Okay, here it is: last Friday and Saturday. Let's start with Friday.
The morning on Fri held nothing interesting. Went to work as always (earlier than usual), was bored as always, came back to the Foyer for lunch yada yada. Started falling asleep at work around 3, like always, and so peaced early around 4:30 because I literally couldn't take it anymore. I decided to walk to the Jardin des Plantes and the Mosquee de Paris before going back to the Foyer, as both are really close to my work.
Went first to the Jardin des Plantes, which is incidentally in a pretty shady area of the city. Back streets and run-down buildings and all that jazz. The garden itself is huge and comprises several natural history museums. It's basically an ode to nature and evolution. There was a greenhouse that I wanted to see, but everything started closing when I wanted to go in. Fortunately, I was tired and didn't care that much about not being able to walk around and stare at things that I could probably find in the States. So I just took a quick stroll through the park and took pictures instead. (Also, parks really suck when you're by yourself. Just a tip.)
The place was quite pretty, and had nice "labyrinth" that you had to go through shrubs to get to. Also had a nice gazebo at the top, which served as some kind of a lookout.
And, like I said, impressive-looking buildings (like all of Paris) that were actually museums (that were closed).
Okay, onwards. I then got lost for a while trying to find the Mosquee, but when I finally did, it was unmistakable what the building was. Beautiful architecture, and definitely unlike anything else I had seen in Paris. This place is impossible to miss.
I went in through what looked like the main entrance only to find an Islamic restaurant. Not what I wanted. I then asked a man, who told me the main entrance was on the right. So I went out and walked around the entire building until finally I came to the main entrance, only to learn that...the place was open EVERY DAY BUT FRIDAY. Sigh. At least I got some pictures.
Disheartened, I thought I'd get myself a crepe, as I was really craving one. On my way back to the Foyer, I passed by a cute little cafe called Le Cactus that seemed to be open, as the doors were open and music was playing inside. The crepe menu looked pretty reasonable and delicious, so I went inside and waited for a few minutes. Seeing no one, I turned to leave but a man came out of nowhere and greeted me. So I turned back, surprised, and ordered a crepe au caramel beurre sale. He went off to make it and another random man popped out of a door that was apparently on the side of the bar...very strange. It was pretty much me, this second bartender, and the bartender's sometimes-friend chilling in the cafe. I waited a good while and was starting to get upset when the first man came back out, walked straight to me, and handed me a humongous crepe, wrapped in tin foil, wrapped in several green napkins. It looked beautiful. I stammered, not knowing how to respond and paid him. Then I tried to figure out how to carry/hold this gigantic, dripping crepe. I somehow stumbled out the door as he bid me a fond farewell, and worked very hard to keep the dripping caramel off of my iPod.
I did, but did not keep it off my shirt. Whatever. So worth it. This was the crepe of my life. Incredible. Huge, tasty, well-made, perfect. I vowed to go back. So I went back to the Foyer and told my friend Pamina about my wonderful crepe-y day and told her that we needed to go back that night. We did, after dinner, but by then it had turned into a slightly-shade, completely-dark, men-only bar. Alas, no crepe for Pamina. (She then got a crepe from another random street stand with an Indian chef who tried to converse with me in Hindi. That crepe was nowhere near as good, though.)
But Pamina and I continued on our nighttime stroll through the 5th, looking at all the restaurants and cafes filled with tourists until we found a brasserie we liked on a side street. We sat down in a supercomfortable booth, ordered drinks, and enjoyed the fabulous live music that was playing right next to us. There was a gorgeous French woman singing popular American songs and a white French guitar player, who rapped the Kanye part of "American Boy" in French...awesome stuff. Once it hit 11:30 though, we decided it was time to head back, but I got another crepe (don't judge) and we took our time walking back to our residence. Another fabulous night in Paris.
Saturday. The day of accrobranche. This was basically an adventure/ropes course with wooden bridges, cables that you have to walk across, trees to climb, about an hour from Paris. There were seven of us going with the counselor so we had breakfast together, got all our stuff together (I woke up poor Maria, desperately seeking sneakers) and headed off to the Metro carrying boxes of picnic food.
Once at the park, we were all instructed to sign waivers (yeah, it was serious), put on our restricting protective gear that would hook us to cables/trees/ladders and ensure our safety at all times, had a quick safety and instructional lesson from poor Bruno (a young man harassed by all the girls in our group) and then went off to choose our courses.
A couple of my friends and I decided the red course (second-to-hardest) would be the best to start off with. I was fearless. I told myself, you can do it, Pritha. No, no I could not. The first station itself was a rope bridge held up by two cables, and you had to step on thin wooden logs and stretch your legs from one log to the next to get across. The logs moved when you stepped on them, so you also had to balance. Not fun. Not fun at all. I did another bridge, a zip line, a square rope ladder, another zip line. Until I got to Tarzan. A girl before had jumped onto the Tarzan-style rope and had not managed to swing across and grab the rope ladder in front of her (as required) and was now just swinging there, freaking out, going out of her mind with fear. So, of course, I decided it was time to throw in the towel. Stressed, Bruno had to come tell me how to jump onto the rope as necessary and then slowly lowered me down. Phew. Scary stuff.
A bunch of girls finished the red course and went on to the black one (which was really not funny at all. It was deadly). They clearly did not finish the black, although they got astonishingly far. Me, I decided to do the green course and then the really long zipline (which wasn't scary at all) and then eat and walk around. We all picniced together before the other girls decided they had enough energy to keep going. I, alas, definitely did not. So I chilled and followed those on the black course, thanking God I had not decided to follow them.
We came back around 6, our bodies aching and our souls weary, but with a lot of new friendships formed and bonds made. We all were wondering whether or not to keep our respective plans for the night. Most of us did not want to. Some of us went straight to sleep. I showered and went out with my friend Maria to picnic on the Pont des Arts and do the largest ferris wheel in Paris. Never happened. I started feeling awful when we were almost there and we turned back and went home. We did take pictures, however. (Of course.)
After I took a little rest in my room, Maria and I went out again. I got some incredible plain yogurt with mangos from MyBerry and then we walked to Notre Dame to watch all the street performers contact juggle and play with fire. I started freezing soon, though, so we didn't stay out too long and went back, vowing to do the ferris wheel the next day.
More to come!