Pritha is having a bad morning. So before I talk about my wonderful, long, tiring weekend, I will talk about my morning. Woke up and was incredibly tired. Got up, showered at was at breakfast by 7:30 as usual. Enjoyed breakfast (bread was good for once), talked to friends, etc. Planned on taking a pastry to the Jardin du Luxembourg every morning this week but I just went back up to my room and took a nap instead. Left for work around 9 and decided no pastry this morning, just work, then a baguette from my bakery during lunch break and some grocery shopping for lunch.
Got to the crossing where my bakery is situated. IT WAS CLOSED. My heart almost stopped. Okay, I know most of Paris is on vacation. There is no one in my office but me most days. The bakery next to where I live closed about a week ago. BUT MY BOULANGERIE?? WHERE I PLANNED TO GO TWICE A DAY THIS WEEK UNTIL I LEAVE???? WHERE I ALWAYS GET MY LUNCH BAGUETTES?? HOW WILL I LIVE???????
I'm a bit distraught. I almost started crying. Of course, when bakeries close, they direct you to the next nearest one (which is usually about ten feet away) so I went to the one across the street and bought a couronne de choquette. It was quite delicious. Almost ALMOST mitigates the pain I'm feeling from having lost my bakery. Sigh. Now if my creperie goes on vacation too, I'll really fall apart.
Enough about that. On to Friday. I peaced from work at about 430 (I was actually quite productive that day), got back to the Foyer, ate a demi baguette (from my bakery....tears tears), grabbed my things and grabbed the metro at 5:10. Despite the half hour train ride, I still managed to speed walk from Bir Hakeim (the closest metro the Eiffel Tower) to the tower in about ten minutes. Thank god for my speedy legs. I love overtaking people on the streets. They never know what's going on.
Anyway, I get to the Eiffel Tower and there's a line. For people with reservations...there is a line. Huh? Yeah, that's right. So it took me about half an hour just to get the top (elevator only, of course), but that was so worth it. The view is incredible. The ride is actually pretty magnificent. Kind of like the Tower of Terror, although if this elevator drops, nothing will save you. First you go up to the first level (which is already quite high) and then you keep going all the way to the top (which is quite, quite high). Takes a while because you have to wait in the line for the elevator each time, with all the hundreds of other people. Anyway, the magnificent view:
Well, enough about that tower. It took me another half an hour to get down, and even though I speed walked so fast I practically ran to the Metro, I was half an hour late for my 7:30pm rendezvous with my friend Jo at the Louvre. In any case, the Louvre is free on Fridays so I decided I might as well stay for the remaining 1.5 hours the museum is open. Checked out the Medieval Louvre (where they had doors that were my height!) and part of the Egypt exhibit. I didn't finish looking at everything, of course, so I'm going back. For the fourth time. Don't judge me.
Saturday. I had to be at Gare St. Lazare for the Giverny Bike Tour (with the same company who conducted the Night Bike Tour) at 10am so I woke up at 6:30, did my laundry, had breakfast and left at around 9am. Got to the station half an hour early and prayed that I would find my tour guide (same one as before). Thankfully, everyone from the tour managed to congregate at the same spot and we introduced ourselves to Jackson and were off! 50-minute train ride. I sat with a New York couple who apparently bike A LOT. Interesting enough.
We got off at the Vernon station and walked to a shed nearby where our bikes were being stored. I, of course, as always, got the super tiny kid's mountain bike. I'm short and proud. We then rode the Vernon Market. Probably the biggest outdoor farmer's market I have ever seen. It had everything. Including clothing and shoes and underwear and jewelry. We had fifty minutes to shop for our picnic, during which time I bought berries, apricots, a peach, some meat casserole thing and (from possibly the classiest boulangerie I have ever seen) 4 macarons for 4 euros. Expensive, but possibly worth it.
With all our things on our bikes, we rode across a beautiful bridge to a park very close by and had our picnic. I met a lot of people, talked about school and my work and France, talked to Jackson the guide about France and India and we all shared our very good food. It rained, but only for 5 minutes, and then it was all well and good and we were off, once again, finally to Giverny! The bike ride was straight through a path for about twenty five minutes and it was extraordinary. Through a country side ,with small stone houses, overlooking mountains and hills. The day was cloudy, just the right temperature and it was very freeing to be so far from everything. Very enjoyable.
We reached Giverny and parked our bikes across a very cute pink hotel. (I would include a picture here but I'm running out of space on Picasa) We walked to the entrance of the Museum and Gardens and then were on our own for about 1.5 hours. So I explored, as always. Gardens, Water Lily Pond, the house, the workshop, everything. And it was beautiful. Exactly like Monet's paintings. The gardens are perfectly maintained, pruned and arranged. There are archways everywhere, a couple of chicken coops on the side, pathways carefully marked. Looks just like a painting.
The house is very cute. Almost everything in it is original and has been restored and perfectly preserved. There are paintings and photographs (prints and copies) everywhere, along with original furniture and the Japanese prints by which he was inspired for his own art. No pictures allowed inside the house, unfortunately, but the exterior was photogenic enough:
After the house, I continued through the gardens until I arrived at the tunnel that goes underground and comes up at the park with the water lily ponds (completely constructed and engineered by Monet, inspired by the Japanese). Here, there are little bridges and pathways and large bridges and archways and weeping willows and beautiful shrubbery, all pointing to the main attraction: the water lily pond, clear and shallow and gorgeous in the light. The whole effect of the landscape was impeccably created, right down to the empty kayaks waiting under the willows. Beautiful does not even do this place justice.
After reveling in this magic, I saw Monet's workshop (now turned into a boutique of incredibly over-priced, unnecessary items) and then we all gathered again across the hotel where we parked our bikes. After a quick hunt for the missing Kiwi girls who had somehow passed the bikes and gotten themselves lost in Giverny, we were off. And then it was pouring. For our entire 25-minute bike ride back to Vernon, it was pouring pouring pouring rain. And did we stop? No. Did we get soaked? Yes. We were absolutely drenched and disgusting when we got back on the train. Thankfully, we dried off a bit during the train ride back to the station. Unfortunately, I was wearing jeans. And they were soaked. Also, mountain bikes do not have fenders to keep off the dirt. So I was dirty and soaked. Wonderful.
In any case, I had a very nice chat with a Colorado college student here with her boyfriend on the way back to the train, and then a very nice conversation with an Englishwoman from LA about the movie industry, of which she is a part. She has been to the film festivals that I only dream of attending. She has a friend with an Oscar, for god's sakes! She gets preview screenings of the Best Picture nominees! Ahh. So cool.
So after all this, I was very tired. Got a baguette and had some pate for dinner with yogurt. Borrowed "Crash" from the foyer DVD collection and watched it in English with French subtitles (borrowed a laptop from my friend who pointed out to my that my own did not have DVD playing capabilities). Left halfway during the movie to walk to my creperie, get an egg/ham/salt/pepper crepe for almost no money (sooo tasty) and then ate the crepe while watching the rest of the movie. Fabulous movie.
I was super tired afterward so instead of going out, as planned, I crashed. Good, good day.
More on my weekend later!