Paris

Documenting the Days - The Escalator Incident

Day 7

I am sitting in a coffee shop in Iowa City, excited to have WiFi because we still don't have it in our new house. (Long, long story but we won't get it until next week!). I realized that I had not posted the conclusion to our Parisian adventure and Day 7 did turn out to be a little bit of an adventure. On our last day of vacation, Bennett came down with a terrible cold and I was still limping a bit from my stubbed toe. We had reserved Monday for our 'shopping day' so I could basically spend the Euros we had left - perfect plan in my opinion and I was not going to let a bandaged up toe and sniffling husband get in the way of my Paris shopping dreams. After sleeping in, we hit the shopping district of Faubourg Saint-Honoré which is home to everything from cheap vintage stores to Louis Vuitton. Bennett humored me at first and walked around a bit but then decided to hang out in a nearby park while I explored.

The two highlights of my shopping experience in Paris were La Grand Épicerie de Paris and Le Bon Marché. La Grand Épicerie de Paris is a foodie's dream and reminded us of a huge Dean & DeLuca. Le Bon Marché is one of the most famous department stores in Paris and is often referred to as the first department store in the world. It has all of the great designers there and I had fun walking around and admiring all of the Alexander McQueen and Diane Von Furstenberg collections, something that you do not find in Iowa. I ended up buying a bracelet there to remind me of our time in Paris; Bennett said that the bracelet must be a riddle because I look at it so much that it seems like I am trying to figure it out. After buying my little bracelet, I was riding down the famous huge escalators at the store, and my maxi skirt got caught in the escalator! I did not realize it was caught until I reached the end of the escalator and tried to walk off but could not because I was literally stuck to the escalator. I was mortified. I was in this beautiful department store in Paris by myself and could not for the life of me get my skirt unstuck. I tried asking people walking by for help but did not have good enough French to do so. Everyone just walked by me and stared (a few laughed) instead of offering help. I decided to just rip my skirt free, which was the only plan I had besides taking my skirt off and leaving it at the escalator. After about 10 minutes of pulling and ripping as hard as I could, I freed myself from the escalator with a huge piece of my favorite skirt remaining stuck. I ran as fast as I could to the park to meet Bennett shaken up from embarrassment and sweating from the strength it took to free myself. ::sigh::

After the 'escalator incident', we hit up the grocery store and got some bread and cheese to eat at home like real Parisians since Bennett wasn't feeling well and I was tired from the tug of war with the escalator. When we got home, his sinus headache grew worse so I proudly marched down the streets of Paris and found a pharmacy where I somehow managed enough 'French' to get him some cold medicine.  We watched Modern Family for the rest of the night and flew home the next day with all of our flights on time. I have tried to reflect on how Paris has changed me and think that it will take awhile to set in and fully engage in reflection. I do know, however, that I will be drinking more espresso from now on and have an awesome tattoo.

My skirt got ruined but I am still excited about my shopping experience in Paris!  

My skirt got ruined but I am still excited about my shopping experience in Paris!  

Pictured below are bakery goods from  La Grand Épicerie, our pile of used Metro tickets, me shopping at Le Bon Marché (you can see the beautiful escalators in the photo), and a wonderful man on our 9 hour flight that went around giving passengers coffee.

Documenting the Days - Art & Brunch

Day 5

Bonjour once more, Bennett again with a recap of jour cinq in Paris. We started our day by going to the Orsay Museum, which mainly displays art from 1700s-"Modern" art times. It has masterpieces from Van Gogh, Rodin, Renoir, Manet, Degas, and many others. However, you won't see many photos of them here because photography is tabou there. The Orsay is a converted train station, and I think it worked wonderfully as a museum. It had a large, open feel to it that made it easy to navigate and experience. We really enjoyed our time there, and decided afterwards to get some fresh air at the Rodin museum. 

We hopped a metro, and we had a little extra time to grab some coffee so we went to a coffee shop recommended by Rick Steves (Our guardian angel travel expert for this whole trip, we can't rec his book strongly enough). The coffee shop was excellente and one of the best cups we have ever had, thanks Rick (praise be upon him). 

Next we strolled down to the  Rodin museum and met up with our friends Al & B.  The Rodin museum is actually an outdoor garden area with sculptures from the famous, including The Thinker and The Gates of Hell. It is a perfect spot to have a picnic or lounge around, and only costs 1 euro if you just want to chill in the gardens. We  enjoyed ourselves and then decided to take a little break before meeting at our next destination-The Lover's bridge. The bridge in French is called l'aventechere and is an old, smallish bridge connecting Notre Dame to the south banks of the Siene. The placing of locks was not seen until quite recently and seems to have started by word of mouth and imitation more than any tradition or story about love. So, armed with a lock and key, Allison and I found one of the few remaining spots and tossed the key into the river. Al and B also joined in, and it was a fun reminder of how lucky we were to be in Paris with our loved ones. 

Then, we went to the ultra posh and trendy shopping area of Paris--Champs-Élysées (pronounced like shanhz-ay lee zay Allison gave up on that pretty quickly and settled with "champs") for a nightcap. Champs also has the Arc de Triomphe which is quite the end cap for the glitzy boulevard. Luckily for me, and unluckily for Allison, the stores like Louis Vuitton, Hermes, and Prada were closed. So, we stopped and had another great dinner with Al and B and walked back down the twinkling boulevard at night.

The Lover's Bridge

The Lover's Bridge

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Day 6

Allison here - Bennett and I are passing back my blogging app on our flight home. Our friends Al and B had to leave for their next destination on their Europe tour and it was sad to see them leave. They were great travel companions. I am lucky to have a friend like Al who will dance with me on the top of Notre Dame, will sing P. Diddy and the theme song to Step by Step while running down stairs at the sites of Paris, and is always up for gelato and a cappuccino accompanied by deep conversation  with lots of laughs. (Check out her blog Her Bearings here - it is really great!)  I am also lucky to have a friend like B, an expert on the law, who offered to help me file a restraining order or other such actions if anyone messed with me in my new home of Iowa City during a lively conversation on standing up for myself. Glad he has my back!

One of the nice things about staying on Paris for a week is that we didn't have to rush to see everything. As Rick Steve's puts it, we could take the 'unhurried approach' to travel. In the last five days we had managed to hit all of Rick Steve's 'must-sees'. So today we slept in a bit and after Bennett researched brunch in Paris, we continued our Sunday Brunch tradition at a cafe down the street. The brunch was not only good, it was inspiring. There was a variety of everything on the plate and I kept thinking about how when I go home I will be obsessed with espresso, crepes, and bread as it is served at every meal. Whenever I think of Paris from now on, I will think of a baguette. In the words of Al -  "Is this real life? Everyone seriously is carrying around a fresh baguette with them." After one of the best brunches we expert brunches have had, we decided to see what shopping options were open on Sundays - there were no options open- sigh.

So we made the most of the beautiful weather by taking a river cruise of all of attractions in Paris. We left by the Eiffel Tower and went under 22 bridges on the tour. It was beautiful to be on the water and learn more about the history of the city.  On the cruise we saw a people having a picnic along the river and dancing. We thought that looked like fun and decided we would go get food and picnic by the water.  On the walk home to get food, however, I stubbed my toe so hard  it started bleeding everywhere and Bennett and to go to the pharmacy to get bandages for me. We ended up eating in our room because it hurt me to walk alot.  We still had fun eating our bread and quiches from the bakery next to our apartment in our room while watching TV. It felt like we actually lived there.

 


Sunday Brunch in Paris  

Sunday Brunch in Paris  

Documenting the Days - Tattoo & Stairs

Day 4

Tattoo

 A few years ago at a conference, I was at a session that asked me to write down 10 goals to work on and kept those goals with me at all times.  I was really inspired by the speaker so I completed the exercise and made a list of 10 goals on my iPhone. Two of the things on my list were:

  • Go to Paris  I had never traveled to Europe and in my mind Paris seemed like a place where I would fit in. I also felt that it would  be inspiring because of the culture, pace, fashion, art, etc. When thinking of a vacation this summer I looked at my list of goals and suggested Paris- easy enough :  )
  • Get a Tattoo. I listed a tattoo down as a goal because I have always dreamed about getting one and really like certain tattoos on other people. I just have never had the courage to make a choice for what to get and get over the fear of how much it could hurt. I decided to conquer this goal in Paris because it would make the tattoo more memorable. I researched ideas for tattoos and places before we went. In fact, it was really the only thing that I looked into, I let Bennett handle the rest of the planning. My research led me to a tattoo shop called Abraxas. I found out that they actually consulted with a hospital for their sanitary procedures. It was very clean, they spoke English there, and it was a beautiful shop, so I felt very comfortable making an appointment there. They were booked solid for the week when we went in to get an appointment, but did find a small opening for me and managed to squeeze me in since my tattoo was so small which I was grateful for.  

All morning I was nervous for the tattoo, mostly for the pain. My tattoo artist was awesome and helped me design the perfect font and size based off the inspiration pictures I brought in. The actual tattoo only lasted 3 minutes and 12 seconds and was not nearly as bad as I thought in terms of pain. I am really proud of myself for having the courage to do it and am very pleased with how it turned out.

The tattoo I got is the Latin phrase "alis volat propriis" which translates roughly to "she flies with her own wings". I took Latin in college and have always loved the language; getting a Latin saying reminds me of college in a way. I love the phrase because it is a constant reminder for me to be confident in my ideas, opinions, abilities, and to have my voice heard.

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Stairs

Bonjour nouveau, Bennett here. After Allison's tattoo experience, we strolled down to Notre Dame to meet up with our friends Al and B again. We waited for an hour or so while munching on sandwiches in order to climb the stairs to the bell towers of Notre Dame. Unfortunately, the bells were under renovation, so we weren't able to meet Quasimodo :(. However, the long, spiraly trip was well worth it. The view of Paris was spectacular, and the sights of Notre Dame were equally so. The gargoyles, which are technically only the rain spout fixtures (from the word gargle), and Chimera, the decorative sculptures that are often called gargoyles, were extremely photogenic and unique. After climbing down, we took a short walk to Saint-Chapelle. This church is basically floor-to-ceiling stained glass. It tells a linearish story with hundreds of panels, and I am pretty sure it is the world's first comic book. Next we decided we may as well go for the Paris moneyshot--the Eiffel Tower. But first, we stopped and had a wonderful time catching our breath and having some coffee and snacks on the banks of the Siene.  We waited in line for another long while, then finally took the elevator up to the top. I loved the ride, but our other 3 intrepid travelers had a more difficult time appreciating the view from that height. When we got on solid ground though, everyone appreciated the wonderful perspective of Paris. The Tour  Eiffel did not disappoint at all, and I felt it wasn't touristy or cliche, just a fantastic experience. On the way down, we decided to take the stairs to move from one level to the next. Again, it seemed like I was the only one enjoying the descent, so we hopped on the elevator to the bottom. Afterwards, we had another super French dinner, where B got to disgust a waitress by putting tobasco on his mussels. 


Money Shot   Photo Credit : Bennett Poss

Money Shot  Photo Credit : Bennett Poss