27 January 2008

Mardi: Musee Carnavalet

Mardi le 22nd.
I had my entretien, my interview with Staci and Andrew, at 10h00. This meant that I had to be eating breakfast around 9h00, and also listening to everyone talking about what they were going to do. Of course my group of favorite people all decided to go to the Musee d'Orsay, a museum of more modern art (as in last hundred years or so). I had to stay at the auberge and pretty much just wait. By the time I had finished eating food and all, it was 9h30, and believe me, there's not much you can do with half an hour besides brush your teeth a couple of times and organize stuff on your bed.

The interview was pretty easy. I had thought that it was going to be new questions, but it was pretty much a housing questionnaire vocalized. Do you like kids? Can you be with a family who smokes? Do you have any questions? It was over in 15 minutes and I was left pretty much completely alone in the auberge. Everyone except the person being interviewed after me was gone. So I decided that I was going to go get lost in Paris. I was foiled at the last moment when I was walking down the stairs and Julie met me as she was coming back from her 10h45 interview. "Hey. Where are you going?" "I dunno." "Wanna go walk around together?" "Ok."

So Julie and I got kinda lost in Paris. 'Kinda' because Julie has a beautiful sense of direction. I do too, sometimes, but I usually need to have been looking at the map from moment number one to be totally confident in where I am. We walked past a bunch of things with a lot of history behind them, and since we had both had our interviews, were also speaking in French the entire time. Why? Because at the very end of the interview we all signed a paper saying that we would speak in French pretty much every single moment of every single day unless our legs were cut off and blood was spilling out of our throats (aka utter emergency). So the two of us tried the French thing and discovered that it wasn't that bad. Really we weren't speaking pure French, we were using our own fantastic franglais (french+english).

We went back to the auberge and Julie went out to lunch with some people, while I decided to stick around for an hour or so and then go eat the free lunch that was being offered to us at the auberge's other building. I went and sat on a bench by the Seine. Now seriously. How many people can actually say that? Not very many. Like, a couple thousand. Or so. Something like that. It was beautiful. I wore my sunglasses like a total tourist, too, which made it even better. Apparently people here don't really wear sunglasses, because it's never really bright enough? Psh. I wore them, anyhow, and felt pretty dang cool doing it.

After lunch was the Musee Carnavalet. The museum used to be a mansion. Well, it still is a mansion, just now no one lives in it. It's a monster and the courtyard inside houses one of the only statues of Louis XIV that escaped demolition during the French Revolution. How's that for cocktail party talk? The inside was super chouette; every room or section of the house is decorated according to a French siecle (century). So the guide would take us into a room and say, "And now we are in the 18th century, notice the blah blah blah...." Now that I think of it again it reminds me of the tour Belle gets in Beauty and the Beast, with Cogsworth going on and on about all the different types of art. One thing I will say in addition, is that she was going way too fast. I was the last person in a room almost every single time. Sometimes Connor would beat me in that respect, but otherwise, I would just stand there and try to take everything in, and then I would realize that I was alone and I'd have to rush through the next couple of rooms in order to find everyone. Andrew actually came back for me one time, haha. We wandered before heading back to the auberge and meeting people for the last planned excursion of the day, a boat ride on the Seine.

The entire big group (which was, I think, 30 exactly including all the French student moniteurs and Staci and Andrew) met by Pont Neuf and we all took a pretty sweet boat ride in the freezing air. It was given by a tourism student who was doing super well with the whole say-it-in-French/say-it-in-English thing, but he kept making silly mistakes, like pronouncing "guillotine" (French word, mind you) not as [gee-o-teen] but as [gui-lo-tine-ay]. We liked that part a lot. Oh, and "coat of arms" became "arms coat" which wasn't too bad of a translation, I guess.

Dinner was on our own that night. This was both a good thing and a bad thing. Well, not exactly bad...I actually thought it was really funny. Anyway. We leave the boat and our monster group stands up on the bridge for a while, trying to decide on what to do for dinner. There are four French students who are working with us, only three of them were in Paris. They were Nicolas, Morgane, and Lucie. I like them all. Lucie is really sweet; she studied in America for a while and speaks English super duper well. Morgane reminds me of some of my friends. She has a really quiet way of speaking, but she's super chouette and chic with a twist of hippie. So the group stood there for probably about ten minutes before splitting about in half. Staci and Andrew were in one half, Lucie and Nicolas and Morgane in the other.

I went with the Lucie and Nicolas half with Jessica and Sarah and Sophia. We walked to the other side of the bridge and stopped. And waited. Then we decided to walk to the Latin Quarter for dinner. We walked back across the bridge. And waited. Nicolas pulled out his map, declared he knew where we were, and we set out. After twenty minutes, the group decided that Nicolas maybe perhaps didn't quite know where he was going. The problem was that none of us did, either. So we walked. And walked. I'm pretty sure we went in at least one circle, if not more. Things were even more difficult because it was almost 8pm. Darkness is not so easy to navigate.
Somewhere the group split in half, and for some reason I stayed with Nicolas' and Morgane's groupe. Oh, I know, because they're fun. Oh yeah. So we walked some more. What's interesting about this is that on the boat and just after, most everyone was speaking French. The longer the walked and the hungrier we got, the more English I kept hearing out of people. Our brains were becoming fried. And not good fried, like potatoes. Bad fried like computers. It was in the middle of a walk up yet another hill that I made another friend. The girls I had been with had gone with Lucie in the other groupe, so I was walking with whoever happened to match my pace at the time. So I'm walking and thinking: "Rawr rawr rawr hungry tummy rawr." It's true. I was thinking that to myself, in my head.

And like any person feeling like that, I needed to vent the complaint. I turned to the guy next to me and said, "You know, right now we're working off the dinner we haven't eaten yet." He grinned and agreed and we talked in franglais the rest of the way to a fondue place. None of us, of course, had fondue. I had tomatoes and mozarella and steak au poivre (with pepper). Dinner was fun. Yummy. There were 7 of us, and the boys talked about music, and the girls were mostly quiet. Yes, I was quiet. They were talking French music, which I don't listen to (yet?). After a while we left and headed home.

I walked with Mark and when we all got back to the auberge he and I decided that we weren't tired and wanted to do something else. The rest of the peeps had scattered, so the two of us pulled out a map. After fifteen minutes of saying, "Non. Ce que je veux, c'est que tu pris une decision." ("No. What I want is for you to make a decision.") we got up, grabbed our metro tickets, and went to the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Elysees. It was pretty cool. We spoke French on the way there so as not to be suspected as tourists, haha (I hope you all realize that we all have very obvious American accents. The "r" is very difficult for anglophones to make, and the "i" in French is more "[ee]" than we're used to). The arc was pretty sweet.

I mean, it's covered with the names of dead warriors Napoleon wanted to give honorable mentions to for fighting. It's pretty impressive, especially when you're surrounded with cars driving in a circle at about 60mph. So cool. And we walked down the Champs-Elysees, and sat on a bench there and talked about demon birds in Rome and how I used to think sharks came out of swimming pool lights and how his ultimate fear seems to be getting mugged. As this was getting more likely as it got darker, and it was almost metro closing time (1230am), we went back to the hostel, half fearing that we would get stuck or lost and not make it back before 1am, when the doors were locked and you were only supposed to be asked to be let in in the more dire emergency. We made it. Lucky us. I don't know if I could have handled sleeping outside Notre Dame for a night. Would have been a super story, actually...

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