Day 11: Paris (still)
I woke up this morning around 8:00am, ate breakfast at the hostel and then took the metro to the Louvre Museum. I got there around 9:05am, (they open at 9:00am) but the line was still pretty long. For some reason, the opening of the museum was delayed and wasn’t going to open until 10:00am. I sat there for an hour, planning my train ride to Reims tomorrow, and then made my way inside. I rented an audio guide, but not one of the old ones that look like a phone. It looked like an iPod, with a touch screen that had pre-recorded tours on it. You would select whichever tour you wanted, and then touch the screen to listen to commentary about the art. The map would also show up to display where you were. We’re finally getting past the 10 year old technology of pure audio guides.
I did a tour of Antiquity in the morning, followed by a tour of Italian art in the afternoon. I would have stayed longer, but the crowds were pretty bad. When you get surrounded by crowds of European school kids who are all yelling, it doesn’t become a whole lot of fun.
I decided to leave early and get some laundry done instead. I made my way back to the hostel and packed all my clothes in my backpack. I headed downstairs and had the attendant at the front desk draw me a map. It turns out that the closest laundry center was locked, so I walked a block down the street and found another one. Even though I had been in one earlier in the week, I still wasn’t sure how the machines worked. Luckily there was someone washing their clothes who spoke English who told me what to do.
While waiting for my laundry, I walked around and tried to find something to eat. It was raining and I didn’t want to stand outside forever so I just got an apple. Right before I was about to walk off, I noticed a guy making crepes. He started talking to me in French and I couldn’t understand a word he was saying, but he realized I was an American and switched over to English. He let me try some of the quiche he made while I ordered a banana and Nutella crepe. We got to talking:
Me: “I could probably buy one of those crepe skillets back in America right? They look pretty easy to make.”
Him: “Yeah, you wanna try and make one?”
So here I am in a market in Paris waiting for my laundry and I’m learning how to make crepes. He told me to pour the batter at 12 o’clock on the skillet and then use a wooden dowel to spread it around in a clockwise direction, trying to pivot it around like a clock hand. Turns out that it’s harder than it looks. My crepe didn’t spread evenly and had a bunch of holes – it looked nothing his. He then offered to make me the one he has for breakfast each morning, with cheese and pepper. It was a lot better than the one I ordered; you could actually taste the flavor of the flour crepe, rather than just the ingredients.
He uses two types of flour, a black flour and a white flour. The black flour cooks at a lower temperature than the white, around 200°C rather than 250°C and he had a good number of scars on his forearm to prove how hot it was. We talked a bit longer, and I learned he was from southern France, near the Pyrenees. My laundry was about ready, so I paid him for my crepe, tipped him for the lesson, and said goodbye.
I got back to my hostel and found a new roommate sleeping. He is from Italy and my roommate from the previous night (Roberto from Brazil) is still here too – so far, I haven’t met anyone in the hostel from the US. Roberto did tell me that he heard there might be a transit strike tomorrow so hopefully that doesn’t affect my plans to go to Reims.