Monday, October 08, 2007


Sometime in the early hours of Saturday morning my stomach struck a deal with the devil and I awoke at 4: 30 am feeling ready to board a train to Paris. I admit that I wasn't 100%, but when you are saying good bye to Brussels, and opting for a weekend of dogs-at-tables, epic walking tours and 'smell my finger' games a twinge in the tummy isn't so bad.

Thus, with mild ache and only a guide book in hand our adventure began.

We started the morning with a bit of granola and soymilk, a cup of tea, and a stop at Sam's Cafe, which, with its garish yellow neon sign, lights up the cellar-like atmosphere of Gare Midi. In true stereotype-style, Belgians, and Brits alike, were chasing their 6:30 am croissant with a bit of Stella. My travel-mate decided that the granola wasn't enough and enjoyed a buttery treat with his espresso. I stuck with my green tea, a decision that was less about veganism and more about my belly.

The train was great! My book, not the curtained-window, blocked my view of the rapidly passing country side. I am currently breaking the well-broken spine of Number the Stars (Lowry) in preparation for an upcoming Read's not that bad thought Holocaust fiction seems to be an easy sell these days. Where would Mosaic be without it?

Tahlys train service from Brussels to Paris (Nord) arrived on time and with smiles from both of us, and almost everyone around - minus a couple of grumps. We ditched our bags at the baggage check and headed for the Metro. We popped out by the River Sienne, just to the South of Notre Dame. Apparently, I looked a bit overwhelmed, and well, I really, truly was. It wasn't just that the sky was the clearest of blue and the weather was more perfect than perfect, it was the depth of our human history that I swam a little further into, that's what pulled my chin down to my sneakers. If getting a sore tummy was my anti-up for this day - it was totally worth it.

We walked past the prison that once held the revolutionized body of Marie Antoinette, and wound our way down to the Pont De Neuf, stopping only briefly before making a bee-line for the Church.

It was here at Notre Dame where bits of me were rubbed raw by the hoards of people, and I couldn't decide if it was better to leave these parts of our history to sanctity and silence, or spread them open for dissection and discussion. I suppose in the end it is about balance. And manners.

A cafe was the next, and most obvious, choice. River, jail, the start of French civilization, church and now great coffee. And it was only 10 am. The Guardian's Saturday edition (of which, I still have no idea of its origins...Kevin.?????) helped us select our next 10 years of travel destinations, and primed us for a great book hunt in Shakespeare and Co. A great book store filled with Whitman and Graphic Novels alike. I just wanted the cat poster.

In search of....not sure.....we trundled up some funky streets, found some great stationary shops, a slew of must-go-there-next-time cafes, and about a million different accents. Hungry (STARVING), and after a bit of a search, we found SUSHI! I couldn't have been happier with the vegan selection. Although the Maki was on the smallish side, I was in desperation. After how many weeks of no Sushi on Bloor I was willing to suck the insides out of an avocado. Kevin had some raw fish, followed by the always favourite 'meat on a stick' - making me only too happy to pay my vegan membership fees for the year.

After the feast, I found some great Pablo Neurda poems in a stocked-full-of-trinkets-bookshop. It was to the Museum of Medical History that sparked our fancy next....and if you are ever thinking of elective kidney stone removal and are in need of some really handy and antiquated tools - this is the place to go! It was amazing actually. A trace of ourselves seen through the eyes (and ears, and noses and brain slices) of a medical archivist. Fantastic stuff.

We couldn't stop our feet from winding their way to Montmartre, on the Artists Walk that took us, eventually (after finding the world's coolest shop, and one of the shops in Amelie) to the Coure Sacred. A great view, a great cover band, and a great attempt on Kevin's part to throw me down a serious flight of steps. We stopped for a mango sorbet and a glass of divine white wine. It was all so "this is the best moment of my life" that I had to fight back tears on more than one occasion.

I have to say that one of the best and most vegany aspects of my time in Europe has been the variety and abundance of totally vegan sorbet (some of the Pear Variety is currently making a home in my post dinner belly).

Onward....the hotel...great place. Amazing bathtub....amazing view, and the BEST twin beds EVER.

We were totally making the most of our time in Paris and we hadn't even had dinner yet. Text messages don't always make for the best rather than joining the gang of ISBers and Co. we found a fantastic Lebanese place (Nanur) and treated our tummies to some great metze. The vegan-feast (minus K's Kebbeh) included pita bread, parsley-heavy tabbouleh (i swear it usually has cracked wheat???), cold ratatouille (by far the highlight) and babbhaganus. The service was wicked slow, but France was actually winning the rugby, who gives?

After dinner and a jaw dropping stroll past the opera house we met up for drinks with Lara, Danielle, Scott, Armando, Adrienne, Mandy, and Mandy's friend Kristi. The drinks were not that hot, and the company odd assortment, but the night was amazing and marilyn monroe moments were a-plenty.

On the walk back to the hotel (in an unrequited search for une pomme) we past some of the Nuit Blanche events (I swear to GOD I saw Bono) that were decorating an already fantastic city with neon paints and installations.

Night was had and the morning was but a rest away.

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