Dan and Ian Wander Europe: Paris wrap-up

As we sit in our Roman hostel, munching on the fruits, meats and cheeses we acquired to serve as dinner, it seems a good time to reflect on our experiences in Paris. Look, it doesn’t HAVE to make sense, it’s just what’s going to happen.

Hostel picnics

Tonight’s dinner was inspired by a trend we started in Paris. Yes, we were in the city of lights, in a country famed for its cuisine. Fifteen minutes’ walk could (and did) take us to meals that would make a foodie weep. They would also be between 20 and 30 euros. Each. For 15 euros total, we could gather a sampling of cheeses and sliced meats and an entire bottle of wine that would still be better than most meals we could get at home.

Most meals we do get at home.

Most meals I get at home.

Seriously though, the cheeses alone would have run us $10-20 in Calgary, so it was worthwhile. Especially since that hostel (unlike this one) had a fully stocked kitchen.

Monumental sights

There was a trend amongst the landmarks we visited in Paris. We were never, ever prepared for just how big they are. Each time at least one of us (usually Ian) would be taken aback by the scale of what we were seeing. The Eiffel Tower is massive, looming above nearly the entire city, visible from nearly anywhere. The Arc De Triomphe is nearly a city block wide. The Invalides building, home of a military museum, a hospital for wounded soldiers and Napoleon’s Tomb was huge.

You’d think I’d have been ready for the Eiffel Tower. I was there once before. But my teenage years feel so distant. I have trouble connecting to the memories. I know I’ve been up the Eiffel Tower, I know I’ve seen the Roman Colosseum before yesterday. Tomorrow will not be my first trip to Florence. But it all still feels new.

Which is all the justification I need for re-visiting these places instead of restricting myself to new cities. Thanks, cruel and merciless march of time!

Language Barriers

Ian speaks enough French to get by in most circumstances. I do not. I studied French for 12 years, but just like the Eiffel Tower and the Colosseum it’s all a blur now. So I left communicating with cabbies up to Ian. He was our Cabbie Whisperer. I remember enough French that I could basically follow along, but not enough that I felt comfortable diving in.

That’s over now. We’re in Italy. The best I can say about my skills in Italian, gleaned from one semester of lessons back in ’96, is that it’s better than my Swahili. Thankfully, like Malaysia, people working in tourism related industries (including restaurants) tend to know their fair share of English, so we do okay. But it means that after two days of me knowing the lay of the land in London and four days of Ian knowing the language in Paris, we’re well and truly strangers in a strange land now.

Which is what makes it an adventure.

The Meanest Thing I’ve Said to Ian, Apparently

A big benefit of travelling with me now as opposed to back in high school is my adoption of Mr. Wil Wheaton’s motto of “Don’t be a dick.” Lines may be long, mornings may be early, and my feet may very well be quite sore by the end of the day (blisters the size of Twix bars on my dang heels), but moaning about it won’t help me and will ensure that whoever I’m with has a miserable time because of me. This cannot be allowed.

That said, I did apparently hurt Ian a touch.

We were making our way back to the Eiffel Tower. An easy enough task given how it looms over the city. As we approached, Ian said, jokingly, “Found it. All by myself.”

“Well spotted,” I replied. “Ten points for Hufflepuff.”

He stopped in his tracks, as if struck. Finally speaking in a sad whimper:

“I… that… I’m not a Hufflepuff! I’m not.”

Oh, Ian. There’s nothing wrong with showing badger pride.

Next time: Rome.

For more of our Paris hijinks, check us out on the Youtubes:

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