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Thursday, 13 September 2012

a certain je ne sais quoi

So upon reaching Paris, Suiying and I were busy settling down into our new home, claiming territories and basically figuring out how things are going to work. After all, 4 months in this apartment is not a short time and we had to ensure our comfort and perhaps more importantly survival in this foreign city. Given our limited and rusty French, we are only able to ask exceedingly simple questions and understand about 20% of the reply. Hopefully after 4 months we'll be far more proficient at this language.

We set out grocery shopping as the food in this country, though not as bad as in Stockholm or Copenhagen was far too expensive for it to be sustainable to eat outside every day, and after the past 10 days eating hotdogs, we were craving home-cooked food so badly that it just couldn't wait any longer. So the first 2 days in Paris were spent lounging about at home, using the Wifi and basically convalescing from the insanely tiring traveling we'd been doing.

I don't know if we had lost track of the days, or if it was simply a dreadful incident of miscommunication, but I had gone to bed early on the day that the guys were supposed to arrive at our Parisien home. I remember a frantic Suiying, not bothering to gently rouse me from my sleep, running into the bedroom shouting "OMG THE GUYS ARE HERE, THEY'RE AT THE TRAIN STATION WAITING ALREADY" and before anything could happen we were sprinting out the front door and to Denfert Rochereau to an angry group of guys that claimed that they had been waiting there for the past 2 hours (lies). Accompanying them was their huge stash of newly purchased books (nerds) which was terribly heavy and impossible for me to lift. After dropping off their backpacks and bag of bricks, we then proceeded to the nearby McDonalds for dinner before returning and retiring for the night. Kinkit and Joe bunked on the sofa bed which folded out into a queen sized bed for them while Iven sacrificed and slept on the food of our bedroom in his sleeping bag.

We all woke up late the next day, clearly not unscathed from the events of the night before. My memory of these days are pretty hazy, and the only way I am figuring out the chronological order of these events is the order in which my pictures are taken. So I remember us traveling in search of the Foundation Corbusier, with no clear instructions on how to get there. Only Kinkit was vaguely aware of where it was (he points to a general area of the map and says 'i know, it's somewhere around there'). So 'somewhere around there' we went in search of, and had to incessantly ask for directions in French: Excusez moi, est-ce que vous avez ou est la Foundation Corbusier, maison la Roche?

Unfortunately, and we are no stranger to this, by the time we had found the place, it was already closed, and 'c'est pas possible' for us to sneak a peek, even for just 5 minutes and we were turned away once again.

We then proceeded to go to the Tour d'Eiffel which was visible from where we were, trudging along in the general direction.

The Eiffel Tower is really nice, though having been there before I was no longer awestruck by it.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="671"] Inception Bridge![/caption]

As usual, the Eiffel Tower was insanely crowded. None of the guys expressed desire to ascend the tower, which was good for me seeing as I had already once climbed up the insane amount of stairs just to get to the second storey, but much to Suiying's distress.

Cue an onslaught of touristy pictures with the Tour.. which are all on Facebook and I will not post here.

Walked to Champs-Elysees after that where the Arc de Triomph was. This I had not seen before, and we went about our business photographing it. It's really good actually, to travel with architecture students, because we all own DSLRs and readily take pictures of each other on vacation. As a result, my camera is filled with pictures of other people.


After a day of walking about, we decided to have a good meal outside. I remember this to be a fairly uncomfortable meal because the couple opposite me were French-kissing in between courses. And as the food took a fairly long amount of time to come, this ensured that I had an eyeful of what would have been STOMP-ed in Singapore. This was also the meal that we had escargots and foie gras for appetisers. One of my first times eating escargots! I do like the taste of it. Suiying however, did not, and spat out hers after much kerfuffle and anxiety. "THERE'S A SNAIL IN MY MOUTH" she yelled. Well of course, when you say it like that, it's going to be disgusting, no?

Went to school for a short briefing, which lasted about a half hour. Luckily we live a 15 min walk away from school, if not we'd have been really annoyed about it. Rushed home just in time to catch the guys and so we went out traveling together again!

This time, we went to the Notre Dame Cathedral. Previously when I was here with Eileen, we didn't get to go in because we came too late, so I was fairly excited to go in and finally see its interior. Unfortunately the place was so touristy that it had lost the 'feel' of a holy and sacred place of worship. I much preferred the other churches that we had visited in Stockholm and Copenhagen.

After the rather disappointing Notre Dame, we proceeded to go to the Centre Georges Pompidou! I had given this a miss the last time I was here, so I was quite pleased that we were going there together this time.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="623"] Shhhhh be quiet[/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="608"] crazy people sitting around in the blood freaking hot sun[/caption]

Thereafter we got distracted by the sales at H&M and Zara! Where the guys bought some jackets and jeans and I discovered that I can buy winter clothing from the Children's Section. Thank you, large-sized European children! So as usual, us girls spent way more time shopping than the guys, as we browsed through everything in the sale section from the women's department to the men's department to the children's department, so the guys went ahead to the Louvre first.

After sufficient damage we decided that it was time to go to the Louvre too. Didn't enter this time because it was quite late by the time we got there, and we were sure that the student card which we HAVE NOT YET RECEIVED would confer us some student discount, so we just stood around in the Caroussel of the Louvre, taking typical touristy pictures and looking through the shops.

So to spite the guys for having dinner without us, we bought macarons to share!

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="643"] Not cheap, but absolutely delicious.[/caption]

Depressed that we had neither food nor company, Suiying and I sat in the Louvre using their Wifi for a good half hour googling cheap places to eat in Paris. We found one and went off in search of it, but when we reached there we found that it had closed down, unfortunately. Thankfully, we had landed in the middle of the Japanese town part of Paris, and so we had a good gyoza and ramen for a reasonable price!

The next day, however, we had school and were unable to join the guys on their architecture geek-out, but instead had a full day of talks and briefings about studio, with a picnic with the fellow exchange students in between. It was a simple affair. What: sandwiches from a nearby fast food restaurant. Where: in the middle of Cemeteire de Montparnasse. Yup, enough said.

Had a last meal with the guys before they went off to their respective countries.

It's been fun! Looking forward to any combined travel plans that we might have in the next 5 months!

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