Out Wandering

Within a few moments, those Swiss people are really very timely, we were off the plane and inside the depths of Charles du Gaulle airport. Once again, I had to restrain myself on the moving sidewalks. I completely understand that many of these people are exhausted or they’re sore or they have some tragic malady, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go slow–move! It drives me insane when everybody is in a hurry to get out of the soulless airport and into the real world and is unable to do so. So, if you ever see me in an airport, you had better move.

Amazingly, our luggage was one of the first to come off the plane. I have never lost my luggage before, it has been delayed, but never lost, so I wasn’t too worried. I was very relieved to see it, though. I would have really enjoyed having to replace my entire wardrobe, but I did not have nearly enough money for that kind of undertaking.

We made our way to customs and then customs never arrived and before we knew it we were on the tram to the RER. The RER is the train into Paris from the airport, and within Paris it is a speedier version of the Métro with comfier seats, but fewer stops.

It was odd and slightly uncomfortable that there was no kind of border control at all. Maybe it was because we were coming from within the European Union? I don’t know, all I do know is that it freaked Jessica out.

The RER was hot and took forever, but before long we were transferring to the proper Métro line and then all of a sudden we had arrived!

The Marais is such a beautiful part of Paris. It was the swamplands many a year ago and because of that Napoleon didn’t bother to give it a makeover like he did the rest of Paris. He turned Paris into a very beautiful city, but it lost much of its old-world charm. Because this area was completely ignored, it is very much the same as it has always been.

As we walked along the Rue Saint-Antoine, Jessica (who knew where the apartment was from the Métro) got turned around so we had to make a little trip back to the Métro and then walk in the opposite direction. It didn’t take too much time and we were at the apartment doors much earlier than we had anticipated. To pass the time I walked along the street and was delighted to see how very close we were to the Seine. Jessica popped into the bakery that is literally five feet from our front door and bought a baguette and a raspberry tart. The baguette was okay. You just don’t find that back home, even crap baguettes here are a league above what you get back there. From my research, it is supposedly the flour that gives a Parisian baguette such deliciousness, so maybe I’ll try to make one here and see if that is true.

Jessica made friends with two pigeons and a sparrow and began to feed them baguette. The sparrow was very appreciative and would chirp every time you gave it a morsel. Adorable.

After a while longer, Samantha arrived and let us into the apartment. The courtyard on the inside is absolutely stunning with massive pink flowers in each corner. I can already tell that I will be sitting in there often. There are two doors to get inside the apartment and the second one is so convoluted that I have a lot of trouble with it. You have to twist then twist it again and then shove? Or something like that. Jessica figured it out.

There are wooden beams that are original to the building, which is from the mid-1600s. We’re talking Witch Trial times, people! The hexagonally-tiled floors are also original and they show it. They have an amazing patina. I’m a huge fan of antiquities, but this rustic look is not really my style. I do appreciate it, though. The place feels ancient.

There is a nice big dresser in Jessica’s bedroom where we can store all of our clothes. I sleep in the living room, which is also the kitchen. The kitchen is brand new and by IKEA. I am absolutely in love with IKEA kitchens, they are so smart looking. I want one so badly in my house back home. I can’t even imagine how good it would look. I’ll stop dreaming so that I won’t be disappointed in the future! The washing machine is also the dryer and I’m having a hard time figuring it out. I can read French, so I know that I’m doing everything right, but it is not drying the clothes properly. In time, I’m sure I’ll come to understand it.

I put my things away, took a shower and we headed out on the town to take care of a few important things.

First things first, we withdrew some money.

Then we went down into the Métro to buy ourselves a Navigo pass. This was not as complex as I had expected, yet so backwards a system that I failed to understand at first. You could not buy the Navigo card at the window, you had to buy a coupon at the machine right next to the window and then present the attendant with the coupon who would then give you a pass. With the pass, you had to return to the machine to charge it with a week or a month. I am not entirely sure why the man at the window could not do it all for us. Oh well, it worked.

We decided to go back to the Bastille area to see it and to do our shopping. This was a bad idea it turns out.

Near my old apartment is a crêpe stand, so we both had a crêpe even though I was not hungry. It was egg, cheese, and mushroom and was very good but so big that I had to toss the last third of it in the trash. We looked in on the bakery on the corner, where I have never felt much affection for the workers, and I think the feeling is mutual. I really do not know why–I’m charming and kind. I bought three macarons and off we went to the Monoprix.

My beloved Shopi is gone and is now a new chain of grocery stores. I was truly a bit devastated at this. I will go to the new one to see it, but it won’t be that same grungy Shopi that I learned to love and fear.

We made our way to Monoprix and loaded up on everything: Oasis, chicken chips, parmesan cheese of every shape, pasta, ravioli, butter, juice, eggs, olive oil, and much much more. I love going grocery shopping in different countries and seeing what there is. Some of my finds this trip were: dried béarnaise sauce, massive bags of madeleines, and generic brand Nespresso pods. I’m still reeling over this discovery. I love Nespresso and do not mind paying $.57 per pod because it is delicious. But, to be able to buy an off-brand is genius. I tried them when I returned to the apartment and one of them is just as good. I will surely be stocking up on these for my return flight.

We paid and were on our way. The bags were heavy, so I thought that I remembered a shortcut back to the Bastille. Turns out, I didn’t and we got really turned around. I have never walked so far within Paris and failed to see a Métro–they are normally everywhere. I feared that we would be lost forever, but I told Jessica that I was sure there was one around the corner…at every corner. Finally, we made it back and were happy to unload all of our new finds.

We discovered that my macarons had been crushed in the journey home, which made them sad to look at, but after I tasted them I realized that they deserved to die this way. They were nasty!

Starving now, we hurried to take the train to Bir-Hakeim to go to our favorite restaurant in Paris, Iolanda’s. All the reviews are terrible and incredibly unflattering, but I have never had an unpleasant experience here, never been treated poorly, and never been served an unsatisfactory dish. The staff is courteous, if a bit distracted, and for the most part, quite kind.

I had a pizza Margherita which was very good, but did not have much basil on top. A basil and cheese pizza should have basil infused in each bite, not for just when you’re lucky enough to bite into a leaf. Thoroughly stuffed, we headed back to the apartment and quickly fell asleep. I was impressed at the new barriers put up in all of the stops along Line 1. I’m not sure if people were jumping onto the tracks or…who knows, but it is a nice feature:

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