Every year since I can remember, the yearly celebration we call Christmas has been pretty much the same. I would wake up and partake in the obligatory social custom in which gifts are exchanged, which I do enjoy; but each year the tradition becomes more and more dull. By late morning I would be at my Grandparents house, and a lunch in which awkward small talk between myself and relatives I only saw once per year would ensue. By 4pm, I would be at my Grandma’s home, and we would have a small meal together.
I love my family. I really do. But I am not like my family.
This past Christmas was the first Christmas that was different. I was away from home. I was on my own. It wasn’t a scorching hot day of 45 degrees. I was in Paris.
On Christmas eve day I continued to explore the truly massive city. Getting lost and finding my way and discovering things I had never heard of and recognizing things I had. I was keeping my eye out for the famous bookstore Shakespeare and Company when I came across the monumental Notre Dame.
I made the mistake of wearing a skirt on that morning with my coat undone. It was rainy and cold and so forcefully windy that I do believe I flashed a group of Chinese tourists for a brief moment or two. It is safe to say that my coat remained firmly zipped up for the remainder of the day!
The cathedral certainly was a sight to behold, but I do remember thinking ‘the cathedral at Prague Castle was better’. It was at that moment that I realized how truly spoiled I had become whilst in Europe.
Another hour or so of wandering in the rain later and I found the Pont Des Arts Bridge, or the Love Lock Bridge as it is more commonly known. I had promised a good friend of mine back home that I would put a lock on the bridge with our names on it. I know the bridge is meant to be for lovers, but my romantic life is either non existent or horrendously messy, so a lock for friendship was the way to go.
I wanted to go to the Musée de l’Orangerie, but the length of the line was just plain ridiculous, so instead I was off in search of food. I found a little French bistro with escargot on the menu, which was written in only French. Double win: I wanted to try escargot and I also wanted to avoid overly touristy restaurants as the food is usually not authentic and the price is usually hiked right up. A menu written only in French is a good indication of authenticity; if there are more than two languages on the menu, run away! I ended up eating these amazing escargot followed by the most tender, melt in your mouth veal I have ever tasted. Bon appetit!
Next I found my way to the Montemartre area. This is my favourite part of Paris. The narrow streets, the huge staircases, the markets, the bakeries and of course, the Sacre Coeur. The views of the city you can get from the Sacre Coeur are exquisite. iPhone cameras may be pretty average, but its places like this that make the panorama function worth it worth its weight in gold.
After all my climbing and walking and exploring I had managed to build up an appetite again, not that this is a particularly difficult thing to do. I set out in search of cheese and wine and a baguette but came across the Cafe des Deux Moulins, also known as the cafe from Amelie. I know it’s touristy and a complete contradiction to my previous declaration of disdain for French cuisine that lacks authenticity, but I couldnt help myself. I love Amelie and I wanted to try the creme brulee that the film is so famous for. Much to my surprise, it was actually pretty damn good.
I ended up having an early night that night. My hostel ended up being a total party hostel, filled with busloads of drunk tourists on group tours, which is great for some, but despite my technical youth, I am just too old on the inside for such shenanigans. Don’t get me wrong, I love a drink, and I do love a good night out, but I love these things in moderation, and the idea of binge drinking every day and night and not actually getting to experience much of the cities just does not appeal to me.
I slept in on Christmas Day.
I decided to finally go to the Eiffel Tower.
We all make mistakes.
Such queues I have never seen. I have never waited in line for so long in my life. It was freezing cold.
But I would still do it all over again.
All I did was see the views from the top of the Eiffel Tower, eat stupidly rich cheesy pasta, gorge on about 12 macarons from Laduree and finish reading Factotum whilst sitting alongside the Seine.
I finally had a Christmas Day I truly enjoyed.