Romain and My Black Friday

Day 46: Friday November 25th, 2011 

The morning began with an alarm clock. And not my alarm clock. But Claire’s. For the second day in a row, her alarm goes off at around 8-9 in the morning, and goes on continuously for a half hour without anyone stopping it. And she shares a room with Susu, and if I can hear it, Pauline can hear it (though she was always up and out of there before this, usually), so they must sleep like King Tut. It got to the point where I just yelled “alarm!” because it was so fucking annoying. I know I’m a guest, but that sucked, especially on days when I had the opportunity to sleep in. It was an omen for my afternoon.

But not for my lunch.

I met Romain for lunch and wine. First we went to Lavinia, a fancy wine and champagne shop that also does tastings. Romain had a membership and some money on his card, so he treated me to some nice wine. Basically we each chose a wine for the other when the other wasn’t looking and tried to guess which one. I was actually able to guess one, and Romain wasn’t! Though I accidentally chose a Spanish wine, which he hasn’t really delved into to this point in his passion for grape.

After that we went to Chez Papa, a kind of semi-upscale French chain. I had the lunch special, and had succulent duck and potatoes au gratin and a creme puff for dessert. It was nummy. Then it was time for Romain to return to work as a high and mighty businessman (I was wondering if he even had to go back for awhile there). It was a great time, and Romain really gave me some insight into French culture and where to tailor a future French adventure (the Provence, and in particular, his home town of Avignon). I look forward to chaperoning him around Seattle if he ever comes to America.

From there, the day went to shit. I had done so much in Paris, that I was ready to use the day to do some planning and figure out at least the next leg of my trip. Originally I had planned on hanging out with Bernadette (Pauline’s Mom) in Bordeaux for a few days, and then visit Sylvie (another one of Catherine’s Grad school friends) in Toulouse. But Bernadette was in Paris visiting Pauline. Now I could’ve bided time and maybe hopped a ride to Bordeaux with them when she was on her way back, but I didn’t want to add to the stress of a family get together, and this was my last day I could stay with Pauline, because she had other guests crashing on the couch. And I couldn’t afford a few more days in Paris in a hostel, and I was antsy to get moving and on with my journey. So I had decided on Barcelona and hit more of France on the way up. I went to the train station and they told me there were no seat reservations for the trip (this was for tomorrow). Fuck. So, in the heat of the moment, I reserved a seat to Bordeaux, because I knew that Sylvie was actually in town there (funny how everyone was matriculating around the same spot), and would be heading back to Toulouse the next day, so I could get a free ride there. All that is useless and confusing information, but that’s the kind of shit that goes through your mind every day when travelling. It’s not easy.

Looking back now, this was a simple and pretty good solution, but I was kind of in a panic, having been gone 46 days, going through my money a lot faster than I had intended, and I had only been on the continent of Europe for less than 10 days and had so much I wanted to see, and my lack of a plan of attack was eating at me. The fact that Barcelona, my step one of a newly formulated plan, backfired, squashed my efforts. But, aside from missing out on seeing Bernadette, this turn of event turned out pretty darn well.

The real travesty of it all was, that due to my sour mood, I didn’t feel like going to Montmartre, which is supposed to be lovely and a great place to visit, and was recommended to me by everyone. Next time, which is the adage I’ve had to take on, since I can’t possibly see everything, and I don’t want to. I don’t want to be the American/Asian tourist who does a city in a day or just sees the sights and that’s it and thinks they’ve experienced the city. Sometimes I feel like I’m in danger of becoming this monster, but it’s hard to escape that mindset completely when you don’t have the luxury of just staying in one place for weeks at a time. But at least I can admit when I have.

That night, I went out with Pauline to meet her co-workers…at an Irish pub (not my choice). I thought beer was expensive in Ireland. It was 7.50 euro for a pint here and that wasn’t even expensive for Paris. And because I owed Pauline for her hospitality, I got her a pint. So after those two beers I was tapped for the night. The UNESCO party was actually a pretty great group, with the benefit that they all spoke English, but I was so spent, and couldn’t afford to get drunk to get on the same level. I met a few nice Italian girls (one was depressed and actually has a recording of me telling her to smile), a cool Indian/French/British guy who was affronted when I felt weird accepting a free drink from him (just accept the free drink, even if you can’t afford to buy another round), and some others. Most were migrating to the dance floor, but Pauline and I were tuckered out.

We returned to her flat to find Susu and two massively drunk Frenchman being loud and stupid while I was trying to sleep (not doing anything sexual. Just being drunk). Drunk French sounds really moronic. And I like the sound of it sober.

I finally get to sleep, but am awakened by an alarm clock…

Next: My first hotel of my journey…in Bordeaux.

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