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Brian Oh: {food, travel, photo}

Paris (i): Zombie Tourist

By the time I got to Paris, I was pretty exhausted. After an overnight flight from Nairobi, I set out navigating the train system from CDG to the city to meet my airbnb host. My flight had been delayed, but I managed to link up with her and get situated in the apartment. airbnb is pretty awesome. I think I'll make more use of it in future trips. 

I honestly can't remember very much from my first day. I met up with a friend of a friend in the early afternoon and walked up Montmartre to the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur. It was overcast and quite chilly. The weather was basically identical to Nairobi's. I had hoped it would be more summery in Paris. I also hadn't realized how far north Paris is. The sun didn't set until near midnight. After overlooking the gray, urban sprawl for a bit from the steps of the temple, G and I wandered a bit. For the life of me I can't recall anything from this day. This isn't usually a problem for me, but I suppose fatigue has its toll. The only thing I can recall is just how much like Paris Paris actually looks. Beautiful wrought iron balconies dotting pristine sandy hued brick apartments around every almost artificially quaint corner. Immaculately manicured tree lined avenues and cafe patios with their street facing tables.  

That first evening was a blur. In hindsight I also realized I had been a really lazy photographer in Paris. I didn't spend much time taking thoughtful or interesting shots. I threw my wide lens on and barely took it off. I also just didn't take as many shots as I should have in general. Regrettable, but I was tired. 

The next day, I did the whole Notre Dame -Arc de Triomphe walk. Along the way, I swung across the Seine to have lunch at Le Comptoir du Relais and Avant Comptoir, a popular bistro and creperie respectively. Lunch consisted of fried pig feet (funky, delicious), rich, buttery, puréed potatoes (extremely delicious), and a glass of wine. Notre Dame was impressive. I almost didn't go inside because the line was massively long, but it moved quickly. After speeding through the cathedral because it was teeming with tourists, I made my way west along the Seine and passed through the Louvre. I didn't go inside. I tend not to visit museums when I travel. As much as seeing art in person is cool, I'd rather go do and eat things. I can see art online. Can't eat food online.

I continued through the gardens and down the Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe. I made the trip to the top and spent a good while looking out over Paris as the clouds parted and shed a little color over the city. Fairly exhausted again after this point and I'd been fairly zombie-like for most of the walk, I headed back to my room before meeting G and some other friends for dinner.

A couple of friends, A and K, from Maryland were also traveling through Paris on a Eurotrip at the time, so we all met up for dinner. Unfortunately, Parisians seem to close for inscrutable reasons at random times so the first two places we tried were closed. I'd read that Bistro Paul Bert was meant to have one of the best steak frites in the city and it was nearby, but it was closed (but I had amazing steak frites later in the week, so it was a wash). Next we tried a place G knew of nearby. Closed. After that we just went to the first spot on a corner nearby that was open. We had a largely forgettable meal while comparing Paris experiences so far. Communication failures. Cultural shocks. Bad French accents. It's always nice to see friends in other countries. 

After dinner we ordered another bottle of wine from the restaurant to take over to the Canal Saint-Martin and drank out of little plastic tea cups. It was meant to be a very local thing to do. After a bit, we all retired to our respective rooms for the night and I promptly fell back into a travel-fatigue induced coma.