So I probably should’ve set an alarm to wake up to, but I didn’t. When I woke up at 2am yesterday/today I finished and posted trip reports and then listened to more Reply All while eating Oreos in bed. I did mention this as a mini update on my last post, but I thought you should know that I followed through.
I fell back asleep and didn’t wake up until Grandma told me she thought it was almost 10am. This wasn’t really a problem for me since my tour wasn’t scheduled until the afternoon, but her tour of the Louvre was slated for 10:30, so we needed to get moving so I could help with the scooter. We got ready quickly and had breakfast. I saw grandma off and then went back to the room, planning to go exchange my dollars for euros.
I had a slight problem here because I couldn’t seem to find the cash my parents had given me to use, and it was a lot, so that sent me into a panic. I eventually found it in my wallet (just in a different pocket than where it should’ve been. I reorganized it yesterday because I needed a place to put my phone and didn’t have a purse) which was now broken. The button snapped off the leather on one side, so I guess I need a new one. In the meantime, it still holds money which is all it needs to do. I searched for an atm on google maps and it said there was one 100 meters from the hotel so I walked there. It immediately seemed sketchy because there was a guy betting on horses and a different dude buying cigarettes. Suspicious, I asked the clerk in French if I could exchange my bills and he said no, that I would have to go to the Champs Elysées to do that. I searched that up on google and it was a long walk, and, on top of that, all the foreign currency exchange places had absolutely terrible reviews. I read through them, mostly one star, and everyone was complaining about high transaction fees, poor rates, and bad attitudes from staff, so I didn’t want to go there. I asked the hotel desk if they exchanged but the guy said that USD actually have the worst exchange rate and I should try the Champs Elysées. Not sure why everyone was pointing me there if it’s so horrible. Also, I thought the Champs Elysées were closed because it’s Saturday and there are protests every Saturday in France now, so they close that street to prevent violence or whatever. This is all information that was relayed to us yesterday by our driver/guide.
I was sneezing a lot (allergic to France?) so I took a Benadryl when I got back to the room. Then I returned to the front door of the hotel at noon to meet the driver who was on time. He said the catacombs were about 20 minutes away, and he started telling me historical facts about them. I’m sure they were very interesting, but the Benadryl was making me fall asleep, so I don’t recall anything he said.
We arrived at the catacombs just as I had internally reasoned that I could “rest my eyes” and I would feel rested when we got there. Oh well. I stood outside the catacombs (not in line) while the driver went and parked the car per his orders. He returned and I followed him, very sluggishly might I add, to the ticket people. They told us to stand in the line that I had avoided earlier, so more waiting. I feel bad now that I didn’t try to talk to the guide, and not in French either, but my brain was simply not functioning at the speed it normally does.
When we got inside, they handed us audio guides, mine was in English, and we descended one hundred and something steps to get into the catacombs. I had to push numbers to play the audio at the right times throughout the tour, and I sort of did well. I don’t remember much of the information from the tour, I was very out of it mentally, which is kind of sad because the catacombs are actually very cool and entertaining, I just didn’t have the right mental state to be entertained. I missed a couple of the audios and didn’t linger long enough to get all the information at every station. The little information that I gleaned from all of this was that a lot of people died and the cemetery was full and someone decided to move everything and eventually someone else said “let’s make this into a museum!” And someone else said “good idea but only for rich people” and that was that for a few years and now it’s available to the general public. There’s a lot of bones (duh) all stacked up. Mostly it looks like femurs and skulls and they throw everything else on top. Sometimes the skulls were arranged in rows and sometimes in crosses depending on the section. There’s only one gravestone in the catacombs, it belonged to some guy who either escaped prison or helped someone escape from prison. Something to do with prison.
Touching the bones was not allowed. The signs looked really funny to me because they showed a hand and a skull with a slash over them and my first thought was “don’t pet the skulls” which made me crack up. Also, no photography was allowed which didn’t stop people. I obeyed the signs and didn’t pet any skulls or take any pictures. It was super dark anyway, so they wouldn’t have turned out very well if I had taken photos. Also, it was cold, 14 degrees Celsius to be exact, I guess to preserve the bones. The catacombs in France are modeled after the ones in Italy, so there’s another random fact I retained. I’m honestly surprised I remembered this much because I felt like I wasn’t paying attention to the audio at all.
This was due in part by the other people in the tunnels. I was walking down one of them and there were a couple of girls and their family walking behind us and talking very loudly. One of them was named Jenna, like my sister, so that was amusing (hi if you’re reading this Jenna hahaha). One girl said “we’re all going to die” and one of the men among them said “well that’s true.” Later on the older girl who I think was Jenna commented on how she hadn’t done her geometry homework yet and the younger girl replied with “you wouldn’t have to worry about your homework if you’re dead” and honestly—same.
When we finished with the catacombs, I asked the driver to take me to an exchange place and he did. It was one of the ones with a good rating, so I was relieved about that. I exchanged some money and then had him drive me back to the hotel and I tipped him with USD because the exchange place only gave me large bills.
Grandma was there when I returned. She told me about her weird tour guide lady. Apparently this woman didn’t know where the elevators were and when she asked the guards for directions, she didn’t actually follow them. Since it was 2:00 in the afternoon, I decided to go for some lunch and I resolved to try bread.
I’m not sure if I mentioned it here before or not but I’ve heard a lot of anecdotal evidence from people with gluten allergies/intolerances and they have said the bread in France doesn’t trigger any reaction in them. I was extremely hopeful coming here because I haven’t had glutenous bread in ten years.
I walked to a café just down the street from the hotel and sat down. I grabbed an English menu on accident, so the waiters only spoke to me in English, even if I spoke to them in French. I ordered fish and chips and they gave me bread to enjoy in the meantime. I ate a whole slice of what was presumably a baguette and it was good. Hard on the outside and super soft on the inside. Still warm. Mmmm.
My fish and chips arrived and I’d felt no reaction. I’m at a point now where if something has gluten in it, I can tell as I’m eating it. This usually prevents me from eating too much of something I’m not supposed to. I ate the salad and fries first from my lunch because the fish was fried and I wanted to wait a little longer to see if the bread would affect me. It would be disappointing if it did, but if not, the possibilities would be endless. And lo and behold, no debilitating stomach pain! Nothing at all, not even a hint of a cramp. I was elated and ate the fish, still tentative because it could be a different story with meat. But again, I had no issue.
I returned to the hotel feeling full since the first time since getting here. Full stomach, full heart. I was walking on sunshine. The pigeons were strutting around on the gravel, the sky was clear, a nice breeze was blowing. The world changed a little bit. Who knew bread was so filling?
I took a nap when I got back to the room. I’d thought about going back out and doing something, but opted out because I’ve had such a bizarre sleep schedule. When I woke up, I had a deep indent on the left side of the bridge of my nose from where my glasses were digging into my face. I thought at first that I may be bleeding, but it was fine. Not doing that again. Naps will happen without glasses.
We went to go have dinner in the hotel restaurant since Grandma thought she would be able to enjoy it more now that she hadn’t been in her scooter all day. I applied one of her back patches yesterday and I think that may have helped out a bit. As it turns out, we were early, so we sat in the hotel lobby. I was still groggy from my nap and I locked in on the Germany-Nigeria Women’s World Cup game until it was time for dinner. By then I was more awake and the indent in my head was gone.
We both ordered the main course of the day which was risotto with chicken and shrimp (didn’t know about the shrimp when I ordered) and we also went ahead and ordered dessert. I ordered the dessert of the day which was a lemon tart and grandma asked for the couleur café. The waitress returned a few seconds after we’d ordered to inform me that the tart has gluten in it (obviously, it’s a pastry) and I told her that was fine. She was confused but obliged. This meant I also got the normal appetizer which was some fish (salmon?) paste type of thing that came in what I can only compare to a waffle cone but it was a bowl and not sweet. There were dried olives as well but I didn’t like them very much. Olives shouldn’t be crunchy, that’s just wrong.
The main course was excellent. I even thought the shrimp was okay, and I don’t like shrimp (or any type of shellfish really) so that’s high praise from me. The risotto was creamy and I liked it but there was a lot, and I needed to save room for dessert, so I didn’t eat all of it.
The lemon tart was wonderful. I cannot praise the lemon tart enough. There was some white fluff thing on top that didn’t have much flavor so I think it was just there for texture. The bottom was nice and cakey and there were three little spots that were extra lemony and caught me by surprise the first time I ate that part. I found that it was complimented well by the raspberry puddles on the side. I could’ve licked the plate it was so good but I decided that was very against decorum. Grandma’s dessert was some sort of coffee cake thing. It looked good, but there’s no way it could’ve topped my tart.
I have discovered that my attitude has improved a lot just by having eaten more. I think my blood sugar was low the past couple of days and I’ve been operating in hangry mode since landing in CDG. I will work to combat this in the future.
Currently, we are in the hotel watching the end of the Australia-Norway game and by we I mean me because Grandma is on the computer, and I’m just yelling at the television when conviennent. The game is in extra time now and I witnessed a red card being dealt, so it’s heating up. (And as I put this into wordpress, we’re going to penalty kicks, blargh)
Tomorrow is the tour of the left bank in the morning. Maybe I’ll get to visit one of the places on my list in the afternoon!
Also, if you’re wondering about the title of this post it’s a reference to Believer by Imagine Dragons. “Pain” in French is the word for bread. So many great puns can be made with this, but only if you understand both English and French. C’est la vie.
P.s. I have all my photos from the tour yesterday and they jogged my memory about many of the things we learned, so I will try to put the ones I remember facts for into another post later on.