Friday, December 16, 2011

Paris, Part 2

  We started our second day by getting a delicious croissant from a crowded bakery on the way to the Luxembourg Gardens. This is the location of the French Senate, as well as a very population spot for joggers and people practicing some form of tai-chi or self-defense.(Seriously, it was strange how many people were doing it. Maybe it was a class?) From there we walked to Notre Dame. There was a huge Christmas tree in front of the Cathedral and a very intricate Nativity Scene inside. Our next stop was the Sacre Coeur Cathedral in the Montmartre district.
   And that’s when the strangest thing happened. Unbelievable even. As we were exiting a Metro train to change lanes, Caitlin turns to me to whisper that the guy right behind us looks like our Italian roommate. (Oh by the way, did I mention his name is Fabio?? Yes, Fabio. From Italy. No resemblance though.) So I sneakily turn around, and, to say he looks like Fabio would be an understatement. We let him pass to get a better look.  Same features, same clothes and everything. It dawns on us that this could be his identical twin that we’ve only seen once on skype. We follow him onto the train and decide it worth a shot to ask him if he has a brother. He does. And it’s our roommate. Turns out he and his friend were going to Sacre Coeur too, so we went together to the cathedral and the art district nearby. It’s a small world after all.
                We walked back to Montmartre that night to have a glass of hot wine and watch the people posing for portraits and caricatures. We had an early flight back to Madrid, but we really enjoyed our fall weekend in the City of Lights!

Luxembourg Gardens (above and below)

Notre Dame
Coincidental Metro run-in 
Sacre- Coeur
Montmartre art square

In the square with some hot wine!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Thanksgiving in Paris! part 1

  The actual truth is, Caitlin and I didn’t really plan a trip for Thanksgiving. We forget about it. Back in September, we decided to start looking for cheap flights around Europe in advance. We found the best fares over the weekend of November 24th-27th. We checked our school calendars and didn’t see a conflict, so we booked them! It wasn’t until about a week later that we realized that was Thanksgiving weekend. Woops.  But since we weren’t going home, why not go to Paris?
  We stayed in a studio of an American girl who is doing our teaching program in France. Her apartment is in the Latin quarter of Paris, with a view of the Eiffel Tower.  The tower was lit up, and shortly after arriving, the lights began to twinkle. I tried to get Caitlin’s attention by exclaiming, “the Eiffel Tower is sparkling, like diamonds!!” Thinking I was in some kind of cheesy romantic mood, she didn’t even look up. “No, literally!” Luckily, she saw it just in time. So for your future knowledge, be sure to look for the Eiffel Tower right before 1:30am so you can watch it change lights before it turns off for the night.
  We went walking around to check out the action and look for food. (Yes, at 2 am. We didn’t get to eat dinner because of our flight!) The streets were so quiet; we were very confused. In Spain, everything is open until at least 4. The only place we found open was a sports bar near the apartment. And as luck would have it, they were having an American Thanksgiving party. We joined all of the 7 other people there were able to grab a quick slice of pumpkin pie before it closed. So that was our Thanksgiving feast- one piece of pie. But we enjoyed every bite.
  The next day we started out bright and early to head to the Eiffel Tower. Unfortunately, it was a super foggy day and you could barely even see the top of it. At the base, it was roped off and surrounded by guards and emergency cars. I’m not sure what was going on, but we couldn’t go up. We crossed the river and walked into the Christmas markets on the Champs-Elysees. Rows and rows of tents were up with crafts and treats. This was the weekend the city started the markets and lights around town. Que suerte (how lucky)!  
  We continued down until we got to the Lourve and went inside to wander around the massive museum. Although we didn’t have any room in our carry on suitcases to make many big purchases, we felt we had to at least go through some stores. We were in Paris after all. Aside from the countless streets of shopping, there are several huge malls, decked out with all their Christmas decorations. Every year, they put up Christmas displays in the mall windows that draw big crowds. Most had robotic toys that moved or danced. We went back to the Christmas market that night to get crepes with Nutella. First day in Paris=success.
Day 2 of Paris to come…