Paris, je ne regrette rien PART III

A few other things I wanted to tell you if you’re going to Paris.

You don’t need to Couch Surf if you don’t want to, but hang out with some locals. They will take you places you wouldn’t go if you were there by yourself or with a friend who doesn’t know the place either. Besides, the touristic places are awesome, INDEED, but the unknown part of Paris (unknown to tourists, that is…) is also amazing. Go on an adventure! :)

OKAY, SO, ready to read about my last day?

So, I was alone, wandering around town, finding cool things to do, being a tourist, taking a thousand pics, etc etc etc.

I went to the Louvre on the day before but I still had time to go to another museum and I really really wanted to go to the d’Orsay. The d’Orsay has mainly french art…well, there is a little of everything. I went there because I love Monet and Van Gogh and they have their paintings etc there. They also have Renoir, Manet, Gauguin, RODIN!…all those extremely amazing guys, you know! And it is breath taking. It really is. It’s kind of like you’re entering the art, you feel it so close to you, it’s so beautiful, so…perfect. Everything. The sculptures, the furniture…. It made me want to live in those times.

This is the outside of the Musée d'Orsay. :)

Unfortunately, you can’t take pictures of anything inside of the museum and I chose to respect that. I also bought a book with all the art that was exhibited in the museum. I read it sometimes just to have a little ”taste” of Paris haha.

The best part of my trip though, was my last moments in the city. I had left my luggage at the Gare du Nord locker room and I had to take a metro there, get my stuff, then take a train to the airport. But I still had a few hours left to enjoy France.
On my way out of the museum, I heard this beautiful music and followed it. It was a street performer. The music fit the moment just perfectly. The sky was grey and it looked like it was about to rain. But no one cared. I joined the crowd and sat down to watch the guy play. Then I saw that there was another street performer. Well, actually, two more, if you count the crazy old dude who made everyone laugh when he scared people walking by.
The other artist was a guy in his 30’s with roller skates, doing all kinds of crazy acrobatic things. And the funny thing is, even though the roller dude and the musician had nothing to do with each other, they were in perfect syntony. It was beautiful watching both of them (and the crazy old dude in the back goofing around).

So I sat there and watched. I gave them a few coins. I clapped. I filmed. And then the music hit me.
That was the perfect moment. One of those moments where you think:

This is exactly where I want to be. 

 And it was. I looked around me and I thought to myself ”oh my, this is perfection. There is nowhere else I’d rather be.” Tears came down my face, but you know, tears of joy. I was so happy… The people there were so peaceful, watching those talented, honest street performers…the kids running around…the sky was not blue, but it was perfect. Everything was perfect.
Then it started raining a little and no one got up. We just stayed there appreciating such an astonishing, dazzling moment.

When they were done with their presentations, people got up with the biggest smiles on their faces, like something there had happened and only who were there, could understand. We felt light, relaxed, blissful, satisfied.

Then it started pouring. And I had almost no time left to walk around so I took a cab to the Notre-Dame de Paris. Yes, the Hunchback’s church. haha
I went inside with a bunch of other people who were running and hiding from the rain and took a few pictures, then had to run to the metro station, then the airport. That was also a cool moment. Everyone together hiding from the rain when we all realized we were inside of one of the most beautiful churches ever. Then we relaxed and forgot about the rain.

When I went outside, ready to run to the airport…the Sun was shining again. It was gorgeous. :)
I walked around trying to find the right metro then there I went….to a long long trip back home.

To sum this up and finish this story already….here is what happened on my last minutes in France:

  1. I go in the wrong train.
  2. An awesome African lady yelled at me (in a nice way) and told me I was in the wrong train, then she helped me get out and get on the right one….
  3. I met this boy who started laughing at me because we were actually in the same situation…he was in the wrong train too…
  4. We talked all the way to the airport. He was from Toulouse. Next place I wanna visit!
  5. I got stuck at the entry of the airport with my suitcase, broke the machine….Ran away.
  6. Talked some more with my new friend.
  7. Said good-bye, then realized we never introduced ourselves so we’ll never hear from each other ever ever.
  8. Checked-in.
  9. Bought macaroons and food. Called my mom on Skype.
  10. Got in the plane.
  11. Got some wine, watched a bunch of movies…
  12. And got home. (kk, after 10 hours….)

And that was my trip to Paris.
Unforgettable.

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Paris, non, je ne regrette rien.

What best way to start a post about Paris than with a song by lovely Piaf?

My stay in Paris was extremely short, but memorable.
I went to Finland in July, to visit my cousin, and I had bought tickets to Paris before hand. I only stayed there for 5 days, and before getting there, I was upset it wasn’t a lot of time and maybe I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the trip.
Oh, man, was I wrong. Paris is worth visiting, even if you have just a couple of days.
Everything they say about it is true. It’s a damn romantic city, it has amazing food, beautiful places, great music.
I will have to disagree with ONE thing though. And I will explain why.
People kept telling me that French people were rude. I’m not sure if I didn’t took that advice into consideration because people tend to say that about my city (Curitiba) or because I just don’t like pre-judgements. I like checking it out myself.
So I did.
I went to Paris with the most gigantic smile on my face. I was happy to be there, I was enjoying being with myself. In the airport, I bought some food because I hadn’t had any breakfast and I was taking a bit too long to choose what I wanted to eat. This FRENCH lady in line, smiled at me, with absolutely no hurry or any signs of impatience, and told me that the fruit juice was really tasty and the pan au chocolat was delightful. She realized I wasn’t from there and chose to help.
There. My first ever impression about French people. Not bad, huh?
Actually, I’m not being fair. I take french classes and my teacher is from France and he is the nicest person, really sweet and patient. Not at all rude. And then, the lady at the airport.  I thanked her, took my food,sat down, called my mom on Skype and said: Mom, I’m in Paris.

This was the first time I tried Couch Surfing. When I was in Finland I sent messages to a bunch of people and asked if I could crash on their couch for a few days. I got a few replies, but there was this one guy with a lot of references. So I messaged him back, we talked a lot, for a few days, to get to know each other a bit better before I went to his house.
Sam was his name. Sam gave me directions from the airport to Gare du Nord, to his house. I thought I was going to get lost, actually, I had no doubt about it. But I followed his instructions, asked people if I was going the right way, and I got to Gare du Nord pretty easily. Then, from there, I had to carry my…quite big….suitcase to Sam’s house.
Then I got off the train and realized that there was no elevator or escalator.  ”Ok, ready to carry this huge thing up the stairs?” I thought. That’s when two guys gently offered themselves to help me carry it upstairs. I was so relieved!
On the way to my host’s house, I took time to look around. The area I would stay at, was mostly a immigrants area. A lot of indians, middle-eastern people whistling and asking if they could carry my luggage for me. It was funny.
Following the directions from my iPod, I got to his house, but could not type in the numbers to open the gate. I think Sam saw me from upstairs and ran to help me.
His apartment…also no elevators. But he carried my bag. :)

His apartment was a very pleasant little place, with two rooms and a nice living room, with a tiny balcony. So french.
I noticed that no matter what time you went to the balcony, you could always see people in the other buildings smoking on their balconies.
The weather was really warm when I was there, which I love, by the way.
After leaving my suitcase in the room I was staying at, Sam asked if I wanted to go sit by the Siene river and drink some beers. ”If I want to??? I’ve been dreaming about it.”
There we went, got some beers, sat down and talked for an hour about our travels, favorite places, stories, etc. Then we decided to go ride the Paris bikes.
They have a pretty good bike sharing system.

Paris

A resurgence in bike sharing programs is attributed by many to the launching in 2007 of Paris’s Vélib’, a network of 20,000 specially designed bicycles distributed among 1450 stations throughout Paris. Vélib’, inspired by Lyon’s seminal Vélo’v project, is now considered the second largest bike sharing system of its kind in the world. 

That was absolutely the best idea ever. We rode our bikes all over Paris. For hours. Such a great feeling.
We stopped at a bistro to have some…burgers! Yes. And then Sam ate them with a fork and a knife and I found that hysterical for some reason. Then we continued our ride. It was summer, so through out the city, there were these water spraying ballon things to refresh everyone.

Refreshingg

Fork and knife + burger = Sam

In the days that followed, Sam took me to a few other nice places around town. We talked a lot. I was too shy to practice my french with him, but when I was alone and had to order something, I did pretty well.
My cousin, Ana, who is basically my sister, was living in Europe at that time and she was going to be in Paris when I was there. So we decided to meet. It was so great that we were there, together. We are very close, always have been. I live a couple blocks away from her house, in Curitiba. We were always together when kids, we even looked a lot like each other. But meeting in Paris was so special.
We stopped by little shops, had amazing ice cream, walked around, went into gorgeous churches, talked, talked, talked. She then met my couch surfer for a few minutes, only, though. Then she took her train back to Germany, where she was living.

Me and my cousin, Ana,@some train station.

The next day, Sam introduced me to his friend Tytti (I know….) from Finland! So we had something to talk about since I had just spent 10 days in Finland.
The three of us went out for some drinks, little shops etc. And on the next day, Tytti brought a friend who worked with her at Disney Paris, so we all went out for a walk in the city, had some drinks… and that’s when we went to La Famille  (one of my first posts). We had a great time, laughed a lot, tried all sorts of drinks…
Sam decided he wanted to make a Moroccan dinner for me and Tytti. He is from Morocco but has been living in France for years, with his brother. He no longer follow traditions like the Ramadan (Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, involves abstaining from food, drink, sexual relations, smoking and other vices between sunrise and sunset.). His mom, who was still back in Morocco, thought he did, so she sent him a few Ramadan sweets, that he could eat after sunset. We ate them fro breakfast, and they are DELICIOUS.
Anyways, about the dinner. We invited Tytti to go to ”our” place the next day. Sam and I went to buy the ingredients and wine. There is ALWAYS wine, all the time, everywhere, for everything, in France. No need to say that I loved it.

Tytti came over and we set the table in the living room, by the balcony, because, like me, Tytti also had a passion about the french balconies and she had noticed the smokers, too. We decided we could stay in the balcony looking at Paris, for hours.
Sam made this Moroccan chicken, and it was divine. I wish I had learned how to make it, but it took quite a while ot cook it, then all the spices etc….besides, I do like cooking, but he was the chef that night, so me my new finnish friend stayed out of the kitchen. Drinking wine and talking.

Our french/moroccan dinner :)


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will finish this post TOMORROW :)