Vespa Ride in Paris: Saving the Best for Last

Ready to start our Vespa day in Paris!
Ready to start our Vespa day in Paris!

Since we rode off from our wedding on a Vespa, it was only fitting that we spend our last day in Paris on one.  It was the perfect activity for a Sunday since most of the shops were closed. We spent the day re-visiting the entire city, which by the end of the week, we had already seen by foot and by metro. Now it was time to see it all one more time, and what better way than by renting a scooter?

RM and I found a wonderful company called Paris by Scooter, which rents Vespas out by the day. It’s run by a friendly, entrepreneurial Frenchman named Xavier, who drops the Vespa off at your hotel in the morning and picks it up that evening. An added bonus–it’s even cheaper if you keep the scooter overnight. If we had found the company sooner, we probably would have rented it for the whole week. That’s how cool it was.

We were all over the city in no time. RM has been driving motorcycles for years, so he was completely comfortable zipping in and out of traffic. As we came up on the circle around the Arc de Triomphe, RM dodged the motorcycles cutting in front of us, while I held on tight with one arm and took video with my other. One of the best things about it was the parking options! Free parking, right up front, wherever you want to go. You also don’t have to sit in traffic with all of the cars because you can scoot right past them! Not to mention the cool factor. I mean, did we look cool or what?

Who are those two cool Parisians?
Who are those two cool Parisians?

What Happens in Paris, Stays in Paris… or Ends Up on My Blog

Fryes at the Sacre Coeur.
Fryes at the Sacre Coeur.

RM and I returned last week from a weeklong honeymoon to the most romantic city in the world—Paris. If you’re familiar with my blog, you already know that I’m obsessed with all things French, despite not actually knowing the language. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, you can get up to speed here. I haven’t actually followed through on commitment to learn French yet. Don’t judge. RM does speak French, and his mom’s side of the family is even from France. So cool, right?

Anyway, we were looking for somewhere to honeymoon that we wouldn’t feel the pressure of sightseeing every. single. place. for the first time, and since RM and I had both been to Paris before, it seemed like the perfect choice. We had talked about seeing Paris together since we started dating. We were especially excited about seeing the city in a whole new (and relaxing) way. We envisioned ourselves eating fresh baguettes while looking up at the Eiffel Tower, taking long walks on the Seine, admiring the view of the city from the Sacre Coeur—you get the picture.

About to indulge in a "maxi pain au chocolat." Yes, these exist.
About to indulge in a “maxi pain au chocolat.” Yes, these exist.

Before we knew it, there we were: stuffing our faces with an ungodly amount of pastries! (Seriously, you don’t want to know our carb intake for that week.) We rented an apartment through Paris Perfect, a company owned by an American woman and her French husband that rents out apartments all over Paris by the week. It did not disappoint! We stayed in an adorable corner unit just around the corner of the Rue Cler market in the 7th arrondissement. (If you’re a fan of Rick Steves–I’m mildly obsessed–he devotes a whole section to the Rue Cler in his Paris guidebook!) We had a view of the Eiffel Tower from the dining room and bedroom! We spent several nights in, enjoying the light show from our cozy apartment. We also learned that the light show ends at 1:00 AM. How do we know this?  Well, we never actually adjusted to Paris time, which made for lots of late night jambon snacks while we admired the lights. It’s really too bad it didn’t last until 4:00 AM because we were up most nights until then!

View from our bedroom. Lots of good times to be had in there ;)
View from our bedroom. Lots of good times to be had in there 😉

RM and I had such an enjoyable time, and we couldn’t have done it without our family and friends who paid our way! That’s right, I said PAID our way.   RM and I decided to start a Honeyfund to help us go on our dream trip together, and our family and friends really delivered! Honeyfund is a great website that makes it less tacky to ask for money for your wedding. (No, I’m not getting paid to say this, although I wish I were.) It was especially useful to us because RM and I have both been working professionals for several years, so if anything, we’ll need to get RID of things when we combine households. We registered for a few kitchen items at my shower that we knew we needed, but more or less, we knew that what we could really use was help getting to Paris. Honeyfund makes it so easy by connecting to your Paypal, where you can then transfer the money right into your checking account. It also keeps track of your gifts when it comes time for thank you cards!

Okay, I’m done with my free advertising for Honeyfund.

And now for some highlights:

 

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Profiteroles from Cafe Constant. My favorite!
Amazing steak and profiteroles for dessert at Christian Constant's Cafe Constant. Just down the street from our place!
Delicious steak at Christian Constant’s Cafe Constant. Just down the street from our place!
Near the Sacre Coeur where the artists hang out. Can you spot the naked lady?  The kids did. Oops.
Near the Sacre Coeur where the artists hang out. Can you spot the naked lady? The kids did. Oops.
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Bunnies at the Les Invalides!
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Relaxing at Jardin des Tuileries
Finding a place for our lock
Finding a place for our lock
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After we threw the key in the Seine 🙂
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Versailles
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From our rowboat at Versailles
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Selfie at Versailles
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Treats at Laduree

Reversing Karma

Yesterday was an ordinary day—until I stopped to pick up my laundry on my way home from work.  That’s where things got interesting.  As I parked my car, I noticed a guy lingering in the parking lot.  Given my several experiences in Seattle where I’ve mistaken homeless people for legitimate parking attendants, I was adamant that I wouldn’t fall for it this time.  I ignored the strange man’s “Excuse me, excuse me” attempts to hassle me, and I crossed the street to the cleaners.  I quickly paid for my dry cleaning and crossed the street to return to my car.  That’s when I noticed he was still lingering by my car and appeared to be taking down my license plate number.  What was this homeless man DOING?  It still hadn’t dawned on me that I was on the Eastside, and it might not actually be a homeless person.

As I got closer to my car, the man walked away and mumbled under his breath, “You really shouldn’t do that again.”  To which I replied, “Excuse me?  Do what?”

“Park here and walk across the street,” he said.

“Well, there weren’t any parking spots on the street, and it took less than two minutes,” I told him.  I then began backing out to drive away, but I felt compelled to roll down the window and say,

“Are you an official parking attendant?”

“Yes.”

“Well, you should really think about wearing a uniform because I thought you were a homeless person trying to harass me.”

“This IS my uniform,” and then in a shy voice, “this is what they gave me.”

*commence feeling like a total jerk.*  “Oh, umm, well, there are no signs.”

“There are signs everywhere.”

“Well, I don’t see them, and I don’t think the less than two minutes I parked here did any harm.”

I immediately called my best friend, M, as I drove away to tell her the story.  She laughed hysterically, and then I spotted a legitimate homeless person (with a sign) at a stoplight.

“I can reverse my karma and hand out a blessing bag!” I told her.

“I don’t think it [karma] works if that’s the reason why you’re doing it,” M said laughingly.

Truth be told, I had been waiting for an opportunity for the past few months to hand out one of the blessing bags I made after my experience I wrote about in a previous blog post.  You can find it here.

The man enthusiastically thanked me and took the bag, which was full of goodies like snacks, wipes, hand warmers, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, etc.  I guess this answered my question of whether or not people would accept blessing bags in lieu of cash.

So this makes up for me telling a nice dutifully employed man that he looked like a homeless man, right?  Err, maybe not, but at least the other guy was happy.  Here’s hoping I don’t somehow end up with a parking ticket in the mail!

My Kind of Town

Christmas tree at Daley Plaza.
Christmas tree at Daley Plaza.

Last week RM and I took a trip to Chicago to see some old, very dear friends of mine.  Not only was it a wonderful opportunity to see close friends, but it was also RM’s FIRST visit to Chicago!  Can you believe it?  I guess when you grow up in the Pacific Northwest, it’s normal to have never been to Chicago, but when you grow up in the Midwest like I did, Chicago is basically the center of your universe.

RM and I had one full day in the city before we beat feet and headed to Indiana to see my BFF, M and her family.  We leisurely enjoyed our day, in spite of the bitter cold.  We had so much fun wandering around the city, just the two of us.  My absolute favorite part of the day was the German Christmas market at Daley Plaza, called Christkindlemarket Chicago.  You can read all about it here.

We went to a wonderful, Italian restaurant called Quartino that evening with my close friend (of 10 years this past August—woot woot!) E and his partner.  His partner, B made reservations for us, and RM and I were more than pleased with the choice—food, ambiance, and great conversation.  Because I failed at taking a photo in the restaurant, you can check it out on their website.

After our whirlwind in Chicago, emphasis on wind, RM and I drove several hours to Indiana to see my BFF, M.  We were way too busy chatting up a storm and eating delicious food M cooked for me to take any photos!  My friend K even made it over to M’s place from Indy to join us for dinner and a late night Steak n Shake run.  Cheese fries anyone?  *Insert photo of cheese fries that I forgot to take because I was too busy stuffing my face*

Thanks to all of my lovely friends for hosting RM and me!  We had a great time and hope to see you all soon.  Karibuni Seattle!

Here are some more pics of our time in Chi-town.  Enjoy!

Our reflection in the bean, or "cloudgate," as it is officially called.
Our reflection in the bean, or “cloudgate,” as it is officially called.
RM posing with the bean.
RM posing with the bean.
Thrilled to see a creperie at the entrance of the Christmas market.
Thrilled to see a creperie at the entrance of the Christmas market.
My nutella and banana crepe halfway through.  I think I devoured it in less than 3 minutes, easily!
My nutella and banana crepe halfway through. I think I devoured it in less than 3 minutes, easily!
Christmas market
Christmas market
Giant cookies with cute phrases on them?  Sure!
Giant cookies with cute phrases on them? Totes adorbs.
Add a pretzel, make it German.
Add a pretzel and anything looks more German.
RM indulging me by letting me take his photo by the lights, even though we were FREEZING!
RM humoring me by letting me take his photo by the lights, even though we were FREEZING!
My turn!
My turn!
We couldn't leave town without a deep dish pizza!  Alicia, who worked the counter at Hertz, gave us a ride there so that we could be sure to have some before we drove to Indiana.
We couldn’t leave town without a deep dish pizza!  The woman working at the Hertz counter, Alicia, gave us a ride there so that we could be sure to have some before we drove to Indiana.  We were shocked and grateful for her kindness!

Jonesin’ For Some Sweet Ballz

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“Excuse me, do you have any Sweet Ballz?”

This is the question I have been asking the clerk at 711 convenience stores over the past few months since seeing the Texas-based company pitch its affordable, cake balls on ABC’s Shark Tank.  Let me tell you—there are less awkward questions to ask.  After several stops at 711s all over Washington State, I was out of luck.  The responses from 711 workers ranged from those who had never heard of the delicious treat to clerks who said the store had stopped carrying them because they were “too sweet.”

Imagine my surprise when I received ALL THREE FLAVORS in the mail from my mom this week!

The verdict?

Delicious.  How can anything ever be TOO sweet?  Blasphemy!

Thanks, Mom 🙂

Je Suis Une Fraude

I have a confession to make.  I’m not French.  And I don’t speak French.  I do speak Swahili, but that’s entirely irrelevant to this blog post.  French, on the other hand, is something with which I happen to be moderately obsessed, frequently dropping in French words in conversation like “sans,” despite my complete and utter lack of knowledge of the language.  It’s actually more accurate to say I’m completely obsessed with all-things-Paris in general, really.

The obsession started when I first visited Paris in 2007.

Me at the Champs Elysees in 2007
Me at the Champs Elysees in 2007 on a return trip from Africa (hence the Safari look, no judgment please!)

It was further fueled by a return trip in 2011.

Just hanging out by the Notre Dame.  No big deal.
Just hanging out by the Notre Dame in 2011. No big deal.

Then came the multiple framed Paris photos in my home:

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Oh, and I mustn’t forget the Eiffel Tower bookends!

Then came the hipster-like French themed sweaters:

Pardon my French (or lack thereof)
Pardon my French (or lack thereof)

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Over the past year, I have only been further emboldened by the fact that RM is part French.  That’s right—you heard me correctly.  His grandmother, more fondly known as Grandmama, still has the most wonderful French accent.  Pretty legit, right?  On top of that, RM’s mom is a French teacher born in France, and RM himself even speaks excellent French.  I’ve now perfected adding these nuggets to normal every day conversations with complete strangers, “Well, you know, my boyfriend is part French.  Oh yes, he speaks French.”  I feel like it immediately gives me street cred.

All of that said, I know the only thing that will really give me street cred.  And that’s this:

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One would think that having a part French boyfriend, complete with French Grandmama, one would take advantage of said situation.  Unfortunately, I’ve found the idea of attempting to learn French quite intimidating.  Until now.  I’ve decided I’m going to take the bull by the horns and parle Francais.

À bientôt, mo’ fos.

Here’s to you, Mr. Columbus!

I realized yesterday that I have a new favorite holiday, and strangely enough, that holiday is Columbus Day.  It’s not for the impressive feat that Mr. Columbus did—or didn’t—accomplish, but rather because it has now become a day in which RM and I spend special time with each other, just the two of us (the kiddies were in school).

We don’t do anything particularly out of the ordinary or flashy on this day; we just spend quality time with each other, preferably outdoors.  Last year, we were in the early passionate days of our relationship, and we spent the day lying on a blanket on Alki Beach.  I still remember cuddling and giggling as the warm sun shone down on us.  There were a few other people on the beach, but to us, it didn’t matter.  We were the only ones who existed.

Here are a few pics from that day last year:

This is love.
This is love
RM loves this one. I think my face is ridiculous. He looks fantastic though :)
RM loves this one. I think my face is ridiculous. He looks fantastic though 🙂
Over the moon.
Over the moon.

This year, we were still in the passionate days of our relationship—we’re convinced those will never end, so don’t try to tell us otherwise!  It was a beautiful fall day, so we decided to take the Vespa all the way to Snoqualmie Falls on back roads.  I’ve been to the Falls quite a few times, but I’ve never ridden there on a scooter, taking in the beautiful fall scenery as the wind and sun hit my face, arms wrapped around my sweetie.

Here are a few pics from this year’s Columbus Day at the Falls:

Super excited for the hot cocoa when we arrived at Snoqualmie Falls. It was a chilly ride!
Super excited for the hot cocoa when we arrived at Snoqualmie Falls. It was a chilly ride!
Dynamic Duo
Dynamic Duo
Enjoying the Falls :)
Enjoying the Falls 🙂