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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Oh, Paris in the winter...

So what does one do in Paris in the winter? Well, if you are a normal traveler, you probably spend your first day here seeing many of the sights, such as the Arc du Triumph (sp?), the Eifel Tower, the Lourve, etc. But if you are me or Rahima, you spend it, almost all day of it to be precise, in your pajamas, happy to finally be somewhere warm, nibbling at yummy food in your friend's apartment! Yep. Rahima actually didn't set foot outside today, and I did only to accompany my friend Leslie to the supermarket around the corner. She and her husband, Dave, have been so nice and have opened up their home to us for the next week. It is so good to see Leslie. She and I went to preschool together, and I love that we are still close. She got married about a year and a half ago, and moved to Paris with her husband. She is now the cutest six-month pregnant person I know. :) Even if her crazy french doctor thinks that 5 kilos of weight gain after six months of pregnancy is "too much". Us fatty Americans, huh? :)

So, we arrived from Madrid last night, via Ryan Air. Here I must dispel a few myths about the airline which has been widely touted by travelers as the Southwest of Europe. Are fares low? Yes. Indisputably. But the reason is, they get you coming and going. So we had booked a cheap flight to Paris in order to delay the using of our eurail passes, since once we start to use them we have to complete all of our travel within two months. So, we bought tickets for 30 euros each. Then with taxes, it came up to about 54 euros each. Still, not bad, right? (Here I should realize that I have had NO airline luck as of late and cut my loses. Sometimes being stubborn is not my best quality!) So then, we each had to pay 15 euros to check a bag. But it gets better. Upon arrival to the airport, they told us that in addition, we have to pay 15 euros for EACH kilo over 15 kilos. Well, my bag (obviously still containing the necessary travel solid wooden rolling pin and now three new pairs of shoes) weighed 18.5 kilos and Rahima's bag was a slightly less 17 kilos. So they wanted 90 more euros from us. We did a quick shifting of contents and carried on the extra weight (which is still going on the plane, so I am not sure WHY this policy exists). What a hassle! When we arrived in Paris, after the worst landing of my life, we had to pay 13 euros to get from the airport to the city center, because this "cheap" airline doesn't fly into one of the two major airports, but instead, one that is 80 km outside of the city. So you do the math...was it really "cheaper" to fly?

By the time we got to Leslie and Dave's, we dropped our stuff and headed out to eat. (Leslie and Dave were hosting a work holiday party at their apartment, which was in full swing, white elephant gifts and all by the time we arrived) Rahima and I found a little restaurant to eat at, with a stereotypically unfriendly french waiter. We splurged on escargot and fresh vegetables, as well as salmon for her and duck for me. (If you know me well, you know that I can hardly resist duck on a menu). It was delicious. When they brought the bill it included a 19% charge, and we were confused if that included tip or if it was just outrageous french taxes. We asked the waiter who said it did not include tip. We left 10% walked back and asked Leslie and Dave. It included tip. Gotta love the french!

So tomorrow we will head out into the beautiful, crisp, cold air of Paris in the winter and see some of the sights. Today was a good day to recharge, and I tried to throw a few pictures up on the past posts. Hope you enjoy them, and hopefully it will be easy to put more up in the next few days too!


Josef Gamper said...

A tip about tipping in Europe, don't tip. Tips are always included in the bill but, when you get very good service, which does not always happen in France, it is customary to round up the bill. Stay warm and happy. Love, Dada

Rizlo said...

Wow...your impecable timing never ceases to impress me. Check another milestone off the list, Christmas in Paris...some people live the life.
Sort of sounds like Vegas...you have to pay to have a good time I guess, no matter how frugal you may be. Darn it.
Crazy that you are hanging out with Leslie in France. You guys are what friends are all about! Awesome. Glad to read that your trip is going well. Miss your face.
You just may be the most qualified Amazing race partner ever...hope you aren't going to charge for your expertise! LOL I'll work it off...cleaning ;P lol
Love you,