Before I even start on this, allow me to mention that Paris is a city I have already visited several times throughout my life. While a full-feature story about my previous trips to the city is still in the ether somewhere, I can’t help but share the most recent experiences, partially because on my recent visit I have had more happen to me in the first day than ever before over the course of several days.
It all began when my Parisian friends expressed their disappointment at the fact that they haven’t seen me for ‘too long’. The ‘too long’ criteria is, of course, highly subjective, but I guess that two years into the separation is a reasonable measure. Thus, having discovered an ultra-cheap flight to Paris during my spring break, I’ve proceeded to purchase it and following a hectic, sleep-deficient day, boarded the plane that has smoothly landed in the French capital shortly before 11pm.
My dearest friend that I have stayed with has been kind enough to pick me up at the airport, and I was finally introduced to the entire CD of Rihanna on our way back to the city. Alas, upon arrival we have figured out that a) we were desperately hungry and b) the fridge was desperately empty. So we ventured a couple of blocks from the house into a tiiiiiiny little place with the French crêpes (aka thin, large pancakes). The place looked like something you would intuitively rather speed up right past, but that would be a grave mistake. Located off the center of Paris, this little crêperie is worth a dedicated visit! Named Marche ou Crêpe, it is rather famous, a suggestion one may find in travel guides and definitely something you and your taste buds will remember with joy. You can pick and mix your own recipe from a selection of many unusual, fresh ingredients, whether sweet or salty. I must say that my born-at-the-spot idea of having goat cheese, egg, olives and sweet paprika was so damn good I’m still dreaming about a second serving!
However, the gastronomical experience was just the beginning of it all. On our way back to the house, we have been stopped by a man who was clearly not very sane. For whatever the unfortunate reason, he wanted to talk to us and got very upset when we simply carried on walking. He followed us, asking why was it we didn’t want to talk to him. At a certain point, he grabbed me by the hand to stop me and even reached into his back trousers pocket after a beer bottle, which we were not too interested in knowing what he wanted to do with. He then spat in my direction, too, after we told him to leave us alone, which is when we promptly crossed the street to the nearest available cafe with someone in it. They were closing, but we asked if we could just stand there for a few moments till the guy is gone. Soon enough, he found another set of victims to try and converse with, so we made a little semi-circle around his street post and sped back to the house. My friend said she had never had anything like this happen to her in 11 years of living in the city – I must definitely be some sort of a lucky charm for all kinds of madness…
The rest of the night had been spent extremely productively – by talking till the wee hours of the morning. I must say that besides the company-deprived man, so far everything went rather well.
The afternoon of February 28th was spent the way it should have been after all these sleepless nights: passed out. Rather early in the evening than late in the afternoon, I finally got up, took a lovely shower and was driven to the new gastronomical treat of the day. This time it was a small, hidden Japanese restaurant that has been owned by the same couple for at least a decade. Before, the restaurant did not accept non-Japanese clients, but nowadays economy dictates otherwise. Still, you would be better off when it comes to ordering anything if you either know Japanese or have someone with you who does :).
I had just received my special gift, too – a fancy set of chopsticks that can be dismantled and carried around in a special casing – so I was happy to try them out (read: show them off). I was also happy to try out all those yummy items on the menu. The feast had been hallmarked by the green tea ice-cream with sweet beans and I naively thought that this was enough of guilty pleasures for the night.
Instead, another friend of mine had texted to ask if I was interested in going for a drink with a few people. We’ve arranged for them to pick me up at my friend’s place and the ‘few drinks’ have turned out to be a visit into the VIP Room club. It’s been a while since I’ve seen this many over-dressed youth representatives gathered at one location!
The music disappointed me that night. Specifically, the fact that until as late as 2am the DJ kept playing half a minute or a minute of music and then threw in a half a minute pause… Or at least so it seemed… Pauses are fine, but they should only last THAT long and no longer. Besides, pausing music every other bloody minute does nothing to hype up the crowd – it rather does a lot to kill the groove even if someone has it to start with! In the end it got a bit better, so we left around 4am.
This is how I’ve gotten a lovely cheap-end meal, a crazy man, a hidden Japanese place and a VIP hang-out squeezed into the first 24 hours of my visit.
The other tales of that trip are the following:
1. The tale of Bastille.
Bastille is where we arranged to have a rendez-vous with yet another friend of mine at 4pm on the Sunday. The plan was to proceed to the Barrio Latino for the afternoon Salsa marathon. Once at Bastille, I had texted my friend a very imaginative “I am at Bastille”, but received no answer. It was rather cold outside, so I decided to find the place myself. I had been there once several years ago in the middle of the night, but I roughly recalled how the street should look like that it was on – a helpful thing granted that there are about 10 streets converging on Bastille… I’ve informed my friend that I’m going to the place and began circling the round-about. No reply…
At one of the streets, I saw a neon sign that seemed familiar. Trusting my inner GPS, this was the street I have decided to try taking and, surpriiiiiiiize, there was Barrio Latino just over a hundred meters into the street! I was very proud of my navigational skills and proceeded inside to be stripped of 8 euros for the entry. I’ve stayed there till 10:30 (partially to get my money’s worth 🙂 ) and got to dance with many good dancers and some great ones, one smelly and one creepy, as well as one absolutely crazy but in a great way :). One guy recognized me from Prague Zouk weekend with Mafie – we even managed to dance our Brazilian version to two songs of French Zouk-love :). I’ve also myself recognized a couple of people from some Salsa congresses – it was fun to see familiar faces. However, my friend had disappeared into oblivion… By 10:30 the place began to empty out and I began to feel hungry. These two factors influenced my decision to finally leave, grab the McD hunger fix kit (KFC was closed 😦 ) and proceed back to the house to sleep some more.
As it later got cleared up, my friend was helping someone to move and was too tired to come that day. I guess it was a smart decision not to wait at the metro stop! I’m just wondering how strenuous the move must have been if even a text message to inform me proved too exhausting of a task :).
2. The Truffle tale.
I must say that I am rather surprised by the general level of culinary fanciness of this particular trip… Following a lovely and a delicious dinner at the Relais le Bistrot d’Edouard with yet another friend of mine and two wonderful ladies (his friends), we have arranged to give a try to the Terres de Truffes restaurant the following evening. My previous experience with truffles is limited to some truffle sauce in Italy (but those gastronomical tales are a subject of an upcoming entry of their own), so I was curious. I was so curious that I was the first one to arrive to the place 🙂 (okay well maybe it had to do something with the fact that yet another friend of mine we grabbed a drink with earlier that day had to leave and I was not too far from the location…). Then my lovely hostess and her friend showed up, and finally one of the two lovely ladies from the night before. So there we are the four of us waiting for my friend and the other girl to arrive… And they never do! As it turned out, she had not been feeling well that day (as one could reasonably expect that after a night of binge-drinking 😀 😀 😀 ), so they had decided to have a dinner at yesterday’s place instead, which is right next door to the house. Except that, fortunately, neither I nor the other lady have received the texts that informed us about the change of plans!
This series of events resulted in us having the dinner at the truffle place… I must say that the fuss about them is not over-estimated by a bit! Everything we tried was damn delicious, the service was extremely friendly and helpful with the selection, and this gourmet dinner will definitely stay as one of the highlights in my memory of everything I’ve ever eaten!
After the dinner, we have stopped by my friend’s place for a short chat and towards 2am proceeded back to the house to finish yet another enjoyable day.
The very last tale is the tale of suspicion… It is actually very short: upon my arrival to the airport the next day (and I pride myself in yet again making it with enough buffer time – a habit I seem to have lost over the years to the risky one of making it to the airport 3 minutes before the end of the check-in…), I was kindly requested by a police officer not to go upstairs. Turns out there had been a suspicious object discovered at the airport, so I decided to use the freshly available to me 15 minutes of procrastination (this is how long the officer said it should take to sort everything out) for a coffee break. Since I was not the only one, the little cafe quickly filled up and as the fortune has it, I ended up in the line in front of fellow Russian citizens, who had troubles finding tea on the menu. I’m overly chatty when sleep deprived, so I helped them to find the tea and talked them into oblivion while having the coffee. Hopefully, I talked them into visiting Prague :). If so, my mission was completed. The suspicious object had also been dealt with in the meantime, so I had finally proceeded to the Charles de Gaulle and waved goodbye to Paris and my very delicious visit.