Le Petit Vacances
I know, I've been neglectful here, but it was the holidays and I was busy having 5 hour lunches followed by 3 hour dinners in the French countryside. I am not making those numbers up. Anyways, I had my first visitor! Cameron came to celebrate New Years and to show me some of the UK. I was excited to show off some of my newly acquired French tricks, which didn't exactly go as planned. Having a familiar face and voice encouraged me to lose the french accent and basically forget everything I had learned. There are two Americans now and one french waiter so we are all going to speak English! USA USA USA. In all seriousness, I think I did ok. Ask Cameron, he will say I did, because he doesn't speak french.
I finally had my Parisian apartment balcony experience I had been wanting since I first arrived. We stayed in the 18th, Montmartre, which is easily my favorite arrondissement . New Year's Eve was spent at the Palais Garnier with the Opera national de Paris. We saw a mix of modern ballets from the worst seats I have ever sat in. This was my fault, I bought tickets from a strange Russian ballet mistress a few weeks earlier, but that's another story. Even though we could only see 1/3 of what was actually being preformed, it was the best New Year's Eve I've ever had. Champagne, gowns, and white flowers filled the already opulent theater.
New Years Day, caught the train to London. Some of you may know that I have a slight obsession with English accents. Especially the cockney accent. I have been known to quote a certain Essex reality show and also sing various songs from Mary Poppins and My Fair Lady. Cameron knows this, Cameron hates this, Cameron has family and friends who are actually British and would find this annoying. Cameron is scared, and so am I. My first remark getting off the train was that it looks like the scene from Mary Poppins when Dick Van Dyke dances on the rooftops. I immediately have to stop thinking about this. I am shockingly able to control myself for most of the trip. We stay with Michael Caine and his wife. Maybe it wasn't actually Michael Caine, maybe it was. We get a whirlwind tour of London and a nice meal accompanied by 6 bottles of wine which was quietly and generously poured by Sir Michael Caine.
Then it was off to Southhampton to stay in a pub, well above a pub. The pub is mid-renovation which was good for everyone's sake but mostly mine. The British hold a stigma of being a bit cold, but I have never met nicer, funnier people. Southhampton is cold and rainy but charming, I think about moving here and running a shop where I sell chunky knit sweaters to sailors. We stop by Winchester on the way back to London. It's old. It's really old, the Cathedral opened in the 90's, as in 1093. My brain stops understanding time. We drive back and I can't believe I've gotten this far without mentioning that we DROVE, on the left, in the roundabouts, and almost to our deaths. I do not recommend it.
Our train to Paris was set to leave at 10 pm, but in a really harsh lesson on the horrors of the 24 hour clock, it actually was set to leave at 8 pm, which it did minus 2 passengers. We paid a heavy price for the next train at 8 am, which is still 8 on the 24 hour clock. We were treated to another night at Sir Caines. Knowing I had to be up at 5 am I was not going to make the mistake of drinking a bottle and a half of wine by myself again. So I only had 2 glasses of white wine, which was followed by a couple sips of sherry, ( so civilized!) followed by I don't know how much of illegal Balcan plum liquor called Rakia. An excerpt:
Michael Caine: Would you like a spot of sherry?
ME: oh sure that sounds nice.
Caine: We picked up this stuff called Rakia in the czech republic (mumbles something about possibly smuggling it back) It's very good, we put it in pudding sometimes. Would you both like a glass?
Cameron: smells it, looks alarmed.
We stayed up until 2 am and I endured a 6 hour hangover the next day.
On the train back, there was a group of 4, British au pair girls who were SO excited about the ability to talk and laugh that they didn't stop doing either things for the 2 hour ride back to Paris. I swear off doing my accent for a while. It was a quick and quiet last day in Paris. We went to Pere Lachaisse cemetery and took a late night cruise on the Seine. I'm on my own again with only a little more than a month left in my Paris adventure. My 2016 new years resolution is to stay very far away from illegal liquors.
(Photos of me taken by Cameron)