Tag Archives: May 2013

Eating Escargot in Paris

June, 2013

This morning, my new friend Georgia suggested we go to Sacré Couer, the cathedral on the hill, in the sun, with a gorgeous view of Paris. Good idea! She deduced we could get off at the stop ‘Place de Clichy’ which she didn’t know how to pronounce, and so said, ‘Place de Thingy’. Off we went to the cathedral. We arrived at the correct station, and began our walk.


The cathedral came into sight and I was in awe. It is beautiful. We stopped at an ice cram stand nearby and bought a few scoops to enjoy on the hill. As we walked up the first steps, Georgia told me to hide my wrists. I was puzzled, but did as she said. We turned the corner and were accosted by vulturous men grabbing at our arms, trying to tie bracelets on our wrists, forcing us to buy them! I kept my head down and my arms crossed. I kept walking and ignoring him, and he finally left me alone. Phew. I checked Georgia’s wrists to ensure she had survived the trip too. Bracelet-less! Double phew! We found a spot halfway up the hill and set up camp. I ate my decadent Parisian ice cream and Georgia had a nap. I watched the people walking by, taking photos, holding hands, kissing, drinking beer, it was so lovely.


We were both quite hungry, and so grabbed a table on the patio of a cute little French bistro up the hill in Mont Marte. The waiters at this place were the flirtiest bunch I have ever encountered. We came to the conclusion that it is in their job description: clear plates, take orders, brush patron’s hair out of their eyes, constantly wink and smile. We ordered a carafe of Bordeaux.


Maybe it was the delicious red wine, maybe it was the flirtatious French men, maybe it was just the love in the air. Whatever it was, I was inspired to take the leap and try escargot! The little snails arrived to the table in a funny little dish, and they smelled amazing. You know what? I actually really liked it! How could I not? Anything doused and cooked in that much garlic and butter is going to be an instant hit with me. They tasted kind of like mussels. I was quite pleased with my French wine and my French dish and flirtatious French waiters. We finished our wine and paid the bill. As we left, the waiters grabbed at us, tried to pet our chins, touched our arms, kissed our hands. I was amazed, and totally uncomfortable. We walked past the cathedral and down the hill, guarding our wrists again from the bracelet vultures.


We found the metro stop and it was time to say goodbye to Georgia. One of the the most amazing things about traveling is how quickly you can make friends, and then as quickly as you connected, they are gone like the wind. I think it is such a magical thing to be able to share a beautiful day or two days, or week, or whatever, with someone, divulge all your dreams and hopes and fears, and then part ways. With a stranger is the safest place to keep a secret

Bicycling around Inis Mor, Ireland

May, 2013

After a somewhat bumpy ride over the sea, Jennine and I arrived on Inis Mor, one of the Aran Islands off the coast of Conamara. Rory was waiting for us and we all went to a tiny restaurant to have lunch before our epic bike ride. I chose the fish and chips because my stomach was desperate for it. After our quick bite, Jennine and I head over to a bike rental place and asked the man for two of his finest two-wheelers. The charge for the day is 10euro, but he requires a 10euro deposit as well. I was about to hand him a twenty to cover my own bike, and he said, “I feel terrible charging two beautiful girls full price.” He gave the bikes each for 5euro. What a deal! Then we were off!


I began the trip singing “Bicycle Race” by Queen, “Bicycle” by Hey Ocean, and “Bicycles are Red Hot” by TV on the Radio. My friends didn’t like it so much. I stopped singing upon their request, but also because I realized I can’t bicycle and sing at the same time. It’s not easy, especially when biking up hill after hill, against the wind, with rain spraying sideways into your face.img_4953

The view was beautiful and there is something so refreshing about the smell of the sea. As we biked along the path, with the water on one side, beautiful green pastures on the other, and the lovely aroma of burning turf in the air, I felt a spark of inspiration! I can understand why so many painters and poets have come to the west of Ireland to create— it is impossible to not feel inspired. There were donkeys and cows in the yards of the houses. I saw a sheep on a leash! We took lots of ridiculous photos, even in-action-selfies, which is probably the most dangerous thing I have attempted this whole trip, if I am being completely honest.


We were on our way back to the ferry dock. I didn’t realize that the ‘uphill both ways’ thing is physically possible, but it turns out on Inis Mor, it is! I was exhausted by the time we clambered onto the boat. My stomach let me know that it was having rough time with the fish and chips and I appreciated the warning. The wind picked up and I started to get anxious about the rocky ride back to the mainland. I decided to go to sleep and sleep through whatever motion sickness I was about to experience. It worked! I slept the whole time! I sat two rows ahead of Rory and Jennine so we could all have window seats. I woke up just as we were pulling up to the dock.


I looked behind me to find Rory and Jennine and they were nowhere to be found. I looked at the front of the boat, and then to the back, but I couldn’t spot them. Then the woman next to me said, “they came looking for you, and then said you’d figure it out…. Will you figure it out?” I smiled and nodded. She was so sweet. Then you know what? I figured it out! I stood up and saw the two of them standing by the door to race off as soon as we were able. We decided that it was imperative we sit at the front of the second floor of the double decker bus, and the only way we would be able to make it is if we RAN out of the ferry and to the bus. We did this. The bus arrived and the three of us ran like crazy people to the door. I hurdled over suitcases and children in what felt like slow motion. I am sure the people around me thought, “that girl should be in the olympics”. FOR sure. We made it! We sat at the very front of the bus and looked out the beautiful window at the beautiful countryside. That is, until the bus filled up with sweaty post-bicycling-bodies and the windows all fogged up.


The Top of the Arc du Triomphe in Paris

June  2013

With a grumble in my tummy, I walked out of my hotel and past a few different cafes. I walked into one called Hippopotamus and sat at a lovely table on their patio. In my endearing broken French, I ordered a glass of red wine and the salmon. Next thing I know, the waitress brought over a 1/2 litre carafe of red wine. Oh boy. My French really isn’t that good. I guess I ordered a carafe?


About half way through my main course, I looked at the sky and marvelled at the changing colours. I had the thought, I should go up to the top of the Arc Du Triomphe and watch the sunset! Oh my gosh! I should go up to the top of the Arc Du Triomphe!!!!!! I quickly paid, finished the carafe of wine, and was out of the restaurant in a flash. I channeled my inner Carrie Bradshaw and whistled at the nearest cab. “Arc du Triomphe,” I said! He stepped on it! He asked which do I like better, Canada or Paris, and I said I liked both for different reasons. Secretly, I answered, “I like the Paris cab drivers more. I have never had a sexier cab driver in my entire life.” He put on the radio and Imagine by John Lennon played. I smiled and looked at him in the rear view mirror. He smiled too. How do you ask a cab driver out on a date in French?! It was a beautiful moment.


We were at the Arc du Triomphe in a flash. He stopped on a side street on the outside of the roundabout. He told me that nobody is allowed to stop in the middle. Fair enough, this roundabout is like an extreme game of Frogger. One in which nobody wins. I paid him and thanked him profusely. I walked towards the steps he told me were the entrance to the tunnel, but they turned out to only go down to the metro. I looked over at my cab driver and he motioned for me to get back into the car. I told him those steps didn’t lead to the entrance, and asked how I get there?! I hopped in the cab and he cut across traffic. He pulled to the side of the Arc du Triomphe and rushed me out. I really felt like I was in a movie. If only there was a beautiful man who gave me some sort of romantic ultimatum to meet him at the top of the Arc du Triomphe at sunset, or he will never love me again.


I paid my entry and began my trek up the 284 stairs. The slow, unfit, sober tourists in my way, were pushed aside as I bounded past. I think the adrenaline took over because I somehow made it to the top and onto the terrace in 7 minutes. After a carafe of wine to myself, I pretty much become an olympic athlete. I caught the end of the sunset as it made its way past the tall buildings of the city centre and disappeared behind the horizon. The view was breathtaking. It brought me close to tears. The Eiffel tower began twinkling as the clock struck 10, and I stood and watched with all the wonder of a child. I walked around the entire top, and took about 100 couples’ photos for them. I walked down the steps as the terrace closed and head to the nearest metro station. What a perfectly magical way to say goodbye to Paris. I fell in love here, not with a boy, but with a city.