Monday, December 27, 2010

Our Christmas Vacation: Days Five and Six

Our hotel room is cute, but it is so cold. I am sitting here in my scarf with pants and longjohns and a sweater and another shirt and two pairs of socks on, and I am still cold. The only reason I got out from under the blankets, where I had retreated when we got back to the hotel, is that Melissa talked me into blogging and whispered to me about how I love the internet. I think I was leeching out all of her body heat and this was an act to save herself. She has very advanced defense mechanisms.

Yesterday, I must tell you, was obnoxious. I mentioned that we are housesitting? Maybe? Anyway, we are caring for a lovely house and two cats in Brussels, and we have the use of our friends' car while we're here. We decided to drive down to Paris, park outside of the city, and take one of the RER (suburban line, basically) trains in. Which sounds like it really ought to be easy, but one, we couldn't really park long term at the first station we got to and two, Melissa was briefly stuck in snow at the second (and final) station we got to. This doesn't really convey yesterday's stress--it was really about being in a strange place and not exactly knowing what you're doing and where you're going. All of the little things, like not being sure what signs say and how to pay at the gas station and whether or not the toll booth will really take your credit card like the internet says adds up to, when one gets stuck in the snow at the end of all that, a little bit of a fit.

We made it to our hotel, though, without anything truly going wrong. We are staying at the Hotel de la Cite Rougement, which is in a pretty good location between Notre Dame and Montmartre. Not that we're necessarily going to Montmartre. We haven't decided yet.

After we got here, tired and grouchy, we looked around and said "Paris! We're in Paris!" and it was all okay. I decided our frigid hotel room is romantic, because it's on the top floor and the ceiling is slanted and we have a window that is pointed towards the sky. It's like a nicer version of Sara Crewe's attic. For dinner, we went to Chartier, where we had a nice enough meal and, despite warnings, a nice and funny waiter. Melissa had fish. I had beef tartare. We are both a bit bistroed out at this point, to be honest, and we're going to have Italian for dinner tonight. I came here with big food ideas, but I've realized that great food in France might have more to do with offal, and meat in general, than I can handle. However, I still have some pastry and soup eating to do.

Today was absolutely not frustrating. It was cold, but lovely. We walked down to Notre Dame down the rue Montmartre, with two stops: One for a coffee and a chocolate croissant, and the other to take the following picture.

I'm glad we rewatched the first Harry Potter movie the other night, or I might not have noticed.

Notre Dame was lovely, of course, but the audio tour? Sadness!

I was clearly spoiled by the audio tour in the cathedral in Cusco. That was a great audio tour. It set a mood and it was informative without being dull. The one for Notre Dame was all blah blah liturgical blah popes archbishops blah without many details about the art. Still, lovely place. Our pictures of the interior are horrible, though.

Shakespeare & Company is right across the street.

It's my kind of place. I didn't stay long, because it was crowded. I also didn't buy anything and--I couldn't say why, actually. What the heck? Shopping paralysis strikes again.

After lunch (onion soup for me, croque-monsieur for Melissa) and Shakespeare & Co., we took the metro to the Eiffel Tower, then we walked along the Seine, holding hands. We do not hold hands often, but in this case it was required. Even if it was below freezing and the Seine is totally overflowing its banks and we were trying hard not to slip on the ice along the path. C'est romantique.

Today's great French success: Asking an employee at the Carrefour around the corner if they had fingernail clippers and having him understand me.

Tomorrow, we're going to go to the Louvre. We've dedicated the whole day to it. We weren't going to, but we kind of can't resist. And it's supposed to be sleeting all day.

ETA: We have obtained a space heater from the front desk. Oh, I hope it heats this place up.

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