Merry Christmas from Paris! Faaaake, it’s after Christmas, and I’m back in London. BUT, I wrote a couple of journal entries during my time in France, and I’m too lazy to go back through and change the tenses, etc. SO, sometimes it’s going to seem like you’re in the moment with me…I apologize for the confusion/ridiculousness/experimentation with a new writing style…let’s start from the very beginning, shall we? I’ve heard somewhere that it’s a very good place to start…
Wednesday the 19th: It’s already begun….I almost killed a woman on the ascending moving walkway. For those of you who know me, I have the weirdest case of anxiety. When I’m flying, I panic about checking in. On a train? I panic about what to do with my luggage. Like, panic panic. Like, block the train door and am panicking so hard that the girl trying to get on the train behind me elbows her boyfriend until he grabs my bag and puts it up for me. This is why I like traveling alone-this way the only person I embarrass is myself. And then I don’t have to deal with the ridicule for the rest of the trip: “Hey Kobi, remember that one time we were on our way to Paris, and you panicked about the fact that you hadn’t touched your passport in five seconds, and you let go of your bag while traveling upwards and it slammed into the woman behind you? And then you panicked about the panicking, so you told her ‘Merry Christmas’?? That shit was hilarious…” SO, I have made it onto the train, only injured one person, and my pride is strangely intact; I’m on my way to Paris!! And sitting to my right is the most hilarious mother/daughter duo of all time. Some snipets as examples: Mama is yelling at daughter because she can’t find her lipstick…oh wait, daughter has placed it in the little pocket of her purse designed for lipstick. Almost needed Agatha Christie and Monsieur Poirot to solve this mystery…; Mama just asked daughter if this is the train that goes under the sea…after being told yes, she started singing “Under the Sea”, and I now have the Little Mermaid stuck in my head; I kind of put in my earphones, and so I’m out of examples. BUT they were entertaining!
Friday the 21st: Paris…how do you even describe it? Well, that’s kind of the point of this entry, so I guess I better start tryin’. I arrived via my beloved train on the 19th, and Mary B and I were blissfully reunited. We walked ourselves to hotel #1 (which we kind of cheated, because Mary got to Paris before me and had just dropped off her bag and knew exactly how to get there) freshened up, danced for joy, and then hit the town. I adopted the point-and-order system right off the bat (meaning, I looked for something a little familiar, pointed at it and that’s what I ordered without realizing exactly what I was about to eat), and it treated me well the whoooole time I was in France. So after my experimentation with the quiche de jour, we did a little shopping. Because I wasn’t home for Christmas, and because my mom has developed an aversion to packages, I decided to buy my own Christmas presents this year. And people, I got everything I wanted! Well, today I just got earrings and bracelets. But I’m sure that I will continue the trend…especially since I have no list of things I want, and so I can’t be disappointed 😉
Monday the 24th: Well, remember when I said I couldn’t be disappointed with Christmas presents? I’m disappointed with Mary’s stocking stuffer…poor thing caught some sort of mutant flu bug. Worse than a lump of coal. Since NO ONE in the history of the world likes being sick in a hotel room, she’s changed her flight so that she can be comfy in her own bed. So her Christmas present to herself is her own bed and comforting reality TV instead of CNN on repeat as the only English-channel option.
Wednesday the 26th: Trains people…that’s how you want to travel. None of this “go through security by your gate only” thing, no poor signage that points in obscure directions that lead you nowhere near your gate-specific security line. No telling you to get there 2 hours early, only to have no toilets or shops “on the other side” and have you sit outside the security zone until 40 minutes before your plane takes off. I tell ya, it’s a good thing I’m traveling alone, because I am a giant cluster fuck when I travel (sorry Ma). I guess the good thing is, though, that I don’t let this stop me. Before London 2012, I’d never traveled internationally by myself before. Now I am nowhere near expert level, but at least I know that wandering around mouthing, “what the f€#%?!?” is pretty natural, and I’ll never see these people again in my life so a little embarrassment isn’t that big of a deal. Rick Steves’ guide to traveling alone-curse as much as humanly possible, because it makes you feel better and takes your mind off the panic attack that you can feel rising in your chest. The panic was so great that I actually broke a cardinal rule when making my way to the airport this time around-I actually paid a ridiculous amount of money to go via death trap to get here. That’s right-I took a cab. I’m a big advocate of public transportation being a part of the travel experience, but after a few snafus this morning, I decided to treat myself. The gruff little man might have been a typical Frenchmen, but boy did he know how to serve in and out of traffic like it was his job. (get it? Get it?)
Ok, I’m hyperventilating a little…the magical board that I check and double check, and then check again to make sure I am in the right place is blank. I’m in a “non toilet” area, with no way to get out, and the magical screen is taunting me. Also? Anyone could fling something over this plexiglass fence that I assume they took from a hockey rink to separate the “non secure” people from the “secure” ones. Hdhin#2hfi334nfhik$4)77€>~£€>.jhdj
I just got tackled by security for suggesting that. Would have been really helpful if my bladder was empty before that. Just kidding, that was all overly-embellished. But it took my mind off the fact that I all I want to do is teleport to my own bed…just a few more hours!
Thursday the 27th…aka today…aka this obviously isn’t a journal entry: Well, now that you’ve gotten to read what goes on inside my diary, let’s debrief the Christmas season, shall we? On Thursday I forced Mary on a “Holocaust Excursion” day: we visited the memorial where the Vel D’Hiv used to sit, and spent a quality amount of time in the Memorial de la Shoah. Mary was a trooper, and feigned interest the whole day! Before she got sick on Friday, we roamed the Latin Quarter, explored a neat church, and gave generously to several Christmas market stalls. I gifted myself French soap and lavender, which reminded me of my beloved Grandma and made them even more special. Saturday I did homework all day while Mary dozed in and out, and then Sunday we met up with Trista and Jeremy at the swankiest hotel (hotel #2) I’ve ever stayed in. It was so swanky that I felt awkward taking pictures to show you how swanky it was! If it gives you any idea, this hotel is on the Champs Elysees…goooorgeous!! So it was SO thoughtful of them to let Mary and I stay with them. Christmas Eve was exploring: the Notre Dame, the “love bridge”, and of course the Eiffel Tower at night were some of our destinations. Christmas Day, after we said goodbye to Mary B., we climbed the Eiffel Tower. The whoooole way up! Just kidding, the top was closed due to extreme wind, but we got up as far as we could go. And on the way, we made friends with some adorable Canadians who helped Jeremy take his mind off his fear of heights. After we gazed at this incredible city from a staggering height we grabbed ourselves some mulled wine from one of the many neighboring Christmas markets and strolled back to the hotel to get ready for Christmas dinner. After getting all fancy-schmancied up in the first dress I’ve purchased in years (an exaggeration…BUT it was the first dress that I haven’t bought from Forever 21 or Target in years. So that totally counts), we moseyed our way to a steakhouse where I inadvertently ordered myself a bottle of wine to go with my steak and ratatouille combo. I then polished off my meal with the largest creme brûlée I’ve ever seen in my life. And then the Joneseses and I finished off the night the only way we knew how: with Jurassic Park. We only had a limited amount of English-speaking channels on TV, and dinosaurs were the most Christmassy thing on TV. Wednesday was an…interesting day. Panic attacks were mixed in with amazing views, one of my favorite churches of all time, and crazy impressive soccer skills. The area around Sacre Coeur is deliciously delightful, and was a great way to spend my last hours in Paris. After eating a hotdog in a hollowed-out baguette, macaroons, and a jug of wine I said goodbye to the Joneses and made my way to the airport. And since you all have read the ridiculous diary entry that I composed, I will spare you the details of the rest of my journey.
FAAAAKE!! C’mon people, did you really think that I wouldn’t take the opportunity to whine?? Have you learned nothing from these posts? HA! Customs at the Luton Airport is one of the silliest things I’ve ever experienced, so it was an over an hour after I landed that I was able to make my way outside to find the obscure bus that I had purchased a ticket for. And then after standing outside for over another hour, I was finally on said bus heading to London. And then an hour after that, I finally arrived at my stop. And then 45 minutes later I was finally home, because it was so late the Tube had stopped running and I had to walk. And that’s when it happened…I locked eyes with one of the most random creatures that I ever expected to see in the middle of an extremely urban scene. Across the street from my end destination, I had a staring contest with a fox. Which, for some reason, really freaked me out. Because foxes (or however you pluralize that) can be mean. And the perfect ending to the really random/long day I just had would be to be bitten by a rabid fox. I mean, why else would he be staring at me from 10 feet away? So I pretended that I wasn’t scared of this majestic creature (because they really are one of my favorite animals…one of my favorite toys growing up was a stuffed animal that was a fox. At first I wrote “stuffed fox” but that just makes it sound like I toted around a taxidermied animal), and kept dragging my suitcase towards my front door. Only to find that he was following me. Which made me think that he really was rabid. So I considered what I would tell security when I walked into my building with a fox trailing behind. “Excuse me, has your policy on pets changed in the past week?” “Excuse me, I am not signing in this fox…he just really doesn’t understand that ‘no means no’ and won’t leave me alone.” “Excuse me, do I have bacon hanging out of my pocket? Because a wild animal won’t leave me alone, and I showered this morning, I swear.“
As usual, here is a delightful slideshow for your viewing pleasure. Here we have: the Eiffel Tower and a Christmas tree, a carousel and the Eiffel Tower, Mary flirting with an extremely French lamppost, Notre Dame (duh), an adorable cafe where our waiter taught us French (of which I can’t remember a single thing…excuse moi), Mary kneeling on what we believe to be a kneeler at a random church I drug her to, the replica of the Statue of Liberty’s flame and some tower in the background, CHRISTMAS LIGHTS, the Arc de Triomph and CHRISTMAS LIGHTS, Trista and I, the ridiculous line at the Louis Vuitton, locks on the “Love Bridge” and some tower in the background, the Louvre at night, the Eiffel Tower, the creepiest picture I’ve ever inadvertently taken (I had no idea that kid’s face was in the reflection, I swear, Officer), me being really confused as to why everyone wanted to be in my photo, the Sacre Coeure, the most amazing display of soccer skills ever, and Trista and Jeremy. I’m sure I’ve forgotten to explain some of these, but I’m going to hope that they are self-explanatory.
Alright, all…I’ve droned on and on enough for one night. I’m going to go stare out my peep hole and see if my furry friend is still stalking me. Wish me luck!!