So I got back from Paris about a week ago and it was an amazing vacation. Not only did I get to see my mom who I haven’t seen in five months but I got to see a city that I’ve never seen before. Paris is so beautiful, so much different than New York. Every building is so old and has some sense of history behind it. I can’t get into detail about everything that we did or I will have written a novel so I will sum up a little bit about each day.
I landed in Paris around 11am. My mom had already landed but was waiting for me right after customs and the baggage claim. I anxiously waited in the customs line because I just wanted to see my mom already. Of course they had one person working for a line of about 100 people and for some reason the heat must have been cranked up because I was sweating within minutes.
Finally, I got through and my bag was already waiting for me. And then I found my mom! She was waiting for me right next to the exit and it was amazing. It was so nice to see her. After we found each other, we took a cab into the city which ended up being the most expensive cab ride of the trip because of traffic. The airport is annoyingly far from the center of the city. After that we checked into our hotel which was conveniently located right next to a Starbucks. They don’t have Starbucks in Israel so this was my first stop. Then we went to this amazing crepe place my brother told us about in the Latin Quarter. I had a crepe with eggs, spinach, and of course bacon. Then we went to a jewelry store in the area that is my mom’s favorite and they don’t have in the United States anymore. After that we walked in the pouring rain to Notre Dame (my mom’s umbrella sadly broke), and walked around inside. After that we tried to go to Saint Chapelle but it was closed so we took a cab to Galeries Lafayette. I went to the Urban Outfitters there (another thing they don’t have in Israel) and found a really cool vintage Barbour jacket that I immediately had to have. It’s amazing and I’ve worn it every day since I bought it. We bought macaroons from Pierre Hermes; I think throughout the day I sampled about 4 different macarons. After the mall we went back to the hotel and had dinner at a restaurant right down the street from our hotel. I chose the place specifically because it had french onion soup which I really wanted to have because I wasn’t used to the cold weather. My mom was so tired from her overnight flight I actually caught her falling asleep at the dinner table. Needless to say after dinner we went back to the hotel and passed out.
Our second day started with a trip to the local bakery where I got a croissant and a cafe au lait. Then my mom and I went over to the Eiffel Tower which was a quick 15 minute walk from our hotel. We walked up the first and second floors. It was quite the walk I felt like I was climbing Masada again. We didn’t go all the way to the top because there was a 45 minute wait for the elevator so we just left. After the Eiffel Tower we went to Saint Chapelle, which has beautiful stained glass windows. Then we walked to the Marais Area which is really nice shopping area in Paris with really narrow and old streets. We stopped at a brasserie along the way for lunch. We found the Jewish Quarter in the Marais Area which was filled with falafel restaurants and a jewish bakery. Finally, we ended the day with a trip to this store called Merci. They have a bunch of cute souvenirs, but also clothes and stuff for the home.
Our cab ride back to the hotel was pretty eventful as our cab driver was talking to us in French the whole time. Sadly, even though I took 5 years of French when I was younger I couldn’t remember anything. My mom and I didn’t understand anything that this guy was saying except that he really liked the story of Mohammed Ali and the Jackson 5. We had dinner at a restaurant called Chez something (insert French guy’s name here). It was recommended in the book, A Food Lover’s Guide to Paris. It was one of those places where everyone sits really close to one another. We ended up talking to this father and son sitting next to us, who lived in India but were originally from France. The son was not too pleased about the move. I ate shrimp and pate. After dinner we walked to the Champs D’Elysees. It was all lit up for Christmas which was really pretty. We visited Lauderee and tried the famous macaroons. Once we reached the Arc D’Triomphe we took some pictures and then turned around and walked back to the hotel.
Day 3 started early with a 7am wake up and then a trip to Versailles. Our hotel offered tours through another company that made the visit really easy. Instead of figuring out the train or bus to get to the palace, the tour would pick us up at our hotel at 8am and drive us right to the palace gates. Everything was included in the price, transportation, ticket, and headset for information inside the palace. There were two other families on the tour with us, another mommy daughter group from America and the other a family from India. Our guide told us some cool facts during the drive and then showed us around the gardens before we actually got to the main palace area. The gardens were so pretty. The thing that struck me the most was how symmetrical the gardens were. Every bush, tree, or statue had a counterpart. After the tour of the gardens we got to actually go inside the palace which was just incredible. Even though it was really crowded, we got to walk around the main part of the palace. The main rooms we visited were the King’s Bedroom, the Queen’s Bedroom, and of course the Hall of Mirrors. After Versailles my mom and I ventured on our first subway ride in Paris to the giant flea market. really pretty, really crowded, then to the flea market which wasn’t as good as we thought it would be, everything was either really expensive or really cheap. Have you ever seen the movie Taken? Well my mom had a slight taken moment when she turned around in the market and I was gone. I really just went to try something on but I could see where the confusion would be. Before we went the flea market we had lunch at a brasserie in the Latin Quarter. I had a Croque Monsieur and it was just as good as all my french textbooks in school made it sound. For dinner we found a tapas restaurant near the Louvre. It was good, not the best tapas but I needed to have some sort of spanish food before returning to Israel. After dinner we walked to the Roue de Paris which is Paris’s version of the London Eye but about half the size. It’s right next to the Concorde so we kind of killed two birds with one stone. We got to see Paris all lit up from the top of ferris wheel. It was a little cold, but really pretty.
On our last day in Paris we walked to the Louvre in the morning along the River Seine. We walked through the Tuileries, the gardens that are in front of the palace. I bet they would be a lot prettier in the summer because the trees were all bare. Also my mom and I were approached by some potential pick pockets. They came up to us and asked if we spoke English, we just ignored them. But if you don’t they get to you sign some petition that supports some fake good cause as a distraction while their partner steals stuff from your pockets. Anyway, we walked through the gardens until we reached the giant Louvre Palace. It was so much bigger than I thought it would be. The I.M. Pei pyramid seemed a little out of place in the middle of the old palace. We soon found out that there was a two hour wait to get inside the museum, including buying tickets and a security check. Luckily, three girls from Barcelona in front of me in line found out that there was a separate entrance, at the Lyons Gate, that was a much shorter line for people who didn’t have to buy tickets. Since I am under 26, entrance would be free for me. My mom wasn’t planning on going back in as she had already done the Louvre her last visit to Paris and I really only wanted to see the Mona Lisa. So we followed these girls to the other entrance and I got in no problem, walked right to the Mona Lisa, took a selfie, and left. Mom if you are reading this I just realized we totally forgot to go and see the Love lock bridge! Oh well, next time.
Then we walked to the Montegrueil Area which just has a main street with a bunch of food shops on it, from different bakeries, to cheese shops, to meat shops. I bought some cheese for myself and some salami to bring back for Ran. From there we took the subway up to Montmartre. We walked around the bottom of the hill a little and then had lunch at this brasserie called Le Progres which my brother recommended. My mom and I split a cheese plate and I had pate again (after being told that my first 2 choices weren’t available). The cheese plate was so amazing. My favorite part of the meal was when my mom took a bite of cheese and exclaimed that it really tasted like butter. Upon further inspection we realized she actually had just taken a bite of pure butter. After lunch we went on a free tour of the Montmartre area through this group called Culture Fish. If you are ever in Paris I highly recommend them. My roommate Mona had done one of their tours and said they were really good. The tours are completely free, in all English, and just have a recommended tip of 10 euros at the end. The tour lasted about two and a half hours, during which we saw the Moulin Rouge, the apartment where Van Gogh used to live, old windmills with serious history behind them, and finally Sacre Coeur. After the tour we had the best dinner I will ever eat in my entire life. My mom and I went to this truffle restaurant that was right near our hotel. Everything on the menu had some sort of truffle component to it. My mom and I split salad and bur rata cheese topped with slices of actual truffle. Then I had risotto with truffle and my mom had some sort of eggs with truffles. The entire meal was so amazing. Did I mention that they had truffle oil on the table for us just to use at our leisure. And for dessert we had truffle ice cream. Enough said. We went back to the hotel and finished packing as I had to wake up at 630 the next morning for my flight.
I got back last Tuesday late at night. I unpacked, showered, and went right to bed. I didn’t really do anything on Wednesday during the day because I was still really tired. I actually slept until noon. But I had dinner with a friend that night in Tel Aviv and met Ran in the after. We tried this place called Cookeez, where you make your own ice cream sandwich. It wasn’t as good as it was hyped up to be.
The next day was Christmas, and we had a huge Christamas meal at our apartment with my roommates and a special guest from the apartment upstairs, Blake. Not that special, he just wanted to come and offered to help us cook, so he was in. He made an amazing like butternut squash and carrot soup, Kayleigh made a salad and cheesecake for dessert, and Mona made a whole roasted chicken, sweet potatoes, carrots, and homemade apple pie. And then we exchanged Secret Santa presents. I got Kayleigh fuzzy socks, a bracelet, and some Krembo (an Israeli snack kind of like a chocolate covered marshmallow but fluffier and with a cookie at the base). Mona had me and she got me these pill bottles to relieve “stress from school” which are filled with M&Ms. It’s from this cool store in Tel Aviv where you can buy a candy cure to any illness.
I spent the weekend in Tel Aviv with Ran. Highlight of the weekend was going to see the Hobbit 3 on Saturday.
Last night we went to see a comedy show with my program in Tel Aviv. It was called the Tziporella Show, specifically The Odd Birdz Show. It was a bunch of difference skits that varied in style and it was so funny. It’s all in English and they definitely catered it to the audience.
Today marks my first full day back at school after vacation. The day went by pretty quickly considering it is one of my busiest days. There are parent teacher conferences tonight which I am very excited to get to go to. I can’t wait to meet my students’ parents and hear if they talk about me at home!
That’s all for now. To everyone reading this and my friends and family back home, have a happy and healthy New Years!