A familiar face


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Europe » France
September 13th 2009
Published: September 30th 2017
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My usual breakfast bench, the same bench in Bayeux that I've eaten pastries on at least five times already, with the pastries wrapped in a neat little bundle, like an early Xmas present!
Geo: 48.8566, 2.35097

It's the last full day of the trip ... sigh ... but a good thing for me is that I'll be seeing a familiar face today in Paris - Naoual, who I met in Prague three years ago. It's always nice to see somebody you know while traveling even if it's at the very end of a trip, because the solo backpacker life can be a bit solitary, at times. It was interesting how this came about - I ended up meeting up with her in Paris three years ago at the end of that trip, and we emailed a few times after, but simply lost touch.

I was debating whether or not to contact her this time around, not sure if she even remembered me, but lo and behold - I get a friend request on Facebook at the beginning of the trip while I was in Spain. C'est la vie! At the time, Naoual was actually in Morocco visiting family, and made the comment that we weren't so far apart, which I thought was quite coincidental, since we hadn't spoken in so long.

It was a quiet morning, with time spent watching Tom & Jerry cartoons in
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Tarte fine aux fruits - apple, strawberry, kiwi, peach, apricot ... so good! The only odd things were a slice of orange and a slice of lime, complete with the peel. I had to pick them off with my fingers. Never a hygienic thing to do, since I pick so many other things with those same fingers ... the apples were kind of tough, but bursting with flavour. The souffle aux pommes was blah - kind of a flaky crust on the bottom, with kind of an apple compote layer. It was ice cold on the inside and would've tasted better warm, and was too sweet. The gooey souffle layer was caramelized like a creme brulee, but was burnt. The texture was also too sugary and grainy ... should've had a pain au chocolat or croissant instead, or tried a cake, but I'm always tempted by these tart-like things. I also rued the fact that the patisserie didn' t offer any coffee ...
French, before having breakfast at the usual spot in front of the TI. This spot will forever hold special meaning for me, as I've shared many beautiful, intimate moments with pastries here in Bayeux ...

The Edmonton couple I met yesterday was raving about cafe creme, so I tried it at the hotel's cafe. The only difference I could see was that it had less milk than a cafe au lait - it was good, but no better or worse than a cafe au lait. For some strange reason, I suddenly realized "Crap! I forgot to buy saffron in Spain!" Perhaps it was because drinking coffee on a sidewalk cafe in France made me think about cafe con leche in Spain. Saffron from Spain is considered the best in the world, and is yet another excuse for me to return to Spain next year. Usually, if you buy a certain amount of them, they throw in another little container of it. I'm hoping that if I buy a few thousand pounds of it, they'll throw in a little Spanish wife for me 😊

I lingered over the coffee before checking out, as I was in no rush to get to
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The TI.
the train station. I arrived well before the scheduled departure time, and killed some more time - there's no better way to do this in France than to eat!!!

On the train - there was a nice lady sitting next to my reserved seat, who kindly told me that it looked like the seat was reserved, thinking that I had just walked on looking for a spot. Or maybe she was just revolted by the sight of my still somewhat crusty pie eyes, and was afraid it was contagious.

Today and tonight was supposed to be spent in a small town named Honfleur, but I've grown tired of all the small French towns recently, and decided to spend my final night in a livelier place - Paris was exactly what the doctor ordered! The train ride to Paris was scenic, and given how windswept the region is, I was surprised that there aren't more wind farms in Normandy.

Paris - I checked into the Vintage Hostel, which was a lot better than I expected, given the mediocre reviews on the Internet. It's got decent facilities (kitchen, internet, TV lounge), and the rooms are fairly clean. There aren't any lockers in
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Cafe creme. The piece of chocolate most places serve with it is a great touch.
the rooms, but some are in the luggage storage area, which is a bit of a pain to use.

I had a quick chat with Brent, a young American moving to a small town near Paris for a few months, to teach English. He's doing a bit of sightseeing in Paris before making his way over there. He asked me how I liked Spain, and our conversation went like this:

Me: "I LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE Spain!!!"
Brent: "My buddies loved it too!"
Me: "Did they mention the women?"
Brent: "Yup! But they only said they were beautiful, but didn't really describe them."
Me: "Do you like cute little brunettes?"
Brent: "I think that'll be alright!"
Me: "Then you'll also LOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE Spain!!!"

Having time to kill before meeting Naoual, I was off to the Marais for a stroll - Paris has many great walking areas, but the Marais is one of the few neighbourhoods that remains bustling even on a Sunday. I started out at the Bastille, then made my way over to Place des Vosges - it's funny, because I've been here at least three times before, and the past two, I've never remembered what it looked like, until I got close and realized "Ohhh ... THAT'S Place des Vosges
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Very tempted by a kebab, before leaving for Paris.
..."

After the Jewish Quarter I continued wandering around, surprised at how closely-located everything is in this amazing city. I arrived in Naoual's neighbourhood early, Gaite, because I had no idea how long the metro ride there would be.

We agreed to meet at the metro, and it was a funny moment - she arrived at one entrance, and I was at another, across the street. There was that moment of uncertainty, as she looked at me, unsure who I was, and I looked at her, unsure of who she was - this went on for a few seconds until she made a hesitant half-wave at me, and I did the same, kind of like "I think that's you ..."

Funny - this and the last time I saw her in Paris, she had just changed jobs and moved apartments. She lamented over how much of a pain moving is, and I could completely sympathize with her, given my recent problems with moving. We walked around, and it was quite chilly, especially without a jacket. Apparently, Paris was almost 30 degrees just a few days ago, but not today!

We grabbed a drink, her opting for some wine, and me opting for
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Also very tempted by these roasted chickens, but it would be a while before they were ready.
a pastis - apparently, only old people drink pastis in France, which explained why those French people sitting next to me at the restaurant in Sarlat were so happy to see me drink it! After, we wandered around in search of dinner, deciding on crepes - does it get any more authentic than crepes, for a final night in France?

Crepes are a specialty of Normandy, but I never did sample them while there - Naoual remembered dining at this particular crepe joint several years ago, and remembered it being good. Plus, many restaurants are closed Sunday night, so we didn't want to continue aimlessly wandering for nothing - though I enjoy that greatly while by myself, I prefer to sit and chat when I have company.

The place dishes out crepes in record time; our meals arrived in only two minutes. I can't even comprehend the physics of how that it is possible, given that everything appears freshly made. Even Naoual was shocked, even though she'd been here before.

It was great to catch up with Naoual, though perhaps it wasn't really catching up, since we never really got to know each other all those years ago. It's always difficult
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I finally finished this psychology magazine, which I've had for the duration of the trip. I left it behind and felt quite happy to do so, because ... well ... I just don't like Kirsten Dunst very much!
when you meet as traveling vagabonds, because there's never much of a chance to talk, as there's always an end date to it. The subject of Trevor did come up, a guy we all met that night in the hostel in Prague. Neither of us heard from him ever again, and she mentioned that she was a bit weirded out by him, because he had mentioned to her that he was a member of some cult. Interesting ...

We walked back in the direction of her apartment, and she pointed me towards La Tour Montparnasse, where I could hop the metro back to the hostel, without having to transfer lines. I'd never seen the tower before, but it's quite striking, because it towers so much over every other building in the immediate vicinity.

We said our goodbyes, and this time, I promised to stay in touch more than I did. Who knows, maybe I'll even see her next year, since there's talk of doing that big Euro trip with the boys in the summer. Back to the hostel, hoping that Brent was around so that we could grab a beer - he was already asleep, so the only drinking I
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Tomato/hard-boiled egg/lettuce/mayo/chicken/emmental baguette. It had a mustard flavour for some strange reason, despite there not appearing to be any in the sandwich. Nice crisp baguette, it was an ok sandwich. I grabbed a combo from a chain patisserie, and had an apple juice with it, as well as a dessert. I later ate the included dessert while on board the train, a pummeled pear tart. I wonder if I made a mistake with my horrid French, because it tasted more like a peach tart than a pear one.
did was from my big bottle of water, while writing in my journal. Off to bed ... the final sleep of the trip ... sigh ...



Additional photos below
Photos: 31, Displayed: 27


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The Bastille.
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Some transportation fair was taking place - here's the Michelin Man. Personally, I prefer his American nephew, the Pilsbury Dough Boy, because he's edible.
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Amorino, again - they are expanding everywhere!
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Mmmm ... yummy-looking, but expensive sushi. I have to have some soon after getting home.
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Place des Vosges - busy today, with tons of people out and enjoying the green space, on a relatively nice day.
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Awwwwwwwww ....
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Taken in the courtyard of the Carnavalet Museum, I think.
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Lenotre, one of Paris's most famous pastry shops. I didn't have anything here this time.
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The bustling Jewish Quarter.
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It's full of pastry shops that were incredibly busy, so much so that I didn't want to wait around to grab a pastry, and also because things were a bit picked over. I decided to one day come back to sample a bit of everything - French pastries, falafel, middle-Eastern specialties, both savoury and sweet ...
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The Sorbonne's centre for Catalan studies - where do I enroll???
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I ate at this restaurant, almost exactly five years ago. The food was amazing, if I recall correctly. And for some strange reason, I remember that the waiter had some very shiny shoes.
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Cool building, can't remember what it was.


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