Monday, January 10, 2011


It's 5:30am* and I can't sleep. My sleeping cycle is so messed up.
After arriving to Gare due Nord I hopped on the metro. It was a bit of an ordeal because of my huge suitcase. I felt a little dumb, but have plenty of experience schlepping and being in the way from New York. A man helped me by carrying my suitcase down some stairs for me, which I appreciated.
After I got off my stop I found myself feeling really paranoid. I wanted to have my bearings and know where I was going without looking like a solo tourist. I decided to take a minute to figure out my directions (get them together) before going above ground.
There were two homeless looking men on the platform, and no one else. I went down by the stairs and around a corner so I was out of sight. As I was gathering myself one of the men peeked around the corner, we made eye contact, and as he walked back it seemed like he made motion that I was there. I quickly hauled my hiney outta there. Even when I got above ground I was so suspicious of everyone. Talk about paranoia, but I guess that's better than being naive when you're a solo female traveling in a foreign country.
I quickly got my bearings and got on my way. After about ten minutes of schlepping I felt like maybe I should consult a map because I didn't feel like I should be walking for so long. Sure enough, the directions were wrong. It was easy to correct though, and I got to my apartment about fifteen minutes later.
Once I finally got inside I was exhausted and sweating so I took a few moments to relax and enjoy the apartment. It is darling! It feels like home being in a tiny studio.
There are three large double windows that go almost floor to ceiling which I immediately opened up. I love it!! I'm dying to come back in the spring. I imagine it's so lovely.

The door leading to my apartment building. I loved this color.

I thought the my key was so cute.

View out the kitchen window. Temperatures were always in the 30s so I didn't keep the windows open, and sadly, I almost always had the shades drawn as well. There was a building right across a little alley that looked directly into the apartment, and when I was home I didn't want anyone to be able to see I was there by myself, and when I wasn't there, I didn't want anyone to be able to see no one was home.

Soon I was off to the Eiffel Tower. I downloaded a Paris Metro app which has been a huge help. The Metro is also pretty easy.
When I got off the train I was a little confused, thinking I'd see the tower at least peeking over buildings. Luckily there were street signs pointing me on my way.
And then I finally saw it. It was so cool and put a big smile on my face.

I took some photos and then headed for the base to go to the top. It was really cold out so I figured that would help make the line shorter. Boy, was I wrong. It was RIDICULOUSLY long. I hopped on the end and stood there for about ten minutes, shaking, and in pain because my fingers and toes were so cold they hurt. I had hardly moved and started thinking, "Do I really need to go to the top? I feel like I'll get up there, take a look, snap a photo, and come back down." The cold was almost unbearable. It wouldn't have been as bad if I were dressed properly, but it wasn't nearly this cold and windy near my apartment. The sun was going down so it was only getting worse. I finally decided to jump out of line and go back next time when it's warm.
There was a short line for hot chocolate so I decided to wait for that because I had about a ten minute walk back to the metro. The line moved like molasses. I stuck it out (about 15 minutes or so) and finally was on my way.
As I was walking, trying to ignore the feelings that I was a total loser, I took comfort in the fact that at least now one hand was warm from the hot chocolate. I'd taken about three sips, when all of a sudden- BAM! A bird pooped straight into the cup. I stood there for a minute, trying to figure out if that had really just happened. I looked at the evidence...the random yellowish gunk on the side of my cup, the hot chocolate spatter on my white coat sleeve, and the pelt I felt which reminded me of the bike ride I took around Central Park this fall when a bird pooped on my arm. (My whole life this has never happened, now twice in three months???)
I found myself thinking, "Seriously Paris?!" Now I felt like an even bigger loser. As I was walking to the metro I remembered the lights should be coming on the tower at some point, but how long would that take? As I walked I kept looking back, hoping they'd be on. But no luck. I kept telling myself I should wait, but the cold and wind were so unbearable, and I didn't even know how long I'd be waiting.
I stopped at the top of the park to take one last photo, and on the lights came. Hurray!! Thank you.

So I got a couple photos and then asked a couple to take my picture. As I walked away I looked at the photo; sweet, there's me, with the Eiffel Tower coming out of my head. Thanks!

The second shot he took while I was talking to him. Great photog skills.

The couple didn't really speak English so it would have been hard to explain what exactly I wanted. There was one other couple there, but I felt awkward asking them to take a picture right in front of couple #1. Finally couple #1 left, and the second couple spoke a little English, and I got a great shot.

My plan now was to head towards my apartment to get dinner. I was feeling exhausted and eating something always helps me perk up when I'm that tired.
Then I'd go home to get my heavy coat and warmer shoes. Even though it sucks it's so cold, I'm glad I didn't bring my big coat for nothing.
When I came out of the subway there was a man selling crepes on the street. I'd been told these are delicious so I stopped for one. The man spoke English and was so nice. I ended up getting a crepe with Nutella and it was to die for.
I started walking home, thinking I'd find a cafe for dinner. I figured I should eat something else, considering all I'd eaten was a crepe with Nutella and a chocolate croissant (and three sips of hot chocolate) since I'd arrived in Paris. Woops.
Then I realized I was going the wrong way. I was tired, cold, hungry, and frustrated. I stopped in a little shop that reminded me of Urban Outfitters and warmed up while I sat on the couch for a bit.
I finally got directions and was headed the right way. The metro stop I'd come up from is kind of like Columbus Circle, but even bigger, and with way more streets feeding into it, so it was easy to get confused.
I found a little bar where one man was the bartender, server, cook, and dishwasher. He spoke English, tolerated my attempts at the little French I know, and was sweet and charming.
I sat there eating like a zombie. Even with the Diet Coke I wasn't feeling like I was perking up. I was supposed to go home and change and then head to the Arc de Triumphe, but all I wanted was bed. As I staggered home, thinking about the long day I had ahead of me at Versailles, I decided to give in to my body's pleading and call it a night.
I got settled, started to watch an episode of CSI, and couldn't last ten minutes.
This was at 8pm. I set my alarm for 7am and when I woke up I figured it was probably 5 or 6am. I felt like I'd slept all night. I got up to go to the bathroom and when I looked at the clock it said midnight. Woops. Luckily I was able to sleep three more hours, but now it's 6:15 so I guess I'm up for good.
Hopefully today will be a much more enjoyable day and I won't feel like such a failure.
Sort of pathetic to end like that but...I got nothin'...

*Note, ironically it was 5:30am when I started this post, because I couldn't sleep....weird.


Nadia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nadia said...

Rae,LOVE the pictures. Your apt. was so cute! I love cool doors like that and your view....
You look so cute and happy - aside from the bird poop. :)
Im so glad you had fun.

Katie said...

I love reading your travel journal! So funny, my little sister and I are going to Paris in June and I was looking up hotels/apartments the other night and I came across that Hotel Jeanne D'Arc that was right out your window! How random is that. We really like the hotel, but it's too pricey in June. I think we'll go the apartment route too... maybe you could send me the link to the one you stayed at? I've found lots of good ones on but it's always nice to have approval from a friend.

Glad you had so much fun! Jet lag is the worst.

chelse said...

wow Rae you are such a trooper! That's a crazy day! And can I just say props for going by yourself and actually figuring everything out. I don't think I could have figured out the Bart in SF if you weren't there. Also, SWEET apartment?! How in the world did you find that? And you better not be staying too long? I still need to know what is happening in NYC.
I hope you're having the best time. Don't feel like a looser. Feel enlightened that you are a world traveler and you are the one that provided and figured it all out. You're amazing!
can't wait to see more!

Janie's World said...

You are nowhere near a looser, please! Sounds like you had a heck of a day though, but your persevered. Love your travel journal style. You are such a great writer.

Michelle said...

your apartment looks lovely. I am in awe at you. I would have been WAY too intimidated to be in a foreign place that is a different language of my own. London of course! But wow! way to go! Part of the reason that makes you just amazing! Love ya girl.

Anonymous said...

Stop it right now, the bird POOPED into your cup?!?!?! HAHA Rae I'm so sorry. I think I would have died laughing. Love the Eiffel Tower pictures!