In case I haven't mentioned it enough, I was so pumped to visit Paris. In high school (longer ago than I'd like to say), I took French as my foreign language for when I inevitably visited. More recently, Disneyland Paris edged out Paris the city as number 1 on my bucket list, but visiting the greater Paris area was GOING to happen. Our compromise for Europe was going to Amsterdam for my husband and going to Disneyland Paris for me. So now that you're in the proper mindset for how I felt about France, we journey from Amsterdam (Day 1, Day 2) to Paris.
Whether the frustrations of our first day in Paris was just a result of having such high expectations or it truly was the stars aligning against us, I'll never know. But, I can at least share our trials and misfortunes to hopefully make your Parisian experience a better one!
- Lesson 1: Carry Extra Local Currency!
- Lesson 2: Don't Rush When Figuring Out Directions!
- Lesson 3: Pack Light! Backpacking isn't so much a movement as a necessity!
When we checked in, I requested a room as high up as possible. Our hotel was on Montmartre, a hill overlooking the amazing Paris skyline. We made it up to our room and my jaw hit the floor when I looked out our window! I felt the frustrations of the day start to melt away as I starred at the Eiffel Tower, peaking up over the roof tops. It was the view I'd always dreamed of, but it was real and I was living it! It's difficult to see in the picture, but it's right in the middle, above the rooftops.
- Lesson 4: Don't let frustrations ruin your day! (Not a mistake I made, but always good to remember.)
We spent the afternoon relaxing, watching the one English channel available - BBC News. As an American abroad during election season, that was an adventure in and of itself! It was so interesting to hear the views of American politics from non-Americans. Even the daily newspaper in the lobby of our hotel had the first presidential debate as front-page news. The goal of this post is not at all political. I just found it interesting to hear perspectives outside of the US and to see how prominently the election was being covered by international outlets.
- Lesson 5: You can't escape the election, even if you leave the US!
That evening, we searched Trip Advisor for places to eat near us - neither of us wanted to deal with having to use the metro system again. We found a place with good reviews, touting an authentic French experience, just across the street from our hotel - Tifinagh. We were seated in the small restaurant and quickly greeted by our server, who brought us the hand-written chalkboard menu for the day. Prior to our trip, I used the Duolingo language learning app to brush up on my French so there were words I recognized, but the handwriting made it difficult to translate descriptions. The server saw we were struggling and kindly came over and told us about each item, stating what each was: beef, chicken, rabbit, etc. He provided his suggestions and we ordered our first French meal!
We both selected the griddled cheese entree (in French, entree means the appetizer, not the main course) and it honestly was to die for! I think it may have been lightly breaded because it reminded us of a classy grilled cheese sandwich. My mashed potatoes were exceptionally creamy. For dessert, I had the creme brulee and my husband had a chocolate layer cake, both of which were delicious. The baguettes served with our meal were exactly what you would want in a French bread - nice crust with a soft interior. Our server was very pleasant and accommodating, as well. All in all, the meal was a nice experience, except for one little thing...
ANDOUILLETTE. Follow me on this logic - (1) the server said it was beef, (2) it sounds like andouille which comes from the FRENCH Quarter, (3) if it's beef and it is similar to a spicy cajun sausage, I'm probably going to like it. In case you haven't guessed, these were not correct assumptions. While the meal was from a cow, it was not what I typically think of when I picture beef (read at your own discretion). I never wanted to be that American, but I honestly could not eat it. The smell turned my stomach, but I powered through and took a bite. I couldn't tolerate it in my mouth so I swallowed as quickly as I could without chewing just to get it out of my mouth. I was incredibly embarrassed, but I just could not do it. I ate all of my mashed potatoes and asked the server to take my plate.
- Lesson 6: GOOGLE YOUR FOOD CHOICES, even if you think you know what it is!
After such an interesting day, I was so ready for bed. I took one last window out our hotel window, saw the Eiffel Tower sparkling in the night, and hoped for a better day tomorrow.