Hello everybody! I am back from the land of Away, which makes me happy. Away was great, but I realized when I was there that I sorely needed a few days of sitting on my couch before the next crazy semester kicked off–so I changed my ticket, came home a coupla days early. (My father is the kind of guy who knows more obscure airline ticket rules and loopholes than a travel agent, so I was raised to believe that changing my travel dates to suit my moods and whims was my God-given right, and I know just enough to be able to usually pull it off.)
So now, of course, it’s time for the Trip Report.
The choice to go to Paree was in part determined by Lisa. She’s been doing the healthy thang the last few months–no sugar, no white flour, eating mostly vegan, etc. Basically the kind of lifestyle to which I vaguely aspire but will probably never pull off with any
extended success. Or at least not this week. She was VERY hot on the idea of being able to go on a proper bender of good baguettes and raw milk cheese, and I was more than happy to assist her in this endeavor.
The food was uhhh-mazing. I’m pretty certain that we each ate our weight in cheese, and the bread, the pastries, the everything was, really, in my opinion, worth blowing six months of whole foods. (I’m sorry I didn’t take more pictures, because there were some pretty hardcore foodie moments there.) But then again, my nutritional intake has gotten worse, not better, in the last six months (leaving California does that sometimes), so it’s not like I’d really know much lately about breaking a whole foods diet. The great tragedy was that L. was sniffley and sick most of the trip, so she wasn’t able even to taste everything to its maximal amazingness. I mean, there’s so much amazing that some of it did get through, of course. But still.
Of course, there were some things available to eat in Paris that were just wrong, wrong, wrong.
The language factor for me was a shande. I took French all through high school and even a semester in college, and once upon a time it wasn’t bad. When I was in Morocco 5 years ago I spoke it for just about all of the month I was there. But now, it is gone, gone, gone. The space in my brain where French once was has been overwritten, to the point where I’d try to say something REALLY basic and frickin’ Hebrew would still insist on coming out instead.
Me to Lisa: “It’s just so frustrating to know that I used to really know something, and now I don’t know it anymore.”
Lisa, to me: “Yeah, well. Welcome to 30.”
There were lots of little moments where it was clear just how thoroughly Judaism has broken me. For example, I had more than one occasion of kvetching to myself that only in Europe would a restaurant advertise as vegetarian but then put chicken on the menu before Lisa pointed out to me that in France, “oeuf” is an egg. Ah. Riiiiight. (×¢×•×£ in Hebrew, pronounced pretty much the exact same way, is chicken.) Or, like, it turned out our hotel was in both the Jewish and the queer part of town (Double score! Kosher eats and good nightlife!) and I swear, when I first saw “ADONIS CAFE” I thought–despite the rainbow flags and the faux-marble Greek sculptures in the window–they meant HaShem. Ow ow ow. I really did used to be able to live in the normal world, I did! (Also, NB, they spell ×©×‘×ª “Chabbat” and ×©×™×¨ “Chir”, which while I understand is consistent with the rest of the language–chanson, chateau, etc–is still weeeird.)
Then of course there was the art. Mmmm arrrt. Managed to score some free tix to the Louvre, ’cause I’m cool like that, so I had some nice time ogling the Cimabues and El Grecos and Davids. It was predictably crowded and touristy, and though I’m pretty good at tuning out the irritations of large numbers of people when I’m at a museum, it does take a little extra effort and energy to do so. On my birthday, there was the Centre Pompidou. Fun fun to ride up the magical escalator outside the building and watch Paris get smaller and smaller, but the actual experience in terms of art was disappointing. The setup inside was okay, but didn’t feel ideal for looking at art in large crowds (which there of course were–too easy to get clogged up the way they have it, not enough flow to the rooms) and the curatorial decisions struck me as being somewhere between ineffectual and totally arbitrary. White room with pictures in it does not a museum make. Pompidou felt like it was more about being Pompidou and less about being strongly conducive to having an intimate and moving experience with a work of art. Pity, that. We also went to the Picasso Museum, which was smallish and beautifully done, excellently and intelligently curated, and a joy. I had wanted to go to the D’Orsay as well, as much to continue working on the question of why I have so much trouble with Monet as anything, but it didn’t happen, there just wasn’t time for everything and I’d rather see less, but see it well.
Of course, there was also lots and lots of walking along the Seine and Notre Dame, ’cause, I mean, duh.
The real highlight, though, was on my birthday.
Paris had a birthday party for me!
Seriously, with some of the things I like best in the world:
Okay, the ostensible reason for the thing was this whole Mardi Gras business, but it was all too perfect not to be actually meant as my birthday party. Fireworks! A ferris wheel! It really was bombdiggitytastic. Lisa had gone to take a disco nap (being sick and all) and I was gonna go out just to check my email, maybe get a beer or a coffee and write in my journal or something, but then I saw all these people walking in this one direction, so I followed and there was a parade. Which ended in the big square with the ferris wheel, and several hours of amazing music, and fireworks, and games and fun and love and yay. Thanks, Paris, I’m so touched that you remembered and went to all that trouble for me.
(Apologies to all the Christians who read this blog. You know I’m kidding, right?)
After getting drunk on the music and the sparkles and the playtime, I ran back to the hotel, collected Lisa, and we went to a club called Le Queen that played pitch-perfect diva house and rained, yes, more glitter from the ceiling, and we shook our leetle tail feathers until our no-longer-22 tuchuses were tuckered and needed to go back to crash.
All in all, it was a wonderful 5 days, as always a delight to be around Lisa (who was, blessedly, the easiest travel companion on Earth) and to live the good life in Paris.
Sometime in the next few days, amidst catching up on paperwork and trying to take advantage of some pretty pretty almost-but-not-quite-spring days in Jerusalem, I’ll post about the other stop on my journey. Stay tuned, more news at 11.
Happy belated! I’m so glad you had such a good time. I love the fact of the birthday parade. 🙂