Thursday May 13
We barely crawl out of bed at noon and the only reason we do is because the cleaning lady, a petite African transplant to France, is making a ruckus trying to wake us up again. I look through my curtains to see her infuriated look. I am sure she would hit us with the handle of her mop if she was allowed to, but instead she just slams the mop into the sides of the bed to make sure we know she is there.
I keep my eyes shut for a while longer hoping that maybe she’ll soon go away, but then I hear whoosh, whoosh, flop and my bed starts shaking. She is changing the sheets on the bed above me again. “Will she ever go away?” I wonder. It seems not, but I keep my eyes shut and wish her away. Then I hear the slide of tired feet across the floor and the door swish shut too and I realize that Redmond is now awake, which means the end of my attempts at sleep. It is now time to wake up and I feel like crap.
Okay… actually I don’t feel that bad, just that hung-over glaze that happens no matter how much water or ibuprofen you have in the night. I had the obligatory two glasses of water and two ibuprofen before bed and awoke a few hours later to repeat the same. Mama didn’t raise no fool, I didn’t want to wake up stumbling all over myself. Still even with all the extra caution, I knew that there was no rectifying the amount I drank the night before, so I felt a little sluggish, it was better than the alternative, being Redmond and wanting to puke all day. Unfortunately no one told her about water and ibuprofen and I forgot that this is something she hasn’t learned yet because she is only 19. 19 year olds don’t know these tricks yet, but I think after this she will.
It takes us two hours to get ready, not because we are primping but because we are moving too slowly to get ready any faster. The shower feels good and I stay in for almost fifteen minutes even though I have to press the knob every 45 seconds to keep the water going. By the end of the shower I feel like it is a little game I am playing, pressing the shower knob just as the water is evaporating and whalaaaa it turns back on!
When we both get back to the room we sit and talk about the night before, attempting to drudge up any memories we can that have evaded us. We look at her camera, she has pictures. “Are you serious? Did that happen?” I ask looking at pics of us dancing with crowds of people and her covering a bald guys head with her mane after he has asked her, like Rapunzel, to let down her hair.
“Oh… shite!” I say. “Post those ones, but not those ones. I don’t want to remember that.” Everything is coming back as she scrolls through the pics.
I think that maybe we should get going, but I look outside and it is cloudy and looks a bit like rain again for yet another day in Paris and then I don’t care anymore. I decide that it doesn’t matter if we waste our whole day in here, but then both of us realize how hungry we are and decide we should head for food.
Then suddenly a petite bubbly brunette walks in. “How are you? What’s your name? Where are you from?” It is fast and my brain is running slowly. “Oh… you don’t have to answer all of those, but yeah. My name is (we’ll call her Sarah since I have forgotten it) Yes, I just got in from London, a transplant from South Africa. Yeah, omg… tell me everything, everything!”
She is too fast for us to answer, but when we do. “Omg, I just love your accents! Tell me everything about the United States. I’ve never been there, but I just know I’d love it. I just know it! I think I’m going to move there, I just need to find a man and marry him. How do I do that? Is it hard to find an American man?”
It is hard not to laugh because she is non-stop, but she is charming, so I tell her it won’t be a problem. “They’ll be charmed by your accent and your beauty.” In truth she’s not very striking, but I think that guys would like her because she is certainly cute and quick witted and she would be snapped up right away. She is happy and grateful.
“Really? My accent, but all my friends just laugh at me they think it is so funny.” She is referring to the SA accent, which sounds like a mix between Australian and British to me at least.
“Yes, they’ll be charmed. They’ll have no idea where your accent is from, just the very fact that you have one will make the guys fall head over heels for you.”
“Oh, I just know I will love it there! I already do!”
This conversation continues for a while and we all decide that we should continue it over food. I think mainly me and Redmond decide that we need to continue it over food and Sarah wants to continue it over drinks, because it’s now 2pm and Londoner’s like to get a head start on drinking. No, I’m not really being facetious here, Londoner’s start drinking damn early. I mean pass out by 7pm kind of early, so we set off with her friend she met in the lobby, Alice, on a search for food.
It really shouldn’t be that hard to find food, but we walk down the main road and the only thing we can find are kebabs. Kebabs abound, but none of us are in the mood for it at the time. We find out Alice is a London native and that Sarah just “loves her accent!”
We talk about London men and I say I have no problem with them, they seem friendly and were all very nice to me. It’s Paris men I have a problem with and we begin telling stories. “Ooh, Paris men they have eyes that stare right through you.” I tell them about the thwarted attack and we all decide that in Paris one should be very very careful when out by herself. “Mmhmm, Mmhmm,” they say. Of course we say this as we are walking and realize that we have come to a not so savory neighborhood, luckily we are walking in a group of four.
“Where the hell are we and where’s my drink?” Asks Sarah. “I don’t really need food, but I could go for I don’t know… a good stiff drink.” We all laugh. She seems really hard up for some alcohol and I could really just use some food to end this daze I’m in.
After roaming around streets filled with endless graffiti we make it to a cute restaurant that serves both sushi and pizza. I look at the menu and for the first time during my time in Paris do not see jambon on the menu. “Where’s the jambon?” I ask. Then we all look around and we notice the yamaka’s. We are in the Jewish District.
“Oh thank God! I am so tired of jambon and I love the Jews!” I say.
“Really? Like what about them?” Asks Sarah.
“More specifically their noses.”
“What?” She is taken aback. “What about their noses?”
“I just love how big and pointy they are.” I shrug and she shrugs, but I don’t think she gets it.
“To each her own, eh? I would never date a guy with a big nose.” I laugh and I don’t explain to her that I have loved the Jewish nose my whole life since seeing Elie Weisel’s photo on the back of his novel Night, and falling in love with him. Ever since then I’ve been looking for a good Jewish boy to love, but haven’t found him.
After we eat, Redmond and I decide that we need a nap because it’s been hours since we last slept and we know that it’s going to be a long night again. We are going on the Paris pub-crawl. This will be my second time on it and Redmond’s first. Lee and his friend Ben, also a Kiwi, have also been on the crawl before. We want to be able to meet them on time tonight instead of being fashionably late and so we try to rest up as much as we can earlier in the day.
We meet Lee and Ben a little after 7 in the hostel bar and find ourselves making our way over to Montmartre for the third night in a row. Our quest is to find food quickly before the 9pm crawl meet up time. We walk up and down the streets looking for anything, but everything is full, people are out tonight because the rain has abated. I look at all the meals and try to decide what I should attempt to eat in Paris tonight because frankly I am tired of Parisian food. I keep thinking about how much I want meat, more specifically a big juicy steak, but I don’t know where to find that. Then I see something utterly disgusting. I see a stack of raw ground beef topped with a raw egg. I honestly feel a little nauseous seeing this, but hold everything in and hope never to see it again.
We finally find a restaurant and order. I order a chicken salad because I want something light for the first time in a while, but instead there is a heavy cream dressing and chicken pieces with fat attached atop iceberg lettuce. I wonder if they have ever heard of romaine here? Oh well… I still eat it since I’m paying and decide at this point pretty much to never eat meals in Paris again. I am grateful that I only have a few days left. Everyone else seems perfectly happy with their meals, Redmond’s being a nice chocolate mousse, which of course would make anyone happy.
After dinner it’s time for the pub crawl. We get there and I suddenly remember how much I don’t really like this bar. It is an Aussie bar that is fairly empty unless there’s a football game on TV. I don’t really feel much like drinking, but I get a tequila sunrise anyhow, which I am pretty sure they have forgotten to add alcohol to.
The next bar is a little better because it’s an Irish pub and there is live music there this night. I am being a bit of a party pooper and not drinking here, while Redmond, Lee, Ben, and a random group of Americans have decided to start doing shots along with a chant that some Swede’s taught them a few nights before. All I remember is the end, “why do we drink? because we’re sexy!” Everyone lifts their shots and you think it’s time to drink, but no. It’s not time to drink, everyone shouts, “Up! No, no, no, no no. UP, No, no, no, no, no. UUUUP!” Then the drinking begins. By the end of a night full of chanting, one wants to find the Swede’s that taught them this and strangle them.
We make it to the night club and I am exhausted and tired of all these tourists. Granted, I am a tourist, but I didn’t come to see tourists drink, I came to see the people in the country. We do a few shots of Absinthe and I tell Redmond that I need to go. She is sad, but she has decided to dance with Ben, to Lee’s chagrin, and I say I’m off to bed. By the time I leave the metro has stopped running and I am a little annoyed, but taxi it back with another girl from the hostel. When I make it back I intend to head to bed but I notice the couple from last night, Adrian and Phoenix in the bar.
“Hey, whatcha doin? Where ya been?” They ask.
I am not sure I’m in the mood for this, but I smile and say, “Oooh, just out.”
“Oh, no, no, no. I’ve had too much already. Actually I’m going to go to bed.” Phoenix looks dumbfounded. She looks at her watch, then at me, then at her watch, then at me.
“No! It’s too early, too early,” she says with the soft French/Japanese/American accent shaking her head hard at me. It’s 1:30am and I think it’s a reasonable time for someone of my age. Unfortunately, I can’t use age as an excuse with her because she is 31 and her brother is 30. “Just a little while longer.”
I am reluctant, but I decide to stay awake for “a little while longer.”
“I’ll be right back.” Phoenix runs off with some sketchy African guy and comes back a while later with a napkin full of… leaves.
“What the hell is that?” asks Adrian.
“I don’t know. Looks like some funky weeds he just pulled off a bush outside,” she says.
“I hope you didn’t pay for that!”
“No, no, no. He said I could try before I buy, but I think it’s just leaves! I think that’s why he let me walk away with it.” We all laugh because the African has tried to dupe her. “I will go talk with him.” She goes in search for him, but he has disappeared.
The bar in the hostel soon closes down and we head outside. There we talk to the French Reggae band that has just been playing and they are interesting and nice. We talk of music and how it is to live as musicians in Paris. “Very hard, very hard,” they say, “but we love living here, so we stay.” Most of them have dreads and look to me like they could be a band out of Berkeley, then of course they break out the weed. This time it is real weed and Phoenix and Adrian seem very happy. All the guys are rolling joints out on the street and smoking.
“Is this allowed?” I ask.
“Well… no one’s stopping us,” says Adrian. I shrug and watch them smoke weed.
“Don’t you want none?“ asks one of the musicians.
“Yeah, aren’t you a musician?” says Phoenix, as if to imply that all musicians most smoke reefer to play.
“No, I don’t smoke. I’m allergic.” This is both true and untrue. I have smoked weed in the past and it makes me cough and sneeze, but also it doesn’t make me feel anything except hungry, which is the primary reason I don’t smoke it. I don’t see the point in using something that doesn’t make me feel anything.
Then I see Redmond and Ben. “Omg, omg! You’re awake!” She is excited that I am awake and that we can hang out some more, but when I look at my phone I realize it’s already 3.
“Oh, but I’ve got to go to sleep soon.” This is actually true because I have to get up at 9 in the morning and get my stuff packed to get ready for my flight to Venice.
“But pleeeeeeease, pretty pleeeeeeease! It’s our last night together!” It is hard for me to say no to her and this is very true. In fact I realize that I may never see her again.
“Okay.” I realize when I say this, that at 3am, this may only be the beginning of what will turn into a very long morning.
“You’re beautiful, you’re so beautiful.” I think I am hearing James Blunt, but not exactly so beautiful. I turn around and there is an Indian man looking at me and trying to serenade me with his not so fantastic version of Blunt. “Yeeees, it’s true.” He is so drunk I think that he may pass out here in the street.
I walk away and he follows me and I sidle up next to Adrian like he’s my boyfriend and hope that it will make him go away. Adrian puts his arm around my waste.
“Hey man, this is my girl.”
“It don’t matter none man. Youuuuuuuu aaaaaaare beautiful! So beautiful!” He gets louder and louder and tries to grab my arm for a dance. I am stunned and don’t want this to be happening. I am so happy to be leaving France tomorrow after a long nine days of crazy men.
Adrian pushes him away. For once in my life I am happy to feel protected by a guy. Usually I am the kind of girl that wants to stand up for herself all the time, but I feel just fine having someone else do it for me.
“Why don’t we go?” Says one of the singers of the Reggae band.
“Yeah, let’s go to another bar,” suggests Adrian. Of course, I once again look at the time and realize that it’s now almost 4am and am very reluctant.
“Oh, come on! You only live once! Besides the bar is only ten minutes away,” he says. And off we go. It is a beautiful night, though still a little chilly as we walk along the canal. There is amazing graffiti all along the canal and the side streets. We talk with the musicians more about living in Paris and one of them asks me why I am going to leave.
“Stay, you should stay.” He smiles. I know what that means. He walks nearby and brushes his arm against me and tells me about the beauty of Paris, though I am unsure that he can truly convince me that Paris is the most beautiful place in the world. He is nice though and he is handsome. We walk and walk until we come to a point where we must part with the musicians and I am sad to see them go. They are down to earth and people I could hang out with for a long time. In only a few hours time I feel like they are my friends.
“Au revoir,” we all say and kiss each other on the cheeks. It is nice to kiss each other on the cheeks, first on the left and then on the right as Paris has taught me to do, but I am sad to say goodbye. They walk their direction and Phoenix, Adrian, Ben, Redmond, and I walk another.
“Soooooo… where is this bar you said we’re going to?” I ask.
“Oh, it’s just ten minutes from here.”
“But you said that waaaay more than ten minutes ago.”
“Let’s just keep walking.” We do and we talk and we walk and we talk. Twenty more minutes has passed us by.
“Soooo… how much longer till we’re there?” I realize that I am starting to sound whiny, but I look at the time and it’s nearing 5am.
“Well, perhaps we should take a cab.” I wonder why we would need a cab for something that is ten minutes away, but we hail one and stuff four of us in the back seat and one in front and drive off to this supposedly open bar. In about eight cab minutes we arrive at our destination. Eight cab minutes would have meant another almost 45 minutes of walking.
“Hmm… ten minutes eh?” I say.
“Well… it was ten minutes in a car.” He shrugs and smiles and we walk into the 24 hour bar.
The four of them order drinks but I don’t because I’m not feeling too well and don’t want to hurt in the morning, but it’s 5am which could to some be considered breakfast time and so I order an omelet avec fromage et jambon.
We laugh, we eat. We laugh some more. I am happy, but exhausted. I have to wake up soon. The dawn begins to break and all the street lights begin to turn off. It is a beautiful morning that I should not be privy too. I see people go down into the Metro and am happy to see that it is open again. We finish up food and drinks and head down the stairs.
“Let’s keep in touch,” they say, because everyone that meets like this always says that.
“Yeah… let’s,” of course I don’t believe that we will. Ben, Remond, and I head one direction while the beautiful couple heads the other. It is 6:30 now and we are boarding a train.
Thursday May 13