A little warning: this entry is more text-heavy than usual.
Aside from the first day spending more than 100 Euros on dinner, every other meal we’ve had since then have been meals we prepared ourselves by shopping at Monoprix (which is like our Lucky’s or Safeway). They even have a rewards card, like a Safeway rewards card, which is the only way we can get the sale price. And just like at Safeway, we had to register ourselves to get the card, so that they can track and judge us based on our purchases.
Also, I’ve been using my chip-and-pin debit card; you know, the un-hackable card with a microchip that the rest of the world have been making fun of Americans for not having. Last month my brother got his American debit card cloned at one of the French ATMs and the thieves wiped out his bank account. So I figured it was a good idea to get the chip-and-pin card. I just had to pay $5 for it. And it’s a lot safer than carrying cash.
Every morning we’ve been eating salami and fried eggs with our baguettes. Baguettes! Baguettes! Bagggguetttes!
I was very proud of myself. I entered a crowded bakery and ordered two baguettes in French without making a fool of myself (but who knows, the crowd might have exploded in laughter after I exited). I calmly said to the bread-rista, “Bonjour. Je prends deux baguettes, s’il vous plâit.”
(Is that grammatically correct, or should I have said “je vais prendre”?)
But I do need to put down the baguettes. I’ve been trying to only eat 1.5 meals a day so I can avoid the usual vacation weight gain, but so far I still feel really bloated every day, especially in my face. I think it’s from all those carbs.
By the way, the 400-or-so vocabulary words my West Valley teacher made us memorize have really come in handy here. I can read most signs and instructions in French and I could somewhat maybe sorta sometimes not really ask questions in French. (I’ve been trying to avoid using English because I heard French people are hostile toward English-reliant speakers, but so far Parisians have been accommodating, probably because they’re used to all the tourists).
The trouble comes when I try to listen to their answers. Their speech sounds like one big blur to me. My brother has been living here the past two months for school, and can easily interact with people in French now, so we’ve been using him to ask all our questions.
Then we went to do more shopping. I visited an H&M and couldn’t find anything decent. Then we saw a C&A, which is Dutch for H&M, or like the IKEA of clothing. It was a big department store that had decent clothes, and the prices were cheap (by European standards).
Then on the way home, we had a quick meal at McDonald’s. Their McCafe in Paris is actually a cafe. My mom wanted coffee and we had to order at a separate counter with the macaroons:
My brother ordered a “Maxi” size meal and it looked like a regular medium-size in the U.S.
Guys, I might have a clue why we’re fat.
My brother usually has sweet and sour sauce with his fries. Over here it’s called “chinois” (Chinese) sauce. They also had pomme-frites (fries) sauce, which I can only describe as a sweet kind of tartar sauce.
Oh and speaking of fat earlier, the young Parisians are anything but. I’m not speaking of the backpack-wearing tourists. I’m speaking of the many, many Parisians in their 20s and 30s I see occupy the street cafes and walk down the sidewalks. They generally have the same thin frame. I don’t want to use the word, “malnourished” because they’re probably not, and they’d probably be offended if I suggested such a thing. But they are very thin. Stocky, curvy, beefy, or muscular body types are almost non-existent here. And they smoke A LOT. I’m constantly inhaling second-hand smoke and have been asked for a lighter so many times. Désolé, je ne fume pas.
On the way home, we walked past the Centre Pompidou, the museum of modern art:
There were also street chalk artists who let you photograph their work for a donation. I love these:
The view from our balcony when we got home was amazing. Here’s my mom (although I do take a slight objection to her putting bare feet on the table):
And here’s me trying to look pensive and staring up at the sky, but just looking rather stupid or demonic:
And here’s a photo without us blocking the view:
Oh by the way, I found my laptop charger. It was in a hidden compartment in my suitcase. I knew I had packed it. Thank goodness too, because it was taking forever to sort through photos on my brother’s Macbook. Unless I’m wrong, Macbooks don’t have the ability to quickly scroll through photos in a folder and delete the ones we don’t like. (I use Macs regularly, but Macbooks are a little different.)