paris that really came in handy.  I will share a list later.  Thanks Ann!)

(I'm almost done, don't worry)

That night for dinner we went to Restaurant L'Authentique and it was so delicious.  It was a small, homey place and the owner was so nice.  He brought the chalkboard menu right to our table and translated the basics of every dish we didn't understand, which was most of them.  :)  I chose a poultry dish (like a small turkey, he said) with risotto and morel mushrooms.  OH MY GOSH.  I cannot describe how delicous it was and packed with morels.  He also selected a fabulous bottle of wine for us that I neglected to note the name of.  Patrick selected foie gras as an appetizer which kind of grossed me out but I just went with it.  It was flavorful and the lentil dipping sauce that came with it was fantastic.  I did wake up in the middle of the night with the thought, "I ate duck liver" and my stomach rolled a bit but I fell right back to sleep.  :)


That was seriously so good.  Patrick ate his steak and frites and then helped me with mine.  He "hates" mushrooms but could not deny how delicious this was and I happily reminded him where that flavor was coming from.  Mushrooms!  :)  We ate all we could but sadly left a bit in the dish because we were just too full.

Then we teetered home and passed out.

xoxoxo

*for the first few days in Paris, Spanish words kept popping into my head.  I think because that is the only other language I know, my brain kept defaulting to it when it knew English was a no go.  I even answered "Si" to a question one day, confusing the sales clerk.  "So you speak Spanish?" she said?  HAHAHAHA. "Oui, madamoiselle," I answered, "Frances, Espagnol et Anglais."  hahahahhaha.  ;)

4 comments:

  1. This is my fav by far. I love how you realized what you needed and found a way to get it. I laughed out loud at the US food selections. That cape was beautiful. And now I'm hungry for mushrooms. ;)

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  2. Steph, Grant is having what I think is some big allergy problem. Can you answer some questions for me? If your kid has an egg allergy does it show up after a vaccine? Arent vaxes usually cultured in eggs or something? I have a million more questions. Email?

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  3. I am loving your travelogue. I look forward to it everyday, and I don't want the descriptions or pictures to end. Thanks for putting the time into writing this.

    I recall feeling so EXHAUSTED by not being able to read English everywhere (gave me loads of new empathy for immigrants to our country), and I had people with me whom I could speak with. I am impressed by your inspiration to head to an English book store. So smart! Plus. it's a treat to buy a book every once in a while, isn't it?

    I'm glad you made it to the Musee Orsay. I loved that HUGE clock in there. Stunning. I definitely recall the bldg more than the artwork, but I think that speaks to how (not) refined I am more than anything.

    Counting the hours til tomorrow's update...

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  4. Mim & Teresa - Thank you guys SO MUCH for letting me know you're enjoying this. It really means a lot. :) Thanks for letting me share. Teresa - I hadn't thought of the immigrants but will now. How true!! Also, am not refined, either. :) xx

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