Here's an entry for Saturday's Parisian experience.
Okay, so last night absolutely sucked. That sour stomach I talked about last night kept me up for the... entire... night! I couldn't tell if I was sick from food, gassy, nervous, stressed or what, but whatever the case my tummy was not agreeable. At many points I felt like puking... until I did puke. Then I felt better. But only for 2 hours. This thing is just not going away!
I tried sleeping in for an extra 30 minutes before leaving for the airport. It ended up being an okay 30 minutes to waste, but for the 45 minute ride to the airport I was really worried that I was going to miss Janine. Her plane was scheduled to arrive a little before 8:30am, and I didn't arrive on the train until closer to 9am. Luckily she had to pick up luggage and make her way through the throngs of people to exit through one solitary door. I ended up beating her to the door by 5 minutes.
The meeting area was absolutely packed with people, so we got the heck outa there and headed for the train station for the ride back to Paris. It was great to see her again! Even if we were both half a world away from home, it was a fantastic feeling! I'm really glad she made the trip out. I love traveling with her, and I've always wanted to break her out of her traveling comfort zone and try new things. This was probably too soon, too fast, but we'll see how the whole trip plays out.
Lunch was the main focus for both of us - me skipping breakfast, and her getting off an 8-hour flight with crappy food. We decided to walk around the Republique plaza until we found a nice looking place to eat, and we settled on a restaurant attached to a nearby hotel. Me with the upset stomach still wanted to eat, but once we walked in the aroma of cigarettes filled my lungs and made my stomach even more upset. I decided to try and rough it out and hope for the best.
Once we had menus (in French, no less), I had to try and figure out what to get. They had a listing at the bottom of one page for something called Bergeres, pronounced with a soft 'G'. Now that kinda looks like it would be French for 'Burger', right? Well, that was I assumed, so Janine got a cheese burger and I got one with ham.
It turns out a Berger is actually a type of open-faced grilled cheese sandwich.
Not a 'Burger'. It turns out that's a Hamburger. Simple enough, but now I'm 0-for-1 with French food.
We managed to enjoy the lunch, but my stomach started complaining half way through the meal. I think it was the massive amounts of dairy. Whatever the case, we both decided that we were both kind of cranky and/or nappy, so we trekked back to the hotel for a nap. Maybe an hour or two would help us get out of our current funk...
... or four hours.
Once decided that we'd better wake up before we sleep through the entire vacation, we put on our walking shoes, got out of the hotel, and headed out. We started walking south-west toward the Seine, but we quickly figured out that was a few miles away. Somehow we ended up setting in and around the Opera district. Just walking around here was a complete joy. The architecture of the surrounding buildings was fantastic, and the opera house was incredibly ornate. Gold leaf accents, busts of famous composers, statues of angels and men... it was awesome!
Dinner time was nearing, so we hit a restaurant called Hippopotamus. Janine equated it to something like Applebee’s - a chain restaurant with decent food and a nice atmosphere. It was actually good food (even if the table wine sucked). Janine got a steak while I picked through a Tilapia filet. We sat next to the window, so all night we could look outside and get a small taste of the people-watching Paris had to offer.
One thing Janine saw a lot of was a street vendor right outside the restaurant selling all types of jewelry. After we left le Hippo, she went straight for the table to look at the nifty trinkets. A cool fake-peridot leafy necklace caught her eye, and for 9.95 it was hard to say no. The vendor spoke English very well, and the transaction was very easy. She even insisted that she give me the five cents change... for luck, she said.
Walking around the opera district, we came across a movie theater that was playing "Girl with a Pearl Earring" in it's original format (English sound track) with French subtitles. Janine wanted to see this movie back home in the US, but the nearest theater playing the movie was over 30 miles away. After making a bad joke about traveling a little farther than 30 miles, we bought two tickets and watched a very enjoyable fictional character-development story.
The night was not yet complete, however. We were on the hunt for dessert! As we walked directly across from the Opera House, we found a cute little bistro that was nearly empty but still open at 11:30pm. We started looking at the menu when one of the servers came out to greet us and offer us a seat inside. He started off speaking in French, but with my accent and vocabulary (or lack of) he started speaking English and made both of us a lot more comfortable. Once we were inside, Janine order a Kier (white wine & Chambord), I got a 1667 (French beer), and we both enjoyed one of the best apple pies a'la mode we've ever had. You could see the vanilla in the ice cream!
The whole scene was classic - two love birds eating and drinking in an empty bistro as the servers stack chairs and tables. Besides a slice of wedding cake a few months ago, that was the best dessert ever!