Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Moving on Up - trois jours.

As I had said in my day one and two posts about Paris (check the links if you missed lots of pictures and recapping!), we stayed close to Montmartre in a "charming" (read: small and tiny and bare bones) apartment, though since it was our first apartment, we didn't really know what else was out there in our price range (and it was still more space than a hotel). When it was time to move south of the Seine (to Montparnasse), we were pretty happy to be leaving the area - though not so happy to have to schlep our bags down the six flights of spiral stairs.

It turned out that our host couldn't check us into our new home until 19:30, so we had a lot of time to kill and ended up just wandering along the area we'd be staying in, until we realized that wandering with big ass suitcases/backpacking backpacks was not very productive. We ended up finding a wonderful cafe called Les Frangines where we wandered in, I asked (in French, obvi) if they had food and open tables, and were able to grab one by the window. We were told, "Pardon, nous n'avons pas la viande en ce moment," (we don't have meat at the moment), which was pretty perfect for us, so we ordered the raviole avec fromage trois (three cheese ravioli) and a cheese plate, as well as two beers ("petite ou grande?"... "grande, merci beaucoup" - obviously). 

Fromage et pain. 

Mmmm, raviole.

From Edwin's perspective:

Bière grande

It was wonderful to just relax there (with reliable Wifi, yay!), and we ended up spending hours (and getting a little bit tipsy) while there. 

We finally moved into our apartment (only on the second floor - so US third floor! Major treat), and instantly fell in love with it. It was absolutely perfect, and the most tremendous upgrade from our first place. 

As gorgeous as the apartment was, we didn't spend too long there - our sights were set on going to the Eiffel Tower that night, which was only (said Edwin) about 3 miles from our apartment. No big deal at all - we're both runners, so we could certainly make the hike there while walking (famous freaking last words - we were wearing boots and had sprinted to the supermarket the day prior just to buy jam and drinks, so we had totally over exerted). 

The walk was gorgeous, and it's so funny to see my progression of pictures - apparently I didn't think I was ever going to see to Tower, because I take pictures that keep getting closer, and closer, and closer. 

And I LOVE how they lit it up once night started to fall - it was the perfect welcome to the Tower, and was so absolutely surreal. 


And then I started to realize that we were actually there, at the Tower, that I had seen pictures of for forever - it's such a weird feeling. 

They were doing construction work, but it was still so cool to see even the work that was going on. 

After the Tower, we ended up hightailing it back to Montparnasse (passed the Tower), to find an open wine store (I kept called the little corner stores "bodegas," which goes to show how French I actually am), which we did after the woman who owned the store unlocked it and let us in to buy our two bottles (we ended up going back there every night, just because of that). 

The night ended with FaceTime-ing Edwin's family (my parents have Galaxy's, so no Facetime - and they forgot to connect their Skype, ugh), drinking a bottle of wine, and watching futbol in French. 

(Please note that this wine was the equivalent of $4, and it was the best ever).

Have you ever had a very surreal traveling experience? Please share! :) xox

Monday, May 5, 2014

Deux jours - Paris 2014.

Day two of Paris - part two! (Fitting it was split into a two-parter). 

The story of the day picks up from after Sacre Coeur (which you can read about here if you missed it!), where we just wandered, which we spent a ton of time doing. The thing about being in Europe was that it didn't matter if we knew where we were or not - we just took it all in.

I'm someone who is usually a planner - I like a game plan, I like a beautiful little list when I go grocery shopping, and I like to have a general idea of my surroundings/places to go eat and drink when I'm going somewhere. However, French Allison was way, way more fun and way, way more laid back. I had absolutely no problems with NOT having a plan, and I really liked that.

So, we wandered and just took it all in little by little.

I loved these gorgeous flowers that grew everywhere.

And Edwin loved the old school little mini Coopers, which were admittedly really freaking adorable.

We ended up looping back near our apartment, deciding we didn't want to be there and wanted to stay out, so we continued to wander, heading towards Moulin Rouge instead (which we never actually did find, instead we just kept wandering).

One of the amazing things that we kept encountering were beautiful buildings like this - this was just a regular church - nothing special, nothing historical.. just there. Even in the city (New York), we don't have architecture like this, so I was just so inspired by how gorgeous everything was.

We had decided already to head to a craft beer bar that I had discovered when browsing through Yelp (it was one of the only things that I DID actually plan ahead), so we went from Montmartre to Oberkampf, which was about a 4.1 km walk each way. We hadn't eaten yet, and didn't know what the bar would have, so the plan was to stop for lunch somewhere along the way as we headed a few neighborhoods down.

The Seine.

I watch Walking Dead - there was no freaking way I was going to the Terminus brasserie, even if they did have advertised free Wifi.

I promised myself that we were NOT going to be the Americans who go to France and swear everyone should accommodate us by speaking English, so I tried my hardest to learn as much French as I could in the months prior to going. I did learn a lot (probably more than I ever did in the four years of high school French, and two years of college French), but I was still so unprepared.for how FAST people would speak. Typically, I would attempt my beautiful French with the most authentic of accents, and they would quickly switch over to English, which was helpful, but definitely an, "ugh," moment because I did not blend, and I'm not used to that.

When we headed to one cafe that offered fromage plats (cheese plates), Edwin's love of cheese took over, so we headed in. I asked for a table and a menu, and then thought that I ordered (in French), two beers, a cheese plate, and a salad. I knew enough that when he asked if I wanted steak, I said, "Non, je suis vegetarian," and was quite pleased with myself.

While we didn't end up getting exactly what I had anticipated, I was still pretty proud nonetheless that we were given a vegetarian meal.. with cheese!

From there, we continued to wander until the craft beer bar was open, where we learned that even French graffiti is pretty.

And then, once it was a little after 5 p.m., we headed to La Fine Mousse, one of the only craft beer bars in Paris. It was an incredible environment, where they truly saw beer as being an art form, and they prided themselves not only on the quality of their beer, but the presentation of it (so they cut the foam at the top with what looked like a straight razor - that serious about beer).

After we had a handful of French/European beers, we seriously RAN the 4.1 km home so that we could make it to the local epicerie before it closed, since we wanted to buy jam and fromage to go with baguettes from the patisserie for our dinner. We had already been walking all day, and the run was not at all good on our (read: my) calves/legs/heels, but we made it with ten minutes to spare, which was also highly impressive. 

We spent another end of the evening sitting by our lovely window, eating, and drinking while wishing we had ice to rest our swollen legs and feet. 

 And that was the end of a very, very packed day two of Paris - next up, our move to Montparnasse for a totally new area/experience. Sorry for the picture overload (though not sorry enough to delete any!).