05 August 2010

Paris Last Week Part 2/Edinburgh!

As promised (for all of you avid blog readers – ha haaaa) here is the second half of the post for the last week in Paris.  Is it sad that it still depresses me to say and/or write that sentence out?  Never thought a city could actually steal your heart; I think I’ve been proven wrong here.  Anyway, just leaving Edinburgh on the train for London!  It’s about 1pm here, supposed to get to London Kings Cross by 5:30 or so I think… maybe it’s 6:30, I don’t even know.  Money is becoming more and more of a rarity, I’ve been listening to more Spanish speaking music than is probably healthy for me, and basking in the glorious fact that the Starbucks coffee here a) doesn’t taste like water and b) is almost as common as at home – basically a coffee shop on every corner.  Love ya, English speaking countries… love ya.

Where did I leave off… ah yeah. Vendredi.  Friday was the LAST day of Catho classes – major wahh!  And I’m being dead serious; I actually miss my French language teacher and the cute little campus and the nuns all dressed up in their cute robes or whatever you call them.  Had class for two or so hours, running on about an hour of sleep, got my certificate from the Catho with my grades (I actually did better than I expected, the equivalent of two C’s and B on the American grading scale, which is good for France), then after class said my sad goodbyes and headed home to shower.  Abby and I decided we simply couldn’t leave Paris without one last true falafel from the Jewish district, so we drug Cara and Tom there with us and enjoyed our falafels from Las Du Fallafel probably a little bit more than we should have – ate them on the steps of the Eglise Charlemagne which was one of the first buildings we wandered in to our first few days in Paris, who knew we’d find it again!  Went shopping for souvenirs around the Jewish district with Abby for a bit, got some horrible Starbucks near St. Michel, and then met up with Tom and Stephen to go to the Louvre for a bit.  Of course it took like three hundred hours for them to actually get their crap together; first they had to have their man date at the kebab place by Stephen’s apartment, then they took a year and a half long cigarette break, then found the Metro as slow as humanly possible, then had to smoke again, then buy more cigarettes… you get the idea.  So Abby and I ended up ditching them and exploring the Louvre by ourselves.  We went though the Ancient Egypt exhibit, as well as some of the French and Italian art section, and after about an hour decided it was high time for our last gelato in Paris.  This was actually one of the most depressing things ever, although it was equally delicious.  Got our flower shaped gelatos from our favorite place in the Latin Quarter and rode the RER-B home for our very last time ever!  Definitely one of those moments where I almost randomly burst out into tears.

Photo Cred: Abby Williams
 Cara, Abby & me out front of Las du Fallafel A.K.A. Heaven on Earth!

Photo Cred: Cara Freeman
Cara, Abby & Tom eatin their falafs outside of the Eglise Charlemagne

The Louvre!

Photo Cred: Abby Williams
Me & Abb outside the Lovure.  Not a typical tourist pic or anything.

Went back to the FEU where everyone was furiously doing their last minute packing, listening to sad mood music, and maybe even crying a little over a cigarette in Tom’s room downstairs.  Came home to find a note in my door from my neighbor, Javier, saying that he tried telling me goodbye a few times but I was never home, and that I should add him on facebook and come visit him in Puerto Rico.  Love him.  Had a little pity party in my bedroom for ourselves, finished packing really late that evening, and then sent Holly off onto the RER-B around 12am.  She was leaving on the last train because her flight was at 7am (which means she had to be at CDG by 5am or so) and the RER doesn’t start running till 5am anyway, so she was going to have to spend the night in the airport – scary!  Brave girl.
 All of us crammed in the tiny FEU elevator to send Holly off!

 Girls saying their goodbyes to Holly outside the FEU.

Samedi (Saturday) was the big day – moving out of the FEU.  Everybody woke up incredibly early, like 6h00, to either catch Metros to a train station or take the airport shuttle to Charles de Gaulle.  Taking our bags downstairs and closing our little doors on the 3rd floor for the last time was definitely a depressing moment.  Walked our bags downstairs to wait for the girl’s airport shuttle (Cara, Abby & Chie were taking it to CDG at 7h30 that morning), woke Tom up for some last goodbyes (he’s even more emotional than I am, which is hard to beat).  Sara, Carey & I got on the RER around 8h00 after all the goodbyes were said and headed off to our specific locations, those two to the airport and myself to Gare du Nord to catch the train to London.  Had a little personal cry fest in the train station by myself, slept all the way to London then transferred to a train to get to Edinburgh.  Of course I was really excited to come to Edinburgh, to see Nick and do some cool stuff in the city, but I was so incredibly depressed about leaving Paris that I couldn’t even be outwardly excited to do anything.  Basically wanted to run up to the train conductor (do you call them that, even though they’re electric?) and hijack the train back to Paris.  Instead, kept my cool and made it to Edinburgh in one piece (sort of), Nick met me outside the station and took me back to his flat to unpack and go walk around the city for a bit.

 Gare du Nord - last minutes in Paris... :/

Met Nick’s flat mate, a guy named James from Lancaster, who is really incredibly funny and a little bit out there – a.k.a. right up Nick’s alley.  His girlfriend is around my age, her name is Shauvon (no idea how to spell that) and she’s incredibly nice too.  Went to walk around the city for a bit with Nick after meeting them, he took me up to the “Pilot Butte of Edinburgh” which is, obviously, about twenty times prettier than Pilot Butte in Bend.  Then Nick and I met up with James a few hours later at a pub near their flat.  It was really crowded and really fun, I guess it’s a typical Scottish place, tried some whiskey there which wasn’t bad… not exactly “my drink” – straight whiskey?  Do I look like a 45 year old man?  But really can’t lie, I enjoyed it.  Went back to the flat and we skype’d (is that a verb?) Jaci for about an hour before going to bed.

Nick's kitchen - so presh.
Haunted graveyard outside Nick's flat.

View from "Pilot Butte"

Already August!  Sunday I slept for about a year and a half, woke up around noon and did some more walking around Edinburgh.  It actually started off a relatively nice day, even with some patches of sun, which is really rare for Edinburgh apparently!  Nick took me to the Sir Walter Scott monument, which is a great big old monument on Princes Street, you pay three pounds to walk all the way up to the top – which is like a trillion flights of scary winding stairs that get smaller and smaller at the top, almost like Alice in Wonderland!  The view from the top was absolutely breathtaking, took about a million pictures and made our way down to listen to this guy bag piping and get some lunch.  Found a CREPE place – of course I had to get a Nutella crepe for “old time’s sake” which really means for like last week’s sake.  Went back to the flat for a bit, watched Step Brothers (typical) and laid around for a few hours, then met up with two of Nick’s friends at this great place called the Pear Tree right near Nick’s.  I guess this place has some really important place in literary history but none of them quite knew the story, I should really Wikipedia it or something but I simply don’t have the time.  Had some beers with his friends and headed home relatively early because we had an early wake up call the next day for our road trip to the Isle of Skye.

Sir Walter Scott Monument

Nutella crepe - found ya!

View of Edinburgh from the top of the Sir Walter Scott Monument!

In front of the Pear Tree

Woke up around 7h00 for the road trip on Monday, walked to the library to meet Nick’s German friend Kimon, who is really friendly and says incredibly funny things.  He mixes up his W’s and V’s and calls vampires “wampires.”  Almost lost my mind the first time I heard it.  The three of us walked through this pretty park (is it called the gardens, Nick? Something like that) to his Indian friend Vivan’s apartment.  Got the rental car and set off with a complete set of directions and maps and all that jazz, good thing somebody thought that out or we definitely would have gotten 20x more lost than we did anyway.  Vivan is the scariest driver on the planet (sorry mom, don’t read this part if you want to stay under the impression that I am making good decisions on this trip), probably because he learned to drive in Delhi, and drove exactly like he would in India I’d assume.  Tailgating like a mad man, speeding around other cars, keeping a constant speed of one million kilometers per hour, you know, etc.  Made it to the Isle of Skye with only a few breaks in about 5 hours, which was easily the most frightening 5 hours of travel I’ve ever spent in my life.  The Isle was absolutely gorgeous, and the people spoke Gaelic which is the weirdest language I’ve ever heard/seen in my life.  Spent a few hours driving around there and then had to head back to Edinburgh because we only had the car for 24 hours.  The drive back was mortifying as well, but was a little easier to handle because it was dark (is that backwards logic?).  Almost threw up I got so carsick - pulled in to Edinburgh a little before 1h00 (in the morning), dropped the car off and walked back to Nick’s flat from Vivan’s.

Some really pretty castle on our way to the Isle.

Beautiful dam somewhere between Edinburgh and the Isle.  With sun to boot!

Beautiful cliffs on the Isle of Skye.

Bye bye Isle of Skye...

Tuesday morning, or more like afternoon, I woke up and packed everything back up in my enormous oversized duffel bag (depressing) and went to Starbucks on the Royal Mile with Nick and spent a good few hours writing out this RIDICULOUSLY HUGE update.  I can’t tell you how beautiful it was to have coffee to go in an actual Starbucks, that actually tasted good.  Oi vey.  Met this guy at Starbucks who is from New York, living in Sydney, Australia, and visiting Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival, spoke with him for a bit then decided to go back to the flat and then get an early dinner.  Speaking of early, people in Scotland eat SO MUCH earlier than people in Paris – it’s unreal!  I got so used to eating around 9pm or so, and I don’t think we ate past 7pm one time while in Edinburgh.  It was kind of nice though, I can’t lie.  After relaxing for a few hours (after our real stressful day of sleeping in and sitting around Starbucks, sarcasm) we headed out to find a place to try haggis for my first time.  Haggis is a traditional Scottish dish that consists of lamb stomach, intestines, and liver.  Sounds delicious, right?  But I figured you only live once and I couldn’t leave Scotland without trying it – I’d be so pissed at myself later.  Nick knew of this one really cute tiny place down an alley that apparently is always busy and packed full of people but that serves haggis, so we decided to try our luck and see if there was a seat – praise God there was.  We ordered haggis to share (in case I really couldn’t stomach it, plus I knew I wanted ice cream later… who am I kidding?) and two beers.  Mine was actually quite good, so strange to actually drink a beer that doesn’t taste like water.  All French beer is terrible.  Got the haggis, which was served with mashed potatoes and turnips, and actually liked it a lot!  Like I’m not even being polite when I say this because Nick said it’s not his favorite thing ever, but I would definitely eat it again.  So take that, gross sounding foods.  Of course we had to find ice cream after dinner, which was great but also just made me miss Paris a little bit more because it was definitely not gelato - agh.  Went back to the flat and watched stupid movies like Zohan before going to bed

Staaaarbucks on the Royal Mile - hallelujah!

"The Halfway House" where I had haggis for my first time!

This morning woke up around 10am, said goodbye to James (Nick’s flatmate) before he went off to do some work.  Packed my ridiculous amounts of crap into suitcases (no big deal, just picked up an extra, so now I’m travelling with two checked bags, a carry on, and a purse – shoot me) and went downstairs to get Starbucks, which is literally like half a block from Nick’s flat – lucky.   Nick walked me to the Waverley Bridge train station around noon and we found my train without any problem… said our sad goodbye and headed for London!  Tried updating this blog about a billion times on the train, but the WiFi was so bad I had to wait.  Now I'm in my friend Sam's living room in London gearing up for the last few days of my Eurotrip!  Gah, don't... think... about... it...

Final words?  I hate the Pound.

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