Friday, March 22, 2013

Paris: Part Deux..or at least part 1 of part 2...

The middle of February found me once again in Paris. This time, though, I was on my own. And it was Valentine's Day week. How did I come to be in one of the most romantic cities in the world all by my lonesome, you ask? Well, here's the deal. As part of my job, I get one weekend off a month. Unfortunately due to scheduling conflicts, I was unable to take a weekend off in February, but was able to take Tuesday through Thursday. I was excited by this because I thought that perhaps I could find a cheaper flight to somewhere like Austria or Switzerland mid-week. I was wrong. The fares are even more expensive and harder to find. What gives? So, Paris it was seeing as it was the cheapest option---isn't that ironic?

So, I set off to take on the City of Lights on my own. As I had been to Paris before and had seen all of the major sites, I wanted to see the things and explore the neighborhoods that I didn't get to on my first trip. I wanted to see more of the "real" Paris rather than just the Louvre, Notre Dame, etc. I was a little nervous going on my own because 1) I speak no French outside of the easy phrases like please, thank you, etc., and 2) I hate to dine by this would be my personal gauntlet. It was thrown..and I rose to the challenge.

I arrived to a much colder and much grayer Paris than I had experienced in the fall of 2011. Thankfully, I was prepared for the frigid temperatures and didn't let them deter me from my exploration. I checked into my hotel, hopped on the metro, and made my way to my first stop: Musee Marmottan. Basically, a whole museum dedicated to Monet as it contains the world's largest collection of his work. Does it get any better? His work was breathtaking and I was able to study and stare for as long as I wanted as it was my time, my schedule. The gallery wasn't very crowded and was housed in a lovely old Parisian home. It was wonderful and I fell even more in love with Monet's color, vision, and brilliance. I could have stayed there all day had I not spied the Eiffel Tower from a window on the top floor. And so I bid adieu to Monet and made my way to the Eiffel Tower where I reveled in its size and iconic-ness while enjoying a hot nutella crepe made by a woman in a crepe stand. Again, does it get and better? I, then, walked along the Seine taking in the people of Paris as I listened to Edith Piaf on my iPod. I made my way to the Arc di Triomphe as I hadn't seen it on my first trip into Paris and proceeded to stroll down the Champs Elysess enjoying the occasional street performer. From there, I headed back to my hotel for a quick nap (getting up at 2 a.m. for a 3 a.m. shuttle pick-up was no easy feat for this morning-hating gal) before dinner.

Feeling a little refreshed...I decided to try out a crepe restaurant that I'd read about on Trip Advisor and also in the Rick Steves' Paris guidebook. It was a tiny, little restaurant with only 8 or so tables. 8 tables!! Luckily, they were able to sit me as I was alone provided that I could finish my meal in an hour and a half. An hour and a half? Pssht. I may live in Rome, but I'm still an American...I can eat my dinner in 90 minutes. I'd never had a savory crepe before, so I was excited to try something new as I ordered a crepe filled with goat's cheese (one of my faves), bacon, an egg, and tomato sauce. It sounded like an odd combo, but I waned to try new here we go. Plus, I knew that if it wasn't delicious..the wine that I'd ordered would help with that. Unlike in Italy, the meal also came with a side I knew if nothing else, I'd have something in my system. Turns out, I didn't need to was AMAZING. I could not believe how those seemingly diverse flavors could come together and explode on my tongue so wonderfully. The wine enhanced the flavor of the crepe and I was in heaven. Does it get much better? Uh. Yeah. I hadn't had dessert. Dessert. What can I say except....I'm currently drooling thinking about that crepe. Think about this: cinnamon-spiced apples wrapped in a warm crepe with caramel sauce and topped with chantilly creme. Yeah. Enough said. Needless to say, I went to bed that night with a very happy and contented tummy.

I shall leave you here for I need to get some sleep so that I can go out and explore Rome tomorrow, but I promise...I will catch you up on the rest of Paris. Then, after Paris---a great day in Rome. And after that--we'll see...

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