Monday, July 13, 2009

Paris Day 1!

It's been about two weeks since I last updated this blog. I've been incredibly busy with work and traveling that I really haven't had the chance to just sit down and write about my life.

I guess the most appropriate place to start is about 2 weeks ago after I had my accident.

Two weeks ago I met up with my father in Paris. He happened to be on a business trip in Europe and we had planned to meet in Paris when he came over. I'm finally not traveling alone! I would have asked some of the other interns to come join me, but all of them are from Europe and most have already been to Paris. It would also be a pretty expensive trip, so I think that may have dissuaded them.

Anyway, two Fridays ago, I left Leuven for Paris. From Leuven, I took a train to Brussels and then another train from Brussels straight to Paris. It took about 2 hours for the entire trip. As opposed to the regular trains I've taken throughout Belgium, the train to Paris was a high-speed train, so that explains the quick arrival into Paris. Supposedly the top speed of these high speed trains is 185 mph.

I got to Paris around 6:30 pm and my first priority was to find the hotel my dad had booked. The train station I pulled into was on the north side of Paris. I needed to get to the west side toward the Arc de Triomphe. I ended up taking the metro. The metro here really isn't much different than what you would see in NYC. You pay for your ticket at a kiosk or ticket counter, feed the ticket into the turnstile, and then pass through. Just like in any other city, musicians and beggars roam the corridors hoping to earn your spare change. Homeless people still make their way onto the subway, giving speeches, sometimes bringing along furry friends, asking for your change. The metro was also just as crowded as you would expect at rush hour. Everyone was packed like sardines in a can.

Once I rose above ground from the metro, I walked straight into the outer ring of the Arc de Triomphe. What an exciting way to be welcomed to the city! After 2 hours on a chilly train and half an hour in the stuffy metro, it was quite captivating to be introduced to the city of Paris so magnificently.

Once I got to the hotel, I waited for my dad to arrive from the airport. I only had to wait about 10 minutes in the lobby, which just coincidentally happened to be excellent timing. We hit a little snafu at the hotel. When we tried checking in, they had supposedly overbooked their 2 bed rooms. As a result, we were put into another hotel down the Champs-Élysées.

Since we were both a little tired from our respective traveling, we decided to make a light sightseeing trip to the Arc de Triomphe. Even though I had arrived in front of it, I didn't take my time to observe it because I was in a hurry to ditch the bag that I was lugging around. Circling the perimeter of the Arc is the biggest roundabout I have ever seen. It looked to be about 10 lanes wide and through the entire thing, there are zero lane markers. Worse yet, six different streets intersect the roundabout. I think it's safe to say that this is every drivers nightmare. I for sure would dread entering this hell hole. Getting into the roundabout is the easy part, but I don't know how to go about exiting when cars are circling your passenger side. Now I'm not the stereotypical Asian driver. I don't drive 10 mph below the speed limit or drive with my blinkers on for 5 miles. If I got stuck in that roundabout, I'd probably circle the Arc at least 10 times before I mustered up the courage to make my way to the outside. I guess it's a good thing I didn't drive in Paris...

After seeing the Arc, my dad and I had a dire urge to eat some Parisian food. We found our way to a sea food restaurant where we both had some beer, wine, mussels and fish. I got a seabream and my dad got a slice of a cod fish. One thing we immediately noticed about the food was that they used very little oil in their preparation. The mussels were absolutely fantastic. They had a faint sweet taste mixed with the herbs. Although the mussels were small, there were plenty for the both of us.

Then onto the main course.

When I first saw my dish, I was surprised to see the head still attached. Having thoroughly experienced Asian cuisine, this didn't bother me. I know that in the states restaurants don't serve the head with the fish. I used to think that the attached head was an Asian thing, but apparently the French/Europeans are fine with it too?

We finished off our dinner with this lava chocolate cake accompanied with a small scoop of sorbet to clean the palate.

The food in Paris seems unreasonably expensive. This small piece of cake was 11 euros. With respect to the cost of living, I'm glad I don't live here.

Dinner at this restaurant concluded our night.

On our walk back to the hotel from the dinner, we were able to get a view of the Eiffel tower.

After a long day of walking, we finally hit the sack and called it a night.

No comments:

Post a Comment