So, we have hired these bikes for 24 hours.
We hired them at 10 am yesterday, which means that we have until 10 am today to use them.
We do the whole ground hog day thing, where we don’t get up at the hour we were intending on, and don’t even get to the bikes till just after 9am.
Arnaud is working from home again today, which means that he doesn’t have to wear pants if he doesn’t want to.
By the time we left, he still wasn’t wearing pants, and I’d be doing the exact same thing if I had the chance.
We jump onto the bikes, and opt not to try a new route into the city, in favour of knowing where the bike stations are, and that we will definitely be able to get into the city using this particular route. We end up only riding for 20 minutes, being that we don’t want to return the bikes late. The last thing we need is for them to keep our 150 euro deposit cos we were a few mins late.
We start walking into the city, and then out of the blue, we look to our left, and there is this massive building down the end of the street, which looks a lot like Capitol Hill, in Washington DC. We rip out the map, and realise that we have just randomly stumble upon the Pantheon in Paris. I mean, we were kinda intending on seeing it if we had the time, but we weren’t going to be making the effort.
It just kinda pounced on our eye holes like cats on rats.
We decide that since we are so close, we’ll just head up and check it out, but upon seeing the every other man and his dog waiting half way down the street, we bailed. The end of the queue wasn’t even in the walls of the compound. It was absolutely massive. From here, it was mostly north to reach Mont Marte, so that is what we decide to do. We reach the bank of Seine, and see this painter with his easel set up on the footpath, painting a scene across the river. I peek over his shoulder, and he isn’t phased at all. The detail is brilliant, and he still has a long way to go.
I truly admire painters.
I cant get my head around using certain colour in certain places to achieve a painting. I much prefer to be using a camera and capture what I am seeing in front of me. We keep making our way up to check out Mont Marte, and along the way, we pretty much walk straight past Notre Dam again. It is busy, but doesn’t seem that busy, surprisingly.
We just wander through the square in front of the Cathedral, when Bec says “Oh. We need to have coffee and croissant in paris”, so that is exactly what we did. We found ourselves a little cafe with the tables all set out on the footpath, and sat to order our coffee and croissant.
The coffee comes out, and to put it politely, it isn’t the best coffee I have had in recent time.
But, to put it bluntly, it was utter shite.
The croissants are on point. They’re light, flaky and beautifully crumbly. Just how a french croissant should be. I ask Bec how her coffee is, and she tells me that it’s really good. I know that Bec’s standard for coffee is really high, so I am all kinds of confused now. It wasn’t until later in the day that I would learn that it was actually just as bad as mine, its just that she didn’t want to believe that she wasted 4.8 euro on a piece of crap coffee.
Not even trying to have a lol with ya mate.
We wrap up our little breakfast date and begin our wander through the streets of Paris, to Mont Marte. Without really intending on it, we came across this street that almost runs from the Cathedral, all the way to our destination. The whole way along, there is all kinds of culture, coffee shops and markets showcasing various sides of Paris.
I still believe that just wandering through a place is the best way to get a feel for a city. You always tend to find things that you don’t expect to.
One such thing that we didn’t expect was to find a decently priced suit shop so easily. We were only about 5 mins walk from Mont Marte, when we came across this suit joint. We were on the prowl for something cheap that I could wear to Gez’s wedding in a few weeks. Its funny how that worked out too. We were tossing up whether we would go or not. I am all about a good celebration, but we were getting tighter and tighter on our budget, so we weren’t going to be able to afford return flights for both of us to Orlando on a whim.
It took us a good few weeks to decide, but we ended up arranging with Gez that instead of him hiring a photographer in Florida, he’d cover one of our flights, and I’d shoot his wedding. This worked a treat. We would be able to end the trip with a bang, I would be able to shoot a wedding, and we would be able to celebrate a mate of our’s wedding with him.
So, we already had Bec’s outfit from when we were in Rome, and I just needed to buy a suit. The good thing about that, is that I also need a few good suits for when I get back to Australia. The last thing I want to be doing, is looking like a bum when jumping back into our partnership. So, all round, it was a win-win situation.
We head in there, and these African blokes who can’t speak a word of english start sizing me up. They are all over it, al except this one time when the bloke who owned the joint tries to tell me that the size-too-small shirt that I am wearing is mickey mouse. Bec is adamant that I should try the size up. The bloke is adamant that he doesn’t want to open another shirt packet. He doesn’t mention it, but his sloth-like movements make it obvious.
We end up nicking a shirt, tie, pants and jacket, all for 150 euro. Not too bad, plus they trim the jacket and pants to the right length for you. That is pretty damn good.
We have to come back at 5pm, so with vigour in our step and after realising that we are in the cheap-ville of Paris, we decide to get our hunter senses on, and find ourselves some shoe bargains. I pretty much go for the cheapest nastiest pair of dress shoes that I can, and walk out with a 29 euro pair of black dress shoes. Bec walks out with a pair only 10 euro more than mine, and they match her outfit perfectly. The world is a beautiful place, and everyone is wining at life today.
So, that means that we both got our wedding outfits for under 300 euro, top to bottom. A skirt, top, shoes, jacket, pants, business shirt, tie and dress shoes. 10/10, I say.
We pick up some food, and head to Mont Marte. It has taken us significantly longer than we expected to reach the icon, but it as worth the stops. We perch ourselves on the grassy strip and feed ourselves, while trying to throw food to only the most deserving birds. In case you were wondering, a deserving bird is any bird which is not a pigeon, ibis, or seagull. It was the most fun I have had feeding any feathered friend in a long time.
Simple things amuse simple minds, and I am ok with it.
We get to do some people watching and watch all the punters fall prey to the “Let me give you a wrist band & say a special prayer over you, with no intention of ever asking you for money” trick**. I am astounded at how many people end up flipping out their wallets for the trap. I feel ripped off just watching it happen.
In addition to the prey falling for the trap, we watched this Asian couple literally spend half an hour taking photos in front of Mont Marte. I am not even taking the piss. The bloke didn’t move once, and his mrs is running around, lying on the ground, crouching, standing, twisting and turning, trying to get the right shot. I thought they had already finished, when Bec looks over behind me and says “Oh my God. They’re still going at it”.
We head up to the top, where there is the viewing platform, and everyone tells us that this is one of the best views of Paris. As much as I am sure that is true, the view is nothing more than just a sea of roofs. Although, that is something that was impressive. There is only one sky scraper inside the Paris boundary, and after it was built, a law was passed that no more commercial buildings could be built within the Paris “ring”, if I can call it that.
Being that there is nothing to block your view, you can literally see as right to the edge of Paris.
That, is a pretty cool perk.
Barcelona and Athens were a little similar in the sense that they grew out as cities, and not up. I get this young girl to take a photo for us, and she is already nervous as hell. She looks like she is maybe 15-16. The photo is pretty average, and I’ve already got the settings set up on my camera, a little different to most, so I know that she is a little under the pump. I don’t fancy having to show her two and times what to do, so I just thank her and head over to the other side to ask another punter to give it a crack.
We head down from the grassy fields of Mont Marte, and being that we have only got an hour or so before we pick up the suit, we just wander through and see what we can find.
We come across this park, and its a little hive of activity.
Kids are using an old sunken garden bed as the worlds tiniest soccer field, while older kids run around throwing things at each other on the bigger equipment nearby. There is so much activity and fun, and the atmosphere is pretty brilliant.
I did not expect to find satisfaction on some workout playground equipment, but I did. Once Bec was out of the toilet, I said to her “Oh babe… This is so satisfying”. She didn’t believe me, but the moment she got on, she knew what I was talking about. It’s just the perfect swinging motion. I see this kid trying to impress what I assume must be his mrs by cranking out 3 dips on the dip bars just in front of us.
Being that I am not one to take a challenge lightly (even though it wasn’t a challenge), I drop my bag, take off my jacket, do my little “I’m getting warmed up shake”, and head to the bars to see how many I can bust out. I know that I can do more than 3, but I haven’t been working out for the past 6 months, so I am not too optimistic.
That being said, dips have always been a favourite of mine, so I’m keen to see how I go.
I reach 10 pretty easily, but it was the last 5 which were becoming harder and harder as each rep wore on, right up until the point where I was getting the shakes, trying to get my self up for the last rep. It makes me happy. I look around to see if anyone was watching, and yes… My challenger (who never challenged me), is sitting on the bench with his arm around the girl he is with.
We make eye contact for a moment.
Thats all that is needed.
Regardless, I am happy that I might be a fat hoe right now, but at least I can still dip my bodyweight.
We head to the suit shop, and pick up the suit, thank the guys and make our way out to find where Arnaud is at, and if there is anything we are doing with him tonight.
We hook into some wifi at a little grocery shop, or all places and find out that we are going to head to a new bar around the corner from his place with a few of his mates. Nothing could sound better. We head back to Arnaud’s place to drop our gear off, take a few minutes to connect to the wifi, so that we can book our trains in Switzerland, being that we will be there in less than two day’s time.
We try skinning the cat as many different ways as we can, but unfortunately, in this case, there is only one way to skin a cat, and that is a bloody expensive way too. It costs us 80 Swiss Francs to go on a train journey from Geneva, to Bex, which is just over an hour long train ride. That is more than 100 Aud.
That is our day’s budget, gone.
Just like that.
People did warn us that Switzerland was going to be expensive, but this was bloody dear. We are just really glad that we are doing HelpX in Switzerland, and not forking out for everything while we are here.
We bite the bullet, and just buy the tickets, throw the laptop away (not literally, that would be silly), and head out the door for a few beers with the guys.
There is 5 of us in total, and it’s going to be a good night.
I mean, we kinda don’t have an option about it either, Arnaud isn’t so fond of people being in his house alone (understandably), so if he is out till 2am, we are out till 2 am. But, the one thing we are grateful for, is that Arnaud isn’t an tosser, and can read the play. We get to the bar, and there is a good 10-15 beers on tap, and it is everything from local to imported. White, to dark, and whatever is not on tap, they’ve got in bottles.
We decide that we’ll shout Arnaud, being that he’s been a champ of a host for us. He jokingly says “You going to buy for everyone?”
I am about 80% sure he was having a laugh, because his face was a little surprised, but not blown away, so I dunno if he was just trying to be a cheeky bastard, or if he meant it. Either way, it panned out for us. That was the first and last time that I paid for drinks that night. Ended up having 6 pints, and only paid for one mine.
Today’s lesson, always buy the first round.
I’m gonna be doing this from here on it.
We sit and chat, drink, make multiple trips to make more space for liquid in our bellies, and learn to say words we shouldn’t in French.
The guys explain to us how in French there is no sound in their vocabulary, in which the tongue passes the teeth. A lot of sounds are with the throat, and even some sounds are a little nasaly. The funny thing is that in English, there are no throat sounds, or nasal sounds. Being that they wanna try and show us up, the throw all these sounds at us to try.
Little did they know that I took French lessons when I was younger, so I may not even be able to hold a conversation, but I can make the right sounds from time to time.
Even they were impressed, and I was impressed that they were impressed.
Bec ends up falling asleep at the table, and we make our way home. Ironically, it is 2am by the time we return, but before we go to sleep, we have to contribute to Arnaud’s world map of surfers. There is someone from Sydney already, but nobody from the West Coast, so we just end up claiming the entire west side of Australia.
We are his 100th and 101st surfers, so we kinda feel a little special.
We’re cute like that.
Its bed time.
Come back for the next story,
**they always end up asking for money.