Monday, March 13, 2006

Paris, OR Land of the Incredibly Small Hotel Beds

Yeah, so that's where I went over Spring Break. The hotel room was ridiculously small, though the housekeeping was nice...but seriously, when you have two hotel beds smaller than your college mattress, and half a foot of room between makes me gain a new appreciation for my personal space. And the bars of soap? I wouldn't be surprised if somebody confused it for a white chocolate mint and ate it, because it was miniscule.

I was immensely disappointed that Paris drives on the same side of the road that we do back in the States. However, traffic in the city was bad enough that my disappointment quickly gave way to relief that being a pedestrian downtown was slightly less dangerous than in DC, because at least there people will stop for you (DC drivers are the worst I've ever seen, and to steal from Dave Barry, "DEATH BEFORE YIELDING" Seems to be their motto).

However, once I got over the strange quirks of Europe, and the porn being sold on every other street, and the physical adaptation one has to endure in which one's body derives energy from Nicotene rather than oxygen, and that apparently pedestrians share the sidewalks with the occasional moped, sedan, and a rare six-wheeler, it was amazing.

No, really; the trip was wonderful, so don't let my skepticism fool you. Our hotel was about 4 blocks away from the Eiffel Tower (We were on the Left Bank), the Metro had a stop less than two minutes away from us, and hey--it's PARIS. You can go to buildings that have been around for centuries, not just generations. The metro, though complicated at first, is amazingly efficient and easy. I know the Paris metro better than the DC metro. You get to EAT FRENCH PASTRIES. Actually, I don't ever think I ate a pastry more exotic than a croissant. But there are like patisseries on every block of the city, which makes for a nice window-shopping experience.

If you get to go over there, be warned: Parisians don't believe in hydration. They believe in lots of wine and carbonated beverages. Water fountains don't exist. But you can get by pretty easily; Just drink a lot of water and orange juice and stuff in the morning, (my hotel had amazing breakfasts) drink lots of fluid at meals, and you'll be good to go. This is, of course, assuming you're taking the same rigorous approach to France that the group I was with did.

We went all over, but naturally, we went to the Louvre, Notre Dame, Versailles, and we also went out to Chartres to see its cathedral (magnificent, better than ND, I think), Montmartre to see Sacre C...Well, I don't know how to insert the character that would let me spell "Heart" in French, so "Sacred Heart" and, because of COURSE there were girls in our group who wanted to see it, The Moulin Rouge. We saw the Orsay Museum, some old French neighborhoods, the Latin Quarter...twas awesome.

Best Part: Seeing the Eiffel Tower at night and hanging around near it until 3ish AM. Just awesome to get to know some of the folks in the honors program better.

Worst Part: The Louvre. On Ash Wednesday. So...fasting combined with lots of walking, small beds and sore backs combined with lots and LOTS of standing...all of it culminating in getting to eat some fish burger thing at a restaurant in the Louvre food court. Don't get me wrong, it was awesome seeing the art and sculptures (yes, saw the Mona Lisa...nice, but not the crowning point of my life), but it was just kind of painful. But I'd do it again in a minute, because that week was awesome.

I realize this is sort of lackluster, but I started out trying to avoid doing a paper, and I very quickly realized that I need to get it done so I can start and finish ANOTHER paper by Friday. Take care, guys. Those of you on Spring Break: enjoy!


Magda said...

Wow Mike... Paris. I'm so happy for you, that had to have been amazing. Did you learn any French?

Miguel said... pronunciation is awful, though. And I kept on wanting to say "Merci" instead of "Pardon" just came to mind so much easier.

So yeah, seulement un peu. And I'm sure I just did something wrong, even in that small phrase and fragment of thought.

Ken said...

No soap? In France? How odd.

I went to the imitation Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas once, so I don't really need to see the real thing unless it has better slot machines. That said, I might go to France just to see if I can make people surrender. Pat and I speak French already so if all three of us go we'll be unstoppable. Anyone else? Road trip?

Misha said...

I'm in. But if we're road tripping (over an ocean...) I don't get the middle seat!

Awesome post Mike! I think I want to go visit some time.

And thank you, I will have a good break.

Miguel said...

Do you really speak French, Ken? Or is this the Pat and Ken version of French with clever English words with accents and a few made-up idioms?

Oh, don't worry; I'm sure the locals will completely understand the latter and be more than happy to hand over their government-issued emergency white flags when you ask them.

Pat said...

Of course it's real French.

Katie said...

this has nothing to do with anything.

what does the "recent visitor cities" thing mean on the side of the blog?

p.s. to make this somewhat make sense, spring break in bahston is freezing, but i get to spend week 2 with ellie, and see scotty tomorrow! so i'm happy.

Ken said...

"Recent Visitor Cities" is a short list of the location of computers that accessed this webpage recently. So Alex makes it say Portland, Cory makes it say Corvallis, Doug and I make it say Ithaca NY, etc etc. (I think the concept that your computer's location can be given away like that is pretty creepy. Especially when I'm not expecting it, e.g. pop-up ads for "Hot Foxy Ithaca women!" Sometimes I'm tempted to click just to see if they exist; the evidence suggests otherwise.)

And frankly, Mike, I'm pretty disappointed it doesn't say "Paris, France" over there. You and your "life."

Scott said...

I re-read your post and noticed you said "Parisians." Is that what they're really called?

Miguel said...

sure, why not?