I figure I have like one week into January to wrap up the rest of my year in review/ highlights posts from 2013? Plus I have some plans to spruce up this place and I’m keen to get stuck into those. So maybe some pretty pics from my honeymoon in Paris then? I’ve definitely been thinking about how this time last year, we were wandering around in Paris and seeing out the old year and in with the new one, the first of our married lives.
Some stuff we did before NYE:
We were staying within walking distance of the Moulin Rouge so I grabbed tickets to a nighttime show before we left Perth. I’d heard that the dinner was not really worth the price so I booked for the after dinner show which included a bottle of champagne. Seemed like fun!
It was definitely good that the theatre was within walking distance of our hotel and that I had prepaid for tickets cause we were still so jetlagged, I’m not sure we would have definitely gone otherwise. It was also VERY cold and we had to queue outside with everybody for what felt like hours. It was probably at least an hour and I hate queuing, I feel like the longer you have to queue and wait for something, the less you will enjoy whatever it is you are waiting for. Just too much expectation to wait time ratio. Suddenly, after waiting FOREVER, we were ushered in and the ushers seated the whole crowd in record time. You sat at tables seating about 6 people, so we sat with strangers. Our bottle of champagne was thrust on us, glasses filled and away we went. (It felt like A LOT of champagne but I think that’s because I couldn’t really drink due to my Crohn’s and so C drank pretty much the whole bottle and got quite merry.)
What to say about the performance? Hmm … there was a giant pool with snakes with a woman doing some kind of synchronised swimming. There was the traditional cancan dancing, which was my favourite part of the whole show. There was a lot of bare breasts. There were a couple of fabulous male dancers who did not really have to nude up. And then there was the second half of the show which I will describe merely this way – Eurovision meets Macy and Thorn from the 80s (Bold and the Beautiful).
I did enjoy the show. But more than that, I enjoyed a couple of the smaller museums which we visited nearby which documented a lot of the history of the arts, politics, music and performances of the area and placed the Moulin Rouge within that greater context. I loved learning about the Le Chat Noir, which was in a museum in Renoir’s house.
We wandered around in Montmartre on a glorious winter’s day, drinking lots of hot chocolates and eating pastries when we got hungry. We ended up at Sacre Coeur which had a market day on with lots of stalls – I bought earmuffs! (it was cold) and I also bought a few of these confections. I don’t know what they were but they were not what I was expecting them to be which was chocolate covered marshmallows.
I really enjoyed travelling with C. Even though we’d lived together for a few years, travelling together felt a bit like a “what will we be like as team in life?” I discovered that he listens to all my crazybaked ideas and that I should be careful when I shoot my mouth off because C will have googled whatever it was to see how we can do it. We joked a lot about me being the ideas and him being the execution. I got to see a lot of things I might not otherwise have if left to me to figure out how to get there or do it. Not that Paris is all that hard to get around. But having C to stand around in long lines joking made the time go quicker and the prospect of tackling more popular sites more inviting. We did a bunch of the galleries I wanted to visit. I got to see all the Dali my heart could desire. And the Pompidou and the Musee D’Orsay, both of which were closed last time I was there.
And I schlepped C to the Louvre. We ended up getting to jump the huge queue and go straight in (with the museum passes, this did not help us in the same way when queuing for the D’Orsay which we must have done for over an hour). I still hate the Louvre and I’m not sure why I still feel the need to go there to check (that’s three for three now) but it was so easy to get in that I thought C should at least experience the Mona Lisa (ie the pushing and shoving and not really enjoying the painting bit). A lovely wander down the Champs Elysee afterwards brought nutella crepes for some and (French) onion soup for others. (Don’t you think felafels, cheesecake and mint tea go perfectly together? No, me neither.)
One of the things C really wanted to do was see a rugby match. I was a lot more wary about catching a train out into the suburbs, a part of Paris I know nothing about and a lot less likely to accidentally stumble my way home from. But C was determined, and he put up with a very complaining me who wore the wrong shoes and didn’t like walking (the fifteen minutes!) to somewhere I’d not been before. But I’ll admit, when we got there, I had a fabulous time. It was cold (yay the earmuffs!) but it was a lot of fun. And the theme song for the home side – Agen – was to an ACDC track which made it all the more amusing. Here’s the view from our seats. C couldn’t resist getting an Agen supporters jersey (that’s him wearing it at breakfast the next day).
And then there was New Years Eve.
One of the disappointing things about our trip related to my travel agent. Normally I would have booked the whole thing online myself but my Mum had used a really great travel agent previously and the idea of someone planning some parts of the trip considering all the other stuff I was doing with the wedding seemed really appealling. In the end, I was given a different agent to the one my mother had used and the one thing I regret is either not being more of a pain about getting her to do the stuff I wanted, or just doing it myself. She was going to book us this really lovely NYE – drinks at the George and then dinner somewhere near the Eiffel Tower etc etc. In the end I think she booked, or we booked, a degustation dinner for the evening but then realised at the last minute that there was nothing on the menu I could eat and the chef refused to do a vegetarian option for me (the French didn’t really seem all that into vegetarians and that was something that was an issue for the whole trip). We ended up cancelling those plans and our concierge at the hotel booked us a river cruise vegan dinner.
It sounded awesome and we were really looking forward to it.
However it had rained the days before NYE and when we headed down to the Seine it was cold and wintry. When we arrived at the correct berth we discovered that the river was too high for the boat to be able to cruise (too high for it to pass under the bridges) and so it was going to stay docked for the event. That seemed ok. But the evening was not quite what we had imagined. I guess we had in mind something similar to the original plan but on a river cruise. And I can’t quite remember how much it cost but it didn’t really seem cheap. I think though what we had stumbled across was a club or a vegan group who were having their end of year/new years eve celebration. Most people seemed to know each other and the diners also seemed to know the waitstaff and kitchen crew. Seating was at large round tables and there was a band set up in a corner. Like we were at a wedding or 21st on a cruise ship. We took a tiny table in one corner near the exit and tried to melt into the scenery. Slowly people asked to take the remaining chairs at our table for sitting at others and we were good with that. We were hoping for a romantic, intimate dinner to see in the new year.
(I have no idea about my hair other than we stood in the wind on the dock for quite some time before dinner.)
We got adopted by a somewhat eccentric woman who seemed to know a lot of the people in the room but didn’t actually want to sit with any of them. Instead she sat with us and provided lively conversation. She gave us some suggestions of what we should see when in town (we took none of the suggestions), told us how she’d been on a diet for several days because she was auditioning for some dancing show the day after (and then shovelled a loooot of food into her face, whilst continuing her stories unabated and sometimes spitting food in my direction) and was very generous in hunting down lashings of food from the buffet and insisting we share from her plate.
The food. I think really what we learned is that C has no desire to become a vegan any time soon. I didn’t really mind the food as much, being a vegetarian and having almost no appetite due to the Crohn’s. We had to keep going to the bar which was hidden behind the entrance, for tiny cups of drinks. The cups seemed to be in limited supply and got more and more assorted as the night wore on. The food was a buffet spread out on a trestle and was a lot like if we went and cooked up a storm for our friends. It was not quite the evening of decadent, French fine foods I’d been planning. And I felt very self conscious and out of place for most of it. At some point we both realised we were more than happy to bail and whilst our friend was off saying hi, finally, to someone, we ducked out the door and off the boat. But not before grabbing our goodie bag of vegan delights, most of which we couldn’t bring home to Australia. Though we did enjoy the vegan chocolate and the eucalyptus bubble bath.
Not quite the night I had hoped for but still a story that brings a good laugh. In the end, all I wanted was to spend the night in Paris, with C, and see the Eiffel Tower lit up. And we did. And then we headed back to our hotel well before midnight. The staff had left us a new year’s gift to wish us a sweet new year:
Tasting Pierre Herme’s macarons was on my Paris to do list and I don’t think we would have got there on our own. I can quite happily say that our Adriano Zumbo’s are still the best I’ve ever tried.
We kept our eyes open to see the new year in and then fell fast asleep, jetlag still prevailing.