Sunday, January 18, 2009

paris, je t'aime

Has anyone ever seen that French film? I watched it with my best friend right before I left and it was wonderful! It was similar to Love Actually with small stories all threaded together through human contact. Now we begin with the Paris portion of my traveling seminar. I downloaded all the pictures in the opposite order of which they were taken (ha) so it'll be like a backwards reflection... Our seminar was focused on immigration in Western Europe, so it's no surprise that our last stop in Paris was the French immigration musuem. We had a full tour of the permanent and temporary exhibits and then some free time, during which we noticed this vending machine. The picture was necessary because there aren't any ordinary snacks in here, only objects that people think that they need today. Don't they realize that the best things in life can't be packaged and sold?! Like the pure pleasure from eating real and delicious food, for example. My lunch that day consisted of a Vegetable Pizza and Crêpe from one of the many cafés in the lively and upcoming neighborhood where the new museum is located. The sugared and ever so sweet crepe was the perfect ending to a nice meal, complete with Perrier and a Café au Lait.
Earlier that day we went to one of the many neighborhoods around Paris, St. Denis, to have a discussion with two politicians from the area. We had a first-hand look of the many racial problems and their consequences. No matter how different two cultures are, I feel as though almost all deal with the same social barriers and difficulties. It was the architecture in the city's cathedral that was more unique... in an optimistic and great unchangable way :).
Lunch that day was a delightful Omelette au Frommage with a side salad. Simple yet oh so very satisfying, the combo kept me going and going and going. Good thing too; the FIAT we were staying at gave us meal cards for dinner but the options were quite disappointing. For economic purposes though, I had to put all my high and mighty foodie opinions to the side. The night before was one of my new friends 21st birthday. Woohoo! Only not exciting thing was that it was a Monday, so there were only so many nightlife options. It was also frigidly cold so nobody felt like trekking around, and everyone can drink at 18. Ha, not so bad, after all. We ended up at the bar at the Radisson, along with 3 bottles of wine for the group, some incredibly Wasabi Peas, and a complimentary gallete for the birthday girl. Good times.
Earlier that day we strolled along the Seine.

We also had a visit to many of the government buildings and caught a glimpse of French wintery gardens.
With our multicultural and minority focus, one of our first outings was to a mosque. Unfortunately, the recent storm kept the main doors closed so we didn't get the inner tour, but we did make it to the back restaurant for a warm and comforting meal of Cous Cous with Garbanzos and Vegetables. Yum.
It was so nice refuel after all of our walking. Although, I must admit, sightseeing is one of my favorite activities--a great workout for my lower body and lovely views for my upper body... or just my eyes, I guess ;). Many Christmas decorations still adorned the shops and cafés.

We went to the Pantheon.
And looked at the Luxembourg Gardens... from the outside. It was closed due to liability and weather :(.
And, finally, our first night. After a long 7 hour flight, and feeling tired, delirious, and dehydrated, we sat in a boat to feast upon the views from the Seine. I swear, no matter how many times I see le Tour d'Eiffel, (I've been in France twice before,) it still amazes me. It's such a majestic work of art. Paris, je t'aime.
Whew, you made it! Here's one last flashback to home food. My mom, my darling mother, had a brunch the day I left so I could see my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins once more. Breakfast is the my most favorite meal... in the whole-wide world :).
We had a Spinach Quiche, Walnuts,

Hummus with Toasted Crackers,

Real NY Bagels (you will be missed, my loves,)

Cheese, Salami, and Crackers (so not brekkie, but I lead it slide,)

Whole Foods Scones,
And the very necessary Vegetable Platter, perfect at any time of day.
I'm not gonna lie, the whole being away from home for another semester hasn't yet hit me... which I guess is a good thing considering how wonderful my European life has been so far. You have no idea how much we have to catch up on. Look forward to a post from Belgium, Holland, and Germany, and then, finally, a review of my most recent meals in Strasbourg, France avec ma famille and those with friends. My host-mom is a very nutritionally-informed vegetarian, by the way, and I couldn't be happier. I hope you all have a glorious Martin Luther King Day. Enjoy the day off... I'll be in my first day of classes. Bisous!

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