Note: The speed train is fast. It got up to about 310 km/h, or 192 m/h during our trip!
Warning: long post ahead
Our train was about an hour late getting into Paris, so we really hustled to try to get to the flat we rented through airbnb. The hustle was all to catch the second half of the World Cup final that started before our train rolled into Paris, despite the fact that it was 9:00 p.m. and we hadn't had dinner.
Dinner that night was cereal and some salt and vinegar chips from the nearby mini market.
One of the things about travel is, you just have to be flexible. I had to throw my usual fruit and veggie requirement out the window because some days I was lucky to even eat 2 servings.
The nice part about renting an apartment however, was that we were able to save money (and not eat croissants every morning), although they are pretty tasty.
This was one of my Paris outfits for a long day of biking and sightseeing. I tried to keep my outfits semi fashionable, but obviously comfortable seeing as how we were moving or on our feet all day long.
Top: Zara, pants: Old Navy, flats: Naturalizer
The next morning, we ventured off and used the local Velib bike system, which was only 1.90 Euro per day. There was a bike check in right near our flat, which made it even easier. And, they have an app that I downloaded so we were easily able to locate a check-in spot wherever we were, without needing internet.
Velib was a great way to cover a lot of ground without spending plenty of $ on the metro.
First: a quick stop at the Louvre for a look around and then a crepe complete (eggs, ham and cheese). Mmm...
I call this one "Dodging Tourists" because as we rode down the Champs Elysees, which was open for pedestrians only on Bastille Day, we did a lot of weaving to not inflict harm on anyone.
Arc de Triomphe
For Bastille Day they had a torch lit and guards standing watch over the unknown soldier. It was pretty touching to see.
My favorite of the four I picked out was the salted caramel eaten with a cafe crema (coffee with a little foamed milk on top).
In between biking around the city, it was nice to stop for cookies at Laduree and coffee at a nearby bar for a little Tour de France viewing and some rest for the legs.
Le Petit Palais
Thanks to Lisa's suggestion, we rented a flat in the Marais district, which is a major center of the Paris Jewish community with cute old buildings as well as modern shops. I loved these two buildings and the restaurant sign.
Dinner that night was at a great little pizza place within walking distance of our flat. Thanks to Yelp, I found La Briciola in our neighborhood and highly rated! A plus: the waiters were very kind and happy to explain a few French words we couldn't understand. We opted for the chef's special pizza and salad of the day and Montepulciano wine.
However, we did head to the Sacre Coeur mainly for the views of the city.
One of the cool (and crazy) things about grocery shopping in Europe is that you often have to visit about five places to get all the goods you might need for your dinner. Fruit and veggies at an open air market, bread from la boulangerie, cheese from la fromagerie, meat from the butcher, you get the idea.
It seems much more personal and provides for high quality, direct source food, but I have to imagine it is quite time consuming for locals. There are of course occasional grocery stores that do carry everything, but they don't always have the best variety or quality.
We grabbed strawberries & carrots from a market on our way up to the Sacre Coeur
Later that afternoon, we made our way back to the center of Paris to go inside the Notre Dame before seeking out a few nutella + banana crepes. Must figure out how to make crepes soon!
The afternoon turned out to be pretty nice, so we stopped by the Tuileries Garden to look at the grass you can't sit on (common place around Paris) and then found some chairs to sit in and nap for a bit.
Are you tired yet? Well, we were too!
For our final night, we opted to pick up picnic supplies and bike to the Eiffel Tower and eat dinner in the Champ de Mars (Thank you, Lisa for the suggestion). A fresh baguette, comte cheese, salami, tomatoes and a bottle of Chianti and we were set!
The next morning, we packed up our backpacks for the final time and headed to the airport for the long trip home. After 20 hrs of travel and little sleep, it felt good to touch down Eugene, OR and return to summer in Oregon.
In a nutshell: the manfriend and I had a blast and loved the opportunity to have three weeks together exploring Europe without the daily stress of work. But we also came home pretty exhausted.
Don't be surprised if our next big vacation includes lying on a sunny beach or an escape to the wilderness. ;)
I hope your Monday is treating you well!
What was your most relaxing vacation to date? And your most hectic?