Friday, April 18, 2008

Paris! A tale of ethernet cables and "veau"....

I arrived yesterday and until a few hours ago it was mostly tedious and boring, dealing with getting a functioning local cellphone and accessing the internet in my apartment which both required trips to several locations in the city to buy wires (NEVER travel without an ethernet cable!!!) and special parts to make the phone work. I learned that the French word for ethernet cord is......... "ethernet cord". On the plus side, it gave me many opportunities to parle en francaise with the natives, and everyone replies to me in French, so even though I never learned any grammar and have forgotten what miserable shreds of tense conjugation I once had, I think I am successfully speaking French.

There were a few brief moments last night and today when I felt like I was in Paris - crossing the Seine over an uplit bridge as I walked home after dark last night, catching my first glimpse of that special tower which holds rank as the world's favorite keychain fob. But mainly it's been a maze of hunting down the closest Monoprix grocery store and returning to my apartment to repeatedly enter a 30-digit passcode into what I have come to believe is an imaginary "wireless" connection. Thus the cord.

But eventually I got myself trussed safely back into the various virtual networks I need to feel sane (and connected to my painfully far away husband) and finally I was able to relax and start feeling the Paris vibe.

And now I'd like to sing the praises of Monoprix.... a store that is the prettiest, most compact and city-fied Walmart you'll every see. I bought a travel sewing kit, asparagus, kelloggs brand cereal, a grid-ruled notebook, proscuitto, and a polka dot scarf, among other things. If I were so inclined I also could have bought baby girl dresses, plastic picnic ware, a sack of croissants, and the entire Neutrogena line of skin care products. I restrained myself, at least for now.

When the groceries were put away in my microscopic fridge I went to a cafe around the corner for dinner and and despite the goofy dancing tomato logo on the awning the food was divine: I had "veau" which I need to look up because I don't even know what kind of meat I was eating, but it was sooo good, tender meat on a t-bone with a creamy sauce. Had that along with a carafe du vin bordeaux and finished it all off with mousse au chocolat which unexpectedly had little chips all over the top which at first I thought were chopped nuts but turned out to TOFFEE and wow... if there is ever a proper topping for chocolate mousse it is little bits of toffee.

So, now I feel like I am here :)

Oh, and the apartment I rented is just lovely - artsy and quirky as only the french can manage, the owner has decorated with tiny antique chests and huge gold-framed mirrors paired with modern reflective tile in the bathroom and kitchen, with pickled white hardwood floors throughout. Very cute, very eclectic. Buddahs and framed oil paintings and weird little lamps on doilies abound. And a tiny 6-inch window above the bed, just big enough to crack open and let in a tiny whiff of damp Paris nighttime air, the best air on the planet in my humble opinion.