So, we walked up to Sacre Coeur, where the atmosphere is just spectacular. There are dozens of artists, selling their works and painting new ones as you walk past. There was a man playing his guitar and singing some good old American songs like Oasis and even some Elvis. When I threw some money into his guitar case, I asked where he was from and he surprised me with a German accent! It was pretty funny but he was nice to sit and listen to for a while. Again, we got to enjoy that glorious no-work Sundays as the place was packed and all the grass was filled with people relaxing and soaking up the sunshine through their winter coats. And of course, that view is spectacular.
We tried to find the Moulin Rouge but we probably just circled it 5 times. We never actually came across it and finally, after tiring from walking up and down the mountain so much, we gave up and headed back down. We did find a neat church at the bottom, St. Jean. It was unlike any other church I had seen anywhere, even in Paris. The doors were wide-open and it looked as though the constant sunshine spilling in had faded all of the wooden walls and pillars. Old, washed out paintings covered the walls and a wonderful mosaic/tiling motif ran throughout the church. I loved it.
After getting back into the city, we headed over to the chapel of the miraculous medal, a special trip for my mom. There was a mass when we got there but we still got a chance to walk in and see the chapel a little. I was able to buy a few souvenirs for my mom as well so it was a success.
On the way to finding the chapel, though, a funny thing happened. Tim and I were mistaken for Italians. Now, I realize that Tim is probably the one who caught the attention, because he does look quite Italian all on his own, but it was still fun to be mistaken with him. Not that there is anything wrong with Parisians knowing that I'm American, but everyone tells us that they can immediately tell when someone is from the US. They claim it's not a bad thing but little things give it away that scream United States. It was kind of fun to be thought of as European. Different, but interesting.
After Luxembourg, we rode down to the Eiffel Tower because we still hadn't gone up the tower yet. Since we're leaving in two weeks, we figured we'd try it out today since you can only go to the very top on the weekends. That was definitely well worth the 12 euros. We tried to time it with sunset the best we could and it actually worked pretty well. The best part was that we were able to walk down to the ground floor while the lights were on- the sparking of it created a great effect through the iron as we ran down the gazillion flights of stairs. We also ventured across the river from the Eiffel Tower just to get some pictures but ran into a pretty neat area. We're heading back that way this upcoming week with Gerri so hopefully we'll get a chance to see a little more of it.
Also, learning to be fluent in a language is still completely unfathomable to me and I have so much respect for people who can master more than their original language. It baffles me and I couldn't imagine "thinking" another language like I do English. There are just so many people who speak both French and English here and it amazes me. I think I feel out of place because I don't know the language well and in that sense, I feel as though I'm intruding in a space where I didn't do my research. I hate being an inconvenience to anyone in general so I'm having a lot of trouble dealing with constantly being difficult. I don't like other people having to do my work for me, and I'm in their country so I feel even more intrusive. I also like being efficient and trying to make things go as smoothly as they can and that just doesn't seem totally possible here. It's frustrating but I'm glad for the experience- if it wasn't tough at all, I wouldn't learn anything and I'm definitely here to learn about others and myself.
We had a different kind of French class today with Gerald, our professor. As a way to allow us to learn a little more about French culture, as opposed to just grammar, we went to his house by the Eiffel Tower and helped him and his wife, Olga, cook ourselves lunch. It was fun to make the food and not just eat it. It looked very professional and culinary and it was very satisfying to know that we actually made it. It was actually pretty simple to make too. We had rabbit- a first for me but it just tasted like chicken I thought. We also had a salad with a vinaigrette dressing, walnuts, and melted goat cheese on top. The cheese was good, not too strong like some French cheese I've experienced, but it was a little overpowering for me just over the greens. I liked it more with my baguette. We also has couscous and baked tomatoes with the rabbit. I helped make the best part of the meal- mousse au chocolat. It was surprisingly simply to make considering how good it was. I'm excited to take that recipe back with me when I go home. We also got a lesson on another important part of the French meal- the wine. And after three glasses and a huge wave of fatigue, we left Gerri's home and went to the Musee de Rodin- home of the famous "Thinker" sculpture. We didn't stay too long there but I definitely liked his work. It really is fun going to all the museums now that we're learning a little more about the technical aspects of art through our class.
Speaking another language really makes one realize how simple phrases and words can be- nouns and verbs alone can get you far- even when they aren't conjugated. We have a lot of unnecessary words. But that's what being human is all about- the ability to communicate. We can speak to the same people every single day and still always have something to share. My biggest language barrier is the lack of any real socialization. Sure, I "communicate" with Parisians, but I don't truly socialize with them, unfortunately. I was so excited to meet people and get to know them but without being fluent, there's only so much to say. It's near impossible to really talk. It is big disappointment but I guess I should have expected it.
Our first adventure is officially under our belts. London welcomed us with their glorious english-speaking ways and their incredibly addictive accents. The trip as a whole was pretty amazing for only being there 2 1/2 days. We got to see a lot- thanks to Karen's brother who is living in London right now. He was able to kind of tour us around the major landmarks. It was nice to be able to follow someone for a while and not try to find anything or decide where to go. We got to see the London Bridge, Big Ben, Parliament, changing of the guards, London Eye, Portebello Road, St. Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Trufalgar's Square, Herod's, National Galleries, and Picadilly Circus. I'm sure those aren't all spelled correctly but you get the idea- we got to see a lot in a very short amount of time. We didn't go in anywhere because of time and money limits but that was fine with me. I think we got to see more things in general because we weren't inside at all really.
Anyways, our first hostel experience was definitely a success. We met some fun people- Leo in particular, a student from Brazil who stayed in our room. He was a cool guy and made us all feel a little more comfortable about the whole sharing rooms with strangers concept. Aside from the couple who arrived late at night, we didn't have any other discrepancies...Anyways, like I mentioned, we met some interesting people there and it was definitely a good experience. The hostel overall was surprisingly clean and modern. It used to be a court house so it's a great twist of old and new.
Karen's brother also took us to a few bars, one being Waxy O'Connors- this great six-story bar that has this rustic Irish feel to it. It was jam-packed when we went but that made it all the more fun, I think. Good music too. Oh, and the one bartender was absolutely hysterical and basically kept us at that bar for like an hour longer than we anticipated. London was ridiculously expensive- which we were prepared for but it still hurt. We basically starved the whole trip, only purchasing tea and a meal of fish and chips just for tradition-sake. We brought along some baguettes and clementines so we survived, however, we looked pretty homeless at more than a few instances. Haha it was funny though.