…started on Day 2 AUGUST 1th
Addiction… what is it? Inability to control oneself with repsect to a behvaior or substance? No. That cannot be. There are plenty of addicts out there who can control themselves well enough. Okay… is addiction something that changes the personality? That is, if the subject does not have a relationship with his addiction, he is altogether a different person? Who knows. Someone once said to you, “Look at the word. Addiction. Diction. Dictate. Does the substance dictate your life? If that’s the case, you are addicted to air.”
That might be a loose definition, but you feel it works for you. You are addicted to coffee. It dictates your life. In fact, your BIGGEST expense is coffee. So far, you and Alexis plan your entire trip in Paris around your next coffee fix. Sad, but true. You travel together, pathetically American, seeking with doleful eyes that little green and white mermaid with her promising block letters:S.T.A.R.B.U.C.K.S. No one in Europe does coffee American-style—you know, those giant cups held in the hand of every city-dweller, practically functioning as a third appendage. You reckon that the abyssmal cup of black stuff will eventually replace the cigarette and bottle in terms of muscle-memory comfort.
Oh well, you and Alexis make do while in cities, often walking over an hour longer than necessary just to procure enough strong coffee for a reasonable value. Your second biggest expense would be museum entrance fees, and finally—pitifully—food. But you’ll not allow your readers to make an incorrect assumption. The amount you spend does not reflect your priorities.
First, and foremost, is food—whole food nutrition, to be precise. As a health-conscious fitness trainer, you make it your business to keep yourself properly, adequately, and cheaply fueled. Turns out the best diet, and the tastiest, is the cheapest. For less than four euro per day, you can dine on a number of combinations of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and animal products. Having a travel buddy actually cuts your costs lower than they were during your last soujourn into Europe.
Second is, you sheepishly admit, coffee. Alexis refuses to comment here. But the truth is, coffee is more important, at this point, than the museums. And why is that? Because coffee lubricates the brain, elevates the move, and gives you borrowed energy—enough energy, elation, and sitmuation to allow you to glide from gallery to gallery, soaking in masterpieces, contemplating the rich artistic histories of Italy and France.
In two days so far in Paris, you have seen the Louvre and the Orsay museums for the combined cost of 14.50. Coffee, on the other hand, was 11.50. But as the museums stop coming, and the demand for coffee continues in order to fuel your experiences of the many free visual feasts in Paris, coffee will soon enough assume first place. There must be a way to reconcile… why must a double espresso cost 4.00 euro? If you bit the bullet and bought instant espresso, you could make serious savings. You might have to do that.
Finally, the cost of food in two days so far comes to a pitiful 4.37. You have enjoyed rice with milk and honey, rice with ketchup and mayo, whole grain baguettes with either cheese, yogurt, or swiped packets of butter. (The Camembert-tomato sandwhich is a winner). Bananas are always a good value and a quick blood sugar replenisher. Chocolate has made an appearance to accompany the coffee. Chef salad and some red wine was an unexpected treat from hosts… organic apples and plums also grow abundantly, so while walking, you occasionally reach into the air and pick out a snack.
…continued on Day 4
Okay, okay, okay… JESUS, Alexis. She is criticizing your blog entry, because you write too extensively about the financial stuff, and not enough about what fun you are having. So here it is…
The two of you worked in Orval in the south of Belgium for two week at the 100 percent organic-vegan-gourmet-macrobiotic kitchen. This was your second stint there. You used the stucture of the farm’s working hours to improve your French, learn more Dutch, and start learning Spanish. You also maintained a strict and agressive workout regime. Unfortunately, the food there is not exactly suited to your energy needs, and it was a bit of a struggle. Not nutritionally, but CALORICALLY. Still, the time was nice, the weather was sensational, and you stored away a few good memories, such as a visit to the Abby where they brew the Trappist beer Orval, and a pub crawl in Florenville (a town about as big as a monkey fart, but that didn’t stop the two of you from getting loaded). When you left the farm, your hoofed it to the highway and hitched all the way to Paris… it was a challenge. You hitched primarly ON the motorway, and even had a lunch of peanut butter, honey, and banana sandwiches on the sun-splashed shoulder of the road, cars streaming past at high speeds.
Edourad from your first summer at Sli Na Bande received you in his home again. Welcome hospitality, especially since Paris would be an impossibility of you could not find a place to leave you baggage. You were out of the house at 7am the following morning for Paris, Day 1. You saw Notre Dame and the Louvre, which took the entire day. You remember the last time you were in Paris, and you thought to yourself, “If you are going to see the Louvre, you are going to give yourself enough time to REALLY see it.” That means… SEVERAL DAYS. You entered the sculpture gallery and swelled with emotion—namely happiness, because it was so beautiful. You were finally there, with Alexis, free to soak it all in.
Day 2, you did the musee D’Orsay (world’s largest collection of Impressionist paintings) and the Eiffel Tower. Long day. HARD DAY. But an amazing day, nonetheless! On your feet, slightly underfed, and over-caffeinated. This day was puntuated by a frantic run to the train station which drained all reserves.
Day 3, you returned to the Louve (and finished the whole damn thing, which resulted in a terrifying drop in blood sugar, and The Unfortunate Incident of the White Bread Baguette) and walked the Champs de L’Elysses at your leisure, finding the Arch of Trimuph at the end. Took a nap in the parc, splt some coffee-flavored Haagen Daz ice cream. Had plenty of coffee. Turns out that McDonalds is amazing in Europe, and the Mc Cafe is the Bees Knees.
Day 4, hit a low with Starbucks. Lost about an hour in an effort to obtain both coffee and internet in the same venue. Tensions were high. But the mission was accomplished. You visited the Centre Pomidou (Paris’ museum of modern art) and saw more Picassos and Matisses and Pollocks than you knew what to do with. There was also an exhibit called Elles at Pompidou, which was centered on womens’ impact in the modern art world, particularly since women’s impact/contribution on art is a merely recently acknowledged. The Pompidou, for you, was the highlighht of your museum tours. Modern art is more engaging (though admittedly less striking and emotionally impactful than Impressionism).
Another Great Thanks must be paid wot Edouard and his family (deinitely his father). Their hospitatliy was greatly appreciated. Though you were out in the city every day, the evenings were very pleasant (chess, movie, archery lesson, ping pong), and on your last night, you were treated to a lavish home-cooked meal. The steak, the wine, the fruit-tart… for two girls who haven’t had meat in WEEKS, is was phenomenal.
In sum, what have you learned this week? Musings? Admissions?
1.Paris is the biggest city you have visited so far in Europe, and it takes MORE than 4 days to see, but 4 days in a row is agressive, to say the least—particularly if you are doing it all on foot.
2.Art is not an accurate representation of the values of the time. Certainly not. Probably an even poorer representation of history. But, art is incredible, stimulating, and definitely important. It doesn’t matter how you define art or how you experience it; just see some. (or fuckloads over four days—you have not yet overdosed on it, but you came close on Day 3; the Louvre pushed you to your limits).
3.Your new religion is Fleckenism, followed closely by Coffee, which is—fortunately–a sacrament of Fleckenism. (The two of you made a pricey investment of 13 euro on coffee and cofee-brewing-supplies at the end of Day 2, pushing coffee into the lead over musuem entrance fees. In fact, on Day 4, Alexis spent her ENTIRE daily budget on coffee; you, on the other hand, sneakily prepared your own brew from hot water procured from the barrista, and your instant espresso mix you carry in the side pocket of your day pack [yeah, you even dabbed the podwer with your finger for a quick fix at the train station]).
4.Alexis thinks you are making the two of you sound like junkies.
5.People Watching in Paris is the best.
6.Creme Frais is NOT cottage cheese.
7.Scalping tickets is impossible in Paris, because people are honest, and many things work on some alien concept of… th—-the—Honor System.
8.Even pidgeons won’t eat the white bread baguette (sweet justice!)
9.Paris is fucking INCREDIBLE. Life is beautiful. The end.
Stop reading and go drink some cofee.