Sunday, September 28, 2008

We'll Always Have Paris

November 16, 2006

Several of you have been asking how I enjoyed people are so demanding! Haven´t I updated you on most everything I´ve done here in Europe? Have you ever known me to be at a loss for words? Excuse me for having some shit to take care of...I am technically in school over here! Haha, just kidding. Enjoy the update! I have a project due next week so don´t freak out if you don´t get an update immediately.

PS--At the cafe I go to every morning I am now known as "La Amiga Americana"

I spent this past weekend in Paris, France. Now all I need to do is visit Paris, Texas to complete the Paris Trio (France, Texas and Kentucky)! I swear, every time I go to France I am reminded of why I can’t stand the French. For those of you who’ve never been, trust me, the stereotypes have a certain amount of truth to them—the French are assholes. I take that back, I did meet a few helpful people, but they were the exceptions. I liked Paris, but I didn’t love it. I’m glad that I went but I don’t really feel the need to go back (unless one of you wants to go and pay for me to go). I think I prefer places like Barcelona and New York.

My body was in shock from the cold temperature there. I’ve gotten used to being here in Sevilla where I rarely go out with a jacket or anything. I had to buy a scarf before we started sightseeing on Friday! *I bought the scarf at a lovely French boutique, called, The Gap.*
Oh, here’s a helpful hint in case you go to France: Why don’t you try learning a few phrases in French? I didn’t; not even, “I don’t speak French.” It was a bit tricky.

Our flight left during the early afternoon on Thursday, so we took our luggage to school and left directly after class. Little did we know that our plane would be about 1 hour late and we didn’t need to haul ass, and I could’ve eaten lunch. We finally got into Paris and still had a ways to go before we got to the hostel. We had to take a bus and 2 metros because the airport is out in the middle of nowhere.

The hostel we were staying in had been recommended by a friend of Esmelda’s. This was the grossest place I have ever stayed in my entire life—including camp. There were no 2 person rooms left so we were in a room with 2 other girls. We were on the fourth floor (aka fifth since the ground floor is zero) and there was no elevator, so that was cool. I wanted to go ahead and rent my towel so that when I got up the next morning I didn’t have to go downstairs before I showered. Well, the man behind the desk informed me that he could not distribute the towels because he was just the receptionist. Apparently, he cannot handle the mind-boggling combination of watching the desk and exchanging towels for money. He’s either not a multi-tasker or the caste system in French hostels rivals that of India. So no towel for Erin.

We ate most of our meals at “The Embassy,” as I call it, mainly because everywhere else was so damned expensive.

Another fun fact about our hostel we didn’t discover until about 4 a.m. was that each room only has one key. We learned this the hard way when our (druuuunk) roommates started banging on the door for us to let them in.

Speaking of these girls, our first impression of them was quite an experience. I guess they got the [lowly] receptionist to let them into the room because we were confused and weren’t going to open the door for these crazy people since we didn’t know about the key situation. They came in the room and were so loud! They turned on the lights, started rooting around in their numerous suitcases for food and various other things. One of them took a shower. Eventually the other one started throwing up (just a little; it didn’t smell or anything, that’s when the shit would’ve hit the fan for me) in the bathroom. I will say this for her vomiting: she does it with more grace than I have ever seen in my life! She was standing almost straight up and just leaned her head over a little…and the next morning there was no mess or anything. I guess she must puke a lot. They didn’t turn out to be so bad in the end, but that first night we thought they were the craziest people on the planet! They were actually quite smart; they brought all kinds of stuff with them to the hostel, it probably saved them a lot of money. Every day, the hostel rooms are closed between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. so they can clean and junk. That kind of sucked, we couldn’t even sleep in if we had wanted to. I was surprised that the Drunkity McDrunk Twins made it up, but they are professionals.

Our hostel was very close to the Bastille, so that’s where we headed first. Here’s the thing, I always thought the Bastille was a castle or something. I mean, it had to be something worthy of being “stormed,” right? Well, we looked all over the place for this castle or building and we couldn’t find it. We finally asked a French guy and he pointed at this big towery thing. He said that was the Bastille. I was quite disappointed. Not to mention, how do you storm a pole? I finally came to the conclusion that it used to be a building and then it got stormed and ruined and stuff so now it’s a monument thing.

Next we went to Notre Dame and heard the ringing of the bells. I made a little video with the bells ringing in the background; no hunchback though. The inside is really pretty! We also went to the Pantheon. I guess it’s not just a Greek thing. We didn’t look around the inside because it cost money and I mean, how interesting could it be? Apparently, it is the place where the pendulum was invented. Of course, Meg, that made me think of our many visits to Asher Science Center and the Foucalt Pendulum. Good times. If you haven’t seen the Foucalt Pendulum at Georgetown College, well I highly recommend it. Plus, if the pendulum is ever not swinging, you don’t have to go to class…that’s a rule Meg and I invented.

Next we went to this little place you may have heard of…the Eiffel Tower. Do you know it? Actually, on the day we were leaving, Esmelda told one of the new girls in our room to visit the Eiffel Tower. I just looked at Esmelda and said, “You say that like she’s not going to do that. As though the Eiffel Tower is some big secret in France that tourists rarely see.” But I digress. Hands down, best tower I’ve ever seen. We went all the way to the top, too! This sounds stupid, but it’s really high up. I wasn’t really scared though. Although the view from the top of the Eiffel Tower in King’s Island is pretty good, I think this one is a little bit better. You can buy postcards and have them sent from the Eiffel Tower with an official Eiffel Tower stamp and whatnot. I didn’t do that, as I don’t really like any of you enough.

Later that day, I met a really rude bus driver. I now bring you the short skit called,
Erin and the Pretentious French Bus Driver:
ERIN: One (indicates how many tickets she wants by holding up her index finger)
DRIVER: (blank stare)
ERIN: (pause) One
DRIVER: In zis country, we say “please.”
ERIN: One, please
DRIVER: Do zey not have zat in your country? (Hands over ticket and takes money)
ERIN: Thank you.

First of all, that’s a really good play. Second of all, since when do bus drivers have such an attitude? It’s not like I got on the bus and said, “Gimme a *!&% ticket!” That was just ridiculous.

On Saturday, we went to the Louvre and saw the Mona Lisa. All Esmelda could say was how small it was. I don’t know what people expect…a billboard? I liked it. I’ve never seen a more protected work of art, though. There was a guard, a velvet rope and bullet-proof glass around it! The pyramid outside the Louvre is cool, too. I don’t understand what purpose it serves, but it’s neat to look at.

We really wanted to go to Versailles (and yes I called it Ver-sigh as opposed to “Ver-sales”) but the weather was crappy and what’s the point of going to see beautiful gardens when it’s raining? Plus, we ran out of time because Esmelda really wanted to buy some boots and she is very picky about her shoes…I did not know that and we spent a fair amount of time in shoe stores.

Next we walked towards the Champs-Elysees and the Arc d’Triumph. The Champs-Elysees is just a famous street with lots of stores on it. I saw the Louis Vuitton store and it had a line outside of it. I thought that was weird, but then I got closer and saw that there was literally a bouncer outside the store regulating how many people could be inside Louis at one time! First of all, isn’t that a manly job? Can’t you imagine that guy talking with a friend:

-“Hey, man, where do you work?”
-“I’m a cop. My beat is the toughest neighborhood around. Last night, a kid pulled a knife on me and the other day I got shot at.”
-"Oh, I totally get where you’re coming from. I’m a bouncer at the Louis Vuitton store. Sometimes those moronic rich people can get a little rowdy. This one time, a lady’s prissy little dog tried to attack me…I almost had to call for backup.”
-“Yea, don’t talk to me.”

What makes it all even more hilarious is the fact that I think Louis Vuitton has some of the ugliest bags in the world.

Did you know that you can climb up to the top of the Arc d’ Triumph? Well, maybe there’s an elevator, I don’t know. We didn’t do it. I just can’t imagine any view in Paris beating the one from the top of the Eiffel Tower; plus we were hungry.

The other place I really wanted to see in Paris (aside from that damned tower) was the Moulin Rouge. I love that movie and wanted to see the place it was based on and the place where the can-can was invented. I was under the impression that you could take tours of the inside without seeing a show. The shows are really expensive and I would like to see one some day…even if it means returning to Paris, which I assume it will since I doubt the building will be moving any time soon. However, there are no such tours offered at the Moulin Rouge. I did see the outside of the building, including the famous windmill, and it was everything I hoped it could be.

I also went to the gift shop (intelligently located around the corner) because I wanted to prove that I was there! In addition to a keychain and a card I bought one of those plastic wrist bands (like the Livestrong bracelets). The bracelet is red and says Moulin Rouge Paris on it. I bought it because in addition to being an impulse buyer, I thought it was hilarious. All of those bracelets usually stand for some sort of charitable organization. I do not think the Moulin Rouge has any philanthropic commitments. So, I have decided that when people ask what I am supporting with this bracelet I’m going to proudly say that I am an advocate of sex in the entertainment industry.

I forgot to include that Friday night we tried to meet a few of Esmelda’s friends at a club. I was fairly indifferent about going, but then they said it was free and I was excited. Long story short, we get there and wait in an enormous line to get in and her friends are late. We get inside before them and discover that we had to pay 16€ (about $20) to get in! In addition, to check our coats was another 2€ and Esmelda didn’t want to pay that so now I’m in this NOT FREE club, holding my coat like an idiot. By this time any American music had stopped and it was all techno. Basically I was ready to kill myself. I didn’t dance at all. We never saw her friends come in so by 2:30 a.m. we left. The interesting point of this story is that to get into the Louvre costs 8€. So, in Paris it costs 16€ to get into some stupid club and get 1 drink but only 8€ to see priceless works of art…something about that seems stupid.

I guess that’s about all I have to say about Paris. I’m glad I’ve been and it was cool but I don’t feel compelled to return.

When I got back to Sevilla, Candice and I decided to go and see a movie. We had finally figured out where the English-speaking movies are played so we opted to see the new Martin Scorsesee movie, with Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicolson. In Spanish, the title is Los Infiltrados, is the movie called The Infiltrators in English? For some reason that doesn’t sound right to me. That doesn’t really matter, what does matter is that we had the craziest experience at this movie theatre!

We were sitting in the theatre waiting for the movie to start when this lady comes into our row of seats and starts counting seats. She kept counting to 4 except when she got to 4 she was pointing at my seat. I figured she needed to save 4 seats and there were enough on the other side of Candice and me so we were going to let her pass. That is not what she needed, though. She started saying that I was in her seat. I figured she was just insane and I tried to tell her that there aren’t assigned seats at the movies. She was adamant about it and kept showing me the ticket and the numbers on the seats. In fact there are seat numbers on the tickets and on the chairs (however, no row numbers) but honestly, how many people could follow this arrangement? The answer is a lot.

We got up and moved over so this crazy bitch could have “her” seat and watched as people filed into the theatre and searched for their official seat. Our assigned seats were all the way in the back and there were already people sitting there. It makes no sense to have assigned seats at the movies because all the tickets are the same price—the incentive for arriving early is that you may select a good seat. It was getting closer and closer to show time and Candice and I thought we were going to be left alone concerning the seats. Nope. This couple came in and stood in front of our row and started saying stuff about 5 and 6. They got everybody in the row behind us involved in the big mystery, Nancy Drew and the Case of Seats 5 & 6. It became clear that we were in those very seats. And none of the empty seats in our vicinity would do for this couple. I jumped up and said, “Jesus Christ! HERE!” By now the theatre had filled up a lot more and we were left with no option but to sit in about the third row. Awesome.

Granted, we could have gone to our “official” seats and caused mass chaos forcing everyone and their mom to get up and move, but I pride myself in not being a whiny little baby. Once the previews started I told Candice that I wasn’t moving again. There were plenty of empty seats and luckily no one tried to make us move because I think I would have gone crazy.
Isn’t that the strangest thing, though? I imagine that if you showed up to see an unpopular movie and there were only a few people in the theatre, they’d all sit right next to each other simply because that’s what the ticket said. What’s even stranger is that these people follow no rules whatsoever. Double and triple parking are commonplace, street signs and lights are more like suggestions, you get the idea. It’s perfectly fine to run that red light, broadside a car in the process and speed away but by God, don’t mess with the assigned seats in the movie theatre or things will get ugly.

To top it all off, we were not at the English speaking theatre. We still understood (and liked) the movie, but now we just have to see it in English because there are so many things that just don’t translate. I did learn how to say a few new choice phrases in Spanish thanks to the film!
Tomorrow the school is taking its final trip to Granada. It’s an overnight trip and everyone says that Granada is really beautiful. I’m really excited about it. The school has also rented out a room in a restaurant for Thanksgiving and one of our teachers has been translating her recipes for things like sweet potato casserole into Spanish for the chefs. They are even having marshmallows DHLed from the US since Spain doesn’t have them. The cost of the meal (which sounds amazing) is 24€ but the school is paying two-thirds of that so everybody only has to pay 8€ and that is amazing! Unfortunately I won’t be there because I’ll be going to London but I think it’s cool that the school does that. However, family, I demand to be served some Thanksgiving food over the winter break. Turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, gravy…you get the idea!

That’s all I have to say for now. I can’t believe I only have a month left here. It’ll be sad to leave, but I’m excited to see all of you again!

French Toasted Photo Album Link:

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