|The Big 24!!|
January 26 marked the 24th anniversary of my entry into this world - and what better place to spend it in than Paris?! Ever eager to head back to the big city, I took a train on the evening of Friday, January 24 and headed up to Paris where my parents had booked a hotel room for Meike, Kasey and I for the weekend. (Sadly, Meike's grandfather had passed away earlier during the week, so she had to head home for services during the weekend instead of celebrating with us - but she was there in spirit!)
As I didn't arrive in the city til late Friday night, Kasey and I decided to lay low and save our energy for Saturday night instead. On Saturday, we each did our own thing for most of the day - I had some errands I wanted to run and Kasey had a meeting and some paperwork to get done. Paris is a very flat city (with the exception of Montmartre) so it's ideal for strolling around and people watching, conveniently two of my favorite activities!
|Just passing by the French Senate building in the Jardin du Luxembourg - can't wait until it's springtime and this park is in full bloom again!|
After grabbing a ham, egg and cheese crêpe from my favorite little hole-in-the-wall in the St-Michel neighborhood, I munched and shopped on the rive gauche for a while. January is famous for les soldes (the huge annual sale events in most stores) and consequently wherever you decide to shop, from little boutiques to huge department stores, is jam-packed with people who are sifting through every last item, hoping to snag that one item whose price is too-good-to-be-true. [But putting up with the crowds can be worth it - I happened to snag a pair of boots that started at 80€ for under 35€ in Metz a few weeks prior!] Prices are slashed up to 80% in some places, so you can really score some good deals if you have the patience to pick through the store displays that have been literally turned upside down by all the other bargain-hunters. I actually felt bad for the poor employees who had the arduous task of re-folding all of the clothes that had been rifled through, what a thankless and never-ending job!
I had also read online that there was a Breaking Bad expo taking place at the Fnac (similar to Best Buy) inside Forum des Halles, a large underground mall in the heart of Paris. Being such a fan of the show, there was no way I was going to miss it - even if it meant battling the crowds inside the mall to get to it!
|A fry batter bucket and other props from Los Pollos Hermanos|
|One of Jesse Pinkman's typical thug outfits - although I was disappointed Aaron Paul wasn't there to live-model them!|
|A "White Family Photo" and Skyler's mug from Ted Beneke's office|
|Jesse's license plate!|
After my shopping spree was over (not that I bought anything worth mentioning) & I had gotten my Breaking Bad fix, I headed over to the 20th arrondissement to visit my former host parents, Béatrix & Quentin. We had a great time swapping stories for a couple hours and popping a bottle of birthday champagne - they really are the sweetest, most welcoming people you could know and I always feel like I'm going back "home" whenever I swing by to say bonjour! It's so comforting to have familiar faces who are so happy to see you when you find yourself in a land thousands of miles from your real home.
|Notre-Dame, still sporting her Christmas tree|
Swinging back to our hotel in the 10th arrondissement, it was time to don my party dress and get ready for an evening of celebrating! After getting all pretty, Kasey and I jetted over to the infamous Rue de Lappe in the Bastille neighborhood for a delicious dinner of traditional French fare. My confit de canard (duck which has been preserved in its own fat and then tenderly roasted until the meat gracefully falls off the bone) was cooked to perfection, and some home-made mousse au chocolat, along with a bottle of my favorite Côtes du Rhône wine rounded out my meal. In typical French fashion, we took our time eating and didn't leave the restaurant til nearly 11pm!
|Keeping it classy in black and hot pink - ready to hit the town!|
Next stop, house party! We had been invited to a party at one of Kasey's friend's houses just on the edge of the city, and after a ride on the metro involving some sketchy characters, we arrived just in time to see the clock tick midnight - the official start to my birthday! The evening was fun and relatively low-key, but if my headache the next morning was any indication, I thoroughly enjoyed myself!
Before taking the train back to Forbach, I took a birthday stroll in one of my favorite Parisian neighborhoods. Ambling along with the crowds of tourists (I was told school break in Italy was taking place while I was there, so there were tons of Italians vacationing in Paris at this moment!), I didn't fail to once again become captivated by the beauty of Sacré-Coeur basilica, crowning the butte of Montmartre. And even though it was a foggy day, the view of the city from the top of all those stairs you climb to gain access to the church was (and always is) worth the effort.
Upon arriving back in Forbach, I was greeted by Meike and a spread of birthday gifts from her and her family - even a chocolate-covered birthday cake! We had some cake, I opened my presents, and it was a nice quiet evening to finish off my birthday extravaganza weekend.
|My birthday cake and German-imported presents :)|
What's on tap next? This coming weekend, I'll once again be headed back to Paris to stay with Kasey and then see a concert by the French band Phoenix on Saturday night. The following weekend, Meike and I will head back to her house in Öhringen. And a month from today, my parents will be touching down in Paris to spend a 10-day whirlwind adventure with me, with stops in Marrakech and Madrid along the way! I had such a great time showing them around France when they came to visit me two years ago, and I can't wait to explore some new places with them this time!
|My parents and I at the Louvre in 2011|