Saturday, August 25, 2007

Monday, August 13: Good Morning (yawn), Paris

Hillary and I were up at 3:45 am so we could make our 5:30 Eurostar train from London to Paris. We were out of the house by 4:10 but our "night bus" (so Harry Potter-ish!) did not arrive at 4:25 as we were expecting it to. We even spent about $10 in change (London is EXPENSIVE!) on four minutes' worth of frantic pay phone calls that failed to procure a taxi. The bus finally did show, and we made it to Waterloo Station with very few minutes to spare. Of COURSE I was selected for a special search of my bag. The security guard noticed the frantic look in my eyes that said, "We're about to miss our train and lose out on our SECOND pair of non-refundable tickets if you don't let me go RIGHT NOW," asked me what our departure time was, and calmly allowed me to gather my belongings and go. We made our train, and most of the passengers quickly dozed off for the three hour trip. I had a hard time getting comfortable and was excited that we were finally on our way to Paris, so I didn't sleep as much as I would have liked.

After we and our luggage arrived at Hillary's sweet one-room plus bath flat, we ate some pastries and took a serious nap. Next, Hillary made us some delicious spaghetti with garlic in her "kitchen" (you can see her cooking it below.)

Then we wandered off to the Natural History Museum and botanical gardens, which are less than a ten minute walk from Hillary's place. The museum was long on beauty and short on information, which was just to my liking. The grounds were nice as well, particularly the Art Deco-style greenhouse. We skipped the botanical gardens and menagerie. We saw many children, and I couldn't help but think how much Nels and Willem would have enjoyed spending a day there.

En route to dinner:

Our plan for the evening was to have dinner at Le Refuge des Fondues, a wacky fondue spot long cherished by tourists and, as we later discovered, locals looking to meet tourists. We wandered the lanes of Montmartre for a good long while, as we'd forgotten to bring the street address of the restaurant and I was remembering it being farther up the hill than it was. By the time we found it, it was dark and raining. It was closed. We trekked over to another restaurant Hillary had been wanting to go back to for its (supposedly) sublime foie gras ravioli. I'll never know, for that was closed too. We reluctantly made our way back to the more touristy area in search of a place to eat. It was ten o'clock and we were too hungry to make a decision. An aggressive older woman tried to talk us into coming into her place, thinking her menus printed in English would entice us in rather than dissuade us entirely. We picked up our pace as we passed two only slightly less aggressive men trying to start a conversation with us. Wet and hungry, we finally walked into a place that was at least full of people and wasn't serving Italian or Chinese food. Turned out to be my favorite overall meal of the trip. Everyone who worked there was extremely friendly and we had a delightful time. Hillary had foie gras on toast served with a caramelized pear, and I had goat cheese sachets with caramelized apple.

For our main course, we both had duck with goat cheese sauce, which sounds strange but was delicious. We shared a creme brulee for dessert and the only thing we regretted about that was the sharing. We were giddy with the joy of having an unexpectedly good meal until I looked down at my watch and saw that it was 12:30. No more Metro service. This was alarming, though I was momentarily distracted by the tiny mouse scampering around our feet. "Vous avez une souris," I told the waiter, absurdly proud of myself for knowing how to say "mouse" in French. "Yes, I know," he replied in French, and told us her name. I wish I could remember what it was...something adorably feminine and perfectly appropriate for a Parisian restaurant-dwelling mouse.

Wishing we we had time for another round of dessert but worried about how we would get home, we walked out into the damp night and headed for the Metro stop, hoping we would find some guidance there as to how to proceed. We found a guardian angel in the form of a transit worker who told us where to catch the bus and which one to take. We did get home successfully, but if we had known it was going to take us until 3:30 in the morning, we probably would have just called a taxi, even if we would have missed out on feeling adventurous and capable.

So up at 3:45 and to bed at 3:45. Only three days left!

1 comment:

Hillary said...

MUST return for creme brulee this week! Truly, we were insane for sharing.