Saturday, May 10, 2008

Our last day in Paris/first night in Spain

This morning we got up around 9:30am and packed up our room and checked out of the hotel. We still wanted to see a few things in Paris so we took the train and metro into the city again and went to see Moulin Rouge and the Montmarte area. Moulin Rouge was pretty neat – it was actually a windmill in the middle of the city. I’m not quite sure of the significance of it, but there are a few other windmills nearby also, but we didn’t see those in person, just on the map.

After we saw Moulin Rouge we walked a few blocks to the Montmarte cemetery. The graves here are all above ground and they have these little hut/ shrine things that they put the bodies in. Some of them are big enough where you could probably fit 4 people inside the front part of them and they have little alter things in them and I assume the bodies are behind the back walls, but I’m not really sure. There are probably hundreds of them and the cemetery was very maze-like with a bunch of stone streets and stairs and there was even a road/bridge built over part of the cemetery with the tombs underneath it. The whole place has an eerie feeling to it because of all the big stone huts and how crowded it is, but it was interesting to see.

Then we walked over to the Montmarte cathedral place. I can’t remember the name of the HUGE church, but it’s the highest point of the city. If my legs (and back and feet and every other part of me) hadn’t still be aching a lot from the hike up the stairs and bike ride yesterday I would have loved to walk/climb to the top of the hill. But there was no way in hell I was going to attempt to climb that many more stairs. It hurts just to stand up, let alone do more stairs.

We decided we’d better get back to the car because we weren’t 100% sure how long it would take us to get to the airport and we had to be there at least 40 mins prior to our flight to Madrid. We got back to our car and luckily the GPS got a signal and gave us an estimated time of arrival of 6:38pm. We thought that was kind of weird, considering we only had like 33 miles to go and it was around 2:30pm then. But we headed out and drove through the crazy streets of northwest Paris. We saw some really neat areas again, but we couldn’t figure out why the GPS wasn’t taking us to a highway since we had switched it from shortest distance mode to fastest time mode. About a half hour into our drive, after we’d gotten out of the city some, I finally realized that I’d put it on bike mode while we were on our bikes… Oops. So when I switched it to auto mode, it bumped our ETA up 2 hrs. Luckily though, we were so far out in the country by that time we still got to take the back roads through the French countryside, which was AMAZING. We drove through 3-4 tiny, little, very old towns where all the buildings were made of stone. It was really neat to see and Mark said that was his favorite part of the trip so far. Eventually it got us on the highway though and we made it up to the Beauvais-Tille airport. After a little bit of rearranging with our luggage (you can only have 15 kilos per bag and you can’t share bags and our bag was 22.5 kilos so we had to switch it to two bags) we were on our way to Madrid.

Our luggage arrived in Madrid, thankfully, and Mercedes (Mark’s family’s exchange student from 20 years ago) and her husband, Othello, met us there and recognized us. We dropped our luggage off at their REALLY nice and practically brand new house, and then went to one of their favorite bars for appetizers and drinks. They had us try jamon, which is a delicacy here, and pan con tomates. Jamon is kind of like proscuitto – except better – very thinly sliced aged ham, and pan co tomates is lightly toasted bread with olive oil and pureed tomatoes on it. Both were excellent. They also serve olives with their alcohol here, but they’re much sweeter than our olives and they still have the pits in them, which I love. They also gave us another type of delicacy ham, but I don’t remember the name of it right now. I found out later though, that the one small plate of the jamon was 23Euros… WOW! It was very good but I wasn’t expecting it to be that expensive. The bartender also gave us shots of this alcohol that tasted like a sweet rum kind of, but it was made out of nuts. It was pretty good, but I gave most of my shot to Mark, even though he’d already had his fair share of drinks. After that bar, we went to another one of their favorite bars and they all had a few more drinks.

Oh yeah, we filled up the car today at it was 52.45Euros for 36.94L. (That’s 1.42Euro/L or about $8.53/gallon.) But we were able to drive from Germany to Paris, all the way THRU the middle of Paris and up to Beauvais on about 10 gallons of gas. Not too bad.

Spain seems interesting so far. We’re staying out in one of the suburbs. Their house is really nice. It’s a 4 story town home with one main staircase and all the rooms are off of the landings. All the rooms, even the kitchen and living room, have doors to them. It seems very modern and is painted in bright colors which I love. Tomorrow we’re being taken on a car tour of Madrid and then going to one of their friend’s birthday parties and then Mercedes parents gave us their tickets to a bull fight. I’m excited to experience that, but also nervous… I’ve heard that it’s sad watching them kill a bull right in front of you – especially when they make it a sport of basically torturing an animal. But it’s part of this culture and we’ll probably never have the chance again, so we’ll take the opportunity we’ve been given. Maybe I’ll just close my eyes for most of it…

1 comment:

Em said...

The church is Sacre Coeur -- Sacred Heart!