Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Moments with Momentous Monuments

Alliterations. Clever, no?

Some more Parisian adventures. 
It looks like we're going to be here until October 3rd, plenty of more time to capture virtually every facet of my abroad life. It's longer than I'd like to stay in Paris, like I've said I'm more country-minded, it's expensive here, and I don't like to stay in one place for too long, but we wait here until we can purchase a cheap ticket out, and fly to Pisa, Italy. For the mere price of 16 euros (thank you Ryanair!) Derek and I will fly to Pisa on the 3rd, then make our way by train to the town of Grosseto, where, if our workaway host pulls through, we'll be working on a small farm in this Northern Italian countryside. 

I absolutely adore being on farms, the profile that we found them through has several pictures with squat little burros, countless chickens, ponies, dogs, a variety of barnyard animals. I am interested to meet our hosts. We haven't had a lot of communication with them, and at this point in time our stay hasn't had the final stamp of approval, but we've made contact after a few weeks without, so I'm sure all will be well.

Now, Paris. 

Arc de Triomphe!
Reminds me of... "Why do you think I have an office?"

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier


Palais Royal and le Petit Palais

Les Invalides... Napoleon's tomb.

Place de la Concorde. Largest square in Paris. Marie Antoinette was guillotined here!
The Princess.
"Couchsurfing can be really rough sometimes."
Why did I bring all this camping gear?
Roqie, mon petit chou chou!
Out of humble expectations for the day, we were suggested to go check out the "techno parade" happening near Place d'Italie... we casually make our way to the festivities, don't really see anything going on, though there was a small queue of people gathering along the street...eventually this gem of a human being began holding his own one-man parade. Future husband material. There was something about his jeans ripped open entirely from back, down through crotch, to front, that was really just so right for the event we were about to experience. There were high kicks, crotch grabs, some sensuous writhing on the cement...all before any musical accompaniment had kicked in.
Most impressive.

He had a great shimmy as well. 
Derek: Do you think he's gay?
Me: I don't know, we're in France, at a techno parade. It's anyone's guess.

After our 15 minute wait, we then realized...this is about to get serious.

Future wife material.

This sweet old couple, clearly lost. You don't have to be young to kick it!

One woman parade. Sometimes that's all you need. Gettin it gurl.
Well look at you, painting shirtless on your house boat with your adorable dog. How French.

Monument a Barye.

Notre Dame.
Contradictory to my expectations, you can enter any and all churches in Paris free of charge, which is right in my budget. Derek and I were thrilled to get to go into Notre Dame and it did not disappoint. The construction is really, really spectacular, so gothic and so impressive. Admittedly, I couldn't help but imagining the gargoyles springing to life and imitating their Disney counterparts. The gardens surrounding the church are beautiful, the church is beautiful, the stained glass: incredible. They were holding a service when we went in, and we got to hear some really nice operatic hymns. Getting to experience anything on the spiritual side of life is always a welcome, slowed down change of pace in our travels.
You know, spiritual and calm with a hundred other touristas flashing cameras around you.
But it was gorgeous. Absolutely loved it. Tried to purvey some of its magic from the interior as best I could photographically...

The only river in Paris.
Pavillon de L'Arsenal Museum 

Miiiind melting...
Saint-Jacques Tower
As the sun was setting, my favorite light.
These were taken just a matter of hours ago, in a park just across the street from our current couchsurfing spot. Parc De Bagatelle. There was a quaint little lake, lots of joggers, cute little rabbits everywhere, some playgrounds, and a beautiful sunset. It made me realize what a freak I am for sunsets and sky colors. On our way out of the park, we came to an odd stetch of road. The park had been pretty calm until this road, things began to feel a little sketchy. Rough looking Parisians, in urban branded sweatsuits, walking quickly and casting angry glances. Old, leather skinned men, in Lennon glasses, with shifty eyes and wry smiles. An excited pair of young Indian men, speaking Hindi very fast, looking up and down the street, near frantically. Literally the moment I looked to Derek to ask him what was going on...there emerged out of the darkness of the forest, Vamperella. 

A stoic figure, she stood plainly, out in the open, in the middle of the paved walkway, under the extra protection of a large willow tree. She seemed not to notice anything odd about the fact that she was wearing a scanty, black evening dress, complete with hip cut-outs and bangles, at around 9 o'clock at night, in a park, and about thirty feet from a children's fairground. Looking down the road, she seemed to be joined by her own vampire coven. Thick chested women, with long, black, wig-like hair, all in their matching hooch dresses, staring down any passerby to cross their way. 
We seem to have finally come into the presence of a long running joke our couchsurfing host had been attempting to make to us, what he referred to as, "the tranny hookers."

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against a working woman. Her presence was something almost relieving, always welcome, and usually amusing. Just as in the Redlight District of Amsterdam, Derek and I felt an odd sort of pressure. One to either obviously avoid the advances of these young professionals, or make clear that we were not their pursued clientele and that they should just save themselves the energy, as far as we were concerned. I deal it with best by just giggling my way through the situation, and contemplating how I could slyly take their picture. 

Derek: "I feel like I should...like...walk more gay? So they know I don't want them"
Highly entertaining.
Glad that we could have such an unexpected run-in on such a casual stroll through the park.

I find great enjoyment in the word, "bunny"
Le Petit Train
Streetlight shining through green leaves is one of my favorite colors.
Boulevard du Commandant Charcot.

After some shuffling around on the metro, we left our deluxe suite in Pont de Nuilly ("Noo-Yee," after several attempts with a host trying to correct us, I believe I have the proper pronounciation down) and came to our new home in Corbevoie, just outside the city of Paris. 
Scratch that. On to the next one. 
Trudge, trudge, trudge. Sweating down the street.
Another train ride later, we came to another home in the 14th arrondissement, directly in the heart of Paris. More central, and convenient, and staying with a lovely pair of men, Stefan and Olivier. They took us into their flat, threw a small, lovely birthday dinner for Derek, gave us lots of wine, champagne and crepes, and carried on with a wonderful game of "I Have Never."

Pictured below are our new friends, Amilliano, Olivier, another American couchsurfer in the back, Julio, Marie, David, and Stefan. And of course, yours truly, front and center. 
Derek appears in the last one but I felt the need to put both pictures up because everyone appears to be smiling and happy in the first, and on the redo I had to take because Derek wasn't visible, the attitude seems to have gone down a bit. 

Why is this crazy American making me take another picture with him?

I'M having a good time anyway.

Speaking with people whose second language is English is very influencing.
All that wishy-washy, "Oh yeeeah, maybe I'll go do this, and that, orrrrr blah blah" is slowly leaving my vocabulary. I find myself using blunt, direct sentence structure, that may not exactly be proper grammar, but I like it. It gets the point across and saves you some raised eyebrows and questioning looks from any foreign tongues you may be trying to converse with. Derek, myself, and Julio too admitted we've all begun speaking this way over the course of our travels.
"I go here"
"I wash"
"I ask"

Also, throwing "no?" onto the end of any sentence you may wish to be responded to with an answer.
"You shower now, no?"

I need to also get used to the bissou greeting, the kiss kiss on each cheek. I believe I whacked Marie fairly hard with my cheekbone in our greeting last night. She said nothing, which was nice, but I knew my foreignness was showing. There are so many fun customs to learn, and so much laughter and amusement when discussing the possibility of taking these new customs back home to the States. 
What would a man do if you attempted to kiss him when you met?

Hanging out with a bunch of French, or with any foreign nationals, you're guaranteed to spend some time gazing off into space, thinking of what you'll say, or they will say next to bridge the language gap. Our hosts on this night were very considerate and made gracious, and frequent stops to translate. I find it thrilling and charming, and I like to pretend--whether or not it may be true is for each individual to decide--that I am exotic and interesting in my Americanhood. I can discuss politics, our abysmal food corporations, and how great we are by sheer size. Fascinating.
Something I thought amusing last night, when Stefan declared to me that he thought France could learn a lot from the U.S. (Me: "Nobody ever says that!") in the way we tax the citizens of our nation. He said the taxes in France are extremely high, a person can be making one million a fiscal year and be taxed to the sum of around $75,000 at the end of it. There was little motivation to work hard and earn a high wage because at the end you lose such a high percentage of it. He thought that in America, the way the rich are rewarded for their money earning, with their actual money, was the correct way to provide incentive and healthy for the individual earner.

Interesting to hear.

All for now.
I go enjoy Paris now, no? Oui.
Merci beaucoup.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Just Wow!.. thanks for all the great pictures and anecdotes. I'm excited about the next leg in the Italian countryside!