Stay fit, Stay lit

The key to packing for a long journey is making a huge long list, packing, unpacking, packing again, and then taking a deep breath and accepting you will never be ready.  You will forget something.  You cannot fit enough socks in your backpack and there is no way to estimate exactly what you are going to want to wear Tuesday evening in two weeks.  I refused to concede to this law and relax until we finally stepped into our limo.

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Justin tricking on our tricked out ride

But…it’s pretty easy to let go a little with a glass of champagne in your hand.  Much easier with two or three.  Obi, our driver, used the force to mostly avoid rush hour traffic on the way to JFK, while we danced (as much as you can seated in a moving vehicle) and sang to an array of 90’s songs and Disney tunes.  The realization that we were actually on our way to Paris set in somewhere between “A Whole New World” and “Hit Me Baby One More Time“.  Or maybe it never set in at all…where are we?

Oh, shit, yeah…we’re in m-fing Paris.  We woke up here after discontinuously napping through the screams of a thousand infants.

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Blurriness accurately depicts our experience in CDG as a whole

After a brush with potential terrorism (aka sitting in line at customs for an extra who knows how long because some idiot left their bag in a hallway) we made it to the train.  Between our broken French and the kindness of a few strangers, we found we could navigate the Paris metro just fine.

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Sunset in France from the train

Unbeknownst to me, we are being hosted in this country by local national celebrities.  Vivien and Jessie recently won 5th place in France’s Got Talent for a truly incredible performance that I cannot currently find a link for.  I’ll ask them tomorrow and update.  Despite our fatigue, no one could wait to start seeing the city, and Vivien was more than happy to lead us on an adventure.  Did I mention we’re in M-FING PARIS!?

We took a whirlwind tour starting at the Arc de triomphe

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and continuing down la Champs-Elysées.  The middle of December may not seem like an ideal time to be strolling around a city, but if you’re into Christmas lights (which everyone should be since they are the single good thing about Christmas) then Christmas in Paris is for you.  The phrase “the pictures don’t do it justice” does not do it justice, so I’m just not even going to bother to try.  Imagine trees that sparkle like freshly poured champagne, shops twinkling as if they were covered in illuminated gemstones.  Past the shimmering shops and cafes there is a “Christmas Market”.  Take The Big “E”, remove the farm animals, put it on one beautiful avenue and, Voilà!, you have the Paris Christmas Markets.  Well, almost.  New England isn’t hip to hot wine or fancy cured meats (that one weird beef jerky stand does not count).  And, while we think we are up on our potato game, we are wrong.  So very wrong.

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I would take tartiflette over a “Maine baked potato” literally any day.

The real highlight of l’avenue?  Obviously,

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Why, yes, that is a zombie thriller ride.  And, yes, those zombies in santa suits dance to Michael Jackson.

I really wasn’t sure we could top dancing christmas zombies.  Actually, I’m not sure we truly did.  But, I guess the Eiffel Tower was pretty cool.

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Oh, except for that we came on one of the only nights ever when it wasn’t lit up.  Turns out the workers are on strike due to a botched painting operation.**  I’m a pretty huge fan of protests, though, so I can’t say I was that upset.  In a time when it can sometimes seem like good is losing, it’s encouraging to see that people still stand for something, for each other.

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This human, for example.

There has been quite the pollution problem in Paris this winter.  It hasn’t been uncommon at all to see people walking around in masks like the SARS virus is back.  I can’t be sure if their message was received by the various teenagers stepping on the pump as they walked past, or the tourists (like myself) taking photographs.  But, I’d imagine they were seen by thousands of people.  Each of whom will go home and show their families the photos or put them on their social media, and I’m hoping that is the kind of awareness the artist was seeking.

It’s 2:30 AM in Paris. I am warm and comfortable in a one room apartment.  I am surrounded by six obscenely talented humans from various parts of the US.  I have somehow found myself engulfed in the pulsating beauty that is Paris, France.  I’m not sure what I’ve ever done to deserve this life, but this long strange trip is more than I could ever hope for.

**UPDATE

The lights of the Eiffel Tower were actually shut off Wednesday to mourn lives lost in Aleppo and to stand in solidarity with them.  The strike was the day before.

As promised…Jessie and Vivien’s final performance on France’s Got Talent:

 

Melissa got some pictures of the lights that infinitely surpass mine but still don’t quite do it justice:

 

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