Friday, February 20, 2015

Paris Part Deux

Paris day two started with a trip to the catacombs.  This is a highly rated tourist attraction which unfortunately means a long wait and it was a cold and dreary day.  My feel of being in an exotic far away world was ruined by the two hour wait with two young American girls in line behind me.  If I heard “I know right” or “OMG” one more time I was going to scream fermez votre bouche (shut your mouth)!   Thankfully I knew this expression well from my High School French Teacher.  I wanted to learn and practice my French but mostly just learned teenager talk and proper English due to the “please mind the gap between the train and the platform” recording which is transmitted over the speaker at every metro stop in proper Queens English of course.  In the end, the catacombs were just ok IMHO.  I would have liked a more adventurous illegal underground tour but I couldn’t find one.  What does one search for on the internet “illegal tours a la Paris”?  Besides, turning human bones into a tourist attraction seems wrong on so many levels.

Next thing I did was find the closest restaurant.  Unfortunately it was called The Americana or something like that but I was tired, cold and hungry and didn’t care.  A nice guy on his bicycle informed me I had to go inside if I wanted to order food and they only serve wine on the patio.  I was all prepared to figure out what I wanted to eat as I knew ‘poulet’ for chicken, ‘poisson’ for fish and ‘boeuf’ for beef, but the nice guy from the street actually came in to help me read the menu.  Now that was really sweet and one of many nice gestures I noticed that made me question the whole rude French thing I’d always heard.  Anyway, as the guy offered to help me I happened to notice the menu was in English so I thanked him but knew I could take it from there. 

The weather turned nice so I took out a bike from the Velib bike share which are located everywhere and did some biking around the city.  I love my sports and outdoors and this was much more pleasant than waiting in lines for junky tourist traps.  I biked to the Eiffel tower and by now the weather had turned almost perfect.  I just sat around eating my crepe and taking it all in.  That’s always such a nice experience to just be in the moment.  I must have looked like a Parisian since someone took my picture of me eating a crepe with my Velib bicycle and the tower.  I tried to dress like a Parisian which pretty much meant bland colors and somewhat conservative dressy clothes to me.  But it must have worked since they took my picture and I was asked on the subway for directions a few times and I was spoken to in French on a few occasions too.  I just think it would be funny if someone was showing off their ‘authentic’ Paris pictures and someone said hey that’s Catastrophe Cathy and she’s American. 

I was asked if I wanted to buy some Eiffel tower key chains at five for 1 Euro.  That took a few minutes and was pretty much the end of my gift shopping.  I typically don’t spend a lot of time shopping when I travel.  I sure hope the key chain recipients don’t read this …and if they do they remember “it’s the thought that counts”. 

As a side note, finding a bathroom is not easy in Paris.  Many establishments expect you to pay or be a customer.  There were some new public restrooms but they were perhaps the world’s most inefficient toilets serving maybe one person every few minutes. 

Cat “Bonne Nuit” Cathy