my first full day was packed! I had so much fun navigating the Metro and dealing with gypsies/pickpockets, planning my day with consideration to another friend’s ‘plans’. More about that later. My first goal was to go to the Grand Palais And the “Taste of Paris” 2015, which hosted a slew of renowned chefs as well as some up-and-comers. Those of you who aren’t serious ‘foodies may not identify with this part of the post – I will be updating and expanding later….
The Taste of Paris: I saw this event was taking place when I was planning my trip and decided it would be an opportunity of a lifetime- so I purchased a premiere pass. This got me so much more than I imagined. 3-star Michelin chefs like Joel Roubouchon and Alain Ducasse were present and schmoozing the crowd.
Some Paris Experiences: Paris was rather a whirlwind – I purchased a ‘Museum Pass’ with a 3-day travel card good for the metro, RER, and buses around Paris. To navigate these, I highly recommend you download an app on your smartphone. I used “Paris Metro” for my iPhone and iPad – proved to be invaluable.
Also purchased with this pass was a ‘Hop On/Hop Off’ one day Bus Tour and a Parisienne Batteaux Pass (which is the boat tour). This is something I had not tried before, so I decided to jump on this opportunity. I also purchased a guided tour for Versailles, which included the fountains and the gardens and a self guided tour after the rooms of the palace. Worth it as well. Although we still had crowds to navigate, it was a group of us, so we held priority when entering each room, plus the guide, Julien, was very informative and pleasantly engaging. I told him I was an art history teacher and he asked if I wanted to lead the tour, to which I replied, “I’m on vacation.”
Ok so back to the good bits… Just as in Italy, the city’s poorest are running rampant through train stations, and other popular public sites. Gypsies and panhandlers try to distract, beg and pickpocket those that give them the time of day. My first episode of this distract/pickpocket scheme while traveling happened in Paris this time, across the street from the Museé d’Orsay. My friend, who had never been to Europe, and I were separated by these these 3 young teenage girls looking to get us to sign something in one hand and trying to unzip our bags with the other. They did not succeed with mine because I have a really secure travel bag, however they did unzip my friend’s fanny pack and a jogger yelled, “she just unzipped your bag!” as she ran past.
My friend realized this and began chasing after them and flipping them off and cursing, where I just turned around and started snapping photos. They are quite shy when you do this – and so my friend did the same, albeit more aggressively. Now, I understand my friend being upset, but this is something that I have learned while traveling in many countries in seedy situations, and not so seedy – do not acknowledge these people, be aware of your surroundings, and get a secure over the shoulder bag like the one seen here: Travelon anti theft bags I found on ebags.com best fit my needs. It’s an interesting thing that later that day as we walked to the Eiffel Tower that all the kiosks were closed. We later heard on the news (and through Facebook) that they had closed the site because of the prevalence of pickpockets. Hmmmm
I decided to have a picnic by the Siene with some wine and a nice rabbit terrine I bought at the ‘Taste’ the night before. So I bought some vin rouge, some cherry tomatoes, a petite pain, some mustard, some olives, and a nice small wheel of muenster cheese. After the Museé d’Orsay experience, which the museum was amazing, and I thoroughly had a brief conversation in my head with John. This took place in front of his favorite painting, “Olympia” by Edouard Manet. (Insert story)
I told my friend I would catch up and took some moments to really connect with some memories of John and how much he would appreciate this experience. I know you are traveling with me and I miss you terribly.