Tuesday, July 30, 2013

French Adventures! Day: 1

On the road again! It feels so good to be back on the road again! 

Lyric references aside, it really really does feel great to be moving about the world again.  But what are we even doing right now you ask?  OK, admittedly our plans as of late have been kind of crazy and understandably people have no clue where we are at the moment.  This is because we've been applying to what we think is an extremely enticing and exciting work opportunity in the frozen continent that is Antarctica (aka the END OF THE WORLD).  While this has recently taken a lot of our energies, we've actually had Europe on our radars for quite some time (we almost visited when we were dating, actually!), so while we were putting all of our (quite lengthy) paperwork together for Antarctica we were also planning our summer adventures in France and Spain, where we will be throughout August and September.  The whole trip breaks down pretty simply as this: first week in Paris, the rest of August visiting one of Shannon's closest friends near Strausburg, and September we plan to hike the Camino de Santiago (the way of St. James).  So yeah, we're pretty pumped!

So today was a travel day that quickly bled into a weird sort of "Lets not get tired and fall-asleep-day in order to avoid jet-lag".  We are currently ahead of MA timezone-wise by 6 hours, which really meant when we felt like it was time for bed, the sun was coming out.  We each maybe managed an hour of sleep on the plane, but we knew if we succumbed to slumber our rhythm might be off for our entire stay in Paris.  So sleep much we have not!

OK but backing up a bit, our trip on Aer Lingus (Boston to Dublin, Dublin to Paris) was very smooth and while definitely worth the price a bit lackluster in the service department (but maybe we are just used to unbelievably good service of the Asian airlines we had the pleasure of flying with).  We arrived in Paris around 9ish, gathered our luggage, and proceeded to have mini heart-attacks when our ATM cards didn't work as promised (solved since then, no worries!).  We took our train to the Jourdain area of Paris to meet our "landlady" for part of the week.  We had heard recently about a interesting program called Air BnB (airbnb.com) that basically turns anyone with a spare room, apartment, house ect into a temporary hotel.  The woman we were renting from was already at the place and was extremely generous with information about the area.  After giving us all the details about the apartment, she headed out and handed the place over to us for the next few days.  It is tiny tiny tiny, but extremely efficient with its space and we are really enjoying it-we'll have some pictures up soon! 

And it turns out this is near some pretty neat neighborhoods.  Our host gave us a few place in walking distance to check out and we totally took advantage of the advice (remember, we're trying to beat jet lag).  We walked for several hours around the area - we saw a street market, had our first French meal (we had trouble figuring out what we were ordering, but we feel better prepared for next time), walked through a beautiful park,and then made our way to the canal.  As luck would have it, a boat was actually going through the lock system which was FASCINATING and neither of us had ever seen it done before.  As luck would also have it, the canal was also right next to the sight of a major summerlong festival called "Paris Plage" (which I think means Paris beach), and was just filled with all sorts of fun little activities (remind you, we were just walking to stay awake at this point and activities of any other sort were completely off the agenda).  But super fun to watch.

Our first impressions of Paris are just exceeding the hype - maybe we got lucky with the area we ended up in, the but the combination of the diversity of culture, the architecture, the FOOD (and affordable wine :), the sane drivers...thus far are all making this a great first day.  Then again, we're on one hours sleep, so we'll see how tomorrow goes!

We have signed up for the city bike program tomorrow so we are really excited to see even more!