March 19, 2007
Spring Break in Paris: Day 2
"Where's the bus station?" I asked Tristan as we walked up the stairs at Point de Levallois-Becon, the last stop on line 3.
"I don't know. This doesn't look familiar," he mused in a manner that was much more calm than I would've taken on in his position.
"...Uh...er..." I'm roughly as helpful in times of need as a hamster in a blender. Yeah, know what I mean? (It's okay, I don't either.)
"I'm going to ask for directions."
A nice man at a nearby car dealership recognized the name Eurolines and pointed us to what he thought was the right direction, even drawing us a map in the process. We got back on the metro and went a few stops to Porte de Champarret. And then the cycle continued.
"This still doesn't look familiar."
Although Tristan didn't give any signs that his blood pressure was reaching unhealthy, life-crushing heights, he definitely wasn't feeling calm as we tried to find his bus back to London with less than half an hour to go before it was supposed to leave. Another nice man at a gas station gave us the same directions as the man at the car dealership. Surely the chances of two people (who spoke good English) giving wrong directions to the same place would be slim, right?
...I think you know where this is going.
After much harried walking and thoughts of, "Oh my god where is this place?" we found the bus station-esque parking lot that the strangers had directed us to. Sooo not the right bus station. A man at the ticket counter went on the Internet to help us find information about Eurolines. New destination? La Defense.
We hopped back on the 1 train, but as soon as we got out of the station Tristan knew it was wrong.
"Let's go to the Pompidou. I can use the Internet and find out where the station is."
We made our way back to the land of free wi-fi where Tristan confirmed that we went to the wrong end of the 3, not that the lack of Euroline buses didn't already give that away. Back on the metro we went.
When we got off at the other end of line 3 in Gallieni, we were immediately met with signs proclaming, "EUROLINES, THIS WAY, DUMBASS" (or something less harsh). It's funny when you have a 50/50 chance of going the wrong way and you end up going the really wrong way. But I can't say it wasn't a little fun to (accidentally) go to the opposite ends of Paris and freak out a little. Probably more fun for me than Tristan.
After Tristan bought another ticket back to London for 11 PM we went back to my apartment to chill out, eat many bowls of Bonnie's "gazillion kinds of vegetables" soup and show Diana that we were both alive and relatively well since she had probably been worrying about my afternoon disappearance and wondering why I had unintentionally deserted her. During the downtime Tristan convinced Diana to go to London with him just for a day since she had never been there before. If I didn't already have plans I may have been inclined to go also, but I didn't really want to ride a bus for 6+ hours.
If you want to test the strength of a friendship, just get lost on the metro for a few hours while trying to catch a bus to another country and see what happens. Still feel awesome/don't want to kill each other by the end of it? Then you're probably good. [pats you on the back]
It was a good experience on multiple levels. But let's not doing it again.
Before getting lost on the metro...
Diana and I met up with Tristan and Patty at 9 AM for a baguette-outing to Gosselin. Besides that they were voted best baguette in Paris, being open on a Sunday probably contributed to the long line that snaked outside the door.
Or maybe people wanted eclairs. They had shizzloads of em. It was one of the most beautiful displays of eclairs I had ever seen. And I don't even like eclairs.
Tristan bought four of the small (well, for a baguette) baguettes a l'ancienne and Patty bought one. Or two. Overall, many baguettes were bought so that I didn't have to buy one. To make my life easier and because Tristan knows more about bread than I do, here's what he had to say about the baguettes:
It had a crumb that was balanced perfectly between density and airiness with really nice gluten development. [Baguette a l'ancienne] is a special rising process that involves a day or two (at least) of slow fermentation. The slow fermentation fully develops the complexity of the grain [resulting in robust flavor, or massive tastiness]
I noticed that the crust was especially crusty. Wuh? I mean, I think the crust was thicker than in other baguettes I've had. It was very good. Definitely seek it out if you're hanging out around the Louvre.
Unfortunately, the non-baguette items were not as magical. The croissant was too dry, not buttery enough, and didn't have that awesome airy layering action going for it.
The pain au raisins was also too try, although it was otherwise okay.
After polishing off our baked goods in nearby courtyard of the Louvre, we headed back to Patty's (and her friend Annie's) apartment near Place d'Italie so Tristan could gather his things and go to the bus station. He was planning to go by himself but I tagged along at the last minute. And then...you know what happened.
after getting lost on the metro
Diana, Tristan and I met up with Yann (my only "real" French friend!) for dinner. Since we met up earlier than when most Parisians eat, Yann happily offered to take us on a quick tour of Paris in his little red car.
It was somewhat surreal to whizz by the Seine and a gazillion major landmarks in such little time. But it makes sense because Paris is little! We caught a glimpse of the gaudy flickering Eiffel Tower, the majestic Grand Palais, the overly spacious Place de la Concorde, the string of mismatched, not particularly eye-appealing high rise apartments on the west side of Paris, and overall prettiness, all while half-fearing for our lives in Yann's car (of course, no one was hurt!).
We eventually made out way to La Cuillère en Bois, a creperie that Yann hadn't tried but heard was good. Passing by the crowded ground floor, we were seated in the basement room which glowed with bright yellow warmth and a lamp on every table.
Since I wasn't very hungry I just ordered a Poire Belle-Hélène dessert crepe as my main dish. It was the tastiest form of crepe I had ever eaten. The non-crepe version of Poire Belle-Hélène consists of poached pears with vanilla ice cream covered in dark chocolate sauce, hence the crepe version consists of all that wrapped in a crepe plus a few fluffy mounds of whipped cream. I like cream, in whipped or iced form. And I like pears. And chocolate. Wrapped in a thin layer of sweet dough. I was about to burst after finishing off my crepe, but everyone else was ready for dessert, specifically the Poire Belle-Hélène crepe after having seen how much I enjoyed it.
I didn't sample any of the galettes, the savoury version of crepes made with buckwheat flour, but they must've been pretty good for everyone else to polish them off. However, the dessert crepe was the overall favorite.
It was probably quite petty of me, but I was in a not-so-great mood by the end of dinner. When Tristan and Diana ordered a dessert crepe to share I knew they were cutting the time really close to when they had to get to the bus station (not that it was their fault; the night kind of ran longer than expected), meaning that...ah, I don't know. Okay, I'm lying; I know exactly how I felt, I'm just not comfortable telling everyone on the Internet (yes, despite how much I blog there are plenty of things I wouldn't want to write about!). It was just a weird, saddening, somewhat selfish feeling having two of my best friends suddenly leave, one of whom I knew I'd see in a few days and one of whom I may never see again, although I probably will. I keep the melodrama cooped up inside.
But enough of that. Tristan and Diana left so they could catch their bus while I hung out with Yann in the restaurant. After Yann finished his dessert he offered to drive us to Versailles (where he's from) so I could get a glimpse of the city and the palace at night. Even though I was mega tired (sleep was not a major occurence over the trip), I thought it would be fun and one of those things I wouldn't get to do again. I was kind of comatose in the car, but was conscious enough to see the empty highways of Paris...which look pretty much like highways anywhere else. I could've been in NJ! A scary thought, indeed.
So what's Versailles like at night? Dark. Deserted. Unpopulated. It felt very sleepy, like me. But as I wasn't totally asleep yet, we took a little walk to the front of the palace gate. We were still really far away from the palace, but it was better than nothing. It's ridiculously beautiful. And it's just...sitting there. I suppose living near the palace would desensitize me to its greatness (kind of like seeing the Eiffel Tower every morning; "Ah, it's still there"), so it's probably good that I don't. Not that I'd really want to anyway—the whole place is pretty dead at night.
Yann drove me back to Trocadero where we said our goodbyes before I hobbled across the thankfully not busy streets back to my apartment. It was extremely nice of Yann to drive my friends and me around and we thank him greatly for it. We all enjoyed the street-level tour (you sometimes forget that above-ground transportation exists when you're so accustomed to taking the metro) along with the crepe-ilicious dinner.
And then I wanted to pass out. While attempting to go to sleep I was in a horrible funk for more of those undisclosable reasons, but the next day would more than make up for it as it involved good friends, both new and old, and "the happiest place on earth". ;)
125 Rue St.-Honoré, 1st
Metro: Louvre-Rivoli (1)
La Cuillère en Bois
108 rue des Entrepreneurs, 15th
Metro: Commerce (8)
Posted by roboppy at 9:13 PM
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