At the beginning of each year, flight attendants "bid" for their vacations for the year. It's like saying, "Please let me go on vacation in July." It's all based on seniority (like everything with my job), and I'm brilliant and didn't bid! So, they just gave me the leftover vacation in January. Awesome?
In a lot of ways, I'd almost prefer it that way. Flying for me is madness during the holidays, so a quiet winter respite seemed like a great idea. It's also an ideal time for those of us that fly standby to go somewhere, because it's a lot easier to get on flights since it's such a slow season.
Bryan and I brainstormed places to visit for a long weekend. London? (We wanted longer than a weekend). Spain? NOPE, I JUST SLEPT THROUGH THAT. PARIS? YES, PARIS. He'd never been out of the country (except for Jamaica...which KIND OF counts, but not). My friend Hannah lived there for a year, and if you've ever found yourself interested in falling in love with France -- she can help you.
Hannah gave us an itinerary shared the little places hidden from the obvious tourist attractions. She recommended a place to stay, and we decided on the weekend. Little did we know in our planning, that we chose a great weekend to go. On the first Sunday of every month -- ALL OF THE MUSEUMS ARE FREE. That changed our lives for the better.
Grab a tasty beverage or macaron or croissant and let's go find Jean Valjean!
Paris is the only international flight that CVG has left. We sat in the exit row right next to the bathrooms, so we never really slept. That's fine, though -- because I soon discovered that I could watch Argo and catch up on all of the Best Picture nominations that I hadn't seen.
We arrived in Paris before the sun. We were really tired, and remembered quickly that we did not adequately prepare for a country in which we could not read or speak the language at all. We walked with all of our luggage up and down the same street about twenty times because we couldn't read the map correctly. After some kind and patient Parisian Starbucks baristas pointed us in the right direction, we found our little sliver of a hotel building -- right down the road from the Bastille. It was a simple place with no elevators, and our room was conveniently located on the sixth (and highest) floor. This was my first lesson in "why French people are skinny, and Americans are fat."
Our first afternoon, it was very cold and windy and rainy. After my trip to Ireland when everyone was like "YOU FOOL, WHY ARE YOU WEARING THOSE WELLIES," I opted against bringing them and that was the worst idea ever. I brought my boots that look like these, and quickly realized I'd worn the soles to the point that there were enough holes to make my feet soak in freezing water.
We wandered, we meandered, we got lost more times than I can count. The first day we saw the Bastille, Notre Dame, and Parthenon with lots of cathedrals and cafes mixed in. I found myself marveling at the way all of the women were dressed. It was effortless. The way everyone sipped wine at any hour of day. The way they managed to care enough to make everything beautiful. The smell of crepes, and fresh fish in the market. I loved it.
Worth mentioning about this day: Not only were we severely sleep-deprived, but I was extremely hormonal and in retrospect -- should have been shackled in a pre-menstrual quarantine. BUT HEY, ISN'T NOTRE DAME BEAUTIFUL?
|"Where's Waldo: Bryan Edition"|
We were both surprised by how patient and kind the French were to us when we needed help. I'd only heard horror stories and by default found myself believing stereotypes and was kind of afraid to approach people when we needed directions.
It felt like we walked five thousand miles. (Let that be an indication of how much I've been exercising). With the abundance of cafes and bakeries, I was fascinated by how everyone met in a cafe to smoke, drink, and maybe just have a snack. I don't even know how many baguettes with ham and cheese we had. America is all about the bigger the better, and how much can I get for my money? Everything was quality over quantity. I'm pretty sure they're thinner because they walk everywhere, it's too expensive to really eat anything substantial, and baguettes take a really long time to chew. My jaw got so tired that I was like, WHO NEEDS FOOD. With as much as we were walking, I felt entitled to eat pastries for every meal. Bryan felt similarly.
Fun fact! This is the flower shop where I had a meltdown and Bryan says I turned into The Hulk. We didn't know where we were going, it was raining, and I was about to lay down in a puddle and start singing I Dreamed a Dream and fall asleep forever. REAL LIFE, PEOPLE.
The second day we did The Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Musee Rodin, Musee D'Orsay and some park wandering and lots of pastries and espresso again. On this day, I WORE TOMS WITH SOCKS, AND IT'S OKAY TO JUDGE ME LIKE THE FRENCH WOMAN IN THE LOUVRE DID. I WOULD TOO. I had no other options. At some point we'll all make sartorial mistakes for the sake of proper blood circulation.
I have no idea what our trip would have looked like if the museums hadn't been free. Our American currency is like peanuts compared to the Euro, and we aren't Rockefellers. We had a small budget. One of the (many) great things about the museums being free is that the security guards don't give a riiiip if you take photos of everything. I imagine it's how businesses feel about you when you bring a groupon. They're rolling their eyes on the inside and annoyed by all the riff raff showing up (like the American wearing Toms with socks). But WHATEVER, DON'T CARE.
OH, HEY GIRL.
There's much more to come.
What's your favorite thing about Paris?