Tuesday, December 20, 2011

October Wrap-up: Good Friends, Good Food, Good Costumes

Em, Erin, & Kelly came to visit!

It was so great to spend time with these girls after so long!

While in Paris, we had a full day of pastry tastings around the city...

we went on Jethro's night bike tour...

we ate some truly delicious meals...

The first night they were in town, we ate in the Latin Quarter at a restaurant where my friend Ryan works, so we were lucky enough to get fantastic recommendations as well as a hilarious mini photo shoot of the chefs in the kitchen.

After a couple days in Paris, we headed south to Provence for the weekend, wandered quiet cobblestone streets, modeled in front of fountains, bought lots of spices & lavender, rented a car, went to a vineyard & winery, drove to Marseilles, played pranks on each other in a restaurant bathroom to the point of involving other tables...There was lots of laughter, lots of eating, lots of pictures.

I had so much fun w/ them and it was great to catch up and laugh and talk about life.  Loved having them to visit!!


Tell you what I love about Halloween...It's not very often you see the Grim Reaper & Dracula hangin' out together on the Metro.

We rounded out the end of October with a Halloween party at Brian & Ned's apartment that went till 4:30am.  4:30!!  Because of this crazy crew, I have stayed up more late nights in the past 6 months than I have in the past 10 years.  Guaranteed.  Don't these people know about my grandma status??  Not to mention that we did this on actual Halloween night, which was a Monday.  Geez I loooove getting 3 hours of sleep and then working early the next morning.  At the beginning of the week.

In a duel for honor, the Whisk .45 will tear someone up.

I got so many guesses as to what my costume was: Martha Stewart, a housewife, a baker, our chef friend Ryan, on and on.  I couldn't decide whether I wanted to be Julia Child or Betty Crocker, so I was actually Julia Child at a Halloween party dressed as Betty Crocker.  Every now and then, I would shout in a Julia Child sing-song voice, "I'm Betty Crocker!!"

I don't know what can speak more clearly about the general unsoftness of nearly all toilet paper in France, besides the fact that Graham would find himself rubbing some exceptionally soft toilet paper on his face, and clearly having a moment doing so.

Favorite costume award goes to Ned, an SNCF controller.  He checked all our metro tickets and fined anyone who was without.

I take that back...the award should go to Maygan and Kyle, inspired by our zombie stroll through Pere Lachaise cemetery, who came as wine-toting Parisian Zombies.

The funny thing is that Brian & Ned's apartment was supposed to be a meeting point, not the main event.  "Meet at our place at 10 and we'll go from there."  We were supposed to go to a Canadian pub that was all decked out for Halloween.  Nope.  Once we had everyone there, and some old school gangsta rap started flowin', nobody even thought about leaving.

And then it was suddenly 4:30am, and Ned the SNCF controller was yelling for everyone to make their way towards the door considering that he and Brian had to lead tours in 4 hours.  We all spilled out onto the quiet streets of Paris, and Maygan, Kyle, and I headed towards the river, 2 zombies and Julia Child/Betty Crocker, in search of that elusive late night taxi to share back towards our side of town.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Jethro's Night Bike

Jethro's Night Bike

A long awaited challenge, finally fulfilled!  You may observe the following from the photo below: disheveled swoopy hair, semi-funky glasses, scarf, knitted grandma cardigan.  This is Jeff, and all signs point to hipster.  He's cool, he does cool bike tricks, he's in a special club for people who only ride fixed gear bikes, and he secretly spends more time on his hair than I do.

And we love him.  He's not I'm-too-cool-for-you cool, he's genuine and super sweet.  I just would never ever have guessed that he has the ability to break out a super thick East Texas accent because he's so far from a country boy.

One night he displayed this amazing East Texas alter ego to me, complete with long drawn-out vowels and frequent use of the words "Aw honey", "y'all", "tumble weed", and "cactus flower", to name a few.  It completely FREAKS me out and cracks me up because there is just nothing. country. about Jeff.

Thus the challenge was extended for him to lead his last night bike tour, all 4 hours, with full accent, as his East Texas alter ego, Jethro.

And that he did.  Voila, transformation!

He introduced himself as Jethro, kept the accent up the whole time to the group, threw in y'alls every other word, and was just pure country boy as he talked about everything from Notre Dame to the Louvre ("that lil ol museum I was talkin' bout earlier").

We even had a nametag made for his tip jar.

I laughed through that entire bike ride, it was a blast.

Dust Bunny, here's to you, to your accent, and to your last night bike!  Paris misses you!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Jack’s Un-Classic Walk

Our manager, Jack, moved back to Texas a couple months ago to work at the headquarters in Austin.  For Jack’s grand finale, we met at 10pm at the General Joffre statue in between the Eiffel Tower & Ecole Militaire.  Since Jack had never done our Classic Walk tour during his time here, he proposed a Classic Walk route where every guide would switch off talking at each stop, giving their own wheels-off version of the tour.

For example, Travis explained about the statue commemorating the General handing over surrender papers, Simon pulled out a cigarette at the Dome Church to talk to us about prostitution problems in Paris’ early days, and Andre led an in-depth discussion on Louix XIV’s obsession with his own calves and his marital bedroom issues with Marie Antoinette.

Is it ridiculous that these are the settings behind these speeches?

Yes. Yes, it is ridiculous.

Jack gave one of the best speeches of the evening on Pont Alexandre III, at full volume, as if we were a group of 25 people.  He also invited passers-by off the street for this free tour he would not even charge them for!  Behold the sass.

Andre & Golden scaled the bridge wall up onto lion statues, before a security guard started waving a flashlight at them.

They're posing as if for a camera flash...but then realized quickly that it was a security guard/police figure of some sort waving a flashlight in their faces.  Busted.

Ned owned the Louvre speech by declaring “The Louvre is a mystery.” and then ran off at full speed, completely out of sight.  We found him 20 minutes later on the other side of the Seine, freaked out that a strange man had been following him.

Scott rolled up to the group at the same moment Ned was running away, and without missing a beat, began his speech, telling us all about how his ancestors once lived there, that DaVinci actually built the Louvre, and something about donkey fights in Napoleon III's apartments. 

Maybe a shopping cart was found at one point.  Maybe Lisa got pushed around in it.  Maybe it got thrown over the bridge and into the SEINE.  It all happened so fast, just walk away quickly, let’s move on.

We sang with French rugby players, walked around the Latin Quarter, and stopped inside a place to dance a bit before ending the evening.  Overall a huge success, a beautiful evening to walk around the most ridiculously beautiful city in the world, and a fun time with friends.

So just to recap what we learned on our walk…You are NOT supposed to climb the large statues on the Alexendre III bridge, The Louvre is a mystery, it was built by DaVinci, Scott’s ancestor’s lived there, Ned was followed by a weirdo, and the Monoprix is now missing a shopping cart.  We will be offering this new night walking tour, the Un-Classic Walk, complete with statue climbing and shopping cart riding, in 2012.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Magic Monday

Magic Monday is back!  (After I forgot about it).  Little glimpses of Paris magic...

Just an iPhone picture, but I was walking around to hotels for work to meet with concierges and talk with them about tours, and I rounded the corner to...a parking lot? my car? a concrete building? traffic?  No, just a postcard-perfect sunset behind fountains and lanterns and the Eiffel Tower.  How can this possibly be normal?

A perfect morning.

The scoot

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Life Updates

A few life updates include the following:

1. New Job

I don't think I ever really mentioned this in detail.  In August, I got a new job!  The owner of Fat Tire decided to start a new company, Easy Pass Tours, a set of skip-the-line tours for all the major monuments and museums in Paris.

They offered me a position as Operations Manager to start up this new business, create all the new tours, and maintain operations in Paris (and eventually London).  Surprise! Which means I'm here in Paris for at least one more year.

I started mid-August, and we launched the first tour for the Eiffel Tower on September 9th.  With only a month to get it all going, it was crazy town.  Since then, we've started a skip-the-line Musée D'Orsay tour and a VIP private entry Pompidou tour.  I'm supposed to get 5-6 additional new tours up and running this spring.  Yipe!

2. New Apartment

On October 21st, I moved into a new apartment!  It has 3 things I absolutely love: Kitchen space, an oven, and a real shower.  No washing machine means I will have to get used to going to a laundromat.  I'll take some normal pictures of it soon, but for now, here's a picture where you can see part of it:

I've never been so excited about having an oven before.  Such a rarity.  Check out this kitchen...by Paris standards, gigantic.  3 people in a kitchen at once??  It's UNHEARD OF.

3. New roommate
This is my new roommie, Jillian!  Jillian, Anne, and I were the 3 new office ladies hired to work the full season this year, so we went through training and all other craziness together.  Jillian took over as Office Manager when Amanda moved to Berlin, which  means she's here for at least another year, too.  We both share mild obsessions with the Paris food culture and are determined to break our way into the inner circle of foodie celebrities.  It's going to be fun living with her.

4. Home for Christmas

I'm coming home in just 10 DAYS!! Yay!!!  I'll be in Dallas from Dec. 15-January 1st, then I'll go to Austin for work Jan 2nd - 6th, then fly back to Paris on the 7th.  I can't WAIT to spend time at home with my family, hang out with friends, eat at all my favorite spots, and have waiters bend over backwards to refill my drink with superficial over-the-top friendliness.  I know that time will fly by, but I'm so excited.  Christmas is my favorite!!

Tonight, people are coming over to decorate Christmas cookies!! Wahoo!!  Which means I need to get back to cleaning.  See you soon!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Treehouse, the Pastry Tree & a Zombie Stroll

Cocktail Party at the Treehouse 

The Treehouse is the 6th floor apartment of 2 veteran guides, Billy & Golden.  For the last weekend in October, and thus the last weekend where all the guides & staff would be together in Paris before people started parting ways, we decided to go classy and have a cocktail party.  Girls wore dresses and heels.  Guys wore something other than a Fat Tire t-shirt (whoa).

On the metro ride over, we talked about how this was obviously just a normal part of our glamorous Paris life.  "Oh I'm just on my way to a cocktail party...in my cocktail dress and heels...just like every weekend."  Although this was technically the last Saturday we'd have together, Halloween was on Monday night, so a costume party was obviously in order.  That was the official last big group get-together.  More on that later.

Epic brunch at La Bellevilloise

How adorable was this place? Let me count the ways.  Live piano and singing, tables everywhere, juice bar, bottomless cups of coffee (unheard of in Paris), all-you-can-eat brunch (also unheard of), funky decorations, huge open room, skylight roof.  I will be returning!!

Billy described this brunch spot the night before, and at some point he waxed poetic about bounties of pastries and bread baskets and croissants just hanging from trees and spilling out all over the place, and I thought, "Surely he's exaggerating." but no...There was, in fact, a bountiful pastry tree.

I'm already looking into planting one in my living room.

Up next...I don't even think I can talk about these without drooling all over your face.
Nutella. Beignets.

I'm just...I'm just speechless.  I'm just looking at you, and my eyes are open, but they're wide and they're like, "Can you believe this???"  That's all.  Just come to Paris, and go to this brunch place, and get 90 of these.

Daisies in the Park

Afterwards, Billy bought us all gerber daisies, and we hung out and stared at the beautiful fall colors, twirling our daisies all the while.

Even the guys.  It was adorable.  I love Billy.

Zombie Cemetery Stroll 

Paris has a famous cemetery called Pere Lachaise, and I had still never been!  Famous graves include Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, and Gertrude Stein.  I never knew a cemetery could be so beautiful!  It's like a park with paved cobblestone paths, beautiful bright orange and yellow trees, and gigantic family tombs lined up side by side with their own decor and style and story, mostly hundreds of years old.

My camera died, so I didn't get many pictures but this is another place I must return to.

When it's the day before Halloween, and one is in a cemetery, one cannot resist the urge to act like zombies.

Should it have gotten old at some point?  Maybe.

Did it?

Nope, not even a little.

Sitting zombie. Love it.  Happy Halloween!

Oh it's December? Meh.