10 June 2008

Lost...a lot

Sunday afternoon, after I checked in to the hostel and used the elevator to get to my room, I tried to recuperate by sitting in the window sill. It helped me to cool down, but then i was a little restless, so I decided to just get moving again, and I made my way to the Louvre. I should have done this sooner, but I was having a lot of problems with getting up once I’d sat down.

So I went to the Louvre and ate a whole grain chocolate chip hunk of bread I had purchased at the Fournée St. Michel in Rennes Saturday morning. It was delicious and I loved it. When I finished I followed the trail of people to the giant glass pyramid which everyone hates but I think is more a source of hilarity. You know that the guy who designed it told the city planners that there was only going to be one pyramid and that it was going to be invisible? At least, that’s what the tour guide said today, and though he had rather an affinity for lying and then laughing and telling us he lied, he didn’t do that after this statement, even though it does sound a little cooky. “I think they let him do it just because they wanted to know what he actually meant,” he said.

I was only able to be in the museum for less than an hour. Since I had stayed in my room so long trying to convince myself that I wanted to get up, I had wasted all the time I could have spent looking at Italian and French sculpture. It’s fine, though. I got to see the major things that everyone sees, I got to walk briskly around a bunch of the rooms, and then I got shooed out of the Louvre by real Louvre workers.

Oh, and my clever thing of the day was picking up the French version of the map and walking around with that so that everyone thought I was French. Mwa haha…

When I got back to the hostel room it was almost 7. I sat in the window sill and was starting to actually physically write in my journal (I’ve been relying on blogs to relate that sort of info) when two new people came in, Vanessa and Danny. They were actually part of a group of six friends traveling together. The three of us started talking, and two hours later the three of us headed down to the bar to meet up with their friends.

I thought it was amusing that at 21, I was the youngest person in the group. Some of them were already graduated and talking about how their parents hated that they were lazy and didn’t have real jobs. I laughed. When we got downstairs they introduced me to everyone. There was Leah, who attached herself to a curly-haired guy who only spoke Farsi and a couple paragraphs of English. The other girl was Carrie, or Cara, or something. She was the girlfriend attached to the ribcage of one of the guys, whose name I can’t remember at all. I just remember that he was so tall that his girlfriend’s head only came up to his ribs, and that made me laugh. Of course, she was only about 5’2”. It’s not very hard to only reach up to people’s ribs at that height.

Then there was Hannibal. Oh, Hannibal. He greeted me with, “Are you a nice person?” I of course grinned and told him that I’m nice to people who are nice to me. He was very nice, in fact, and I got two glasses of white wine from him (well, everyone at the table got drinks from him. Yay rich friends…slash acquaintances!). The group as a whole was really fun, and I ended up hanging out with Hannibal, Danny, and George, a guy from our room, while the girls laughed over the tranny.

Uh. I was debating about this part of the story. I’ll just say that we met this woman…man….it…thing who creeped out me and all of the guys, but had Leah and Vanessa bent double with laughter. Especially when…nevermind. Some things are just so awkward. Haha, poor Danny. After about an hour or so (two hours? Maybe?) at the bar we jumped on the metro and saw the Eiffel tower.

You know, both times that I’ve seen the tower, it’s been at night? We didn’t go all the way up to it this time, we just got off on Ecole Militaire and then hung out on the grass lawn out front. Leah and her boy were cuddling on the ground, CarrieCara was so drunk she feel asleep on the grass. Her boyfriend took her home after we’d been there about ten minutes.

The rest of us stayed until about 1, when George and Danny and I decided that we were ready to go home and go to sleep. We left Leah, Vanessa, Leah’s attachment, and two random Frenchmen talking and rolling cigarettes on the grass. The guys and I walked towards what could have been a main road, trying to figure out where a taxi would be. After only walking about a minute Danny was already tired of things, so he yells, “Where’s my taxi?!?!!” All of a sudden, a taxi drove around the corner, stopped, and let out a couple. We all laughed and jogged over to claim it as our own. We got back to the hostel but instead of sleeping, we headed down to the basement and talked about music, politics, and religion until 3 am. Typical.

On Monday I slept in as long as I could despite the jackhammers, then ate breakfast, took my time getting ready, and headed out to the free walking tour. It wasn’t too bad, even though I didn’t have an umbrella when it started raining. At least I had actually taken my camera, when I was walking around on Sunday I had left it in my room. It was also a little sad doing the tour alone, but I got over it.

When the tour finished at about 2:30, I decided to find the antiques marché in northern Paris. Ha. This ended up to be a good idea and a bad idea. The bad idea part came first, because I apparently hadn’t thoroughly enough checked where exactly the market was supposed to be. So I ended up taking the metro to the correct stop, but once again walking the wrong way down the road. When I finally figured out the right way to be going, I didn’t take the most direct route, I took the round-about-hey-look-the-ghetto route. That was interesting. Remind me not to be so French when I get dressed to walk around next time. The French version of "How YOU doin'?" is a lot creepier when you're half lost somewhere between the 18th and 19th arrondissements of Paris.

Wearing black apparently only aggravates the matter.

I walked for at least an hour before thinking about giving up. But I pushed myself forward, because the real reason I was looking for the antique market was to find a present for my mum. I had bypassed the handpainted traditional Breton plates because I just KNEW that it would break on the trip home, whether I kept it with me in my carry-on or not. So I had held off, telling myself that I would find something worthy in Paris.

By the time I found the market, most of the shopkeepers were closing up. Long silver hinged doors were falling down into place all over the block. My first task was to find the single ATM in the area; and then I went looking for a good store. I finally found one down a little alleyway. It was right next to three shops all selling things in silver. Silver spoons, silver platters, silver thimbles...I walked up to the other shop and saw handpainted plates and figurines (150 and 210 euros, respectively) and found a display of gold jewelry: pins, earrings, bracelettes. After walking around for a little bit and looking at the fantastic collection of antique clocks, I went back to the earrings.

By the time I got home that night I couldn't move, I was so tired. I got a supermarket dinner of yoghurt and a sandwich and then sat in my room typing and listening to music. The next day I woke up a little early to get ready to go to Versailles. In order to get there, I had to take the RER (regional train). The stop was near the center of the city, so I had to take the metro before getting on the train.

My timing ended up being perfect. I stepped off of the metro, checked the screen listing departing trains, and saw that my train was just pulling up to the platform. I ran down the stairs (so much easier to do when you don't have 150 lbs. of baggage to take with you) and jumped on the train, and settled myself in.

The only thing to do on the RER is to look out the window, and I started keeping track of our stops. But for some reason, I couldn't find all of them on my little map. I figured that it just wasn't listing all of them. After fifteen minutes, though, I looked on the other side of the map. Oh, look, those are the same stops we're stopping at! I groaned and rolled my eyes. Of course. I'd gotten on the wrong train.

I started laughing at myself and my haste to get on the train. I was on the yellow line, the C line, but I had taken the long way. If you look at the map, the C line really does run in a backwards C shape underneath Paris. Both ends go to Versailles, so I didn't have to switch or anything major. It just meant that I would be on the train about 10 or 15 minutes longer than I had thought.

Once I got to Versailles and the palace, the sky was cloudy, there were tourists everywhere, and I had to walk a bit to find the right road. Luckily there were maps and hundreds of people all going to the same place. Walking up to the chateau of Versailles is an amazing thing. It's HUGE. Enormous. Ginormous. Not to mention a rather quiet shade of pastel something. Is pastel salmon a color? It took me an hour to stand in line to buy my ticket, buy my ticket, and then stand in line to actually get into the chateau.

For 13.50, I got an audio guide in French and access to the chateau and the gardens. If I ever go back, I'm getting the ticket to go into Marie Antoinette's domain. It's the one thing I missed because of time and sheer exhaustion.

The chateau itself was really cool. The hall of mirrors wasn't as impressive as I had hoped it would be, but that might have been because of the fat American dude that kept on getting in my pictures, or maybe because no one was dressed in ballgowns covered with diamonds and pearls. The mirrors weren't even that...mirrory. It was, however, a beautiful room with fantastic chandeliers and gold statues of women (goddesses?) holding pillars to put candles and flowers on top of.

I won't describe the rest of the chateau, it's a useless description. The gardens were lovely, of course I saw them in the rain, which was just fine with me. I had brought my umbrella along, but I had had to leave it with some dude keeping everyone else's umbrellas and backpacks and strollers. It was still up there. I talked to a security guard who thought I was lost for a couple minutes. I think he asked me out? Haha...I'm not really sure. One minute he was asking me if I was looking for something, and then he was acting surprised that an American could have such "good French". He told me that I should have brought my umbrella along, and when I explained to him what had happened he grinned and told me that I'd have to get warm sometime. Upon walking away he waved and said, "There's a cafe over there, maybe I'll see you later?" I smiled and replied "Maybe" and turned around and walked away.

I spent the rest of the afternoon at the hostel packing up my stuff and talking to an Australian, a new guy in the room. I had packed everything really well when I was in Rennes, but I needed to pull some books out to put them in my carry-on, so that my suitcase wouldn't be so heavy. This turned out to be more difficult and time-consuming than I thought. It took me about an hour to get everything in order. I had so much stuff. Once I finished I got up on my bunk, stuck in my earbuds, and finished up the metro story for the blog.

No comments: