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How Come Everyone Knows We Speak English?

FRANCE | Tuesday, 19 January 2010 | Views [1223] | Comments [5]

How Come Everyone Knows We Speak English?

In Loving Memory of Kendra Ann (no idea what your real middle name is) Eyolfson

Dear Diary (you better be reading this Brynn - I think you owe me something now)

On Monday, the 18th of January (HAPPY BIRTHDAY OPA) we lost someone very special to all of us.  This special someone touched us in places that we had never been touched before: our hearts and souls (get your mind out of the gutter).  Kendra went back to England :(  She’s still alive though, so don’t worry!  Alice, on the other hand... it’s still too early to tell, but we’ll get back to that.  Now if that isn’t a sweet introduction (cliffhangers, foreshadowing.  A+ i think), I don’t know what is. 

SO, when we left you last, we were in Paris.  That first night, we took off in the pouring rain, braved the metro system (mastered it!), and found the Eiffel Tower.  We came around the corner of a building and saw the tower and I literally gasped loudly at the sight of it.  Kendra started crying (we are still not sure why, we assume they were tears of joy), and Alice couldn’t stop smiling (and i think her accent got a bit more noticeable, a sure sign of an excited aussie).  We ended up taking ABOUT 75 of the exact same photo that night, all not very good quality as it was pouring rain, but it was just such an AMAZING (all caps entirely necessary) sight.  At 7pm one light flickered on the tower.  I saw it and said. “Hey, someone is taking a picture.”  Several more started blinking, “Lot’s of pictures”, the entire Tower suddenly became ablaze in blinking lights “Take a picture!!” and we (I, they were two steps ahead of me) soon realized that it was a planned light show.  We took several more pictures.  Eventually, we were drenched from head to toe (thank goodness Alice’s camera is waterproof [we proved that by taking a pic of the tower from in one of the fountains]) and decided to head home, not before stopping for the first of many baguettes and some delicious (sidenote from Alice: but NOT) quiche.

So we returned to our not so humble abode, our hostel.  It was an awesome hostel, with a club and a bar downstairs, and our room had great people (a kiwi [greatest accent (sidenote from alice: except for australians)], three australians, two Canadians, and three AWESOME MEXICANS (seriously, hilarious bunch).  We all went downstairs to the lounge area, and had a few wobbly-pops between us.  We were soon great friends, and much more knowledgeable in Spanish.  At one point, we were playing cards, and Alberto (Mexican #1) was explaining the rules to Abraham (Mexican #2), QUICKLY in Spanish, and Alice cut into their conversation with some skilled Spanish of her own to answer their question.  I kinda sat there in awe as I had not understood at all what they were saying.  I guess she remembers those 3 years in Venezuela when she was a young child.  I think we are going to be ok in Spain.  So we had a great time that night, and slept soundly all night.  

The next morning, we hit Paris, hardcore.  We found out at the train station that our train for Florence would be leaving 12 hours earlier than we had planned for, so we had to cram two days into one.  We headed to the catacombs, but, of course, not before the mandatory baguette (which we took with us on the subway - those things are like three feet long - plus, i was worried about a pickpocket stealing my breakfast.) and croissants.  I freaking love France.  We eventually found the catacombs (just inside a little green door in an ordinary-looking building, very little in the way of signage) and descended 80+ steps into the never-ending abyss below.  What we found was a dimly lit labyrinth of skulls and femurs, winding unpredictably below seemingly unaware Paris.  It was definitely a creepy place to be, but Alice was (i think a little too) excited about the prospect of walking among “dead people”.  It was one of the weirdest places I’ve ever been.  Probably number one on the list.  The place went on forever, and there are some 6 million bodies down there.  The weirdest part was where there was water dripping from the ceiling and it was like dead people water dripping on you!  The second weirdest was one I accidentally touched one of the skulls and was worried I would have some ancient curse placed upon me (I’ll keep you posted).  After taking the slightly claustrophobia-inducing spiral staircase to the top - which seems as though it also dates back to the 1700’s - we stopped at a crepe stand just down the road.  Nothing works up an appetite quite like 6 million dead people do.  Crepes - by the way - are the coolest, at least this kind.  We got to see the guy make them and then he put nutella on them and wrapped them like a cone, filled said cone with heavenly (insert delicious thing here), and topped it with whipped creme.  I downed mine in like 2 seconds flat.  And then I tasted it, and it was delicious.

We continued on to the Eiffel Tower, as we had to keep a tight schedule having only a day to see the whole city.  We got there and, once again, it was SO SWEET.  It is so much better in the daytime.  No, the night time.  No the day time.  (see what I did there? It’s so sweet all the time that I can’t decide when it’s the best, anyway!)  Fun Fact: half of all people in Paris who aren’t on the Eiffel Tower are taking pictures of the Eiffel Tower.  No, half of the people not on the Eiffel tower are below the Eiffel Tower trying to sell you mini Eiffel towers.  Other than those 2 demographics there isn’t really anybody else around.  We stood in line (UNDER the Eiffel Tower - so sweet), and though it was incredibly long line, we amused ourselves by people-watching.  Souvenir-sellers would walk around offering everyone their goods, and they were ALWAYS turned down (I didn’t see any one of them make a single sale, and there were literally like hundreds of them), but they continued to offer to people.  These cops on bicycles (which we laughed at) would then ride along (aggressively, and MAD, haha) and the sellers would all run away to some invisible boundary where they were allowed to sell.  The cops would go somewhere else (there were only two of them, and the place is huge) and slowly and sneakily, the sellers would creep back in and attempt a sale to the same people who had rejected them five minutes before. 

We decided to take the stairs up the tower, because it was like 5 euro more for the elevator, but, conveniently (sarcasm),  just as we were poised to head up the tower we discovered that we were all asthmatic.  All three of us.  O dear.  And of course not one of us asthmatics had thought to bring a puffer.  No matter, we made a go of it anyway.  Several intermittent breaks later, we made it to the first floor.  I’m sure we took 360 pictures, one for every degree of Paris that we could see.  Next we headed up to the second floor, where the view was that much better.  We took another 360 pictures, and stood in awe of the amazing view of the city as it the sun began to dip in the horizon.  We eventually headed back down (this was MUCH easier - Thank You gravity) the 500+ stairs, because there was still so much more to see, in so little time. 

We strolled along some beautiful Parisian boulevard and stumbled upon (with the help of a map) the Arc de Triomphe.  (Alice: “OOO it was BEAUTIFUL, I’m just reliving that moment”)  It was, of course, like every other monument in the city, amazing/huge/had WAY too many stairs and no known elevator (seriously Paris, this is 2010, and we are trying to cut down on heart attacks).  Me and Alice paid (“I’m Kendra, I have British citizenship, so I get everything free, and I’m a big loser) (sidenote from Alice: awesome Neil, sweet maturity) and we all went up the 284 stairs to the beautiful view up top.  The sun was beginning to set and it we could see the entire city, plus the Eiffel Tower.  We also watched the traffic down below, as the Arc de Triomphe is situated in the middle of the largest and most lawless roundabout in the whole world. Probably.  There are like 12  or so lanes but that is only a rough guess as there are no markings on the road.  Cars zigzag, stop, bump into each other, and frighten brave bicyclists (who are really just suicidal, and not brave).  Fun Fact time again: Insurance companies split the cost of all accidents that happen in the roundabout - no questions asked.  Pedestrians, thank God, get to take a tunnel under the roundabout to get to the Arc.  After some quick math we realized that Alice had averaged one and a half pictures - PER MINUTE - for the last two hours.  Seriously.  Thank God again for memory cards.  And a delete function.  After some more quick math we found that we had climbed over 2000 stairs that day.  Our legs will never be the same.  Thank Dr. Scholl’s for gellin’ insoles.  We sat on top of the Arc and took in the atmosphere slash couldn’t move due to the pain.  Eventually, we gathered the strength and threw ourselves down the stairs, and continued on our whirlwind tour.

We sauntered (read: limped) (sidenote from Neil: I can’t stop laughing while I’m writing this, because Alice says it is bed time and is getting rather impatient.  Apparently, I write in too much detail.) (sidenote from Alice: It’s not so much that Neil writes in too much detail (I’m all about the detail), but we have been sitting at the same table for like TWO hours while Neil thinks about how to best convey the funniness of our stories. TWO HOURS). ANYWAY, we went down the Champs Elysees.  This street, which shoots off from the roundabout at the Arc de Triomphe, is crowded 24/7, though its sidewalks on either side of the road are each as wide as the 8 lane road.  There are thousands of people and hundreds of people watching cafes.  We stopped at McDonald’s.  Don’t be disappointed.  McDonald’s in France has “Le P’tit Wrap” and other cool French things, and I just had to get one (I also have made it my mission to go to McDonald’s in every country I am in and try the national delicacy).  We ordered in French - quite well I might add - but then the server started asking us questions and we tried our best but really had no clue what she could even be asking us.  She then stopped us and said “I speak full English” and we breathed a massive sigh of relief, as our orders would now for sure be flawless.  How she could tell we spoke English I have no idea.  Maybe it was the Canadian symbols all over me, maybe it was the horrible accent, I think it’s because she was a guardian angel sent to us to ensure we got just what we had ordered (sidenote from Alice: It’s sentences like this last one that explain why we have been sitting at this table for SO long).  We enjoyed our wonderful wraps and continued on down the Champs Elysees, where we found a French-cuisine-making people-watching-cafe.  (Oh no, the lights just got turned down in this place and it turned into a club.  We are writing a blog, in a CLUB. Definitely time to wrap this up or move.)  So, we enjoyed some more French cuisine and coffee here and watched all the people in fur coats and high heels walk past (I was told this is who walked past - I was quite focused on my baguette).  We went home, said goodbye to Kendra, and went to bed.

In the morning, we got up at 6 am, went to the train station, and sat there - extremely cold and tired (and being heckled by beggars who didn’t speak English and couldn’t understand that we didn’t speak French) - while our train to Florence, Italy was delayed by an hour and a half.  When the train finally did arrive, we boarded it and went straight to bed.  My plans of seeing the beautiful French countryside will have to be postponed for  another time, because I slept until the foothills of the Alps.  We went past some beautiful Alpine Lakes and little villages, but Alice missed much of it, because, just as we arrived at the Alps, she fell gravely ill.  Just kidding, it wasn’t grave.  There were no graves involved.  But she did throw up 9 times over the next 7 hours.  Not so fun on a crowded train, or so I assume.  She didn’t have anything good to say about it, so that’s the impression I got. (Sidenote from Alice: while all this was going on - through two train station stops, I might add, I was attempting to decide which was worse: vomiting numerous times ON the train, or having to pay NUMEROUS euros to vomit in train station toilets (NOT COOL). I think the trains came out on top as the most uninviting).

Well, we have just been informed that we must leave this club, I guess we just aren’t cool enough, so we will wrap this one up here.  I can end the speculation and rumours right now and tell you that Alice survived and is MUCH better and enjoying life today.  Does she have any side effects? Find out next time on, The Coolest Blog in the World.  A sweet song just came on so maybe we won’t get kicked out if we show off some cool Canadian/Aussie dance moves in the middle of a circle of people.  Here goes......

LOVE Neil and Alice! 

(ps- We miss you Kendra!)  

Tags: alice berents, arc de triomphe, catacombs, champs elysees, christophers paris, eiffel tower, france, neil loewen, paris, st




Me and Alice paid (“I’m Kendra, I have British citizenship, so I get everything free, and I’m a big loser) (sidenote from Alice: awesome Neil, sweet maturity)
ohhh my god. I laughed so hard at that. so awesome reading this when I didn't have to sit and listen to Neil going ''just wait, just hold on. How do I explain how this happened. And how hilarious it was?'' and Alice '' just leave it, forget about that part and move on. It really wasn't that funny. Its been 2 hours Neil! I need 8 hours of sleep. the alarm is now being set for 10am, instead of 8 like we planned. Thanks Neil. Rant complete.''
Even though I was there, I still think reading this was hilarious, and amazing. and P.S. The little stories are pretty funny. But I am so happy not to be a part of the staying up late writing the blog. Its more fun reading the finished product.
I totally wish I didn't get on that train back to England, and just showed up randomly in Florence. Jealous. Miss yo guys!!

  Kendra JAE Jan 20, 2010 11:08 AM


You better have appreciated those catacombs for me....*shakes fist*

  Whit Jan 20, 2010 11:42 AM


you guys can tell a story like no one else. best blog ever. makes me laugh toooooo hard.

  tanner Jan 21, 2010 5:47 PM


Did you know that if a person can make it across the roundabout without getting killed, he/she doesn't have to pay the entrance fee?
Fun fact - no one has made it.

  Eygló Einarsdóttir Feb 9, 2010 10:50 PM


You. Make. My. Life. Come back to us Neil! (Alice too!)

  Amanda Feb 11, 2010 6:52 AM

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