Armchair Travel Blog

Adventures from Paris onwards circa 2012

Month: February, 2012

Carrots, Eggplant, Zucchini, Oh My!

Here is another update, although some would say it comes a little bit late – but you know who you are.

Anyhow. We begin:

I’m starved for vegetables. I’m hurting for fruit.

Is it wrong that all I want to do is take a giant eggplant and take an Iron Chef bite out of it? Because I really really want vegetables. Like ok, I dig all this carbohydrates that make me swoon in delight and prop on one knee and propose to the baker right then and there; and I can really really tell you how many times walking in Paris at dusk there are few things more enjoyable than a lemon/sugar crepe.

But honestly? I sort of need a salad right about now. The selection in the supermarkets is pitifully thin, and aside from out of season oranges and Cambodian bananas, apples that are somehow still crunchy, there are few and far in between things such as kale, broccoli, lemons, acorn squash, mushrooms, eggplant, pineapple, avocados, bell peppers, turnips, grapes, watermelon, cherries, apricots. Even tomatoes are a bit of a strange thing, as there are only one type of tomatoes and many of them are already pre-bruised – for your convenience.

It’s not that I’m not getting my vegetables; indeed practically every night for dinner there is a vegetable soup that has thrown in carrots, potatoes, garlic, onions, leeks, other haphazard vegetables that might be in stock in the grocery store that week, but what I am really missing is the tactile feedback of just crunching into a Boston lettuce and baby spinach leaves and enjoying the taste for what it is without it all being blended into a soup – as delicious as said soup may be.

I want more variety, more than just carrots and onions and potatoes and starch and carbs. I want fruits and veggies. Because honestly? Back stateside pretty much all I do is eat fruits and many vegetables. I don’t eat as much meat as I do here and certainly not as much bread. It’s all well and good but occasionally you need to spice things up and leave room for variety.

Yes, perhaps in some ways I shouldn’t be complaining, after all I have a full belly every evening and wake up every morning to a good breakfast of milk and toast. There is enough variety between the rice and noodles, the steak hashe and pork cutlets to keep dinner at least some variation, and that I should be glad that I am not in Ghana with a swollen belly from mal-nurishment.

But as a dear friend of mine joyously ran up and down the super market isles about peanut butter after an extended stay in Scotland, I too am beginning to understand how variety can make a world of difference. How sometimes no, you don’t want anything in the fridge because in the last month that’s all you’ve been having.

That today you’d rather a salad with big leafy greens and afterwards a pineapple and watermelon salad. I know this isn’t the tropics and so the likelihood of finding either an edible watermelon, mango, or pineapple are slim, but sometimes I wake up and I wonder what in the world I wouldn’t give to bite into a peach or cherry or grape. Maybe it’s not the season for such fruit or vegetables, and maybe I will be proven wrong, but simply the thought of such fruit or of cauliflower is enough to send my mouth-watering.

Something of note though is the apples here. It is far from apple season and while the oranges have already turned uneatable, the apples still are every bit as delicious and crunchy as the first bit of an apple in October. The bananas are strange, they come from Africa and have a different taste and ripen differently, they are not like the ones back home, and so even though it may look black and bruised, inside it is probably still ripe.

However, I still long for the day when I can have a giant fruit salad or leaves of iceberg lettuce with cucumbers. Perhaps in the summer things will be easier, but for now I start to understand the wealth and abundance of the United States and what it has to offer with respect to fruits and vegetables. Not everything has to be of a lower quality.

Except France’s ice cream will forever blow anything the United States can come up with out. of. the. water.

PS: On a slightly political note:

Please educate yourself about this abhorrent legislation being considered in Idaho and Alabama, already passed in Virginia and Texas with respect of abortions and women’s sexual reproductive health.

As a woman, it hurts to see such bigoted, shameful, and hateful legislation passed at women; specifically low-income women.

It needs to stop as it shouldn’t have been allowed to start in the first place. Mostly I stand for state’s rights, but there comes a time when the Federal government needs to step in and prevent such legislation from passing.

The time to get loud and angry is now.

I See Clouds of White

Spring time has come swooping into Paris and just like that it has exhaled a breath of fresh air into our brittle dehydrated lungs, putting a spring in my step as my bones feel like clicking heels and dancing with my hands up laughing wide-mouthed celebrating that yes; I am alive, in one of the most beautiful cities, and that my eyes finally can shake off the sleepiness of the winter.

Motivation to go running, to go for a walk, rollerblading, sitting beneath the Eiffel Tower having an impromptu picnic. With no destination in mind and the total freedom of time, whittling away the hours of the day as the sun peeks out from thin stretches of clouds, and eyes as clear as the skies.

There is hope, adventure, and longing; the time to strap on the pair of skates and just go – anywhere – is as compelling as it is irresistible.

The 20 degree change in weather is amazing. Honestly it brings out the best in people.

Old couples sit perched contentedly lacing fingers and watching their grandchildren rock back and forth on the spring toy horse and lancing a toy story ball upwards into the sun. The morning dew clings to the budding leaves that spring forth from the trees and it’s a whole new life.

Biting into an apple is one of the most crisp satisfying sounds, and munch thoughtfully on a slice, simply enjoying the Parisian air and the people around you.

My heart starts beating again – racing – as the airplanes fly over head leaving a thin white trail in their wake and in every limb there is jittery excitement as vendors peddle their books along the Seine and artists dot the landscape trying to catch the way the light and shadows play with one another and to somehow pin down the one romantic moment that caught their eye that day.

People sit in cafe’s languidly stretched out in their seats taking an hour and a half for a coffee and as the cigarette hangs limply from their fingers, the page of the book is turned and a new chapter is ushered in.

I am scuffing my shoes against the Parisian pavement, window shopping and wishing that the clinking in my pocket jeans was enough to buy a pastry from one of the boulangeries that has led me straight to their window.

I am feeling the sun on my skin for the first time in months – and really feeling it – feeling as it warms up my mind and body and soul as a content smile works its way across my face.

Trees are starting to come to fruition and kids are shedding their heavy winter coats in favor for sweatshirts and ankles that peek out from beneath their skinny legged pants.

Inhale the city, breathe it deep into your lungs and squint against the sunlight as the days are getting longer and who needs a watch?

Wander into shops and listen to the man croon over his guitar asking for a euro or two. Talk to people on the metro randomly because you can and ask them for their numbers so we all go out on a Friday night and Saturday afternoon, freedom at its most.

I’ll walk until I am familiar and intimate with this city – and all its metro routes – that I now call home, and come home at night drunk on life and on the city of lights.

Days start to bleed into one another, yet with nowhere to be and nowhere to go there is time to enjoy it at its fullest and there is no looking back as we go hurtling down the Parisian streets on roller blades. The learning curve is steep but what is this if not living, and we get scraped and fall a little along the way but the memories now are the ones that will be burned forever behind my eyelids when I am drifting off to sleep.

Simply hearing  the birds cheep outside my window in the morning as they scrap for crumbs serves as a pleasant and happy reminder that spring is here to stay, and I for one, could not be any happier for it.

Indeed there is no better time to be in a city such as Paris, in the spring.

Squeaky Clean

I’ve met time and time again with my woud-be friend

exhaustion

but no matter how many hours I sleep away

exhaustion doggedly will not relent, seeping into every bone and joint so that even as I wake up blinking

from the light filtering through the blinds and the dust particles dancing erratic dances in suspended air all I really want to do is pull the covers up over my head and pretend that it actually isn’t already almost noon and I don’t actually have somewhere to be.

I’m not one much for coffee – it stains the teeth and I’ve heard too many horror stories of coffee addicts and their splitting head aches, snapping at everyone and everything until they get their daily fix –

so instead I haul myself up and out of bed downing a glass of milk and steeling myself for whatever the day may bring.

But by week’s end, every limb feels heavy and tired, and there is nothing more wonderful and underrated as a hot bath.

And I mean the sort of hot lose-yourself-for-twenty-minutes-maybe-thirty-soaking-until-your-fingers-feel-pruney-and-all-of-the-days-exhaustion-seeps-out-of-you-and-down-the-drain sort of bath.

Baths where you sit until the water runs cold and there is something pumping – you can’t really hear who or what’s playing – softly from the speakers where it crashes against the door and all you can think about is how nice dinner is going to be after this.

Baths: they’re not just for little kids anymore.

And what makes it all the nicer is that here in Europe there are the bathtubs that let you fill up to the brim, and long enough so that you’re not doubled over in a teensy space.

Scrub every inch of skin until its red and maybe just a little bit raw, relish in the sensation of scrubbing the shampoo through your tresses and under your finger nails as the stress eases out of you and it’s like a second breath of energy and life.

Dinner may be happily crackling away on the stove, but for now all that matters is that the water is warm and that there isn’t soap in your eyes.

It’s the first feeling of the water that may be a little too hot, and carefully as it’s a slippery tub, of a fluffy towel to wrap in after the bath, and of laboriously combing out the strands of hair so that in the morning your hair is soft and sleek.

The best are the bubble baths; chemically crafted artifical scents of grape sometimes, of bubble beards and little bubbles clinging to your hair and you feel like your five years old again and all that’s missing the yellow rubber duck.

I relish my weekly (sometimes bi-weekly) bath time after a particularly grueling day or long fencing practice, and I encourage all those who don’t know what it is to whittle away time in the tub to try it once because suddenly the sun is a little brighter, the sky a little bluer –

and going out for the weekend doesn’t seem like such a hassle. It’s the time to pamper yourself and clean under, file, and pain fingernails, to smooth lotion over ashen skin, and put on the softest still laundry scented pair of pyjamas.

Days blend into weeks and weeks into months so that sometimes I forget that it’s the end of February, because I’m on vacation time and I’ve time enough for

a

long

hot

bath.

City Skylines

You never see the stars in Paris.

Or rather, you simply cannot see the stars in Paris.

No matter the hour, no matter your location – there are never any stars to be seen. Whether this stems from the light pollution or simply because there is seemingly always a grey cloud hanging overhead, and never letting the pure sun – star -shine in, it serves as a reminder that yes, we are in a city proper.

I start to understand and long for the clean air and brilliant blue skies and stars and galaxies burning brightly so many millions of light years away.

Homesickness or something like that.

When I try to eke out a star from underneath that thick blanket of clouds, do we look at the same night sky? Do you see the same constellations as I do? Do they map out a pattern of the freckles on somebodies nose, or do you see the belt of Orion in the cold rainy February evening?

In this moment are we just two souls looking out into the vastness that is space, sharing a moment across spacetime? I’ve often wondered if there are more stars than grains of sand on a beach. Probably somewhere close.

Space out in the country side is infinite, and somehow in a city it’s all so contained and neatly packed away. It’s cold now, and it’s rainy, but really it’s well enough as Paris has nay a patch of green grass big enough for two to sit.

The city lights here are the stars.

There are so many neon green pharmacy crosses and red spiraling tobacco signs; they serve as the stars to which we are all invariably pulled; spinning around them like planets, sometimes becoming bigger as we amalgamate different languages.

The hanging streetlights burning softly yellow sending shadows scattering across the walls as we filter in and out of the various restaurants, cafes, and bars in clusters of people laughing as we skip across town, hoping to catch the last train home.

The city is a self-contained universe, and somehow I am bound to it; drawn by the mysterious appeal of a foreign city, wandering in and out of side streets and street vendors calling out to you. Shuttered doors don’t mean a thing if you knock twice, and inside there are tightly packed groups of people all friendly over a bottle of wine, some filtering out for another cigarette.

There are constellations of cars lined up one against the other, idling engines, waiting to the light to turn green and the metro zips by overhead like shooting stars. You cannot see beyond the cities borders and somehow for the moment it doesn’t matter – but suddenly you’ll look up and be caught off guard, at how grey the sky seems. It’s never this grey at home.

As winter segues into spring, puffy white clouds start to replace gray rain clouds, but there are never any stars that burn as visibly bright as that of the pharmacy sign.

I’d try to hail a cab if there is still money padding my pockets, but mostly I’d hop the metro.

And as I work my way back towards the suburbs the sky line becomes more and more distinct against the now bluing sky.

Silence Is Golden

Or: Lost in Translation: The French Edition.

Sometimes it really is nice to be able to be surrounded by people and not have to worry about understanding them. It’s being awash in the human noise – cats meow, dogs bark, birds cheep – and just being able to enjoy the sound of it. Sometimes I sit in crowded cafes or train stations and listen to people talk over one another and it’s just this low humming of indiscernible noise that hovers at a particular frequency but the only specific thing about it is that there is nothing truly discernible about it. Of course when a baby wails or a man barks orders there is the unique quality of the voice, but as a whole, it is difficult to pick out one from the masses.

And so when I find myself sandwiched tightly against strangers during the metro rush hour, I don’t worry about what they are saying even though they may give me a shifty eyed looks as if I were overhearing some private conversation or idle gossip between two girls. But really I listen to the way their mouths form the words and try to pick out whatever words I can from my admittedly growing French vocabulary. They say that immersion is the only way to learn a language well, right?

Whenever it happens on those odd days when I actually have to hold a conversation in French we talk through body language and hand gestures, and I press on in my limited way but a lot of it is talking in circles trying to get to the point. I swear my voice goes up a notch, high and a little flighty as I’m unsure of myself but earnest in my attempt, and in lieu of proper French, I offer botched translations and hope that the English word is close to the French one.

An example:

We were talking about Paris’ arrondissements, and how on a map they take on a sprialing pattern. Consequntly I forgot the word for a shell – coquillage – and in so doing I went from our rollerblading – patinage? – adventures every weekend to the rollerblading organization’s mascot, and the animal that the French are famous for eating for – snails.

– Escargot, ok and what is their home that they carry on their back?

– Coquillage?

– Okay Paris’ arrondissements are laid out like a coquillage.

Phew.

Yes it’s talking in a new and creative way and I have to stop and think about how to best tackle whatever specific problem has arrived but sometimes I want to be succinct in my speaking. So it’s either man up or get out, right?

Jokes though.

Try telling an English joke – about New Hampshire licence plates and living free or dying, or driving on parkways and parking on driveways; how time flies like an arrow and fruit flies like a banana, why is it that English one climbs up but not down, and how a bicycle cannot stand on its own because it’s two-tired.

– Puns, get it?

– No; you speak French? And bad English? Funny! I speak bad French!

– Never mind then, just know it was a good joke.

With a cocked head and a furrowed eyebrow the joke is lost and you throw your hands up in the air silently muttering “screw it, it’s like giving marmalade to the pig”; which of course is a French saying and not an American one.

Therefore many things are lost, and I talk in circles – or maybe coquillages. I think just not telling a joke is perhaps the simplest course of action.

But when people are all around me its nice to know that I can filter out all the noise without working too hard for it and I am an unwitting witness to whatever secrets the people might share.

At once you hear the language but not understand the majority of it and while you usually can get a handle on the gist of it, much I fear is lost.

Maybe one day I’ll write this blog in French and then we’ll see where I stand.

(Good joke though, French have this pesky habit of putting letters where no one in their right mind would pronounce them. And you thought English was bad like that) Still. A girl can dream.

Until then, I use it as a practice both to hone my writing, and perhaps more importantly a place where I can keep you, the reader, entertained and keep using my English.

And while some would say that grammar rules are more flexible in writing, so I don’t have to be super formal if I don’t want, ultimately this is my blog and I shall run it as I damned well will please, and that will sometimes mean polysyllabic words.

And marmalade.

Not jam, because remember what I said about polysyllabic words? That or because while they’re essentially the same thing, Google will try and tell you it’s not.

City of….Lights, Love: Ramblings On Valentine’s Day

Aaah Paris.

The city of love.

The city of lights.

Truly is there anything as more romantic or charming as Paris in the Spring? Strike spring though, and substitute in Valentine’s Day. Throw in some classic and – in my opinion – clichéd French loving and the pot is all set for the most sticky syrupy sweet holiday for lovers out there. Classic Valentine’s Day traditions abound here in the city of lights and love – one can see a myriad of vendors selling bouquets of blood-red roses on every street corner – there are the candy hearts – there are chocolates – there are the school children valentine’s hearts.

Not that Valentine’s Day is the only day for some good old French loving. The French are renowned about the world for their charisma and romantic wooing ways so it is not just limited to Valentine’s day in that I see plenty of couples always touching, kissing, and in any and every other way establishing that they are indeed a couple.

There is of course a fine line between a little cute peck or hand holding and full on tonguing pressed against an escalator where one is not sure where one tongue ends and another begins.

I guess for today perhaps I will let it slide carefully avoiding my eyes and the attention that I know the two randy teenagers must have.

Take Two

So I was going to write today about how incredibly awesome the game of Rugby is, and how much better it is live than on TV and how only the brave play such an intense sport; but no.

Now if you’re a Francophile, please feel free to skim ahead because the words that follow will not be very nice ones. Consider yourself warned.

Ahem.

OF ALL THE LOUSY STINKING NO GOOD PIECES OF HORSE POOP. I SWEAR TO ALL THAT IS CHEESY AND DELICIOUS I HAVE NEVER SEEN SUCH INEPTITUDE AS I SAW LAST NIGHT.  AUUUUGH!!

Like okay, I had strapped on my two paris of socks and pants and was ready to brave the minus 4 degree weather in the nose-bleed section because honestly a Rugby match is thrilling and as an international match I was sure that it was going to be quite a spectacle.

The stadium is absolutely gorgeous and even though you’re frisked upon entering I was ready to put it all behind me and move on with my life and the game. There was a lively and jovial mood and there were plenty of Irish folk – who have the funniest accents I swear – and everyone was hollering and singing and I was super stoked.

Alas, we had made the one hour trip for naught.

Apparently the field was too iced over and as such dangerous for the players to play. But they couldn’t have told us this 2 days or even 2 hours in advance before trekking out all the way to the edges of Paris? Instead they make us sit and wait until our noses have become ice cubes and butts are frozen to the chairs instead – the crowd hollering abuse at the officials and field as there is some sort of vacuum machine trying to what ostensibly seems ‘warm up’ a 2×2 meter patch of field.

But something is fishy here, because the players were on the field tackling one another quite comfortably and were warming up and they even announced the player line up and everything seemed like it was going according to plan until 5 minutes after the supposed kick off time.

Phillipe was astounded – and even the news anchors today are saying that never in their lived – Phillipe’s plus 40 years of playing and coaching Rugby has he ever or has there ever been such a thing. Rugby players play in the snow and the rain. They do not whine or complain and sometimes they are even freely bleeding and they power through the game. So that the field is ‘frozen over?’ Something doesn’t sit well with me.

Rugby players would be the FIRST to call off the game, and at such an international level game they were happily throwing themselves about the field. But even before that, the French knew that today was a big match with 60K+ spectators, this was a what was supposed to be a well in advance, well planned game.

The fact that they could not have cancelled earlier, or done something to warm up the field is jaw dropping in ineptitude. One little vacuum will not warm up a 100 meter field, no matter how much you wish it so.

But there is something beyond that and it speak to the French views on life and how I have often commented that all it seems to me that I do is spend my life waiting. Although to be fair, the referee who ultimately cancelled the game was English.

There is much egg on the face of the French identity and nationality. It’s down right shameful and while in retrospect I laugh and say “I almost forgot I was in France, but wait, I am,” at the time I was properly upset.

And what of the Irishmen who came in for the weekend to watch what was supposed to be a good game, only to be told to turn around and go home and come back later. The nosebleed section tickets were 65 Euros a piece – luckily we didn’t have to pay, Phillipe’s son Valentine got them free through work – but surely the Irishmen handed over more than simple nosebleed seats to see their national team play. The price of a ticket from Ireland to France, in addition the rugby ticket and ultimately time and anticipation that comes from watching your favorite sport and watching your team play on the national level.

They cannot simply come back in one or three weeks time like I or Phillip can (and surely will); and I hope for what ever is left for the respectability of the FFR (Federation Frances de Rugby) that they reimburse the players.

So I am saddened that tonight I cannot make a properly and exhilarating report on the joy that is a live rugby match. The match will be rescheduled for one week or three week’s time, and surely in what has almost become common place for me, I will be back with my two pairs of sweat pants and foot heating stickers hoping that the weather is not a chilly minus 4 degrees.

Pictures will follow when there actually is a game to be had.

Olfactory Explosion

When does a city begin to smell like a city?

And what is it that makes it so unique to the city?

It’s not a particularly nice smell, or I should say at least not in the vast underground city mazes of the metro where one can easily spend a week trying to navigate all the exits and moving walkways.

The smell of the metro specifically is a mechanical cranking smell – as the gears protest under their ceaseless toiling, of metal scratching metal and thick rubber belts running between the gears – sort of mixed with a lot of other smells that is hard to describe, but none too present.

There is the smell of the cold winter outside, one that makes your nose run but somehow also smells of gasoline.Then of course there is the unmistakable, unforgettable, nose-scrunching, gasping-for-air smell of homelessness and urine.

I cannot particularly blame the homeless for sleeping at the metro stops – it gets as cold a -8 in the dead of night outside and the metro stop looks a lot better for your chances of survival than a corner tucked away between newspapers and old mats probably crawling with all sorts of pests. But it is also the smell of urine and unwashed hair and unbrushed teeth from many people all stuffed together at once, that can leave a person choking. It’s an assault on even the hardiest of noses, and traveling more than a stop or two can be rather unpleasant.

Theres also the oddity of people drinking at all hours of the day. It is not uncommon to see people discreetly sipping from their beer cans as they wobble back and forth with the lurching of the train, and when they exhale it’s a cloud of beer breath gently wafting its way over to your nose.

These are the sorts of smells that are distinct and unique to true living, breathing, cities  – smells that one does not find in like likes of Washington D.C or suburbia.

The greenness of the grass has all but been paved over with tar and cement and there are a million cigarette butts and chewed gum smeared across the grey roads.

Winter has a special smell to it, but city winters are even more unique in that sense.

There are the boulangeries, and the boucheries, and the cafes, and the pattiseries, all of the best fresh food that makes a person want one of everything.  It’s something that has all but been obliterated in the states for the likes of Wal-Mart and superstores, but here the small shop way of life still thrives and the smells that waft through the doors onto the streets make a person want to follow their nose, wherever it goes.

Notre Dame

Snowy Weekends

I awoke this morning to the sounds of a deliberate scraping and scratching of metal against pavement and the laughter of the children from across the terrace.

My first thought was that it had snowed and that explained both the laughter and that my room was a few degrees colder than it usually is in the morning. Of course managing to summon the effort to actually get out of bed was somewhat of a difficult task; nonetheless I was pleased that for the moment the snow had brought about a blanket of quiet over the town and remained pristine.

So scratch what I said about the weather being more pleasant here, the snow brought the temperature down to a chilly 7 below zero Celsius.

Nevermind that anymore I can’t think in the American standard units, all I know is that it was damned cold outside of my bed and that I was much happier waiting for Phillipe to get back from church as he worked the lock on the door before I would bother letting the light into the room.

My relationship with snow is somewhat a complicated one; for the most part I really dislike it. I won’t say hate here – for snow can be charming – but really after about eight hours if the snow would kindly pack itself up and leave, we’d be on much better terms.

Snow is nice for the crunching under your feet feeling and sound, instead of the rhythmic clack clack of my boots on the cobbled road it’s a dampened crunching that frankly feels delicious for it’s a unique thing that only happens once a year or so. There is also the niceness of getting to sleep in a little bit, for either a delay or a cancellation, and plenty of kids swarm the streets screaming and laughing in delight making snow angels and throwing snow balls each other, their fingers frost-bitten but none of it mattering for certainly there is a hot cocoa waiting for them at home.

But then the snow turns this slushy black and grey color from too many people walking around, and the picturesque scene of a freshly fallen snow is then replaced by the horrible grey slush and ice that stays in shadowed corners until March, waiting for some unwitting person to not pay attention for half a second and then slip and bruise both their ego and coccyx.

There is also the issue of the cold; where you are so bundled up you are nay unrecognizable, save for your nose peeking out from beneath bundles of clothes, rosy red and constantly dripping, making you both at once uncomfortable from all that sweat – and your knees aching of arthritis. Then too you are a walking marshmallow from so many layers, and the coat becomes heavy around your shoulders which start to sag under the weight after a while, and all in all I think generally an unpleasant experience.

But ok, I digress.

Today was the first Sunday of the month which meant that all – yes all – of the museums in Paris are free.

Huzzah!

Now normally, I can get into any and all museums free both because I am a student under 25 and because I am an EU citizen, but I took the opportunity to get Phillipe out of the house, banking on the fact that the cold would drive away most of the crowd from the museums, for not wanting to stand in -3 degrees.

We ended up at the Museé d’Orsay. The queue was long but not unbearably so – surprising, considering that this is France – and after about a half hours wait we were inside the museum, checking our bags. Sadly there is no photography allowed in the museum, but I am not exaggerating when I say that is it an absolute gem of a museum.

Once upon a time it was a train station, but now converted, it makes for an excellent museum, and one that houses some of the most impressive impressionist collections and artists in the world. The clock that hangs right by the entrance is a giant piece of artwork, a testament to once when the station ran trains instead of tourists, and is just once of many beautiful pieces to be found by many other and more famous artists including but not limited to Rodin, Monet, Manet, Seraut, Gaughan, and van Gough.

d’Orsay is perhaps not as extensive of as famous as the Louvre, but it is a museum in and of itself that stands up next to the best of them and I was quite happy to spend 5 hours wandering the various rooms and collections, idling in front of some of my favorite ones. The impressionist collection was by far the best and my favourite, and there were dozens of Monet pieces for my little Monet loving heart to stand in front of and simply drink in, wishing that I could jump into the serene picture.

I’m by no means an art expert, but I was happy to look at the various artists all with their distinct brushstrokes and style as the current of people would carry me from one painting towards another.

Towards the end however, hunger and fatigue got the best of me, so we trekked back down the five stories of the museum back towards the RER and towards what can only be possibly described as the best vegetable soup ever.

Now the Superbowl is on tonight – or should I say tomorrow considering that it starts at midnight Paris time – and while I cannot say that I am particularly happy that the Raven’s won’t be playing in it, nor that I will be able to stay up until 4 am to watch it live, Phillipe managed to get the DVR working and so it’ll be waiting On Demand when I get back from class Monday afternoon.

In the meantime, there is Raspberry Sorbet – which frankly is like everything else here, AH-mazing – and Go Giants! (reluctantly, I guess…)

Next week we go to a live Rugby game where if I don’t freeze to death, I’ll be happy to regail the story of what possibly is one of the craziest sports around.