**HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!**
I can’t believe it’s 2012…because 2012 is when the sprout comes!!!
(totally need to update you all on the past weeks shenanigans)
(but first, our massive FAIL in Paris)
Tim and I decided at some point during the summer a few years ago that we were going to travel instead of eat for Thanksgiving. This concept was completely new to both of us, as I grew up going to a big, multi-family dinner that lasted all day and he’s Italian – need I say more?
This Paris trip would mark the first time I had ever been to Europe, while Tim spent an entire semester in college gallivanting all over England and France and Italy, had gone across the pond again with family and again for work. Basically: he knew how to get around and I was a deer in headlights.
I tried to learn *some* French with Rosetta Stone, but after getting into an argument with the CD in my car one day on the way home from work about the correct pronunciation of “cat,” I kind of fell off the Rosetta Stone French wagon. I wasn’t too concerned though, since Tim took lots of French in school and said he still remembered most of it.
I’ll skip all the prepping part to get to Paris, kind of like how our seats – though they were in the exit row (I’m 5’10 with legs making up the bulk of my height) – they were also directly across from the double lavatory.
Exactly. Let’s skip all that.
So, we land in Heathrow*** and I am ecstatic. I’m IN FRANCE. We decided that neither of us would be driving along any of the roads in Paris, namely the infamous Champs-Élysées, pretty as it may be, so we had a taxi take us to our hotel. And once we arrived?
Our hotel was walking distance to the Louvre and there were beautiful French people and patisseries as far as the eye could see. We dropped our bags in our room and set out immediately, wanting to make the most of the four-day mini-vacation.
We traversed the multi-dimensional levels of the Louvre, we walked through the nearby Tuileries Garden, we took the metro to the Eiffel Tower, we ventured down to the Champs-Élysées and climbed the million steps up to the top of the Arc de Triomphe.
And we did all of this after no sleep on a 13 hour plane ride and zero food other than a small café latte (for me) and a pastry (for Tim) at a small Patisserie near our hotel that morning.
Suffice it to say that when 5:00pm Paris time rolled around, we were jet-lagged and starving. Ravenous is probably more appropriate.
Now, we did bring a few Hi, I’m a Tourist books about Paris, which included plenty of ideas for good, French food, typical American fare and everything in between. However, our stomachs were overtaking our brain in decision making – which meant no decisions were being made at all.
We walked all over, going up and down street after street, deciding that what we (read: our stomachs) REALLY WANTED was a warm baguette from a bakery. Up and down the Parisian streets we went, desperately seeking one out to fill our belly with warm bread. Yet, every time we thought we found one, it was closed.
Our Hi, I’m a Tourist books never said anything about everyone closing up shop early and leaving starving Americans out to fend for themselves.
Finally, Tim managed to put mind over stomach and out the tourist book. He found the nearest place that was within walking distance and still open – a small, quaint Patisserie that also had a dining area. And since there was a “dining area,” we figured that also meant there was actual “dining food” – à la sustenance – inside.
So into the Patisserie we went, Tim explaining in broken French – which was mostly bonjour! and then lots of pointing – that we wanted to be seated in the dining area.
A nice French woman led us up a winding staircase to a tiny, dimly lit room with five two-top (two chairs) tables and handed us the menu…of varying flavors of chocolat chaud (hot chocolate).
Tim and I looked at each other, dumbfounded.
Me: Can we leave? This isn’t food! I’m so hungry!
Tim: We are NOT leaving. I don’t think I can point my way out of that explanation.
We both stared down at the menu, settling on the standard mug of chocolat chaud and biscotti, which was as close to bread as we were getting at this point. When our French server came back, Tim ordered for us and we sat and waited, trying not to pass out from hunger pangs.
Fortunately, it wasn’t overly crowded yet (apparently the chocolat chaud crowd is a night owl kind of group), so it didn’t take very long for our order to be placed at our table.
And let me tell you – I have never in my entire life been more excited to see a mug of chocolate.
Me: Why is there a spoon? Why is this served with a spoon?
Tim shrugged, at this point only interested in putting something other than air into his stomach.
I put my lips to the mug and tilted it back, waiting for the warm liquid to hit my mouth.
And I waited.
And I waited.
Finally, my lips still on the porcelain, I looked down into my mug, thinking that maybe I was doing it wrong. I mean, I thought I had a pretty good handle on drinking from mugs and glasses, but you never know. Maybe it was different in Paris.
Down below the bridge of my nose, I see this dark brown sludge of a movement creeping ever so slowly towards my mouth.
I set the mug down and looked at Tim, who hadn’t touched his chocolat chaud but was instead munching away on his biscotti.
Me: I guess that’s what the spoon is for.
Me: The chocolat chaud. It’s more like chocolat…how do you say “mud” in French?
Because that is exactly what it was – mud. There was no “drinking” of this chocolat chaud. It was more like a hot pudding. In a mug. And this is all very deceiving to someone from America who has never been to Europe and has zero idea how to say ‘thank you’ without completely butchering the language, much less successfully drink what she thought was “chocolat chaud” aka hot chocolate aka non-viscous.
So Tim and I sat at this little upstairs dining area and ate our chocolat chaud with a spoon.
Afterwards, we half fell, half tripped down the winding staircase onto the street below, punch drunk on sugar. Actually, I might have been certifiably drunk.
And we took our inebriated selves onto the Metro – again – to see the Eiffel Tower at night in all its glory. I’m not even sure if this was a conscious decision or more of a “follow the crowd” type of activity. Either way, we spent the next thirty minutes outside, laughing at the blue-lit tower, freezing in the cold November air while walking down the long lawn behind the Eiffel Tower to try and get a picture of me, in front of the tower, at night.
(as you can see, sound decision making was never part of the plan)
However, the silver lining in our jaunt across the lawn? It led us to this tiny sandwich type store that we found while looking for a Metro station that was STILL OPEN. Tim and I ran in there like we were being chased by herd of angry elephants, rushing up to the counter and pointing and babbling, our mouths salivating from the smells coming from the back kitchen. Whether this little shop was about to close or not – I have no idea. All I know is that they had French onion soup and yesplease.
We didn’t have much in the way of Euros with us since we hadn’t been in Paris long enough to change over any extra money and had planned on getting by mostly with a credit card – everyone speaks plastic.
This little sandwich shop said they took credit cards on their sign outside, so we loaded up. French onion soup, a grilled something sandwich, two pieces of an apple pear tart and two bottles of water and two very happy people who were finally – after almost two days without a decent meal (hello, six hour time difference) – getting to eat!
Tim handed the older Parisian woman behind the counter his credit card.
She swiped it though the machine.
Tim looked at her like, “What do you mean, ‘no?’”
She swiped it again.
“No. Not working.”
Tim’s eyes were wide, disbelief written all over his face. He asked her to try again by making the swiping motion with his hands.
I was standing behind him, not really participating in the silent war that was going on between them. However, I watched her the third time she swiped the card. And wouldn’t you know it?! She wasn’t *really* swiping it! She was only half swiping it through the little machine so it wouldn’t read properly. She didn’t want to take our card. She didn’t want to pay a fee to run our card. So she tried to pull one over on the stupid, starving Americans. So we would have to pay in CASH.
And the stupid, starving Americans did just that.
Because that is exactly what we were.
We spent almost all of the Euros we had on that meal. But it was THE BEST meal we had the entire time we were in Paris.
We left that tiny shop just as they were closing for the night, fat and happy.
I am aware that the airport in Paris is Charles de Galle. For whatever reason…the self writing this decided to type Heathrow. I have no idea.