Saturday, April 18

Roll out the France

A little bit from the "France Journals" now that I am finally back to a place where I feel like I can read/ write/ breathe properly again.

Saturday / Sunday was the flight to France (via Germany) and while the flight was uneventful (it seems to me the bigger something is in the air, the less it moves, which is exactly the way I like my things in the air. Moving in one direction, not 4 or 5.) On Sunday afternoon we got to Paris and checked into the hotel (which was part of an old Train Station, which meant you could hear the trains run past under you every X minutes. They sounded like noisy jr high/ high schoolers running up and down a poorly constructed stair case. I discovered it WASN'T students after about the 2nd evening when I was thinking someone was going to get in trouble for making all that noise only to put two and two together after a bit of wandering around.)

Following check in the group treked to the metro station where we learned a thing or two about automated turn styles and not using more than 1 ticket to try and get through them. It took a little fore-thought and to be fair these kids had been up for 22 hours or so and no one had bothered to tell them that thinking was going to be required on this leg of the journey. (You purchased X number of tickets and then when you used one ticket, you could then use that ticket any number of times within a certain time period. So you had to keep the "used" ticket handy and not use a "new" ticket.) Being from Seattle where public transportation isn't a really strong point, I can see where the crash course as needed.

Once we all got through (though I'm not sure it ever went flawlessly) we made our way to the Eifle Tower and the Sein river cruise. You can imagine that the gentle rocking motion combined with not having slept for a while and most students were out. It gave us a nice view of the city of Paris from the river and made me want to see it a little bit closer. (More on that later)

After we woke the students up from the cruise we had our first dinner in France. I am going to say, though I didn't know it now, that that meal was to be our first french meal and one that promised to be the most authentic. At the time I thought this was a herald of great things to come and the culinary excitement with which I was going to be greeted by France. It was instead a flag stuck in the battlefield of tourism that stands alone, quiet and resolute. I had a lot of french fries to look forward to, and steak, and such. I'll detail food more later. Suffice to say that overall, culinary, I was disappointed with the trip. Maybe I should have drank more wine.

This dinner however was a bright spot. The meal started with medium sized tomatoes, which had had their tops cut off, and they had been hollowed out. Their seeds and insides having been replaced by a very smooth creamy white goat cheese that had been mixed with some herbs. That was served on a small bed of greens that had been drizzled with a light mustard vinaigrette. It looked great, it tasted great, and I would have eaten 4 more. (The cheese and the vinaigrette went great with the table bread they served as well, which was the kind of bread I have found all over Europe. The small medium brown loaf that is about the size of your fist. Tough crust and a soft sponginess inside that makes you want to dip, spread and drizzle almost anything over it.)

Following opening course was the meat. It was a beef dish with carrots. While the beef was technically good, the carrots were bland and between the brown gravy and orange of the carrots the dish didn't pop in any way. Something green on the plate to dissect the colors would have set it off nicely. Once again, the gravy went well with the bread. The beef was soft and suggested that it had been browned before cooking for a few hours.

After the meat course dessert was delivered to us. Called "Opera" cake it really looked and tasted like Tiramisu on a small scale. It sat on a placid lake of Creme Anglase.

At the conclusion of dinner we went back (via Metro) to the hotel and called it a night. There's a brief little run down. I'll try more as I get it together.



  1. This is only tangentially related to your actual post. You say, "Being from Seattle where public transportation isn't a really strong point, I can see where the crash course as needed."

    I have to disagree that public transportation isn't a strong point in Seattle, although I do agree that we don't have the whole turnstyle system, which could confuse suburban Seattle kids. However, Seattle has an excellent bus system that allows you to get all over the place really quite effectively. You actually CAN get around Seattle without a car. I think many people in the Seattle area choose not to take buses, but many don't even appreciate that the option to go carless exists viably.

    I mention this because one of my huge complaints about Massachusetts is that New England in general doesn't buy into buses. They have commuter rail into Boston, and within Boston buses and the T. Leave the Boston city limits, however, and you're completely on your own - no buses, no public transportation whatsoever. If you don't have a car and you're not willing to ride your bike long distances, you're up a creek. Now THAT's what I call "not a strong point"!

  2. I think Ben meant more along the lines of "being from Kirkland where public transportation isn't a really strong point."

    Living in Seattle in college, I took the bus within the city often and with satisfaction. However, it's not efficient in most of the suburbs. One weekday to get from downtown Bellevue to Capitol hill in the late afternoon, I had to take 3 buses over the course of two hours. Yikes!

    Another point is that many middle class "eastsiders" think of the buses as slightly sketchy. I know that's not true and the bus system needs a good PR campaign :) Probably many of the parents of these high schoolers discourage their children from taking public transportation due to their fears.


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