Saturday, September 20, 2008

Une Journee Extraordinaire

Here in Paris, our program has pre-scheduled events nearly every day -- museum visits, tours by boat, plays, dinners, etc. This isn't exactly a problem -- it's been excellent to have a guided overview of what Paris has to offer, so when we do get some time to ourselves, we can maximize our time around the city to do what we please.

Yesterday we had a free day and thus I was able to plan and execute some quite exciting adventures!

My day began with a visit to the Musée des Arts et Métiers. This museum doesn't have impressionist art or Greek sculptures or tapestries: what it does have is a wide assortment of historical technology, contraptions, inventions, and (as the French would say) rather strange trucs. One may see a re-creation of Lavoisier's laboratory, a miniature model of a steam-powered engine, astrolabes from hundreds of years ago, very early sewing machines, and modern robotic technology (to name a few).

However, the journey is half the fun. The metro stop on line 11 for the museum, called Arts et Metiers, is decorated like a Jules Verne submarine. Any steampunk worth her salt knows about this metro stop! It is part of the destination itself, and I found it delightfully shiny. I'd read online that it had been largely obscured by graffiti, and so I was pleased to find that was not the case at all.

After locating the museum (it is situated in an old abbey right near the metro stop), I began my exploration. I enjoyed it immensely; it was laid out in a logical, orderly fashion, broken into categories like Navigation and Energy. Most of the displays were in nearly all glass boxes, set in the middle of the corridors so that one could fully circle the objects within.

Here's a flying machine I came across:

Any museum that brilliant has to be followed by a meal somewhere. As I had yet to explore any of my vegetarian restaurant listings, I decided to check out La Victoire Supreme du Coeur. There I enjoyed a lavish lunch: an appetizer of little onion fritters and salad, the Indian plate for my main course, and then the chocolate-orange-cardamom cream for dessert! It was all delicious and I adored having wheat bread instead of the all-fluff-no-substance baguettes that are tasty but not very filling.

I still had some time to spend in the afternoon, so I took the metro to the Centre Pompidou, where I recorded my adventures the old-fashioned way (in my Moleskine) for future reference. Then I headed back to the hostel for some resting (reading, not napping -- napping is something I find very difficult).

But friends! The day is not yet over! A friend from Davidson, the charming Ms. Wood, met me for drinks at Les Furieux. After several minutes of debating whether we ought to order at the bar (apparently we are both rather inept at bar culture and correct mannerisms?) we both ordered glasses of absinthe. Never fear, ye who worry about such things. Today's absinthe bears little resemblance to the absinthe of early bohemians. It lacks the hallucinogenic properties and simply bears a strong licorice flavour. We found it quite appealing.

Here Ms. Wood looks charming with her glass:

And I simply guard my drink from passers-by:

So there you have it! It was one of the best days of the trip thus far. I really enjoyed planning out the day, navigating toute seule, and of course, seeing Ms. Wood.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Ca m'a plu beaucoup, merci.

And now for your entertainment, two lists:

a) Things I like about being in Paris

1. The wide availability of carbohydrates on every street corner (hello, baguettes and/or freshly made fries)
2. The strangely compelling teeny servings of coffee
3. One phrase: the brilliant Metro system
4. Visiting a somewhat obscure museum by myself and strolling at my own pace
5. French people who patiently explain everything in French instead of switching to English as soon as I hesitate
6. Waiters who call me "Madame"
7. Sancerre
8. Reading Harry Potter a l'ecole des sorciers in the park
9. The accordion player that shows up sporadically on the train
10. Finding the world's best falafel stand, and having the woman behind the counter guess my order before I say anything (when it's the fifteenth day that I've been there...)
11. Making friends with random French children in playgrounds during regression-to-youth adventures

b) Things I dislike about being in Paris

1. The occasional motorcyclist who has orders to mow me down when I cross the street
2. The metro station called Montparnasse Bienvenue, aka The Pit of Despair
3. Paying 2.40 euros for a microscopic roll of off-brand tape
4. Occasional sketchy people
5. Pigeons everywhere I turn

[NB: it was much easier to write the first list than the second.]

P.S. So the blogging has been a bit lax. Sorry about that -- it's mainly because wireless likes to do its own thing here in the hostel. However, I have been uploading a few pictures (read: a lot) as wireless permits.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Au Debut

Bonjour a tous! Tout va bien ici et nous sommes en train de nous amuser beaucoup!

Yesterday the group went to the Eiffel Tower and we also went on a boat cruise on the I took more than my fair share of pictures (shout-out to Cameron -- I'm following your directions). Please check them out! I'd love to hear (ok, read) your comments.