When was the last time somebody treated you to Paris? And so I introduce to you, the generous (and slightly insane) heart of my best friend 😉
We came home from Buckingham Palace with just enough time to prepare for Paris. In my last overseas trip (refer to Ireland blog entries) I was backpacking, so the trip required maximum simplicity and frugality. That was an unforgettable adventure I could get used to! However, this trip was different in nature, and so it required something of me that I do not usually exercise during traveling. That is, being a full blown, all out, medium-high-maintenance, girly girl. I mean, clothes flying around. “Do I wear the red and white striped sweater, the black and white striped sweater, or the gray and cream striped sweater? What’s more French?” asked my best friend, who was clearly having a fashion crisis while I questioned myself with “To beret? or not to beret?” We had already determined that this trip would be like an episode of Sex and the City, except less sex and more croissants. We called each other Carrie Bradshaw #1 and Carrie Bradshaw #2. Oui!
We had to wake up at 4:00 am, and were lying down in bed by midnight. I closed my eyes, and nothing happened. No drifting off into Paris dreams, no sense of blurriness all around me, no heavy body falling into deep sleep, no nothing. When we both realized that the other could not sleep either, we naturally accepted the circumstances and read exerpts from Chelsea Handler’s “ARE YOU THERE, VODKA? IT’S ME, CHELSEA.” And soon…it was 3 am.
“It is 4:06” was what I managed to mumble. I slept for about one hour, she slept for half. I don’t remember walking to the bathroom, but I remember looking in the mirror, and wondering why they call it beauty sleep. I looked like… – BOOM! TACK! POW! BOOM! OUUUCH!! -hold that thought. That was the sound of my friend, rolling down the stairs. I am pretty sure the bathroom walls shook a little. It was pretty bad. She ended up getting a huge bruise on the bottom of her foot, and her arm had red lines marked across it. Great. Now she looked like she had wrestled three monkeys. She limped her way into the tiny kitchen, where I had lovingly made caffe latte…Seven years of making coffee have taught me nothing, apparently. I surpassed failure in the making of the most disgusting, unfixable cup of coffee I have ever had. We did the only thing that came natural to us. We cried. We cried giant tears of laughter! And in between gasps of breath you could hear us say, “So much for Carrie Bradshaw.” “So glamorous.” “Bonjour.” “Paris.” I just held my stomach and let it out.
The car picked us up around 4:45 am. We were running a bit tight on schedule, but arrived at King’s Cross train station in time to be the last in line. There was mad confusion, and we got switched from lines 2 or 3 times. We did not know what we were doing, and they did not know either. In the waiting time my friend and I were astounded by the people that surrounded us. We left the house in jeans, with no make up on. My nose and eyes were running non stop, and our dark circles seemed 5 shades darker than usual. Yet the women around us had the most flawless hair styles, clean and delicate make up, feminine litte dresses with the classy coat and shoes to compliment their perfectly Mademoiselle selves. They had clearly not been reading Chelsea Handler until 3:00 in the morning. I wanted to stand in the middle of the train station and applaud their commitment to Paris.
The chaos and disorder the staff had was an unexpected complication. These are the moments when I am most grateful about my friend’s fearless personality. She somehow managed us to cut line without actually cutting line, and to get us both in the platform on time to hop on the train. The ride was about 2 hours, during which we rested and did our hair and make-up, which was more like replacing our heads with brand new ones. When we arrived in Paris, I actually felt nervous and filled with adrenaline. It hit me that we were in a country where English is not the main language…and actually not a language to be spoken at all. We were trying to find our way into the city, the Eiffel Tower! But I am sorry to say that the people at information desks were not providing any information. They kept sending us from help desk to help desk until we decided to waste our time trying to find the city instead of asking how to find it.
The underdround in Paris was VERY intimidating, to say the least. It felt like being trapped in a half maze, half mine tunnel. It makes the NYC, Chicago, and London subways look like luxe transportation. The walls and ceilings are close together, the tunnel walls have no more room for graffiti, you feel the dirt piling up in thick layers on your skin, the rails looked covered in a really old charcoal, and the windows were slightly open for fresh underground air. Oh yes, and the stare on people’s faces would cross anyone off their path. Sketch, sketch, sketch. After riding the subway, I knew I could have never gone to Paris alone. This was a team effort adventure…Or more like an effort my best friend was making while I stood just behind her like a toddler standing behind her mother’s leg when meeting a stranger.
Alas! We rose from the ground, and my lungs were grateful to be outside in the daylight. We made it!!! We were shocked by the mob of people, and made strenuous efforts to escape from the African immigrants illegally selling souveniers and other things. I was impressed by their dexterity to speak to us in all kinds of languages…all of which we pretended to not understand. “Sorry, we’re from another planet.” I wanted to joke. It certainly felt like we were!
And then, we saw it. The Eiffel Tower. A view I had secretely always wanted to see. Pictures really do not do it justice. It rises up into the sky with such beauty, and glamour, wooing you and making you turn your head around to see it no matter which direction you are actually walking. It is exquisite, and even feminine. A true romantic Parisian sight. We saw it, we admired it, we loved it, we photographed it, we drooled over it. It was not even lunch time yet, and we already had so much to tell from our day in Paris! We had laughed ourselves to tears, and maneuvered out of hell through the Parisian underworld, I mean, underground. My best friend limped next to me, hunched back and all (still hurting so much from her ungraceful fall), and I walked with teary eyes…Not because of Eiffel, but because my whole face was still running. But our spirits were untouched by these events. And so we went off to make the most of our day (coming up in next blog entry)…Not as Carrie Bradshaw #1 and Carrie Bradshaw #2, but as the real hunchback of Notre Dame and her tearful sidekick. Bonjour!