like riding a bike

If you had asked me what today was going to be like this morning, it would have in no way resembled the way that the day actually turned out. Kathleen and I are now completely exhausted and finally back at the hotel, but I’m going to have to give the short summary tonight and expand on this later. It’s very late, and we have to leave very early in the morning to get Kathleen to the airport in the morning. Her flight is at 9:30 which means we have to check in at 7:30, which means we have to leave the hotel by 6:30 and wake up by…

We got an early start today, too, but not quite that early. Kathleen and I continued to enjoy stunningly gorgeous weather and even some sunshine. Miraculously, there was no rain at all. We didn’t see anywhere to eat breakfast between the hotel and the metro station, so we decided to eat after we got off the metro at Ile de Cite. It would also help us avoid being late. We were meeting a walking tour at the statue of Charlamagne just outside Notre Dame.

I must have had the times wrong for the tour. To be honest, I hadn’t looked at any of the information since my last trip to Paris, but I thought I remembered. 15 minutes went past with no sign of anyone. However, there was a young man who also looked like he was waiting for something. So we struck up a conversation.

As it turns out, he worked for a different tour company that used the same meeting point. He waits a few minutes after the tour leaves to see if there are any stragglers. Kathleen and I were adamantly against biking, and neither of us were dressed for it. Eventually, this guy convinces us to just give his bicycle a little test ride around the square.

It wasn’t so bad after all. We also realized we definitely had no other tour to be on at that point, so we agreed that the biking tour was our best bet. I was wearing a pencil skirt and my rain boots. I had to hike my skirt all the way up, but I was wearing a long jacket so you couldn’t tell at all.

The next 3 hours were the best I’ve spent in Paris. Let me just say, I hate riding bikes. I can give you a long list of reasons why I hate it. But today, somehow, it was nice. Paris has no hills. It’s flatter than Kansas. With a guide, I didn’t have to worry about getting lost or hit by cars. We stuck primarily to side streets and allies and saw a totally different side of Paris. We also hit a lot of the major sights, and stopped frequently for interesting bits of information and stories from our tour guide. It was amazing. Kathleen and I both had a wonderful time.

Afterwards, though, she and I had a little spat. She had left me to plan the entire trip by myself, but was unhappy with the Paris itinerary. Rather than see the interior or balconies of Notre Dame, Sainte Chappelle, or the Conciergerie, she wanted to shop and go up the Eiffel Tower.

Everything was fine once we actually communicated all this. I talked her out of staying on the right bank’s upscale shopping district and we set out to find the Paris flea market. To be honest, I’m not sure if we did find it in the end. But we found some kinds of markets and had a great time.

It was getting colder by the end of all this and we wanted to go back to the hotel to add some layers. The metro was madness because it was rush hour. When we made it back to our hotel alive, we didn’t want to go anywhere near the subway again til it would be less busy. Fortunately, we’re staying in Montemartre, and there are bistros and brasseries abound. Our bike tour guides gave us a little list of Paris places to go that they especially liked, and once dinner spot seemed pretty near our hotel.

Again, I’m not sure if what we found was what we were looking for… But it worked out great for us. My aunt Tatie had sent a little gift along with Kathleen, and so treated us to a fabulous French dinner. And lunch and breakfast. Can I talk about breakfast for a minute? I had the fluffiest cappuccino that has ever been created. It was divine. And the pain au chocolat was to die for.

But dinner! Tatie had recommended a martini blanc and a kir for aperitifs, and we highly enjoyed both. We started with my favorite food, escargot. And guess what? My little sister, pickiest eater I know, likes to eat snails.

Happily devouring the last of her snails

Happily devouring the last of her snails

The rest of the dinner was just as successful. The menu was a little confusing, but the waiter had a good recommendation. At least, he had conviction. We couldn’t understand what he was saying. We tried to ask him to just pick any two entrees for us, but somehow this got lost in translation and we ended up splitting one. It turned out to be more than we could finish anyway, and it allowed us to get chocolate mousse for dessert. Kathleen suddenly loves French cuisine.

After dinner, we headed to the Eiffel Tower. We chose to go to a subway station that would allow us to approach it from a distance, and this was an excellent choice. It was really pretty to see at night, and lovely to walk up to it.

image

image

Despite it being late, the tower was still open. Kathleen wanted to go all the way to the top, and tickets were remarkably cheap for young’ns (under 26 in France and you get all kinds of discounts). The view was spectacular, but it looked like most cities do from above. My favorite part was the elevator rides to the top, when you got to watch the infrastructure of the tower pass by.

We walked out of the tower at midnight, just in time to watch it sparkle. And then headed back to the hotel.

I guess that wasn’t the very short version after all. We just had a really good day today, and a really good trip in all. It’s hard to believe that it’s already coming to an end and Kathleen is leaving in the morning. She goes back to America, and I go back to Brighton. But we’ll see each other again in a few months.

Tower of Paris
The final appearance of K. El. B. (how do initials suit me?)
I would love to go through all the nitty gritty details of today, like in the past and give my account on everything, but I have to be up in 4 short hours for my flight home, so instead I’ll summarize.
-breakfast with delicious Parisian hot chocolate (with whipped cream so thick you couldn’t sip through it and chocolate powder), pain au chocolat (or delicious bread with two strips of chocolate running through it in the best way) and toast with butter (cut into triangles to melt more evenly and spread out between two pieces of bread) at a lovely little café near the Palace of Justice.
-seeing Notre Dame which has a lovely facade and we managed to just barely side step the very center of the city. We took pictures, though! Also, there was this (kind of horrific) structure built for the 850th anniversary of Notre Dame right out front.
-missing our walking tour (we have no idea where they went) and being pretty darn happily talked into a bike tour. Actually, we were very reluctant. We made excuse after excuse about why we shouldn’t ride bikes [Anna is in a skirt, Anna hasn’t ridden a bike since age 8, Anna wants to take pictures (just kidding, I’m the shutter happy tourist)], but eventually I got on the bike. It was slow at first and I’m pretty sure I almost lost control trying to make a wide turn, but I did it. I had proven I could ride a bike.
-bike tour! Probably one of the best decisions we made all day. We bike 6 miles around Paris and saw lots of fun stuff and managed to take pictures at information breaks and red lights. Anna did surprisingly well, only wiping out twice. I don’t think she even got a run in her tights! We also made friends with a couple from New York after we got a little bit separated from the group with them. Oh and Anna and I dominated the questions our tour guide asked and racked up tons of points #winning #sisterinapower
-wine break! Or, I mean, grape juice…
-flea market time. Quite the dealio actually, we were either in the antique section or the gangster section the whole time. I don’t know where they hid the 17- and 21-year-old girl items.
-as it was tremendously colder, we went and added a few layers at our hotel (so cute and Parisian) and decided we would try to find a place for dinner that the bike tour had recommended. We couldn’t find it (or maybe we did, Paris is confusing).
-escargot to start (surprisingly not bad plus lots of bread) and then because we cannot read French, we asked our waiter to choose something for us (or we think that’s what we communicated), and we got food! I like to think Tatie was smiling over at us as we were given our food. It turned out too well to be any other reason. Also we had some chocolate mousse that was supppppper rich but I ate big bites anyway, just to see if I was man enough.
-EIFFEL TOWER WHAT’S UP. AT NIGHT. ALL THE WAY AT THE TOP. UP. AT THE TOP. IT WAS AWESOME. WE COULD SEE EVERYTHING. EVEN YOU, TINY KANSAS CITIANS AND DEDICATED FOLLOWERS. We also had to race out of the tower at the bottom to be able to see it all twinkly.
-then we got to watch drunk people on the metro and who doesn’t like that?
It was really the trip of a lifetime. I got 9 days with my sister and Europe and we really made the most of it. I met great people, saw great looking people and may or may not have taken pictures, ate great food, visited great monuments and the like.
Grandma Prouty, Tatie, and grandpa and Nonnie, this trip was spectacular because of you. Thank you so much for supporting me in my teenage European adventures.
Also, quick shout out to the parental units, now known as the Blanck Bank because of how much I owe to them for this trip, monetarily and in literally every other way.
And now, I shall leave the blog forever. I hope you enjoyed my pieces and I’ll do my best to update Anna on my post-Europe status, so she can throw in a quick mention in some future blog posts. Because I know most of the readers here totally aren’t my family and totally don’t see me on a weekly basis.
Anyway, I had a magnificent trip and I wouldn’t have done it any other way, mistakes and all.

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5 thoughts on “like riding a bike

  1. I’m so glad you did French food right. As your aunt Susan says, though, you could probably buy a sandwich out of a vending machine in France that’s better than anything you eat in the States. You really can’t lose.

    How was that Martini blanc? I’ve only seen it once here, In a store on the Hill in St. Louis. BUT you CAN buy KILLER pain au chocolat at Trader Joe’s in the frozen food section. That’s just on Ward Parkway…

    See you in a few days, KK! Safe travels.

  2. Welcome home Kathleen. Anna, thank you sooooooo much for all you did for Kathleen. No one could have been a better big sister. Your sisterhood is sealed….forever! Lots and lots of love to you both!

  3. Been following your travels all week and can finally reply since someone is here to show me how. What a great opportunity and knowing you made the most of it. Somewhat surprised but proud that you know of the Beatles. There is hope for both of you, even you Kathleen. By the way when did you become such a smart ass. I digress. Great Abbey Road picture. Fantastic pictures all the way through. Anxious to see both of you.

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