I supposed I should include Thursday in here, I used my bike for an actual errand for the first time :-) I wanted to make sure that we had our tickets into Paris in hand before Friday so I rode into town. The trip was pretty, French drivers seem to be much more accepting of cyclists than in the US, which was a nice change from Pittsburgh. After picking up our tickets, I rode home to find Michael and Manas slaving away at their Continuum Mechanics homework...yuk! Manas stayed for dinner (simple cherry tomato pasta) and even brought us some awesome Indian sweets.
Ok, now on to Paris.
We woke up bright (well not bright, more like pitch-black) and early Friday morning (4:30am) to catch our 6:25 TGV (high-speed) train out of the Metz train station. The train ride was quick and painless, although we use the train tickets for our returning trip, so we ended up in the wrong seats, in the wrong car, with our tickets stamped for the wrong day. Oh well, the man checking the tickets was very nice about it (I'm assuming it happens fairly often), he wrote a note on our tickets, signed and stamped them so that we wouldn't have any problems on the way back. We arrived at the Paris East train station at 7:52 on the dot (exactly the time quoted on our tickets) and found Harry and Camille waiting for us at the end of the platform :-) Hugs and kisses were exchanged, then Harry shuffled us towards the metro and which we caught back to the hotel (pictured on the left) where we were told that our room wasn't quite ready yet. Camille gave us a little tour of the hotel which they had stayed at many times on various trips to France. Unfortunately, she said, it had been "updated" and modernized since they had last visited in an attempt to add more rooms and had lost much of it's charm. She showed us the basement with the computer room, garden and little spa (a tiny room with an oliptical and stationary bike and a small sauna off to one side) where I stepped in dog poop; apparently there was a dog staying at the hotel but don't ask me why the dog was allowed to poop in the spa. Thankfully it was quite dry and I didn't make a mess (don't worry, this will be important later on). We threw our bags in Harry and Camille's room and went next door to Le Source to have le petit dejeuner (a little breakfast) of coffee, bread and butter, croissant, and fresh pressed orange juice. After regaining some energy we took the metro up to Galleries Laffayette and walked through some of the incredibly huge department stores; I pulled out a few dresses, they were made of the most luxurious fabric I have ever felt and had price tags larger than any clothing I've ever touched. We also got to see the old opera house which has been turned into a music academy since the new one was build (it would be redundant to say that the architecture was absolutely beautiful...that's probably understood, but you'll see for yourself when you check out the photo album that I will be attaching to this post). After wandering around that area for awhile we made our way to Le Deux Magots for lunch. Le Deux Magots, according to Camille, is one of the top two cafés in Paris and was made famous by the the people who frequented it: Earnest Hemmingway, Jean-Paul Sartre, Pablo Picasso and others. Harry and Camille both had saucisson sandwiches, Michael had a cold ham and cheese and I had a Croque-Monsieur (toasted, open-faced ham and cheese). We were pretty boring that afternoon, taking a nap at the hotel and getting coffee down the street (for a whopping 4euro = $6 each!). Next was a boat tour of the Seine river where Michael was able to capture this lovely picture of la Tour Eiffel. I couldn't honestly tell you everything that we saw, but we understood it at the time. The tour "guide" (computer) spoke first in French, then in English, for every sight, and if they had time, they tried to get to German, Italian, and Mandarin. When you see the pictures from the trip (which I will post as soon as I've finished editing all 345 that Michael took) you will get a better idea of everything that we got to see on the tour (which was wonderful, if you ever get to Paris, the boat tours are a wonderful way to see the city).
By this time, we were famished once again (Paris has a way of doing that to you), so we went slightly away from the river to eat at the Grand Corona, which proved to be a typical French bistrot. Michael had steak frites and I had Dover sole, both were delicious. Harry had a risotto, while Camille had escargot and a goat cheese salad and we all shared a crème brûlée which was garnished with a strange fruit that we had never seen (pictured below). After much confusion (it looked like a tomatillo or tomato, but was on a dessert?) we asked the waitress what it was, to which she replied "Cage d'Amour" (cage of love) which we remembered and were thankfully able to look up on wikipedia later on. Here is their definition: The typical Physalis fruit is similar to a firm tomato (in texture), and like strawberries or other fruit in flavor; they have a mild, refreshing acidity. The flavor of the Cape Gooseberry (P. peruviana) is a unique tomato/pineapple-like blend. It was an odd thing to
come across and apparently it is related both to the tomato and Japanese Lanterns (which makes me wish I had tried the berries that I found in our Japanese Lanterns when I was a kid). We walked back to the hotel and on the way, I was able to snap this picture of la Tour Eiffel and the city from the river. Alright, that's all for now, I will finish up the Paris update this weekend (sorry for the delay, editing the photos has taken longer than I imagined) and with everything that went on Saturday, I may need two separate posts. Bon Nuit everyone.