Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Paris Pick-Me-Up

I can't help it - my love affair with Paris seems to only improve with time. Eight plus months in, and I'm waiting for the honeymoon phase to wear off. Instead, beautiful weather, flowering trees, and above all, Paris itself - I just can't get enough.  This morning I woke up exhausted - combination of adjusting to daylight savings plus recuperating from Baby Oil's awesome decision to be awake from 3:30am-6:30am on Sunday night.  I could have waited for the nanny and then crawled back into bed to sleep for a few hours.  But I got dressed, packed up my computer, and headed out - and as soon as I had walked just one block, Paris had proved all the pick-me-up I needed (definitely the large cup of coffee I had at home plus the free espresso from Starbucks plus a latte had nothing to do with it. Nothing at all.).

This weekend we set out to explore the Jardin des Plantes in the 5th.  This jardin is part of the Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle (Museum of Natural History).  So there's the garden, a zoo, and a number of galeries.   Being Paris, of course its not simply a garden or just a zoo.  The entire natural history museum complex originated as a garden for medicinal plants under Louis XIII in 1626 and opened to the public in 1640.  The zoo opened in 1794 and most of the architectural elements are still from the 18th and 19th centuries.  I only know this from the website, though, because someone (eh-hem Mr. Oil) thought it wasn't worth 9 euros each to visit the zoo.  Never fear, Baby Oil and I will make a return trip to the zoo.

On our bus ride to the Jardin des Plantes we beheld a fantastic showdown between the bus driver and a passenger who refused to pay for her bus ride.  The woman got on the bus and attempted to by-pass the part where you present your ticket or pass. The driver called her out on it.  She then explained that she lost her pass and her debit card and she had no money (she was fairly well-dressed, by the way).  The driver then pulled over and opened the doors, asking her to please leave the bus. At that, she took great offense, and instead moved fully into the bus and took a seat.  It took a few minutes for the other 20 or so of us on the bus to understand why we were stopped with no traffic.  We figured it out when she began talking loudly at the driver, explaining that it is not his responsibility to check for tickets, only to drive the bus (questionable interpretation of the large sign that says "the driver makes sure everyone has a valid ticket") and that the driver could decide to take pity on her.  The driver was having none of it.  Finally, another passenger gave the woman a ticket. And she didn't even say merci! 

Later that afternoon we met up with Soon-to-be-Mr-and-Mrs for a trip to the Salon des Vins des Vignerons Independants. Which you might remember from this.  We were determined to be more strategic this time, to drink less and plan out our visit. Plus we were bringing our granny cart so that we could actually buy wine.  The first snag in our plan occurred with the following conversation, about a week or two earlier:

Me: So, should we get a babysitter for the wine fair?
Mr. Oil: No! We can totally bring Baby Oil to the wine fair.
Me: Really? Because last time it was really crowded and also, don't we want to drink some wine?
Mr. Oil: Well, we aren't going to drink as much as last time, and I think it will be fun to bring Baby Oil.
Me: Okay, darling husband. Let's hope you're right as always.

Turns out, of course, that Baby Oil + wine fair was not a good idea. Whether he was trying to get his hands on a disgusting, dirty piece of salami on the floor, or wanting to push the stroller through the throngs of adults, or generally wanting nothing to do with sitting still, needless to say our strategy suffered a major blow. Much like all of your NCAA brackets did when Duke lost to Lehigh. Except that nobody thought Duke was going to lose, and some of us suspected the baby-at-wine-fair was, while quite French, a bit foolhardy. Instead, we began rapidly buying any wine that fit our carefully planned out categories (some bordeaux, some rose, some champagne).  We managed to amass quite a haul in a short period of time, and when we unpacked at home, we had more than one bottle at which we exclaimed, "Where did this come from?"

In other wine-related news, I'm very much enjoying that at Parisian first birthday parties, the adults all drink champagne. We've been to two first birthday fetes in the past two weeks, and have been served champagne at both.  Makes me feel a bit less bad about having to cancel Baby Oil's party back in January, because I had not received the champagne memo. 

My coffee buzz is wearing off - it's time to head outside for another Paris pick-me-up.