On Saturday morning, after 2 nights in Paris at the CouchSurfer’s apartment, I packed up all my stuff to head to my friend Felix’s friend’s apartment in Paris. I met him on Facebook–he’s an assistant from Mexico located in Nice as well teaching Spanish– and he and I were going to take the train down to Nice together on Sunday morning. I was going to try to take the bus or Metro, as difficult as it would be with all my bags, but his friend suggested I take a taxi so I decided to do that. It was only about 6 kilometers to his friend’s from Melanie’s so I decided to do it- WORTH IT to not have to lug around all my stuff. Seriously, a huge life lesson: DON’T TAKE TWO ROLLING BAGS! Take one and a duffel, something you can carry over your shoulder. It was insane trying to negotiate crowds and stairs and escalators with two rolling suitcases. Oh well, live and learn, right? I survived and I’m stronger (LITERALLY) because of it.
I got directions to the station where taxis congregated from Melanie- luckily, it was just a few blocks from her apartment. She made sure to tell me it’s not like in the US where you can just flag down a taxi, lol. I got a taxi and the driver was super nice. We talked in a mixture of French and English the whole way and it only cost me like 17 Euros for the trip. Totally worth it.
Felix met me downstairs and helped me carry my stuff up the two flights of stairs, and I met his friend Laura, whose apartment it was. We chilled for awhile and I opened up the other half of the French pastry that I had eaten the first morning at Melanie’s- she had bought it for me. 🙂 When I told her that morning that I didn’t have time for breakfast and I was taking it to go, she wrapped it up for me. When I unwrapped it, there was a little French chocolate in there! I texted her thank you and she was like, just a little surprise for you! She was so awesome. Laura was eating bread with Nutella so I had my first taste of Nutella 🙂 DELICIOUS.
Felix and Laura’s friend Anna showed up (they all met when they studied abroad in the US) and she took us to the train station to buy our 12-to-25 card, which will allow us to get train tickets for 25 to 50% off. Then we took a train to the Pere Lachaise cemetery, where a lot of famous people are buried. We made sure to find a few famous people’s graves, like Oscar Wilde…
Edith Piaf (she sang “La Vie en Rose”)…
and Jim Morrison.
At the cemetery we met this girl Nicole, who was from Peru but lives in Spain now. She was only 17 and was spending a week in Paris by herself. She walked with us to Jim Morrison’s grave and then we made plans to meet up with her after lunch.
We had lunch at Laura’s and then headed out to meet Nicole. We went to le Marais, which is this neighborhood in Paris with a lot of little galleries and art shops and stuff. Apparently at night, it’s also where all the gay bars are! We didn’t see any of that though.
After that, we went to le Pont des Arts, which I had accidentally ran across the day before while I was walking to Notre Dame. It’s a bridge across the Seine, really close to the Louvre, where lovers write their names on a lock, put it on the fence, and throw the key in the Seine. There are TONS of locks on there.
We came across a fake “Pont des Arts” first- another bridge with locks on it.
After that, we headed back to Laura’s to get ready for the night. We had dinner reservations and were going to hit a bar- Laura got a group of people together who had all studied together in the US. We went to this place called Les Fondus de la Raclette. It was something I’d never had before- you ordered a plate of cured meats, and it came with a bunch of slices of cheese, a baked potato, and a little skillet. In the middle of each table there was a little rectangular grill where you put your skillet with cheese in it. While it was melting, you cut up your potato and tore up your meat. Then when the cheese was melted you poured it over your potato and meat and ate it. It was delicious but so heavy and so filling! This is what my plate looked like when I got it:
Dinner was SO fun. Not only was the food different and interesting, but in our group of 8 people we spoke 5 different languages (English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and German) and were of 6 different nationalities (American, French, Spanish, Mexican, German, and Portguese). So many different languages were flying around! Almost everyone spoke more than one language and this girl Carmen seriously amazed me- she was about my age and spoke FLUENT English, Spanish, and French. I don’t think she was raised speaking English or French- she learned them both.
After dinner we took the Metro to near the Bastille, where there are a lot of bars. We went in one, got some drinks, and sat and talked for the rest of the night.
The next morning Felix and I had to get up at 5:30 to catch our 6:49 train to Nice. We ordered a taxi the night before because while the bus would go straight to the Gare de Lyon where we were leaving from, it didn’t run that early, and for the Metro we would have to go up and down a bunch of steps with our luggage and also get off and make a change. NO THANK YOU. We got downstairs with all our stuff by 5:53 and then we saw the taxi waiting on the other corner. He took us to the train station and it only cost about 15 Euros. Not bad, split between two people. Again, though, I wish I only had one rolling suitcase; I would have felt much more comfortable taking the Metro everywhere instead of taxis.
We got to the train station and found our track; while we were waiting, I bought a pain au chocolat (pastry with chocolate in the middle–actually it tasted like Nutella–and chocolate chips on top. YUM) and a lemonade for breakfast. Felix and I got on the train and promptly fell asleep- I woke up every so often and looked at the French countryside, but he was asleep basically the whole way. I took one photo of the French countryside-for awhile, ALL the buildings I could see from the window looked the same, that kind of beige stucco with a red clay roof.
When we arrived, he left to go find his French “mom” (he’s renting a room from a single woman in Nice and she was picking him up) and I went to go find out when the next train to the Nice-Riquier station left, which is just a couple blocks from my apartment and where David, my roommate, was going to meet me. I had to go down two flights of stairs and up one, which was basically impossible, but halfway up this Irish woman who I had helped earlier saw me and came down and took one of my bags. KARMA!!
I missed the first train because I wasn’t sure it was the right one and the last thing I wanted was to get on the wrong train, so then I waited 20 minutes for the next one. I got off the train, found the exit, and was about to get out my phone to call David when he showed up! He took one of my bags and we walked to our apartment, which was just a few blocks away.
The apartment is SO NICE- pics coming in the next post! We dropped off my stuff, went and got something to eat at a sandwich shop near our place (EVERYTHING here is closed on Sundays, so it was hard to find a place), then I came back and took a nap. I was woken up by my landlord arriving- she stopped by to give me my keys and talk about a few things.
My landlord, Sabrina, is super nice and her brother is hilarious. He doesn’t speak English so we were all talking in French and at one point he told me that I speak French really well and that he wishes he spoke English like I spoke French. WOW what a compliment!! I was floored. I know my French isn’t that great, but I do okay in conversations where people don’t talk too fast, and I know it improved a lot in my two days speaking exclusively French with Melanie. So that made me happy 🙂
After Sabrina left I unpacked, David cooked some pasta for dinner, and I took pictures all around the apartment for my next blog post.
I stayed up later than I was planning because I wanted to sort all my photos, but I got it done! It was so nice to be in my own apartment, completely unpacked, no more lugging around huge suitcases!!