I remember charging through the airport in Lisbon.
There was still sleep in my eyes, still a heavy air of aggravation about myself from the 8 hour transatlantic flight. "Maybe if I had a TV in my headrest, maybe I should've just paid the extra money to fly direct. " Haunting thoughts in my head as I continued to press my way through the throngs of travelers itching to make their way to a destination unbeknownst to me. I remember I check my phone 5 times, 6:19am it read.
My flight was boarding in 10 short minutes and I was still at the back of the line to get through customs. All of a sudden I hear a small but authoritative voice cry " Barcelona? Paris?"
This aviation savior knew my flight landed late, and graciously let me cut every line through to my final gate, a flight to Paris, France.
Paris has always been on my bucket list, and I found out shortly thereafter, it was with good reason. The city itself is a treasure that has inspired many eloquent sonnets and epic poems. I finally got to experience what all the hype was about, and I got to do it with some of my best friends.
The four of us were split between two locations, which not only provided us a better glimpse of the city, but some hilarious tales of trying to find our way around. As prairie folk, rideshare services were definitely our go-to in such a hilly city.
We started off the trip trying to recover from all the jet-lag. Having a 6-hour time difference will definitely wear on you, especially traveling after the work week. Being the troopers that we are, we started with brunch at Chez Casimir, a small but lively place near our hotel. We were going for brunch.
Now, brunch in the states, consists of benedicts, fruit, potatoes, and the real star, mimosas. However, in France, brunch was slightly different. We dined on a buffet of cold potatoes, fine cheese, crusty breads, and 'omelettes'. In this instance, the quotations are intentional. The omelette we were served, was not one that I was accustomed to, given my American experience. It was on the cooler side, but seasoned with the hand of a baptist grandmother aka, it was DELICIOUS. The real star of the visit was the wine. My friends, knowing my affinity for good wine, asked me to pick a bottle for us. So going into the wine cellar (yes, girl. They had one of THOSE), I was a bit overwhelmed. I knew what I liked, but I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of selection. Eventually I settled on a 40 euro aged bottle of Merlot-Cabernet by Toulouse that we still can not stop talking about to this day. Unfortunately I can not find it anywhere.
Sidenote PSA: If you or someone you know would like to help a poor woman find her favorite wine or know where to find said wine, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our trip consisted of a multitude of these delicious stops. Like the Laduree for an experience that could only be summed up as Disney-like. Where the giant Armoire in the corner, may as well have had a mouth, and watched us eagerly as we dined on macarons for the 11th time. Or the small Cafe outside of Le Louvre, where we inhaled so many sweet breads before taking the big tour.
(Seriously. The breakfast special was a baguette, a croissant, fresh jam and butter. Why am I not living my regular life like this?!)
It was a good thing we loaded up on carbs, Le Louvre is not for the faint of heart, nor stamina.
We started the day off by hedging our bets that the museum would not be sold out of tickets that day. It was a Monday, so we were very hopeful. With good reason, since we were able to breeze through the oft-times dense line outside. Inside was a maze of chaos I've only seen associated with a train station. The tour groups, the families, the field trips, all blended together for a perfect cultural stew. Everyone was so engaged in the history surrounding them, in the most intricate, multi-level layout I have ever seen. To see some of the artwork on display, as narrated by your favorite Westsider, take a stroll over to my Instagram page.
Arc de Triomphe
We nearly died. Legitimately. We approached the task like children ready to conquer Disneyland, but we were sorely mistaken and unprepared for the lack of pedestrian elevator. (I literally considered faking an injury just to ride to the top) Nevertheless we made it to the top of the Arc and have some amazing selfies to prove it. Boom, blow, bam.
Still reeling from the journey to the Louvre, we set out to ensure we hit all of the major monuments in the one day we had left as a group. Which took us to the Eiffel Tower, one of our more ambitious conquests since I had unknowing led the group on an adventure to Lil' Africa (where I had what was quite possibly the worst Old Fashioned of my life). Nevertheless we persevered. I will never forget, it was rainy that day, and despite our jackets and umbrellas, the rain threatened to dampen the champagne-fueled parade we had in store for the Eiffel. However it was the actual LAWS of Paris that rained on that parade. Apparently you can not drink on the grounds of the Eiffel. Oh the french!
I'm young and I stay ready, so of course we partied HARD in Paris. By far one of the coolest parts of Paris was living like a local. We took in so many experiences off the beaten path. Including one that ran us right into the King of the North. (See me personally for that story ;-) We took in the world's smallest Reggae club, a couple smaller bars/clubs that left us scratching our heads in bewilderment, and the crown jewel: a speakeasy.
Being from Chicago, I know a proper speakeasy when I find one, but this one was almost too good. When our Uber driver dropped us off, it took us 10 minutes to find this bar. It was literally located behind the walk-in freezer of an Italian pizza place. Cool right?! The drinks were incredible and the bartender, who spoke literally 5 languages, was super dope. So if you are in Paris, The Moonshiner is a MUST.
When in France, you must do as the french do, and that means try foods you wouldn't normally eat. Which meant EYE tried the escargot. Translation: Delicious little snails. Of course I needed a good wine to compliment the snails, so we went to Exclusive Wine Bar and had a really delightful brut champagne, and what can only be described as one of the best dishes I had there. Bruh. Bruuuuhhhhhhh. They were soooo good. I am not a garlic fan at all, but these little guys were draped in the most savory chimichurri sauce. I will definitely be looking for another batch comparable stateside.
I am pretty sure I ate my weight in these little cookies. The meringue confection was one of the highlights of my trip, and we hit up Christophe Roussel near the Sacré-Cœur for the best ones. They have a lavendar macaron that for certain had me questioning whether or not I was in heaven.
In all, Paris was incredible. I left feeling renewed, recharged and motivated to start the next journey in my life, that would allow me to see more cities like Paris in future. If you want to know more, feel free to reach out! Be sure to follow my social channels for more adventures about the world's best cities.
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