On Day 20 I frantically pushed Sarah and Tristan out the door (sorry guys) in the direction of their hotel in anticipation for my next set of visitors: Kate and Dinah. Kate and Dinah are two of the most genuine, hilariously comedic, down to earth, and witty individuals I have had the chance to know. I met K & D during my time at University of Washington Medical Center, and they are most definitely some of the hardest working and dedicated nurses I have EVER met. Despite working NIGHTS and having not only one, but TWO nursing jobs each, these two gals just keep going and going. I swear these two have more energy than those magnificent Budweiser Clydesdales in those endearing Christmas commercials (clearly my mind is perseverating on those good ol’ American traditions).
One thing I love most about hanging out with Kate and Dinah is there is never a shortage of laughter. I am always, always, always laughing out loud with these two, and Day 20 was nothing different. We hooted, giggled and joked our way over the bridges of the Seine, through the twists and turns of alley ways while shopping, and while gazing up at the most perfect sunset as it cast itself against exquisite French architecture. Our biggest laugh came when Kate looked up at the sky and said in her sweet little voice “ah looks like we are gonna get a nice day.” She followed this immediately with “oops I hope I didn’t just jinx us.” It wasn’t but 20 seconds after I darted a crotchety look in her direction that the rain began to fall.
We quickly ducked into a little café across from Notre Dame called Café Panis. Although this café doesn’t serve the greatest French onion soup, they have decent frites and some kick ass hot chocolate (best I’ve had so far). Over our warm and oh so tasty cups of liquid heaven, I got to know Kate and Dinah a whole lot better. They told me about their years of travel nursing. They told me about their families and their past relationships (including their best dating horror stories…geez, can men be totally clueless sometimes!). They told me about their future plans. I told them about mine. They told me how excited they were to be in Paris…and the list went on and on. Our entire conversation was one of those moments in time where friendships are nourished and warm memories are made.
The highlight of our evening was Mr. Croque-Monsieur. Yes, my sandwich has been given a title because he deserves to be credited for the masterpiece that he is. Ironically, despite my obsession with all things Parisian since the age of 14, I have NEVER had the guts to try a croque-monsieur. Yes. I know. I am horrified to admit this fact. I adore grilled cheese sandwiches, but I have always been suspicious of that little slice of ham, so delicately placed between those two slices of bread and glob of cheese. What was it about that piece of ham? I’ll never know. But for whatever reason on this particular night, I conquered my fear of the croque-monsieur. And OMG. All those years that I had failed to have a taste of that buttery, cheesy, crispy goodness slapped me directly across my face. This thing was totally amazing. So amazing in fact, that we actually promised the waiter we would be back the next night…and we were!
After the three of us got over the shock of that sandwich we skipped across the street for gelato. I had secretly hoped that Dinah and Kate wouldn’t see the delightful little gelato place with its “rose” shaped serving style. But they did. Crap. This was my (count it out loud) 5th visit to this place in the last 5 nights, and as my tummy cheered “G-E-L-A-T-O! G-E-L-A-T-O,” the words “Je voudrais un petit cornet avec Amarena, si’l vous plait” slipped from my mouth; I’d done it again. Before I knew it I was indulging in the most perfectly spun gelato this side of the Seine. Oh how tasty it was! Kate and Dinah totally agreed, as we slurped our way back towards the apartment to settle in for the evening.
A shot of my most favorite bridge in Paris.
Kate and Dinah are here!
The French have such an appreciation for the details. Looks at how perfectly placed that chocolate is in that oh so adorable glass! And the canary yellow milk pitcher?! Come on!
A shout out to all our nursing buddies back home ; )
Kate and her new BFF Nicolas. After calling Kate “charming,” giving me a sweet deal on an adorable little wicker bag, and requesting I send him this pic on “Facebook,” this guy quickly became my favorite Parisian thus far.
M. Croque Monsieur and his friend Mademoiselle Salade. What a perfect pair they make!
Yesterday, Day 21 Kate and Dinah headed out to Versailles while I stayed back home to have some chill time to myself. I lounged in bed unknowingly for 3 hours before lazily changing into my running garb. I’ve been trying my best to keep up with my “I pretend I have a workout routine, but really I jog once every 4 days to make myself feel better” routine during my time in Europe and have failed miserably on most days. I’ve done a short jog here or there, supplemented by café au laits, crepes avec Nutella, excessive amounts of gelato, and cheese that’s left my bowels in knots for days. Not so good. Oops.
Running in Paris is a far cry from running in Seattle. At home I can’t even get out of my driveway without tripping over at least three not only runners, but perfectly toned gazelle like triathletes, galloping along as if it’s: no big deal. Here in Paris, running is clearly not in fashion. In my 2+ weeks of being here I’ve seen just one woman actually out running for the intent of exercise, and she looked as American as I. Honestly, the looks I’m delivered as I step outside the big red doors of my apartment in all my gear, are anything but understanding. I’ve received some of the most peculiar glances from Parisians as if to say “Humph. Stupid American. Running? Running is for the weak. Here have a latte. Or even better, here, have a smoke.” And then I envision them spitting in my direction. You know. Like the movies.
But, really I don’t get it. Everyday that I run, I gaze at these beautiful, model-thin Parisians who appear to have what American’s would consider “horrible lifestyle habits”: no gyms, no diets, no running shoes, no nothing. Instead olive oil up the wazoo, carbs until there’s not tomorrow, pastries that cause instant need for dental work, and clouds of smoke so thick you need goggles to swim through them. There has to be some French secret that needs to be shared with the rest of us…really! How is it that a country fueled by croissants and cancer sticks doesn’t seem to have any weight issues?? It’s unfathomable. It’s gotta be all that walking…hmmm…
Lucky for me on this particular run I got lost. Not just a teeny bit lost. A lotta bit lost. And it was stellar. Despite the hypoglycemia, blurry vision and shaking hands (clearly in my time of lounging around the apartment I forgot to eat breakfast OR lunch before my run) I had a grand ol’ time. As I dodged the velos, voitures, autobuses, pietons, and crusty French glares I took in every bit of Paris. Swearing up and down that these days would go down in my record books as “the best days ever” I beamed with pure and utter happiness. These are the days to remember. And I hope I do.
Today was velo day! This morning (bright and early: 9:45 am to be exact – I know super early huh?) the 5 of us all hopped on the funkiest bikes I have ever seen and pedaled our way around Paris. It was a total blast learning the nitty-gritty historical details that most definitely come along with a city this great. The funny thing was we spent 3 out of the 4 hours of the tour in my neighborhood!! This ultimately solidified the fact that the 4th arrondissement is the coolest, hippest, and trendiest part of Paris (minus Montmartre of course!)… Cool right?!! I just loved seeing Kate, Dinah, Sarah and Tristan take in all the sights, while “ooh-ing” and “ahh-ing” over the mushy details that were being fed to us on a silver platter. The weather despite being cool, was also dry and perfect for the bike tour.
The best moment of my day came when I saw French Parenting 101: Boy kicks pigeon, Mom kicks boy. The end. I shot a glance towards my group, HOPING, PRAYING, and WILLING that someone else just witnessed what I did. I caught Kate’s eye and we both immediately blurted out “DID YOU JUST SEE THAT?!” We burst into hysterical laughter. Those 3 seconds of Parisian action were priceless. PRICELESS. (Okay on a side note, I do not condone the kicking of children, but this mother gave a gentle nudge as if to say “hey, if you don’t like being kicked in the rear end, neither does that poor innocent bird!”).
This evening we headed to Laduree on the Champs Elysees for some much anticipated macaroons! Poor Sarah had been dying to try one of these delectable little gems, but I made her wait until tonight to sample the best macaroons in all of Paris. AND it was well worth the wait I tell you! My only other experience with a macaroon prior to this occasion, was at a McDonalds (I know, gross right?) in Paris last year, which I nibbled in disgust. It was HORRENDOUS. I swore up and down that I would NEVER try one of those pastel colored pastries ever again. But tonight was utterly fabulous. Those macaroons eloquently sang their song, amidst our warm tea, hot chocolate, and cappuccino.
With our sweet tooth at bay, we headed towards St. Michel for pasta and parmesan cheese. We then hobbled our way out of the restaurant fully satisfied with overstuffed bellies. As I gave Sarah and Tristan their final Paris hug goodbye, I pondered the inevitable end to my own trip. Still weeks away, I already feel a pang of sadness knowing I will have to one day leave this place. Hopefully a weekend in Provence will help to slow things down a bit…we shall see.
Moi avec mon velo.
The brown house in the middle is the oldest home left standing in Paris.
Maison de Victor Hugo. Where he wrote much of Les Miserables.
View of Il Saint-Louis from the left bank.
Lunch from a street vendor who was not too thrilled about me snapping this shot.
Forums des Halles.
Musee National d’Art Moderne in Centre Pompidou. All of the uncessary stuff like stairs and plumbing are on the outside of the building to make more room for art of course!
Sarah and her much anticipated macaroons.
Cupcake perfection at Laduree’s.