Day 49 – My Paris

With the rapture coming in a few hours I thought it best to write my blog a little earlier. True I will probably remain on earth to face the demons or zombies that await all heathens but it might be a little hectic to get a quiet minute or two to sit at my laptop, so best take advantage of the lead-up.

There is only one week left to go on our Paris trip (or a matter of hours if we factor in judgement day) and I have a mixture of feelings.

On one hand I’m very sad about leaving. I feel as though time has gone too quickly and that I’ve only seen a very small portion of what Paris has to offer. I feel as though there will be a big empty hole in my life once we leave – not just because I will miss this lifestyle but because I will miss the options that Paris offers.

On the other hand I feel that I’ve achieved everything I wanted and more from this trip. I wanted memories, I wanted to be in the city long enough to learn some of its secrets, and I wanted an escape. I’m as ready as I’ll ever be to leave and that’s a good feeling. It also helps that after Paris we have six weeks of hiking through Austria, Czech Republic and Croatia – so the journey back to reality is not quite imminent.

I’ve been asked the question “would I move to Paris?’. My answer to that is no. I may need my escape from time-to-time but I’m a practical person and for the moment I need to live somewhere where I can speak the language fluently and get paid well for the work that I do. I couldn’t achieve that here. I also need to be near family/friends and clean air/streets and again Paris does not have this. Sydney is not a bad place to live, it’s just small and far away but who knows, maybe if we gave it as much energy as we gave Paris we may discover  some new things to love about it.

But at the end of the day is it fair to ask whether I would want to live in Paris? The things we love or enjoy most in life are not often the things we want (or should want) every day and if we did would they be as special? Don’t you need there to be ordinary so that there can be extraordinary?

But I love that I feel comfortable in Paris. I love that I had this experience and I have no doubt we’ll be back and in a small way it will be like coming home. Demis and I have both spoken about retiring in the English or Scottish countryside at some point and so as we age I look forward to regular trips back to this beautiful city or better yet, buying a small apartment.

More than anything though, I love that there is “My Paris”.

Before coming, I thought that the things I would love most and the things I would be rushing to do as much as possible in our last week would be visiting the Louvre, having a picnic under the Eiffel Tower, sitting at Sacre Couer etc. But these things haven’t ended up being my Paris.

My Paris I guess is a little simpler. It’s a small wine bar that serves surprising meals, it’s a crowded and hectic bistro, it’s a trip to see our butcher and a plate of cheese, it’s sitting in a park with a baguette, it’s walking through food markets, it’s window shopping at pastry shops, it’s drinking bottles of wine with Demis – arguing about art and talking about George Clooney, it’s a maze of cobbled streets that don’t lead anywhere because you’re not going anywhere.

In the last days and hours of my time here, it’s these things I will do, and years later, it will be these things that define My Paris.

So with hours to spare before the rapture, I leave each of you to consider your own city and life, and what you would do in those last few hours.

What’s your (insert city here)?

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Day 48 – My worst Parisian moment

Today’s blog is not actually about today.

That’s not to say today was an unworthy day to write about. We went to the cinema in the morning, had a delicious ham Spanish ham baguette for lunch, did some shopping, spent time relaxing and doing personal projects, and then in the evening met up with some friends from London who are visiting us for the weekend.

A perfectly lovely day.

But I’m conscious that lately I have been focusing on “the good”, and in the spirit of balance feel it fair I comment on our worst Parisian experience to date (I seem to have gotten the hang of bold statements haven’t I?), which happened only a few days ago.

The dreaded Seine cruise.

Allow yourselves to imagine for a moment…

Imagine it’s dusk and you’re on a boat cruising through the Seine. The sun is hitting the old buildings in such a way that everything has a slight golden glow to it and the water is capturing the fading colours of the day. As you cruise through the river with your loved one the sky gets darker and the lights shine brighter and you stand against the railing gazing at some of Paris’ most stunning sights.

Sounds pretty romantic right?

Well that’s not one bit what it is like so forget about it.

Instead, imagine this…

You queue up in an enormous line, waiting to board the next excessively large boat that’s due to leave in about 15 minutes. Perhaps normally the queue wouldn’t be so long but luckily enough you’ve managed to land yourself in the midst of no less than ten (possibly more) bus loads of Scandinavian young teens (13-15 years tops).

They open the gate to allow boarding. Instead of a calm civilised board onto the boat you find yourself in a stampede as the teens squeal their way onto the boat. You eventually find your way to two seats, only within seconds you see that you have somehow seated yourself in the very nucleus of the teens . The seat behind you is a young boy with a girl on his lap, the sound of their kissing vibrates against your ear and her elbow is in your hair. The Wrath of Cat (WOC) kicks in and you yell at her to cut it out (“si vous plait!!!”). You feel justified yet also very very old.

The boat takes off and you realise it really must be your lucky day because you’re sitting in what seems to be the only spot where the exhaust smoke is blowing into your face. Your white top turns black.

Within about a minute you learn the teens had actually been on their best behaviour and now that the ship has sailed (in every sense of the expression) you find yourself sitting quite literally in a war zone. There are yells and screams louder than you can possibly imagine, a photo going off every second so that you become epileptic and all around you is adolescent angst and hormones.

Five minutes later you figure enough is enough and decide to forgo your seat and go to the opposite side of the boat to stand against the railings.

You find a spot that seems perfect. There are no seats full of teens and no smoke. Unfortunately there are an overwhelming number of moths (attracted to the boat lights) that fly at your face and around you obscurring the view. You think about it for a moment but decide that despite having moths caught in your lip gloss and down your bra, you’d rather them than the alternative.

Unfortunately only a few seconds after this decision a gob of spit lands at your feet. The teens have moved to the railings above you. You try and look elsewhere to stand/sit/die but alas, there is nowhere. The teens have spread and infested all areas of the large ship.

The teens become more and more crazed by the minute and it doesn’t take them long to invent a game whereby whenever they pass under a bridge they pull up their tops and yell as loud as they can like cavemen. There are no less than about 20 bridges on this ONE AND A HALF hour cruise.

The spit, moths and yelling continues and like a true victim, after a while you become broken and convince yourself that you can tolerate it. It’s OK. The boat starts cruising past Notre Dame, where there are metres of tourists and Parisians alike having picnics by the banks. At this point, while yes badly broken and still dodging spit, you begin to exhale and let go of the WOC and start believing you may be able to find a slight hint of romance after all.

But then you notice (or maybe you hear the screaming reaction from the teens first) that a large group of those having picnics are actually bent over, bearing their backsides to all of the lucky cruisers (yes they are even spreading their cheeks apart to provide a better view). This causes quite the frenzy onboard as hundreds of teens attempt to reciprocate the gesture.

Unfortunately this “game” goes on for quite a while.

Eventually, after some exploring you find a little corner of the boat where the 5% who are not Scandinavian teens (i.e. old Americans) have huddled together in solidarity. You finally begin to find some peace, even if it is on the worst part of the boat.

Until the boat hits a wave and drenches everyone in that corner.

By that stage any thought or hope of enjoyment is lost, and all you want is to desperately get off the cursed boat. You wait aggressively, anxiously and impatiently for another 30 minutes (during that time get asked by about 18 people to take photos, one of which asks for several retakes because he is unhappy with the quality) until you finally arrive back at the quay and can be released.

Days, months later, all you will recall from that cruise are the bums, moths, smoke, screaming youth and getting wet.

Here is the only photo we took before realising we had no battery left in our camera. You can’t really make it out because we got knocked over while taking it so it’s blurry and a stupid building and boat got in the way, but there’s me, on the boat, with half an Eiffel Tower with a big fat frown on my face.

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Day 47 – The World’s Best Steak!

I believe I am a worthy judge of steaks.

As a child I was part of a family that liked its meat. Steak was a regular feature at dinner and strength was proven by out-eating other family members during BBQ time. In fact, when I first brought Demis home to meet the parents, what endeared him to them was not his dedication and love for their daughter but his ability to keep down an excessive amount of food. Birthday lunches would see an unspoken yet deadly challenge between my father and Demis on how many steaks each could get through.

Steak did not just feature in the home. I have been to nearly every steak house and restaurant claiming to do “the best steaks” in Sydney and thanks to taking contracts with state governments have also eaten a steak in nearly every country town in NSW. Yes, even Tamworth, home of the steak.

My steak-eating expertise is not just limited to Australia. When I traveled to Spain as a young teen with my mother, I got a terrible stomach bug and afterwards, the only meal I craved was steak. While back-packing through Europe as an older teen the only luxury I afforded myself (i.e. when not eating bread and tuna) was steak. When recently traveling through the UK during the winter, what warmed me up? Steak. When visiting my brother in Miami I turned into steak (albeit mostly pork). When Demis and I traveled to Argentina we ate steak at least seven times a week – we even witnessed (and ate) a slaughtering in Patagonia. In Paris alone I have eaten approximately eight different steaks.

Hell, I’m the type of girl that window-shops at butchers.

I realise some of you non-believers may still be questioning my reign on steak. Many of you know me personally as one who eats a strict, lean, largely vegetarian diet day-to-day. This is true, but make no mistake – I know my steak. After all, is an alcoholic a judge on fine wines? In addition, I have also married a man with a similar (although not quite comparable, it’s just not in his blood) history of steak eating.

So I feel I am more than qualified to make this bold yet undeniably true claim:

Le Severo serves the best steak in all the world.

(a moment of silence as this claim is absorbed)

True I could have contained this claim to Paris, or even France but that is both pointless and a waste of time. True I may not have eaten every steak in every country in all the world…but this is just a minor detail hardly worth discussing. Perfection can not be improved. It’s that simple.

Le Severo is a tiny restaurant buried outside the Paris centre. It is owned by an ex-butcher who is the chef but also presides over the ten or so tables. The menu is small (who needs a big menu when you offer the world’s best steak) however the wine menu is a chalk board taking up an entire wall, with a particular focus on heavy reds.

We began our meal with a plate of cured ham. Although I still prefer Spanish ham, this was incredibly good. It was rich and flavoursome and delicious with crusty sour bread (we removed that slab of butter btw…sacrilegious).

But forget that because we’re talking about steaks.

I ordered the rump (cut different to an Australian rump) and Demis ordered the sirloin which came sliced up. Both of us nearly fell off our chair when we tasted our steaks.

The outside was crunchy with that almost burnt edge to it. As you bit further you then tasted and felt the various layers until you got to the centre which was cooked rare and allowed you to get the full flavour of the meat. This was no ordinary meat, only top grade produce is used at Le Severo and when you bit into your steak you suddenly realised you had never tasted beef before.

At this point I have to talk abut the salt. Le Severo is the perfect example of what good seasoning does for a meal. Most people are a bit indifferent to seasoning when cooking. They wrongly assume that people can sprinkle on the salt they like after it’s been cooked. I don’t agree with that. Seasoning the meat with salt before is an essential step to cooking meat and getting the balance right helps the texture, colour and taste. Adding extra salt after it’s cooked so that it gets soaked up while resting, will then give it that extra special punch. Meat and salt were meant to go together and more so when it’s an incredible salt like France’s Sal de Fleur.

Le Severo also proves what resting does to a steak. It may have been cooked raw in the middle but not a drop of blood poured out while it was being cut and my knife glided through the fat rump like butter.

The other highlight of the dish were the fries. Each potato chip was handcut and fried so that it had the slightest of crisp on the outside but perfectly soft in the middle and again, it had a perfect amount of salt (so so rare in France).

As full as I was after eating that dish, I was prepared to order a second serving it was that sensational. In fact, I will refuse to eat another steak for a long time – it will just never compare.

(moment of silence in appreciation of steak)

Now, for those of you (probably male) readers out there who are doubting my bold claim I will add that Demis has also made the same bold claim. Le Severo steaks are, without a doubt and not open for discussion (I would delete your comments if you tried), the best steaks in all the world.

It was difficult to move on after that steak but eventually we ordered dessert. We shared a chocolate mousse that was thick and bitter – so much more delicious than the normal sweet, light and creamy version. And yes, in the photo, the line you see running through the mousse was made by me. When eating with Demis you have to make boundaries or you miss out.

Leaving Le Severo we were the happiest couple in all the world (why stop at making one bold claim?). We had eaten a perfect meal and we had the afternoon free to walk through Paris. What more could anyone possibly want from life?

(moment of silence as readers feel insanely jealous)

Later that evening we headed out to the D’Orsay museum.

For many people D’Orsay is their favourite and the two-hour queues tend to reflect this (hence why we went in the evening). But having now been there twice I have to saw that while I do think it has a superb impressionist collection (favourite of today was seeing a couple of Monet’s Rouen Cathedral series…such a mess close up, so perfect and detailed from afar…genius), I have to say it’s not my favourite gallery.

Yes it has a nice mix of works (Van Gough, Rodin, Manet, Monet, Degas, Matisse etc) and yes it’s a nice size so in that regard, it’s a good place for tourists to go (better than the Louvre) because you can see a wide-range in just a couple hours.

But I much prefer galleries that feature the one artist or a collection of artists that focus on one movement/style. These are far more intimate (and tourists never seem to bother with them) and give you the chance to actually learn about a style/artist in a lot of depth. They also tend to be in smaller and older buildings, usually with gardens, that adds to the charm.

Really though, it was hard focusing on masterpieces knowing I had consumed the master of all steaks only a couple hours previously.

(silence as thoughts drift back to steak…)

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Day 46 – Cars and jazz

This morning we visited Les Art Décoratifs to see the Art of Automobile Masterpieces from the Ralph Lauren Collection.

Although I know next to nothing about cars I actually really enjoyed this exhibition. Not only did it show the technological and aesthetic evolution of cars from the 1920’s to today, it was also pretty amazing to hear about who had driven some of these cars and to know that they all belonged to the one man (seriously, how rich must he be??).

After lunch we decided to dedicate the afternoon to some shopping. Or at least Demis bought lots of clothes while I watched (I know, what’s wrong with this picture you’re asking?!).

But today’s real highlight was this evening. We decided to have a simple meal at home and then head out to a jazz club to see some live music.

We went to the well-known Sunset/Sunside club which is very very cool. It has two levels – the bottom level (Sunset) is a converted wine cellar and plays amplified blues, rock and world music. The upper level (Sunside) plays acoustic jazz, a lot of piano and generally has a much more open and airy ambience compared to the hot and intimate Sunset.

Tonight there was a festival put on by Stunt Records called Scandinavian Touch. It celebrated Jazz musicians from Scandinavian countries and there was a quite a line up.

Probably our two favourite performances were Jakob Karlzon 3 – a Swedish group that played a really interesting mix of classical, ethnic music, American metal and pop (strange I know but it worked so well we had to buy the album). The other group was El Conguero – a band of Danish performers led by a native Cuban (now a Dane) who played the drums. Never in my life have I seen someone play the drums like he did – at one point, during his ten-minute solo, his hands were moving so fast I literally couldn’t see them (and not because I had been drinking too much although granted this was also true).

(And btw me liking that group had nothing to do with the fact that the lead tried to pick me up in the unisex bathrooms…it did make Demis sit much closer to me than normal during the performance though).

It was a great few hours we spent at the club. I loved the concept of being able to alternate between upstairs and downstairs and that there was an ever-changing line-up of international first-grade musicians. I felt my knowledge of music growing by the second as I listened to sounds I would never get exposure to back home.

Even better was the atmosphere. The music was by no means the background, it was the feature – everyone was perched on a chair or stool bopping their heads to the music and the venue was large enough to feel the energy of others but small enough to feel intimate. In fact, it was very impressive how such a small venue managed to work the sound so that it dominated the room (it was not the venue for conversation or football matches) but didn’t deafen you.

We have a list of several other jazz clubs that we intend to visit within the next 1.5 weeks – most of them, strangely, are buried inside basements or old cellars. One is even inside an old prison.

Paris, you never cease to amaze me. I have come to accept (and be ever so thankful for – even if my jeans are not) that every block has an amazing bakery, cheese shop, deli or butcher and that every ordinary looking cafe turns into either an amazing bar or restaurant at night. But now, on top of that, I see that under every floorboard of any shop, there could be the world’s greatest music innocently playing away to a small yet enthusiastic audience.

How will I ever leave this city?

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Day 45 – Rodin and riz au lait

This morning we went to the Rodin museum. August Rodin was a sculptor in the late 19th century/early 20th century. He used a variety of mediums such as clay, stone, marble, bronze etc and was most famous for his works on mythology and the human form.

Probably his most famous piece (although in my view not his best) is The Thinker, which interestingly is placed in the outdoor gardens rather than protected in the inside gallery.

The museum has so many sculptures that I seriously wonder if Rodin did anything except sculpt 24/7. My favourite pieces were those that were a little on the naughty side (he captured the idea of sin very well), several of his portraits, as well as his second most famous piece The Kiss.

The museum itself was a pleasure to visit. The gardens are quite large and house at least 30-odd pieces and inside is a decaying yet beautiful building housing two floors of his pieces. Even better, there are not that many tourists as they seem to stick to the more common D’Orsay and Louvre.

I really liked being at a gallery that focused just on the one artist. It gave you the opportunity to study his style in depth and pick out characteristics or stylistic elements common across his pieces – such as his tendencies to make the hands and feet slightly larger than you would expect. It also let you get inside his head a little and see how he saw the world which is not something you can achieve at places such as the Louvre.

After spending a few hours at the gallery we hit a boulangerie for lunch and picked up a baguette and some dessert. For dessert I opted for a slice of their crumble and have to say it was by far the best crumble I have every eaten. I know crumble can be considered a somewhat simple dish but this crumble achieved the perfect balance of flavours – bitter and sour blackberries, soft savoury crumble, sweet icing sugar…anyone that can make a crumble as good as that for me has got a slave for life.

After lunch I did a spot of shopping (buying THREE new tops) and then went and got my hair done. It was a slightly terrifying experience. I had made the appointment a couple days earlier with no problem (in fact Demis was astounded as he listened to me have a completely French conversation with the receptionist taking my booking) but when it came to actually doing my hair…well…I never actually realised just how much you actually need to talk to the hairdresser. She didn’t speak a word of English but my hair has ended up good enough. It’s not quite as dark as a I like it, but then again most people are unable to distinguish between very dark brown and very dark brown mixed with black…so I suppose it’s OK. It could have been much worse.

Tonight for dinner we went to Chex l’Ami Jean (CAJ). This restaurant was first established by a Basque in the 1930s and is now one the city’s best representatives of the “Bistro Moderne” movement. This is the name of the trend that saw traditional bistros in the 1990s reinvented by those trained in formal French kitchens i.e. a blend of tradition with modern technique.

Today the restaurant is still managed by a Basque chef though maintains its French influence. Inside the decor is very rustic and you are literally elbow-to-elbow with your fellow diners. While at first this is a little off-putting you quickly settle into the groove and either ignore the fact that everyone can hear your conversation, or else join in with the conversation next to you. We opted for the latter – actually we couldn’t avoid it because the Dallas Jewish couple next to us wouldn’t stop talking to us.

The food was sensational. For starters I had the quail salad and Demis had a calamari dish. I’ve had quail many times but never had it tasting so moist and tender (usually because it’s such a teeny tiny bird it is a little on the dry side). The quail was served with some grilled jamon iberico,  black olive tapendade and green snow peas which together gave it the salty kick and texture it needed. I was quite devastated when the dish was finished.

Quail

Calamari

For main I had the 7-hour braised goat and Demis has the 7-hour braised veal cheeks (yes, I know, 7-hours is the theme here…). I was visibly alarmed when they brought out my dish – it was quite honestly enough to serve an army and next to Demis’ tiny cheeks (I’m talking about his veal cheeks btw) it made me look like I’d ordered a dish for two.

Goat

Veal cheeks

But I got through it (with Demis’ kind assistance of course). The goat was so tender it shredded apart with the slightest touch of a fork and the taste somehow managed to achieve a perfect balance f strong yet subtle. Demis’s delicate cheeks (again, the veal sort is what I’m referring to…not to say his other cheeks aren’t delicate in their own right) were also sensational. Rich in flavour and so soft they melted in your mouth.

By the prize winner was the dessert. CAJ is famous for its riz au lait (rice pudding). Now let me make this very clear – I don’t like rice pudding. It’s milky and rich and very very ordinary. This dish is not like any rice pudding you will every come across. They have a reputation of making the best riz au lait in the world and they deserve that accolade. There is no way I can do the dish justice but I will try.

Firstly it’s served in an enormous bowl with a wooden spoon to share. It’s almost impossible to serve some in your bowl because it is just so thick and sticky but somehow you manage. You then take a spoonful of salted caramel sauce (served on the side) and put a dollop on top of the rice. You then take a spoonful of specially roasted nuts, oat (or cereal?), and fruits (also served on the side) and sprinkle them on top. Mix it all up (and add a meringue – also served on the side – if you wish) and then take a taste.

Riz au lait

Riz au lait

The taste? It’s like nothing I have every had. It doesn’t taste at all like milk or even like dairy. The first thing you notice is the wonderfully glutenous texture of the rice (not like normal rice – somehow much fatter) which is then beautifully complemented by a subtle taste of vanilla (which is possibly the milkiness) and caramel (and I mean real caramel btw…not toffee or anything), and then you taste the burnt nuts/oat/fruits and feel their texture. It’s a taste sensation and I kid you not I had three bowls of this stuff and although we didn’t get through it all I ate more than is humanly possible and am still craving more of it. It is by far the most delicious dessert I have had in a very long time.

So that’s been our day (well minus an incident after dinner involving me being quite desperate to find a bathroom…). As you can tell, now that we’re less than two weeks from the finish line we are trying to fill up our days with as much as possible.

You know, the hardest thing about right now is not just the feeling of how much I will miss all my favourite things in Paris. It’s the feeling that I will somehow regret not having taken advantage of as much as I could have.

And so I madly try and fill our days with as much as is physcially possible whilst at the same time knowing that no matter how much I fill our days, I will never see all of Paris or eat in every restaurant, and regardless I will wish I had seen and done more that I have. Because we are who we are and I am one who loves to cherish moments yet constantly fears that I will be unable to cherish as many I wish to.

At least I will never have cause to regret not having eaten the world’s best riz au lait.

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Day 44 – The happiest place on earth…

Today’s lunch consisted of a unique American-style deli sausage within quite a soft baguette. Demis’ dish came with a creamy fromage sauce and both were served with potato cut into strips and gently deep fried.

That’s right folks. Today we inhaled the American culture and went to Disneyland Paris, the Happiest Place on Earth.

The highs…

1. Whether it was low season or just sheer luck I don’t know but we LOVED that the queues were surprisingly and unexpectedly short. Disneyland offers a “fastpass” service where you can swipe your ticket at a ride and it will give you a time to come back where you can (in a sense) skip the queue…but we didn’t even need to use this. Most rides were only a 10 minute wait.

2. Space Mountain!!!!!!! A ride you do in pitch black (they even blind you with flashing lights at the start) that flings you upside down, around, under and you have no idea what’s what. Demis did whimper slightly the first time (and I think there may have been a tear or two…there was certainly quite a few “holy s-t” squeals…) but once I dragged him on for the third time he toughened up. Seriously the best ride I have ever been on.

3. Although Space Mountain was my favourite I also loved the other “thrill” rides like Indiana Jones, Tower Terror (although refer to the “lows section”),  Rock’n’Roll Coaster (again refer to “lows”) and Crush’s Coaster. Crush’s Coaster in particular was a huge surprise. It’s set in Finding Nemo where you plunge through the Australian ocean on the back of a turtle (not a real one btw). I thought it would be OK but nothing thrilling and yet it was probably my second favourite ride – you literally fly through the dark spinning around. Awesome.

4. The non-thrill rides such as Peter Pan’s Flight and Pirates of the Caribbean although didn’t make me scream, I thought were absolutely breath-taking. You sail/fly through really detailed and beautiful settings and you really feel like you’re part of that world.

5. The general presentation and setting. I haven’t been to other Disney parks (so can’t compare), and I didn’t come to Paris specifically to come to Disneyland (so had no-low expectations), but I was really impressed with how the whole park looked. Every ride had a good deal of props and nothing looked hastily put together.

5. Our wonder and excitement! Seriously, we were just BURSTING with happiness to be in the land of Disney. If you are somewhat skeptical of this statement, I show you the evidence…

The lows…

1. Before we got to Disneyland. A) we had been told to expect 2+ hour queues for rides, and B) we were an hour delayed getting there due to a mishap with tickets…so up until we worked out the queues weren’t that bad we were stressed and very grumpy.

2. The Tower of Terror. I am not one to get scared in rides – I love anything that makes me scream. The problem with this ride though was that I had NO idea what it was about, and so when it flung us up into the air (who knows how metres off the ground) and then proceeded to treat us like a yo-yo throwing us down, throwing us up…well I was a bit taken aback and my stomach did NOT feel equipped to deal with it.

3. Rock’n’Roll Coaster. Our carriage seemed to fail upon take-off and so when the countdown finished (when you’re meant to shoot off into the air) we just sat there for a couple minutes. As soon as we thought they would ask us to get our something it suddenly took off but the crazy thing was that there was no music, no lighting and no sound-effects. No one in our carriage uttered a single scream…we were all too terrified by the fact we were cruising through a ride clearly not expecting us! It was slightly better the second time around…

4. Lack of Little Mermaid Ariel. Every Disney cartoon was represented – even Aerosmith was and I don’t even know how he relates to Disney. But do you think there was a single thing about the cartoon that won them so many awards???? Hmph!

5. How we feel right now. We stayed right up until closing time and we were determined to revisit all the rides we loved (yes even the damn Tower of Terror). But although we were just bursting with excitement at the start of the day, by the end we were not only exhausted but literally bruised, swollen and battered. Our last ride on Space Mountain was so painful I couldn’t even bring myself to scream. *Sigh* to be 10 again…

All in all a really great day, possibly because we went there with low expectations and expecting it to be cheesy but actually had a whole lot of fun. Our only regret is we actually can’t walk, sit up straight up, move our necks, speak, move our arms, bend backwards, bend forwards, crouch, open our eyes properly or hold our head up. Nothing major though.

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Day 43 – Scenes from a market

This morning we hit the Marché Richard-Lenoir.

This Sunday market starts in Bastille and goes on for about a kilometre. It has three aisles of stalls which means to see everything you need to make multiple journeys up and down the boulevard.

Before arriving my aim had been to buy anything I liked the look of (last two weeks in Paris and all…) but very quickly I had to reassess the practicality of this plan. Quite simply this market is the king of markets and I liked the look of everything.

So I had to content myself with just buying ingredients for tonight’s dinner, and possibly some cheese, fruit, any anything else I could squeeze into my shopping bag and carry.

My iPhone camera will not do the market justice. It doesn’t capture the vibrancy, the smells, or the yells and mannerisms of the stall vendors which alone was enough to entertain me for hours.

But it gives you a glimpse…

So what was for dinner? Well if you spotted me in the photos you probably saw me looking keenly (greedily) at the seafood. Tonight’s dinner was fresh pasta with prawns, fish, squid and clams, in a lemon, parsley and white wine sauce (all ingredients purchased at the markets of course).

It tasted as delicious and fresh as expected but for once it wasn’t the eating that gave me the most pleasure. It was quite simply the markets themselves.

Watching the almost aggressively passionate vendors, watching an exchange between a buyer and a seller, looking at produce and deciding what will be tonight’s dinner, trying to work out what the live creature in the bucket is, tasting a sample of cheese or sausage, smelling something delicious and trying to crawl your way through the maze to see if you can find the source, yelling out your order for fruit, filling up your shopping bag, paying a euro for a bag of fresh olives…no other sight or experience uses so many senses and offers so many scenes.

The market life is one of the things I will miss most about Paris.

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