Dear Paris: I am disappointed in you! Well not you per se, but your people! I don’t want to come off as discriminatory here, but they’re just too nice! Where are all the rude arrogant Parisians you warned us all about? Why is everyone helpful and friendly, and more than happy to talk to me in English? Hmm? I was under the distinct impression that they’d all be too cool for school and no one would even glance at me. I was clearly ill-informed in that regard! I trust that you understand my issue, and will work on rectifying this embarrassing problem.
OK so really, everyone here is nice! What’s up with that?
It is now day 4 in Paris and my feet are feeling the abuse I (the charmingly uneven ground of Paris, the stairs and hills of Montmartre and the thinness of my shoes) have hurled upon them. I had to wash blood off the inside of one of the offending shoes today in fact. This was of course, after hours of limping around town, looking like a total (as the French say) shower.
Get it? No? Moving on.
Bi-lingual puns aside I won’t be surprised if I wake up tomorrow morning to find my legs are paralysed and my feet gangrenous. So what have I been up to in the two long days since we last conversed? Well if you insist, I guess I’ll tell you.
Day 3: Venturing out of Montmartre and losing stuff (sanity included)
Ah day 3. What can I say about day 3? It was, undeniably, the day that started well and ended in a shit storm. Intrigued yet? No? Oh well.
Yesterday I ventured onto the mysterious world of the metro; destination: St. Michel in the Latin Quarter. This is where you need to head if you plan on going on a free walking tour of Paris, which is exactly what I was doing of course. Paris is not too unlike Sydney- there are tourists everywhere, lots of traffic and scam artist trying to get you to “donate money for peace in Africa.” In my brief exploration of the Latin Quarter I encountered lots of shoe stores and possibly the best invention in the history of the culinary arts: The Nutella crepe. Yes, you read that correctly. You’re not hallucinating magical nom noms out of starvation. Nutella crepe. For 2€ 50 you can get a freshly made, hot-from-the-hot-thing-that-crepes-are-cooked-on, edible heaven of oozing deliciousness. Paris, je taime! But enough about the crepe... The free walking tour takes you around to see a view key highlight of Paris. It’s a good way to get your bearings and also decide on things that are worth devoting more time to later. Obviously, as it’s free, there’s a lot more looking at the Louvre than going inside for example, but you get complimentary random facts! Such as this: every year, 600 people are admitted to the emergency room due to dog poo related injuries. Parisians love their dogs. So we took in the Fontaine St. Michel, the Louvre (the outside bits that is), the Jardin Tuilleries, the Pont Neuf, Starbucks and a few other key sites. Of course, my enjoyment was shadowed when I discovered at the end of the tour that I was sans wallet. Which means I was sans money, sans train ticket, sans drivers license and sans James’ yr 12 school photo. Not fun. So its most likely I was pick pocketed in Starbucks, and that is the story I will stick with when I file a police report so I can claim the cash on my insurance (...yay for insurance fraud?). Then of course, because I am the luckiest person we know, I got to misplace my sunglasses while stressing about my wallet! And this is why I left my Ray Bans at home... Anyway, they were found by one of the tour leaders so I just need to find them and my corneas are saved from the 18 hours of daily Parisian sunlight. The rest of the day was a bit of a mess, I borrowed a train ticket, and headed to the embassy, in case they could somehow magically conjure me a new drivers license. Of course, they were shut so I just went home and tried to work out how to cancel my travelex card. Couldnt log in, because I didn’t have the card number of course. Anyway, I’m using my second one, and Steph is investigating what I should do.
I bought a small purse type thing for like 3€ and it has a snazzy little keyring attachment, so I can keep in my bag by clipping it onto the inside zipper for example. It’s snazzy. Also, it’s small and doesn’t fit much cash, which means if I DO lose it, I don’t lose 120€, forcing me to commit insurance fraud (yay?).
Crisis averted (kinda) me and my passport took my new ultra secure money holder out for a few (hundred) drinks on the Pub Crawl. A few people from my free tour were there, and about 80% of us were Aussie so all in all a good time was had! Consequently, I wasn’t up early enough to get to St. Michel at 11am to reclaim my sunglasses. Another day another Journey...
Day 4: having my mind blown in the Centre Pompidou, getting lost and consequently buying clothes, and contracting trench foot
Spoiler: I don’t have trench foot (yet?) It’s a joke. DON’T JUDGE ME!
As I mentioned, I slept in a wee bit today. Got up about 90minutes later than normal and dilly dallied on fb for too long and got to St. Michel about 45min too late. I decided to pretty much follow the tour route from yesterday to try and catch up with my guide, but failed when I decided to take a “short cut” and get lost en route to Starbucks (ever my downfall... Gloria Jeans come back to me!). When it was clear I had no idea where I was, I bought an awesome sandwich and headed back to the Louvre to eat and watch tourists line up for hours. Bah who goes to the Louvre on free museum Sunday? But this sandwich, it must have looked as good as it tasted because some French boy came up to ask where I got it. I have the directional ability of a blind man with no dog so I wasn’t much help with my vague pointing-left-saying-right instructions but i hope he found his sandwich. Then I followed (Ha.) my map to the Centre Pompidou- the second most significant modern art museum IN THE WORLD (second to MoMA in NYC). I got lost on the way of course, when I decided to stop and put bandaid on my toes to discover them covered in blood. I often have this problem (it’s gunna get gross now...) when I wear shoes, where my wonky pinky toe nails get long enough to dig into the next toe. This causes pain, difficulty in walking and no doubt infection since the Parisian men pee everywhere. (Not a joke. If it looks like a puddle, it isn’t). And of course I can’t feel that I’m bleeding, it just hurts. Then I end up with a shoe full of blood. After fixing my feet (read: dabbing a tissue in a fountain and wiping off enough blood so that the bandaids will stick) I miraculously noticed that there were three whole clothing shops around me- and they were open! (Most shops are shut on Sundays, except for the cheap Asia- run ones that are so much better than their Sydney counterparts). So I bought a maxi dress and some shiny sandal/thong things for the grand total price of 23€. Win.
Armed with my new purchases I finally made it to the art museum. Despite the fact I could barely walk at this point, I persevered for about 3 hours and I’m so glad I did. The impressive contemporary floor includes Mona Hatoum, The Guerilla Girls, Barbara Kruger, Yayoi Kusama and the vagina-cam video which from memory is Julie Rrap (anyone know?) The latter was particularly amusing from an other-peoples-reactions perspective- First the intrigue, then confusion, then suspicion as it slowly dawns of them that this bizarre abstract film is from inside the artists... well insides.
One particular piece was a video of a girl hula-ing with a barbed wire hoop (I could barely look it was horrible and slow motion and... eurgh). The gallery is FULL of feminist art and naked ladies (sometimes both! A perfect merging of two contradicting aspects of art!). In fact one room was actually devoted entirely to nether regions. It was called Genital something or other. Ah French people...
Above the contemporary gallery, is the modern gallery (1905-1960) where you can find Picasso, Matisse, Pollock, Modigliani etc etc namedrop namedrop. I’m not hugely into that period, contemporary is far more my kettle of fish, but it was pretty incredible to be so close to so many famous pieces. I’m planning to get a couple more in before I leave beautiful Paris to go to the fat-mel-maker that will be Rome. After my onslaught of mind blowing art, I went to the museums cafe where you can get a vitamin water for the low low price of 5€. Yes, that’s right folks. Get em while they’re hot! (Or cold). What a bargain! (Read: zomg I can’t believe I paid $8AUD for a vitamin water...) Paying that price did have one perk: I didn’t feel guilty about sitting there for a lot longer than is necessary in order to rest my poor feet.
I left and wandered off in search of the nearest metro, and somehow ended up on the Ile-de-Paris, smack bam in front of the Notre Dame, completely on accident. I didn’t go in- the line was a bit ridiculous and by this point I’d filled my SLRs memory card and didn’t have a spare, but I’ll go back tomorrow. From there I found myself in front of Shakespeare and Company. Which is small and hot but charming and I may go back and buy a book and sit in the nearby park like a native. Finally, I was back at St. Michel, and onto my now-familiar m4-Marcadet m12-Home routine. Where I was finally able to tend lovingly to my foot wounds. There you go my pretties, no more in-closed shoes. I did get a few odd looks in the lobby of my hostel, as I limped down the hall, only to return 2 seconds later when my key wouldn’t work. If only they knew the pain I endured...
It is now 9pm here in Paris, the sunset has just begun and I’m thinking it’s about time I wandered down to the grocery to buy a microwaveable dinner for about 2€ (not sparing any expense here!) If I leave my next post till Sunday it’s likely to be about a kilometre long so we’ll see how I go. Don’t blame me for my wordiness- blame Paris.
p.s. you might not notice because of the time difference anyway, but I uploaded this monday. Not my fault, my internet was being a bitch!