Daas

This post pertains to an earlier (and pretty hilarious, if you missed it) post, found here.

 

In tribute to our encounter with the Dutch Lawrence aka Haagen Dasz, Erika’s aunt gave us each matching little dog keychains. Erika wrote Haagen on the label of hers to commemorate her new Dutch friend, while I labeled and named my new friend Daas.

Call me the child tamer

Whether it’s kids here or there, I can usually get them to be my new best friend pretty quickly. But there was something I noticed about young children in Paris versus young children in America. They are a lot more adult-like in their mannerism. They are not afraid of adults, they talk to strangers, they talk about the weather and they are very forthcoming. Just from my experience, most kids in America, unless they know you personally, tend to be a little shy. But then again, they have been taught since pre-school to blow a whistle and yell “STRANGER” at any unknown persons lurking around the corner.

park

While lounging around with a bagged lunch in a grassy park by the Eiffel Tower, Erika and I met a little boy, probably about 4 years old. He kept coming up to us, giving us picked flowers, calling us ‘les jolies filles’ (or the pretty girls) and asking us, en francais, why we were speaking english. Well we really won over this little Casanova when I pulled out the ultimate child tamer. It’s like crack for kids….

BUBBLES! The little french heartbreaker was all smiles and arms full of more flowers for us after that.

Speaking of french kids, and bubbles. Let me introduce you to one of Erika’s little cousins: Maya. She’s quite the charmer herself. When she first introduced herself to us she did an elaborate bow and said “Hello! I…am Maya!” And we applauded her english. Maya and I got on the BFF level after I found yet another bottle of bubbles to share. After that we were attached at the hip, and she even drew me a nice self portrait as a keepsake so I wouldn’t forget her;)

maya2maya

A fair likeness I’d say. Ah kids. Ah….french kids.

How to-and how to not-score numbers when hitting the Europe pub scene

Good:

coaster

Slip the lad whose been smiling and sending drinks over the location of your next pub hop.

 

Bad:

napkin

Accidentally use the napkin a nice young man placed his contact info. on to wad up your used gum….only to find it at the bottom of your bag days later. Oops.

The highs and lows of underground public transport

I’ve touched a little on the Paris Metro underground system in an earlier post. However, I failed to mention my admiration for how efficient, clean and altogether new and high-tech it was (compared to the London Tube and NYC Subway). Ah, and the fact that elevators and escalators were at almost every station was such a relief to Erika and myself after lugging (and breaking) our bags by dragging them up and down the steps to the London Tube terminals. One of the reasons the Paris Metro experience was so easy for us was because Erika’s cousin Thierry was kind enough to give us a little book with all the lines on the Metro. This helped us out considerably. 

This was not the case in London. Fresh off a 6-hour flight from New York, arriving with luggage at the airport in the middle of the night trying to find our hostel, Erika and I were brave enough to try to figure it out by the Tube.

img

This is the little booklet we used. Unfortunately, it didn’t get us very far. We ended up rounding the corner about 5 times before I finally found a gigantic Tube map posted on a wall and pulled out the handy notebook and started sketching……

sketchmap

Somehow, from this horrible sketch I did up against the wall of a dirty London stairwell, we happened to stumble upon our hostel (I give credit to luck and not to our mapping abilities).

However, when in New York (I live in the NYC metro area), I discovered a cool iPhone app. It gives you the map on your phone, updates you on train schedule changes and helps plan your route. That got me thinking, they must have them out there for every big city’s underground rails.

 

Voila!

One for the Paris Metro…..and one for the London Tube!

 

Now if only Erika and I had these tools before we got there. But hey, we sure did get an adventure (and work out) from all that wandering around aimlessly and chasing down food delivery men on bikes for directions.

Finally added an intro page

Hi, my name is Shanen.

Häagen Dazs!!

So, a little comic relief pour toi and a little nostalgia for me.

oleron road

During our trip, Erika’s cousin Thierry was nice enough to drive us from Paris down to his parents’ house in Oleron, or Île d’Oléron. It is an island off of the middle-Western coast of France, more specifically, La Rochelle. I slept the entire ride down there, but when we arrived it was a beautiful change in scenery, people and fresh Atlantic air.

oleron sleep

I will have to get into all the wonders of this magical island in another post. But I will say now, never in my life have I ever eaten such fresh (and amazing) food, drank such good wine and smelled every single cooking herb in fields as I rode my bike along the road.

 

Moving on to the point at hand…..

 

One night in Oleron, Thierry, myself, Erika and Thierry’s friend Manu decided to drive to another part of an island where there was an actual dance club. This being a very quiet island with a small population, we were happy for the change in scene (since our usual days consisted of sleeping on the beach all day, eating amazingness all night). I can’t remember what the club was called, but I will call up Erika and figure it out this week.

 

We get to this club, walk in, and realize that there are maybe 20 people total inside. Most are clustered on the patio outside. Two courageous guys were busting dance moves, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen, alone, on the dance floor. Also, the ratio of male:female was about 5:1. For Erika and I, it was like we had just walked in to a room of wolves, and we were bleeding, raw, red meat (sorry for the visuals, I’m very over-imaginative). Immediately, I sipped my beer, back to the wall, using Thierry and Manu as shields. But guys would try to break our circle. Then one young man came over whispering ‘Hello’ in every language he could think of…trying to pinpoint our countries of origin. I ignored him and whispered to Erika, “Don’t turn around”, which she of course took as, “….turn around”. Uh oh, he knew she spoke English and the conversation started. I gave her the death eyes, as to not include me in conversation or pawn me off to one of his many friends, who started wandering over. So, her best solution? Tell them I ONLY spoke Spanish. No French. No English. Just Espagnol. Since I only know about five words of Spanish, I would just stare blankly, say ‘Hola’, and turn back to Thierry and Manu. Great stuff. Oh it gets better….

So Erika’s bi-lingual friend turns out to be from Holland. He and his friends were passing through on a yachting trip (and of course, offered Erika a place on the yacht for the duration of their trip). With a very heavy Dutch accent, he went on to ask her for her name. She replied ‘Erika’, and asked him for his. Unable to understand what he was saying, she asked again. And again, all she heard was a mumble-jumble deep-voiced, Dutch-sounding word….something like….My name is HAAGEN DAZS! With a completely blank stare, she finally told him, ‘I’m sorry, I cannot say that.” So his response? “Yes it is hard to pronounce, so you can call me Lawrence.” Lawrence! From Haagen Dazs to Lawrence. Nice.

 

“Lawrence” turned out to be one of the most horrific, and yet entertaining dancers I have ever seen in my life. Mind you, Erika and Thierry had some pretty sweet moves, they are Tailloles at heart, after all. But “Lawrence”? He was really tearing it up, trying to replicate some 80s Michael Jackson-esque dancing.

 

And the final part to our adventure at the club? The bathroom. The most bootleg bathroom I have seen in my life. You go into this little room with small, saloon-style, swinging doors. There is one little stall (with a door, thank god), a sink and what looks like a shower stall with a urinal attached….WITH NO DOOR. And these three things are all squeezed in to a very small space. Erika asked me to come in with her. I stood outside the stall until Manu came in to use the bathroom and I realized he was about to drop his pants and pee right there. I abandoned Erika and waited outside the door. Then Manu left, and this guy who worked the coat check, that strongly resembled a cross between Dennis Rodman and Ru Paul, enter the bathroom. 

Scary, I know. And to think, Erika had to see his trouser-less butt at the urinal when she stepped out of the bathroom stall. Talk about post traumatic stress.

erika and thierry

(Photo: Erika and Thierry outside the club after a thoroughly entertaining and extremely awkward night.)

 

In conclusion? I hope you’re laughing, because I am, just from writing this. Oh memories.

 


Late for your flight? train? ferry? When in doubt, cry.

The ongoing theme of our trip was procrastination, last minute planing and packing…..and literally RUNNING after the closing doors of every form of transport we had booked. 

 

Southampton Train:

Lost and confused, sweaty and lugging too much baggage, we took the indirect train from London to Southampton. This resulted in us having to get glossy-eyed for the British man sitting in the seat next to us, and then to the train conductor…at least four times. Hey, we made it there in once piece.

 

Heathrow, London Tube:

Apparently the Tube tickets Erika and I bought were not for the zone that included the Heathrow International Airport. The way the tickets work are, you slip your ticket through the machine upon exiting, so that the door opens. Erika and I were already very late, after a very packed ride to the airport. Then the machine kept buzzing INVALID. Reminded me of Gattaca. We went over to the Customer Service booth, with Erika’s broken bag dragging on the floor at this point, and I kicked Erika in the shin….simply because she is better at crying on demand. Her performance was perfecto. Quivering lip, tears welling up in her eyes, rambling on about us being students traveling in Europe with a broken bag and how we were going to miss our flight and never get home. The guy immediately buzzed us through, free of charge, mostly because he didn’t want to be stuck in the awkward position of handling an emotional American girl. Man tissues anyone?

 

Heathrow Airport:

Finally through the Tube, and in the airport, we realized that our baggage time limit was at a close….and the lines to check bags were ridiculously long. We would make it back to New York…sans our bags. This time, it was me panicking, tears in eyes, really out of anxiety and not an act. A worried airline worker for Virgin Atlantic immediately ran over to us, probably afraid I was about to have a panic attack in the middle of the airport. How very unproper and un-British of me. She quickly whisked us ahead of all the lines and got our bags on the last trip out to the plane. Whew.

 

So like I said, when in doubt, and running out of time. Whether it be from an actual impending panic attack, or from a perfectly performed set of sniffles and tears. The waterworks work.