Barefoot in Paris and other stories

I must be diligent about keeping up with this – it’s hard to find the time when I’ve been reaping the goodness out of every second of this finite life. I arrived in Paris on Thursday and found my way to my CS host’s place without any issues. We bought some beer to drink on the way to the crêperie and were kindly given some kind of cider drink as soon as we sat down – a harbinger of things to come! The food and drink has been spectacular – I could regale you, dear reader, with tales of camembert and quiche lorraine…

The evening warmed up quickly – we happened upon a bar that looked promising and I could feel the monsoon of the butterfly effect again! I met a girl named Chloé who offered to introduce me to a friend of hers who lives in Strasbourg – I’ve been caught in the throes of an itinerary thus far but hopefully we’ll both have time to meet up tonight for drinks.

Joel and I were kicked out of the bar at the ungodly hour of 3am and stumbled back to the apartment through ancient abandoned streets. My gueule de bois was greeted in the morning by an espresso and a pain au chocolat that was left at my bedside by my very empathetic host.

And the marble statues beckoned to me! I got off the metro and was hit by the upwelling that accompanies the realization of arriving in a new city. Grand palaces and immaculate gardens and gold-leafed alabaster – ineffable. I walked through the Tuileries and had lunch at a café after spitting out my first order in french. I then walked down the Champs-Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe where I caught the Metro to the Eiffel Tower. And there it was – looming large in iron lace.

After being accosted by trinket salesmen who insisted on interrupting my moment, I took off back to the apartment and had a cocktail with my CS host before dinner. We ate at a very nice cafe and waxed poetic about the world at large. We then found an outrageous bar across town and mingled with the natives. My feet had been thoroughly mauled by high-heels by the time we left – long after the metro closed – and by our third  rest stop on the banks of the Seine, I decided that walking barefoot the rest of the way would be the solution to our problems. I felt close to the city.

One day in Paris was not enough but I was in a hurry to traverse the countryside and meet Strasbourg. After missing my first train due to an unforeseen obstacle, I hopped aboard another and found myself winding through golden pastures, past antique castles and crumbling farmhouses, and finally landing in the timeworn labyrinth that would be my home for the next four months. I made conversation with the cabby in what little French I could string together after my long and unruly night but he was a kind fellow and pointed out the sights as we passed.

I arrived at the Chateau and was pleased to find that I’d have my very own room with my very own double bed. My room overlooks a magnificent park; in the morning dew it is the Elysian fields, complete with a greco-roman statue guarding a willow tree. I haven’t closed the window yet – the air is just too sweet – and the bumblebees come and go as they please.

Despite my fatigue, I went out with some of my fellow exchange students and found a nice cafe in the middle of the square where our appetites for beer and life-in-general were whetted by the sounds of clinking glass and foreign tongues. We then found a nightclub on a boat – Bateau Latino – and danced to awful music while savoring every last drop of it all.

I woke up, once again, with the terrible taste of revelry on my palate, and rushed downstairs to the meeting that I was supposed to have been in at 9am sharp. My stomach was on the verge of a rebellion when I learned we would be taking a riverboat through the city center to do some sightseeing, but fortunately for me I couldn’t find the rest of the group after lunch. I instead wandered through the streets in solitude and sat at a café for a much-needed dose of water and coffee.

I’ve gotten lost several times in these streets – labyrinthine, I tell you! – but I could not be more in love. I’ll update again soon, but in the meantime I’m taking my ukulele and riding my bike to Germany. À bientôt!

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