27 January 2008

Mercredi: La fin de Paris

The 23rd janvier 2008. The last full day that we were in Paris. It was, I must say, super chouette. More people had their interviews that morning, and I was just happy that I was able to leave and go do things with people instead of being completely lost. Sophia was supposed to have her thing at 11, but she wanted to do something beforehand, so she asked me if I wanted to go somewhere. I said sure and grabbed my stuff, and on the way out we invited Mark and Prateik to come along.

We walked to the Place des Vosges, a mansion/castle type place that's completely symmetrical and beautiful and has a square park in the center. It had wifi ([weefee] for the French :D). We didn't use it, but it was cool to find out that Sarcozy decreed that there should be free wifi in super public places. Of course, some of those places are cafes, but that's fine, cause it brings them business. But it's all over France. I think it's a fantastic idea. After the Place we went to the Bastille. It's kinda boring. Big obelisk thing with a statue on top. Woot.

Then the four of us went back to the auberge, and Sophia had her interview, and the boys and I waited for her before deciding what to do after. We then headed via le metro to Montemartre and Sacre Coeur. If you've seen Amelie you know what I'm talking about.

So I have a really great Sacre Coeur story. I won something. Rather, I finagled it. We saw the church and the view and everything (omg wow) and were walking away from it all, focusing on going home and/or getting food, when we were approached by men.

Uh, oh, men.... Ok. Clarification, they were vendors. The African dudes who stand in the really tourist-y places and sell bracelets for really outrageous prices. So this one calls to me... I'll do a dialogue for this one (ps it was all in French, if it wasn't it's in italics here):

him: Mademoiselle!
me: Oui?
him: Please, let me speak to you.
me: I'm sorry, I have to leave. My friends are waiting for me.
him: Oh, you speak French!
me: Ye-es.....
him: Then you are a student? Please, just give me your hand...yes, you are a student?
me: Yes, I study in Rennes.
him: It's alright. I no bite you.
me (really really really hesitantly holding out my hand now): What is this going to cost me? Ten euros?
him: Oh, no, Mlle, you speak French, you are not a tourist...
{here he gave me his Africa/Senegal speel which I wish I could remember. I do remember him talking about Hakuna Matata etc) and so you will not pay the tourist price. Tourists are stupid, they pay 5, 7 euros. For you, I will create a special price.
{at this point, he had finished wrapping the threads using the tension he had gained when he placed the loop of them around my finger. he was about to tie it around my wrist}
me: I'm not buying it from you.
him: But I will make a special price. Look! It's a good bracelet!
me: It's a beautiful bracelet, yes, but I need to leave. I have to go.
him: It's alright, it's alright. Just the payment.
me: I told you, I don't have money. I'm a student, I'm poor. Maybe for 10 centimes...
him: 10 centimes? No! Impossible!
me: Take it then. I'm leaving. I have to go.
{Mark came up then and told me that they were leaving. He was, of course, laughing at me}
him: ok, ok, 1 euro. I will take one euro.
me: But I think that free would be a fantastic price.
him: Free? {he laughed at that one, and finished the knot on the bracelet}
me: Free!
him: I can't. Just give me what you have.
me: I don't have anything. I told you. I'm a student. Please?
{I clasped my hands in front of me}
him: I can't...
me: Ok, you'll have to take it, because i'm leaving
{i held out my arm again}
him: oh....ok, ok...you go. it's alright. you go.
me: really?
him: It's alright.
me: thank you!

So now I've got this pretty sweet bracelet that Mark makes fun of me for having. He says that because of me, that guy didn't eat his dinner and now he's dead. I like it. The one funny thing is that it's Italy (and probably Senegal) colors, not French. Red, White, and Green. But it's cool. Yup. Uh... ok...

Then we went back to the auberge again and Sophia went with her group to the Musee Carnavalet, which we had seen the day before, and Prateik and Mark and I went to the free lunch at the auberge. After was the Hotel de Ville (heart of the city, a building where a lot of political city stuff happens, apparently it's super hard to get an appointment, much less for a group of 15 Americans). That was difficult. It was like, French history 101 on steroids. Super fast. The lady was sweet and sophisticated, but I think I was just too tired to appreciate everything she was talking about. I kept leaning against the wall and then kinda falling asleep. I did love the statues inside. The interior decorations were a crazy combination of the classique, uber fancy, let's-put-gold-everywhere styles, and the more modern, hm-i-wonder-what-in-the-world-that-is-or-could-be paintings. Laughing statues and all that.

When the tour was finished a group of us (Andrew, Connor, Mark, Christie, Kate, Jess, me, and two other girls who I can't remember because they were sitting on the far end of the table and I can't see them in my mind's eye) walked down to a cafe. I had hot chocolate. I love hot chocolate. We talked a little and hung out, and then when it was about 17h00 we headed out. Andrew had other stuff to do, so he went off on his own, and I stayed with the rest and we got half lost again. Seemed to be the thing to do. But we were with Morgane so it was all cool.

That night we went to "La Cantatrice Chauve" a hilarious play about....about....something. I actually don't really know. It was just a bunch of people talking about other people. I could follow the majority of it, and the stuff I did understand was funny. It was like Amelie, in the way that the personnages talked about others. Like an indie film on stage. Cooky.

Upon leaving, yet again, the mass of us just stood in front of the theater until some of us decided to walk. The group split again, and again after that, and then Mark and I were standing in the street in front of a gyro place, watching about ten people in our group line up inside.

"Think we should go somewhere else?" I asked. Mark nodded, and we grabbed Prateik and Donovan and the four of us went around the block. We still got gyros, but at least we weren't horribly in everyone's way, as we would have been at the other place. Man, that was a great gyro. I'm hungry right now, and thinking about it is not helping...

So we were sitting there and talking about the things that we still wanted to do, and the Eiffel Tower came up as one of the things none of us had seen. It kinda got bypassed by the conversation, cause then we mentioned the Louvre and the Musee d'Orsay. And, I mean, we kinda had seen it, from the boat ride. We were ready to be satisfied with that. Then all of a sudden I got this great idea.

"Guys...guys. I have a great idea." They all looked at me. "How do you feel about looking like tourists?" They gave me "uh" responses. "Let's go drink wine underneath the Eiffel Tower."
So we did. It was pretty sweet. I love lights. Of course, I also couldn't get over the idea that when you sit under the tower, it looks and feels like it's getting ready to either sit on you or moon you. Either one, I couldn't really make up my mind. Funness.

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