Hey Marc! I post this FOR YOU!
So, Paris! I’ve put this off long enough; much longer and I’ll start to forget what I actually did over there. I’ll just remember the short version, which is, really, fairly simple.
I got sick.
My nose started running the day after I got there. I went to a pharmacie to buy some anti-histamines but they didn’t seem to do much. Two days later I was coughing all night, barely sleeping, and having a difficult time breathing. In retrospect, I probably should’ve gone to a hospital to see if there was anything they could do, but… no, I waited ’til I got back from vacation to stop by a drop-in clinic and get medication. Gah. There were a couple days I barely left the apartment.
That said, it was a really good time. I have an aunt and uncle living over there, and they graciously hosted me the entire time I was there. They even put together a special birthday dinner for me just before I left: sushi, plus the smoked salmon I’d brought over, plus champagne. I think there was even more than that, but… gah, I waited two months before writing this. It was awesome, though.
I was technically a tourist, but I felt much less touristy than I did elsewhere on the trip. And because I was I sick, I took it relatively easy when I was out. Instead of rushing from museum to museum I was wandering around and experiencing. Huzzah!
But I did see all the big sites. The Louvre was amazing. I took my flash-less picture of the Mona Lisa, saw the Venus de Milo, and so many other paintings I’d seen before in school. I spent essentially one entire day wandering around that musuem, and still didn’t see everything. And I saw the Arc de Triomph, the War Museum, La Défence, l’Ile de Cité, Notre Dame, and some less touristy sites like an old Roman ampitheatre, Canal St. Martin, and some of the bohemian part of Paris.
And Paris itself was great. I’d live there in a heartbeat. It didn’t feel as busy as London; it was easy to get around; the food was amazing; and there was so much to see and do. And in particular I loved the boulevards which were essentially long, stretched out parks, with fountains and trees and grass in the middle, trees along the sides, and maybe a couple of lanes for cars thrown in on the sides.
I should also address the language issue. I don’t speak French, this trip proved it. But I’m capable of stringing enough together to ask basic questions and get directions. I suspect that if I spent enough time there, I’d start picking it up without too much trouble… and I kinda want to. 🙂
It’s just too bad I was sick. On my first day in Paris, I climbed the nearly two hundred stairs to the top of the Arc de Triomph and looked out over the city. Two days later I couldn’t climb three flights of stairs without two breaks. At the worse of it, I was barely able to walk one lousy block to go to the pharmacie for cough syrup.
The other big story of my time in Paris was the volcano over in Iceland – I was one of the millions of people stranded in Europe. For me, it worked out great – more time in Paris, free housing, and it was probably good that I’d recuperated a bit before flying back home. It’s just such a shame that I was sick – I wish I’d gone to Versailles, or explored more. And fortunately, after a few hours on hold with Delta, I was able to get a flight home without having to pay extra or anything.
The downsides were twofold: I had to spend the night in Amsterdam (yay!), and instead of flying directly from Amsterdam to Vancouver, I now had a stopover in Minneapolis (much like my flight over). The first was easily dealt with by getting a hotel; the latter severely fucked me over. I was on Central European time, arrived in Minneapolis at 5:30 local time (or 12:30 AM my time); and caught my flight to Vancouver at 9:30 PM local time (or 4:30 AM my time). I was sick, I couldn’t sleep, an exhausted after a long day of travel.
But it worked out okay. I got home around 1:00 AM PST on Friday morning and crashed.