Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Home Stretch

Only three days left! How did I get here? I can't believe these six weeks have gone by so fast. Now that the days of this week are quickly speeding by, I find myself wanting to slow down time and give myself an extra week or two to continue to absorb the Parisian life, culture and history. There's too much here for six weeks to be enough time to do it justice. Sigh. Paris, tu vas me manquer.

Alright, on to this week. We'll start with the big one: Monday.

After work on Monday, I ran to the Foyer to put away my work things, grabbed an apple, and practically ran out to catch the metro to Concorde. I have no idea what Place de la Concorde is, besides a beautiful roundabout next to the Jardin des Tuileries, with two very impressive looking government buildings (I think, government buildings?) on two sides, and a pathway to the Champs Elysees on the last side. It also has two beautiful fountains a large Egyptian monument...thing. Ordered to be built by some King. To commemorate something. Yes, I know, I'm well informed. Google it. But, hey, it was beautiful! And the day was sunny! (Of course, I wasn't wearing my shades because it had been cloudy up until then. Great.)

After a bunch of more picture-taking, and an attempt to understand the inscription on the Concorde monument, as well as the Egyptian hieroglyphics, I started my walk towards the Champs Elysees. It was a nice, long promenade alongside a park (like everywhere in Paris) lined with nicely-pruned trees. A bunch of families were coming back with bags in their hands, finished with shopping and about to go have dinner, I guess. For me it was only the beginning.

Once I got on the Champs Elysees, I looked around for stores I wanted to visit as I walked towards the 3-story Haagen Daaz (it was hot and I needed ice cream). I got a mini cup of some peach, apricot, fruity sorbet with walnuts and almonds on top (I think). In any case, it was really tasty and took me just until I got to Louis Vuitton to finish it all. I had already planned on going to LV just to see what shopping in there was like, but when I got there I saw a LINE just to get in. Like the Eiffel Tower. Or the Louvre. I was shocked into amusement and decided that I had to go in. Also, I kept seeing people coming out with the designer shopping bags, and I wanted one just to say I had shopped there. I planned on spending a max of 60 Euros on a gift for either my father or my brother. Yeah. Funny.

It took me twenty minutes to get in and then I walked around, looking for something simple but classy. The first thing I saw was the cheapest: super ugly tiny wallets that each cost 107 Euros. That was the cheapest thing in the store. I would have run out right then if walking out without a bag didn't look so bad (they have guards, multiple, standing at the doors). So I continued my search for gifts upstairs. I asked a nice man, who walked me (WALKED ME) to the man who specialized, who hovered over me while I looked thoughtfully through their collection of *** (in case the recipient is reading this blog entry) choosing a color a style a design. It was incredibly intimidating. And this man looked painfully polite. As if he were speaking to me simply because someone was holding a gun to his head. Freakishly awkward.

I made my selection, he took my information (I had to fill out something oddly similar to an immigration card) and then walked my downstairs and asked me to wait while he put the gift in tissue paper, in a beautiful box and then added a gift receipt in an envelope and a receipt for me, all on designer paper. DESIGNER PAPER. Then he walked me to the door of the store, handed me the bag and then wished me a good evening. Most surreal experience of my life. NEVER going back to that store. Or anything that charges that much for anything. Ridiculous. There were teenage girls in that store shopping for handbags. How incredibly spoiled. Insane. I would never buy something that expensive for myself. Their bags must run upwards of 400 Euros, or 570 dollars.

I then, clutching my new gift bag like a paranoid bag lady, took a trip to the Arc de Triomphe. Sadly, entrance to one of the most famed historical monuments in the world cost me a fraction of a designer clothing article. Sigh this world. Anyway, the steps weren't half as tiring as people were making them out to be (people kept stopping to take breaks, weaklings!) and there was a mid-level (two I think) that had mini models of the arc and stone sculptures and historical videos playing, etc. Oh, and a gift shop. Can't forget that!

The view from the top was pretty incredible, though. You can walk around all four sides and see to all corners of Paris (most noticeable, Sacre Coeur which you can see from anywhere in Paris, and the Eiffel Tower, which is virtually inescapable). I can imagine it would be magical to be there at night, but I can't stay out that late. Curfew and all. Also, I'm a helpless little girl in Paris by myself. Must not deviate from the parental constraints. (Enough with the bitterness. I'll be back one day.)

I would include more pictures but, as always, I'm running out of Blogger photo space. After my walk around the Arc de Triomphe terrace, I was done for the evening. Or so I thought. When I got on the Metro, instead of taking the Line 1 back to St Paul (very close to the foyer), I took it in the opposite direction, 17 stops away to the Grande Arche or La Defense, the business district of Paris. This place has crazy architecture and absolutely magnificent views. Here, see for yourself.

Spent a few minutes there, admiring and then peaced, still clutching my Louis Vuitton bag for dear life. And that really was my night. I had asked the Foyer to hold dinner for me, and they had: a tray with a small plate of salad, another of fruit, spaghetti, chicken, spinach, a dessert and a cup with a napkin and plastic utensils. So cute! It was a pretty good (filling) dinner. And that was my night.

Tuesday I was exhausted all day and ended up staying in, listening to the rain, and watching a lot of TV. Last night, I went to my favorite crepe place (next to the mosquee, which was closed by the time we got there) with a friend who was celebrating her 21st, and then we had dinner at the Foyer anyway (we were hungry...) I worked a bit on actual work stuff (since I no longer concentrate on work when I'm at the office) and then went out for ice cream with another good friend of mine. We went to Amorino, an amazing Italian gelato place on the island that I had yet to visit. The ice cream was incredible. It was priced based on size, not based on flavors. So I got three flavors in a tiny cone and they put heaps of ice cream on (all sorbet, of course) and shaped the different flavors into a flower on top of the cone!! It was ridiculous. My friend took a picture but I don't have it on me, alas. It was amazing though. So so tasty and worth every penny. We also went to MyBerry to get my friend froyo, on my suggestion. I've already been there several times so I wanted to try something else.

We took our ice cream and took a walk through Island, across a few bridges, sat down by the Seine and talked to some random guy and his friends who were also chilling by the river, got up, continued our walk and conversation, and were back to the foyer a quarter past 11. I will definitely miss moments like this most of all. So relaxing and beautiful and refreshing to be in Paris in the evenings with your friends. Something everyone should do at least once in their lives.

And that brings me to today! I had breakfast with the ice cream friend (Dorothee, a German) and the woman who works breakfast (Mary Jo) gave us Nutella! Even though it wasn't Friday! I almost cried from joy. It was like an unexpected treat. Love those. And now I'm at work. Ignoring work. Using the free internet. Wee.

Perhaps one more entry before I leave, and then we're done! A plus tard!

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