Brighton Beach

Today was a beautiful, sunny day in Brighton. I had been sad about leaving the beautiful French spring to come back to rainy, dismal England, so I was pleasantly surprised. I woke up early to get to school. Our studio work is being marked today and tomorrow, and I hadn’t had a chance last night to set up all of my work. Fortunately, I was able to sneak in before the teachers today and get it all taken care of. I had already begun cleaning and such so there wasn’t much left to take care of.

After this, I headed to class. My faculty option is coming to a close. Our final critique will be a week from today. The work I’ve done for that class is some of the best I think I’ve done this year. It’s the sketchbook I’ve talked about in the past. I’m not drawing from life while I travel (I have a camera for that, and time is precious) but instead I’ve been making drawings based on memories and impressions. I’ve never really drawn from out my own head before. It’s always been from some kind of physical reference. I’ve found the project challenging, interesting, and rewarding. It will be interesting next Tuesday to see what the class thinks of it.

Now, my friend Marcos and I have long been planning to have a day in Brighton. He leaves for Wales in a few days, so today was actually our last chance to see each other. It turned out to be a beautiful day for the beach. The sun was shining (and I packed my sunscreen) so we spent some time on the beach. The tide kept chasing us backwards. It always comes in so much more quickly than you expect.

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Eventually a few clouds passed over the sun and it started to get breezier. We decided to walk over to the pier. It’s like any pier, picturesque and full of arcades and amusements. Fun to spectate. We made a full circuit, and considered riding the bumper cars… but no one else was on them, so we passed.

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On the beach just beyond the pier, between it and the ferris wheel, we spied mini golf. It’s been a long time since either of us had played, and we decided today was as good a day as any. It was a close game. I had some pretty bad runs but two hole-in-one’s, and Marcos had a consistently good game. The sun was out again and it was a gorgeous afternoon. Since it was 18 holes, we deemed it best to sit down and add up our scores when we could concentrate. Neither of us wanted to win due to bad math, after all.

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We went from there across the street to have fish n’ chips. It was my first time back to Harry Ramsden’s, the location of my first English fish and chips. It was delicious, but just way too much food and way too little to drink. There is no scam in the world like soda in Europe. It’s such a racket. Such a racket, in fact, that afterwards my diet coke craving had not been satiated and we were forced to make a trip to Poundland. You can get three cans for a pound there, the best value I’ve found since I got here.

From here, it was on to explore the North Lanes. Marcos has only been to Brighton once, as a child. Since it was his first time to really explore it, I wanted him to see all the iconic Brighton shops. It was also a useful trip. My current purse is literally falling apart, so I was in the market for a new one. I had noticed a few months ago that a particular second hand shop had a large collection of Dooney and Bourke purses. They’re beautiful leather and quite high quality, and it’s worth spending a little money on something that you know is going to last. I found the perfect one, and it will be great on my upcoming travels as well.

Marcos and I carried on, mostly window shopping until we found an interesting book store. It was full of every kind of picture book, from children’s illustrated to graphic novel to comics. It was magical. We got lost in there for quite some time. It was an eclectic collection. My favorites were Cat Getting Out of a Bag (and other observations), Darth Vader & Son, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Not to mention all of the wonderful Niel Gaiman collection. We had to leave eventually just because my little heart couldn’t stand it anymore. I wanted all of the books.

The sun was going down and the weather was getting chillier. We headed to a pub called Horse and Waggon (yes, with two g’s) that seems to have been around forever. We killed time and drinks and did some catching up until an appropriate time for dinner. Oh, and we added up our score from mini golf. After checking and re-checking our math, eventually using a calculator, it was official: we tied. 49 to 49.

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I was dying to try a Mexican place we had passed earlier. I never thought I’d see the day that I missed Mexican food, but that day had finally arrived. It was alright, but a little too fancy for my taste. They were trying a bit too hard. Still, it wasn’t about the food. This is probably my last chance to see Marcos before I leave England. Considering that he is perhaps my best friend here, this isn’t easy. We had a long meal and a long talk. It was late by the time we finished, and it’s a long journey back to London. I walked him to the train station and… that was goodbye.

It’s hard to believe that my time here is ending, but the “last”s of things are beginning. It might be more difficult than it was to leave Kansas City. I knew I’d be coming back there someday. I don’t know when I’ll ever be back here again.

au revoir, France!

Last night was a perfect storm of triggers for my migraines, and for the first time since being in Europe I let it get really bad. Poor Carson kept getting woken up in the middle of the night by my vomiting. For me, when the pain is too intense, I get severely nauseated. It’s worse when I move.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have much of a choice with the whole moving thing. We had to check out of the hotel by noon and then I had a ferry to catch. Five hours on a boat from Caen to Portsmouth. The hotel receptionist, an Englishman, told us that the ferry port was only 4 km away and it would be a 20 minute walk from there to the train station, so Carson accompanied me to the port. It became clear pretty quickly that this was not quite accurate. It was an amazingly long and expensive cab ride, and Carson had to turn around and take the same taxi right back to town.

My headache was subsiding and actually manageable by the time I got on the boat. The ferry was huge. It reminded me of a small version of the cruise ships my family went on in Alaska and New England. You could even reserve a cabin, although for a 5 hour ride that seemed a little excessive. I did, however, reserve a reclining chair. I slept off the rest of my headache there, emerged to the boat’s cafe and had a huge helping of mashed potatoes for lunch. My stomach was still a little unsettled so I was trying to take it easy.

EU entry/exit stamps include an icon of the type of travel. I now have a boat stamp in my passport, so that’s exciting.

Back in England, the trains were facing massive delays. There was a “trespassing incident” and trains were stopped for nearly an hour so that the person could be “removed from the line.” Of all the selfish ways to kill yourself! When I first got here in England, these too-common stories would make me really sad and a little freaked out. It just happens so often, though, that I’m now pretty desensitized. I feel bad about it, but that’s the way it is.

I made it home eventually. It feels good to be back, but I’ll miss Carson. I think we’re pretty good friends now, and I don’t know the last time I’ve laughed so much. He’s hilarious and he gets my sense of humor. He also makes an excellent travel companion. I believe that this is the last time that I will be returning to Brighton. I’m here for almost two weeks now, and then it’s off to new adventures…

here’s what the final trip to France looked like:

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Grandcamp-Maisy to Caen

Today was a transit day. We woke up in Grandcamp with the idea to make it to Caen.

There is a bus between Grandcamp and Bayeaux and a train between Bayeaux and Caen. Seemed simple enough. Carson and I slept in, checked out of our hotel room at noon, and hit the grocery store before our bus would arrive in order to pick up some lunch.

Our bus didn’t arrive.

Eventually, we realized that it must not run on Sundays. The nearest town with a train station is Carentan, and our best bet was to take a taxi to it. It was not an easy task to find an ATM in such a small place, but we eventually succeeded. We found a cafe where we could enjoy some more famous Normandy cider and asked the proprietor to call a cab for us.

He returned to tell us that there were no cabs, but he actually lived in Carentan himself and was about to head that way. We finished our ciders and hopped in his car. The man’s name is Julian. He was born in Paris but lives in Normandy now. His English was impressive. He learned it in Dublin.

We arrived in Carentan 45 minutes before the next train to Caen. Apparently, the train was broken–so the 45 minutes turned into 75 minutes. Carson and I were just happy to be there, though, and eventually arrived in Caen.

Once in Caen, we weren’t quite sure where we were going. We had arrived st that unfortunate time between lunch and dinner when all of the restaurants are closed. Therefore, there was nowhere to find wifi where we might locate the address of our hotel.

After enough wandering, it got later and things started to open up. We had a bottle of cider in a brasserie and found out the details of the place we were staying. Still exhausted from all our walking yesterday, we decided to take a cab.

At the hotel, they tried to tell us that the price was twice what we had seen online. When e pulled up the page they conceded and gave us the correct price. The receptionist was very fluent in English, and apparently in Spanish and French as well. I was impressed.

On Sundays, most things were closed. The receptionist pointed us in the direction of the city center, where things would be open if anything was. We picked up a bottle of bubble, and then walked further til we found a Boulangerie. There, we decided at we would have quiche and raspberry pastries for dinner,

Once we transported all of this back to the hotel, the feast began. It was one of the best meals we had so far and made up for the frustrating day. Although, to be fair, every meal in France is the best meal. And I like that about France.

I suppose the day wasn’t that eventful in the end, but it was another nice day in Normandy. We finally had a chance to relax. I am so glad that my ferry from Caen wasn’t today, it would have been impossible to make it and so stressful. Tomorrow will be the end to the wonderful trip, and I’ll be sorry to say goodbye to France and Carson.

one hundred days

I always imagined that, upon hitting milestones in my time abroad, I would write about reflections on this time. However, today marked 100 days, and I was too busy having my own adventure.

Carson and I enjoyed the hotel’s continental breakfast. There was a machine that juiced oranges for you, which was super exciting. The hotel brochure said that the American cemetary was only 10 km away, so we didn’t feel the need to get a super early start. We were on the road by 10.

We decided to walk along the beach. It’s a rocky beach, and the going was not easy or swift. Still, we persisted. Carson is from Florida so he isn’t as impressed by the ocean as a Midwestern girl. We persisted.

The beach ended in cliffs and the path lead us onto some large fields just past a “do not enter” sign. Of course we ignored this, planning to play the stupid American card if we somehow got into trouble. The view was amazing and we definitely made the right choice, although this was not a quick pace either. To our left were fields and fields of bright yellow flowers, and to our left was the low cliff and endless ocean.

We went on like the for some time. There was another opportunity to go down onto the beach but that was a dead end. Eventually, after finding a path through some thick bushes and shrubbery, we emerged at Point du Hoc.

This place was of special strategic importance on D-Day. It juts out further into the sea, giving German guns the ability to fire on two beaches and at the sea. The Rangers scaled these cliffs and seized the position, which they held for 2 days. The Germans had already moved their artillery by the time the Rangers arrived, but it was still an important foothold.

The terrain was more crater filled than the moon, due to bombing by the allied forces. Still, there were remains of the German fortifications and the mounts for the guns. It was very surreal and moving. Carson, being an active American serviceman studying at West Point, was able to offer additional insight into everything we saw there.

We moved onwards hoping to find a venue for lunch. We quickly came upon a restaurant, but it appears not to have been opened for a long time. It actually took hours before we found anything else, and this was when we arrived at Omaha Beach. We had lunch overlooking the ocean and set out to have a walk along the shore.

The various monuments were interesting. There was some incredibly obnoxious drum corps practicing on the sand that really ruined the mood. To see how long it would take, Carson walked all the way out to the ocean and then sprinted back. I can’t imagine the thousands of poor sweet boys who did the very same, exposed to machine fun fire, wet and heavy and loaded down with equipment, with a rifle that may or may not have been ruined by sand. It took Carson long enough, and those were the most ideal of conditions.

The beach was a bit marshy. When he came back his shoes were covered in mud, and the smell of oysters followed us for the rest of the day

We continued on towards the American cemetery. We could see where it would be on top of a nearby hill. The only trick was how to get there. We tried a path along the base of the hill first that seemed to lead nowhere. We couldn’t just climb straight up because of the thick brambles. We tried a road that lead to a small footpath. We were entirely sure where to go, so we tried the path.

After a while, we really weren’t sure if we were going in the right direction. We had found ourselves in the middle of a swamp. Turning back didn’t seem like an option any more. We had been on the path too long, we were committed.

Suddenly, we saw before us a fence, and through that fence was a different kind of sea. There were waves and waves of white tombstones. We had arrived. We weren’t sure if we were any where near the entrance and we had been walked for hours, so we made the impulsive decision to hop the fence. I’m not sure if anyone noticed us emerge mysteriously from behind the shrubbery, but it was alright in the end.

We spent some time in the grounds. We read the names on the tombstones, went to the chapel, and saw the memorial. Again, this was really emotional for me. It’s hard to fathom all of those young men, and all of the people who loved and treasured them, and yet they died anyway in the battle for Normandy.

We couldn’t spend as much time here as we would have liked. We were hoping to catch the bus that had taken us yesterday from Bayeaux to Grandcamp, having remembered seeing the American cemetary en route. We had caught the last bus and knew approximately what time it left Bayeaux, so it was time to go look for a bus stop.

We were thrilled to discover a bus stop for our line just outside the cemetery gates. However, it only stopped there in the middle of the day. It skipped the cemetery on the last run, which we had been hoping to catch, and the next stop was in the next town.

Carson and I then did something impulsive. Walking by the side of the road, we stuck out our thumb and… Yes, we attempted to hitchhike. I felt like if there was ever a time for it, it would be with an army cadet at my side just beyond the American Cemetery. Only to the bus stop. There’s basically only one road, and we only needed to get a few minutes further past it. The bus stop was just further than we could walk to before the bus arrived.

I have never faced so much rejection in my life. Car after car shrugged us off. A kindly old man finally pulled over, but he was going in the opposite direction. Still, we didn’t give up hope. It was the only way we knew of getting back tonight. The walk was much longer than we’d anticipated 10k to take us.

Finally, another car pulled over. This old man seemed barely coherent, but obliged to take us to St Laurent. We arrived at the bus stop with time to spare, and were elated at our success. Hitch hiking can be crossed off the bucket list, we were going to make it home for the night.

I felt like kissing the ground when we arrived back in Grandcamp. We went in pursuit of a supermarket for snacks, checked out a nautical store, and went back to the hotel room to finally relax. I accidentally passed out on the bed almost immediately. It was past 9 when we finally made it out for dinner.

Dinner was at a little local place. We tried famous Normandy cider with our meal. I had beef carpaccio and then mackerel, Carson had mussels and then a filet. It was delicious.

When we got back to the hotel we had gotten our second wind. Carson is on the West Point Salsa team, and taught me a little of the style called Buchata. Now, I love dancing, so this was a blast. He had a Skype date with his ladyfriend at 1:00 am, so we danced and enjoyed our bottle of côtes du rhône until about that time.

We also looked up the actual distance from here to the American cemetery. It was not 10 km. Even without detours through private farm property, the Omaha beach, a forest and a swamp, it was 24 kilometers.

That explains it.

Finding Grandcamp-Maisy

Today was the day. Carson and I journeyed to Normandy. The town we were going to isn’t on any rail lines. It’s a small fishing town on the beach called Grandcamp Maisy. It’s just off Point du Hoc, and between Utah and Omaha beaches.

The nearest we could get by rail was another very small town called Carentan. It was hard to find information about busses online, so we decided to figure the rest out when we arrived. We were close enough if we got to Carentan that, had we no other options, we could have split cab fare without it being devastating.

We were hoping to get on a train around 10:10 and arrive in just after noon. This was not how our morning was destined to turn out. I, of course, took longer to get ready and pack than I had estimated. This wasn’t too serious as we had given ourselves plenty of leeway. The fatal error occurred on the Metro. I’m not sure how it happened so don’t ask me, but when we had to transfer lines we accidentally got on the train going the opposite direction. It took us a few stops to even notice.

Even this wouldn’t have been devastating, had we been in London. The tube is an efficient means of transportation. The Metro, however, is not always so efficient. I’ve waited 15 minutes for a train, and sometimes they stop on the tracks for no apparent reason.

Our train made 5 minute stops at every one of the 12 platforms between us and the national rail station. By the time we arrived, we had two options left: we could sprint to the platform and hope we made it onto the train, or we could have a leisurely breakfast and hop on the next one at 12:00. We chose the latter. We couldn’t go that long without breakfast or lunch, and there was no real hurry.

When finally on the train, the time went by quickly. Carson is reading about the theory of relativity (for pleasure) and is curled up in an empty row to take a little nap. I slept for most of the way. Towards the end I roused myself for lunch, and then we found ourselves in Carentan.

Carentan is a tiny town. We had a little time to wander around, as we discovered we’d have to take a train to backtrack to Bayeaux. There are no busses from Carentan to Grandcamp Maisy, despite it being less than 1/3 of the distance.

The train back was an hour later. After poking around the city center for a bit, we played chess in the train station til it arrived.

We made it to Carentan just after the bus for Grandcamp had departed. This gave us another opportunity to spend an hour in a small French town. Bayeaux was slightly larger and just so cute. It had a large cathedral, but was still very quaint.

We had a snack of crepes and tea. The proprietors of this little crepe stand were the nicest people. They didn’t speak any English, but were very sweet and animated. When they took our picture, they had us say “sheep!” Is that what French people say instead of “cheese,” or is that what they think English people are saying? They just couldn’t be nicer. Occasionally one or the other would chatter away at us in French, long after we made it clear that we couldn’t understand a word.

The bus trip to Grandcamp was amazing. The countryside is beautiful. It was exciting to get further and further from civilization and realize just how off the grid we were going. American flags appeared with greater frequency the longer we went along. We knew we were headed to the right place.

Once we arrived, we had no idea where we were going. I knew that there was only one hotel in the city and that it overlooked the sea, so we headed to the beach. The distance from one end of the town to the other is quite short, and we found it about halfway through.

It’s quite cute. Our room doesn’t have a direct ocean view, but you can still see it from the right hand side of the window. The ocean must have been at low tide when we arrived. The distance between the beach wall and the water was greater than the distance from one end of the town to the other.

Carson told me that the tides in Normandy are particularly strange, and when D-Day was being planned there were only two dates even possible for the attack.

We were hungry for dinner, but wanted to find ourselves a bottle of wine before the stores closed. We found one very tiny corner store with an odd assortment of unrefrigerated cheese and a few wines. It was much chillier on the coast, but we were hoping to enjoy it on the beach if weather permitted.

There seemed to be a few restaurants in town but we wanted to try the one in the hotel first. Our table was in front of large beautiful windows looking straight out onto the beach. The sun was setting, and through the course of our meal we watched the tide roll in with alarming rapidity. It was crashing up against the see wall and sending huge plumes of water into the air by the time we made it to dessert.

Dinner was amazing. The fixed menu included all of my favorite French foods, and was only €21! We both started with oysters from the bay that we were looking at. One attraction of Grandcamp Maisy is guided tours of the oyster beds. There was no question as to how fresh these were. Some of the barnacles on the shells were still alive, poking in and out of their little holes. They were completely amazing. After that I had moules meunière, and that was followed by a regional cheese plate. The cheese was amazingly good, but since we had two plates (two prix fix menus) there was way too much of it. For dessert, we had creme brûlée and pear and raspberry sorbet. This is the stuff dreams are made of. A luxurious leisurely dinner watching the tide roll in at sunset on the beaches of a small town in Normandy in the springtime.

We found out that bicycles are only available to rent from June to September, because these are the only months the rental office is open. However, we are literally sandwiched between two beaches and less than 10 km from the American cemetery. We’re going to walk it tomorrow instead. I was excited to bicycle and we won’t be able to cover as much ground as quickly now, but we can still easily see everything we want to. I’m very excited. This is a grand adventure, and it feels like I’ve finally found the real France.

Les Catacombs

Carson and I were up bright and early after our late evening. There were two attractions we were hoping to see that are notorious for long lines: the gargoyles atop the Notre Dame, and the catacombs. Since the Notre Dame opened earlier, we decided to do that first. We may have been a little over ambitious though, and didn’t even arrive there til it had been open for 30 minutes.

The line wrapped around the building and wasn’t moving at all. We decided to move on, but hadn’t done any research in advance about how to get to the catacombs. We hadn’t eaten breakfast yet either. We found a cafe where we had coffee and pastries. I the most amazing cappuccino and a pain au chocolat still warm from the oven.

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Unfortunately, we found out after ordering that the restaurant wifi was broken. So our search continued. We just needed to find out where we were going. We searched for a restaurant with wifi and bottled water, since we were both dehydrated anyways.

We found wifi, but the bottle of water was not what I was hoping for. It was a tiny, single-use glass bottle for €5. Water better be magical if I’m paying that much for it. This wasn’t. But we figured out where we were going and that’s all we needed.

It was the most beautiful day of all days. The weather was 75 degrees and sunny. It has been ages since I’ve seen the sun, or been warm without a sweater. Don’t worry, mom. I packed 50 SPF sunscreen that Carson used as well.

We walked to the catacombs. Paris is amazingly gorgeous in the spring time. It even feels bigger. The line when we got there was as long as the line for Notre Dame, but moving along much more quickly. A nice Minnesotan couple was in line behind us. We passed most of the wait chatting with them.

The catacombs are deep below Paris. I always thought they were much closer to the surface. They make you work for them. You have to go through a super long exhibit about the geological formation of the limestone Paris is built on and then walk through endless tunnels before you get to the bones.

The suspense was actually pretty great. Around every corner you expected to see suddenly walls of human bones.

It does not disappoint when you finally do. What a surreal experience. It’s almost too much to make you really consider your own mortality. There are hundreds of thousand of corpses down there. Now, that’s creepy. But there are just so many bones, it’s quickly quite desensitizing to the fact that these were once people. It’s creepier to think about now than it was to be down there in front of them.

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Still, the experience was really cool. The catacombs and the cabaret were the final two Paris experiences that I really wanted to have. They were definitely some of the best so far. I’m also so glad I’ve gotten to see Paris in spring. It’s different. It’s hard to hate anything this beautiful. And having been in England for so long, I truly appreciate the sun.

We walked back towards the city center and had some Moroccan food for lunch. Being Paris, this was an amazingly long lunch. It was late afternoon by the time we finished, so to took the Metro the rest of the way to the Lourve.

I don’t think that Carson and I quite meet all of the qualifications for free entry, but we were able to sweet talk our way in. He had a really good time and I was glad to revisit Winged Victory. Of course we made the obligatory Mona Lisa sighting and wandered through some galleries. It was nice.

It closed before we were done. It was really unfortunate to have to leave, especially since we’d whizzed by the greco-roman sculpture (some of Carson’s favorite) with the intention of returning to them later. I suppose it’s just one more reason for us all to come back here someday.

The sun was still out. We decided to walk to the champ d’elysees. Now, that long Paris boulevard from the Lourve to the arch is quite deceptive. It looks much nearer than it actually is. We walked for ages longer than we anticipated. The area became super commercial and super crowded, and the end was pretty anticlimactic. There were a bunch of French soldiers under the arch in some kind of memorial service, but we missed that. We only saw the flowers and a large number of military people walking around.

Carson had found a beautiful park yesterday, and this was our next destination. We planned to get gelato en route, and find some takeaway to eat for dinner in the park. A long walk but again, a beautiful one. We were getting pretty tired. It hadn’t been a particularly challenging day, we just hadn’t gotten much sleep.

The gelato was amazing and so refreshing. The park, as it turned out, was closed for the evening. This was a heavy blow because we were looking forward to having a sit.

After this we just wanted to get back to the hotel. Our short rest turned into an early evening. Carson went out to get dinner while I researched our trains for Normandy tomorrow. It still wasn’t an especially early night, but we have a good plan to get out of town tomorrow morning. Plus, we have nearly three hours on a train… We can squeeze in some nap time if we need to.

Au Lapin Agile

The train to the airport didn’t feel like 2 hours. I got out of the house with plenty of time to spare so I picked up some granola bars at Aldi. Tavel snacks. I get that from my mom.

Luton Airport is the third consecutive airport I’ve flown in/out of that doesn’t have a MAC. What a rip off! I need my duty-free makeup! They’re serious about security at Luton, but I’m a seasoned flyer so I got through just fine. I almost missed my flight because they wait to post the gate number until the gate is practically closed, and I was trying to kill time in the bookstore.

When I arrived in Paris, I got out of the airport like a boss. Despite my seat being over the wing, I was the third person off the aircraft. I was the first person through customs and I blew through it. I hit a little speed bump trying to get on the train. French ticket machines only accept credit cards with chips (not the kind you swipe) so I had to wait forever to buy one from live representative.

After this, I got into Paris in no time. The wonderful thing about coming from London to Paris is that you really appreciate the weather. it happens to be unbelievable gorgeous this week. tomorrow it will he 77. wow!

Carson and I are staying in the same hotel that Kathleen and I did. It’s not only easy to get to but I already knew exactly where it was. He was already checked in. He got to the city early this morning and explored, came back to the hotel to shower, and was waiting for me when I arrived.

We set off to see Montemarte and have dinner before the cabaret that we had reservations for. We ate at a cute little place that the two ladies I met on my first visit to France had pointed out to me. The waiter got my order wrong and just gave me the same thing as Carson, but whatever I ended up with was delicious.

We finished just in time to head around the corner to Au Lapin Agile, the cabaret show. It wasn’t quite open yet, so we went to a corner shop for a bottle of wine for afterwards.

Au Lapin Agile is one of the oldest cabaret in Paris. It was a frequent haunt of Picasso, who did lots of sketches and drawings there. He even made a painting of it. The show is small, intimate, and dark. The space probably hasn’t changed much since it was opened in the 1800’s. We were placed on a wooden bench and served glasses of the house cerise. It was delicious.

The entertainment was great and very authentic. The place wasn’t crowded and it felt like we had finally escaped touristville. We listened to group songs at first, then one performer after another had solo acts. We had a great time and stayed for the whole things, which was nearly 4 hours.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Carson, so after this we headed back to the top of Montmartre to split that bottle of wine and catch up. It’s good to be in Paris, and it’s good to be with a friend. The especially nice thing is that for once I have a shield against the persistence of French men. It’s amazing the amount of attention I got in the very brief space between the train and the hotel. Carson and I were talking about it. He said he’d heard yelling outside and asked if that was because of me. Yes, it was. But when we walk around together, everyone leaves me blessedly alone.