Friends Are For Long Walks In Paris

In Paris, we waited over an hour for a cab to our first hotel. Then the cabbie pretended to not know St.Germain. Upon arrival the lobby was filled with a fashionable bridal party. Every single girl was rail thin, over 5 ft 8 and wearing a unique couture cocktail dress. Lets just say we were underdressed having traveled for two hours by train. We were supposed to have a champagne toast but were given a voucher to go get it. The room was gorgeous but we were afraid to open things assuming we would be charged. So we didn't wear the robes and no one touched the glass Evian bottle. We took a lot of pictures, connected to the wi-fi and took to the streets for a meal. Up the block we found a string of brasseries and cafes. We even sat at one that offered "American" food which consisted of awful sandwiches and breakfast all day long. I know someone told me about this magical pancake place but we weren't interested. We opted for a normale spot next door for baguettes and frites. However, this is where I experienced my first $10 USD soda and a true thon sandwich which was just tuna... seriously nothing else. There was a loud group of Americans discussing cloud computing and a Russian couple arguing over avocados. The ambience was a no. Gladly, the Seine was just across the street facing the Musee D Orsay. We waited for over an hour to get in just to be kicked out in less than two. Surely, we saw Degas but that was it. The place was hot, crowded and full of flash happy tourists. We walked the Seine, passed the Louvre and walked parallel to the famous jardins. Gladly so because they were all lined in dirt not moss and mazes like you imagine in story books. My friend had already been so she walked twenty feet ahead while I peered into shops and boutiques. I saw enough limoges to make me second guess the authenticity of my personal collection at home. We finally landed at Angelina's. She hadn't shut up about the place since visiting in May. It reminded me of that bakery in Disney's Magic Kingdom complete with white counters and snooty people scraping their plates. We got some little cakes and macarons to eat in the nearby park. There we were serenaded by a ferris wheel and a one legged pigeon. Thankfully, our hotel was just across the river and champagne seemed like it would complement our meal. 

Once back in the room I went to the lobby bar with the golden ticket. I was then accompanied to my room with the flutes because I couldn't open my own door. It would have been so much better for someone to just come to the damn room and serve us. Either way we ate our cake, drank the bubbly and watched tv in every language known to man. It was the first time we'd had any American feeds like MTV and CNN. We then conquered our classy bathroom. Our shower had so many nozzles and buttons. It also had a lovely smell of Paris' horrid sewer system. Once ready for bed we were cold. We ordered tea service and bundled up. It took us forever to find how to turn the heat on because it was central unlike like most French homes. Then we opened the windows. The hotel staff was smoking just outside of it. Then we couldn't close the windows. Then some poor girl nearby was being traumatized so we dozed off to her screams. Her cries were in English and no one panicked. We chalked it up to no one understanding what she was saying. We also chalked it up to it being nearby versus in the actual hotel. The entire night was very Brian De Palma. Even more so when we decided to sleep in and had some random guy ask to come in and see our bathroom. We left way earlier than expected without having a 26 Euro breakfast or another wayward cabbie. We rolled all our luggage through the streets of Paris past Le Bon Marche and down to our neighborhood Air BnB. We arrived too early and waited in the courtyard. We had walked about a mile or two and I seriously meditated to keep from screaming. The sound of falling water out of a window broke my spell. Of course it was our host making the place "nice". Once upstairs we were schooled on antique furniture, how not to leave the key in the door and why anyone would wash sheets in vinegar. We also never found the heat in this place and endured the noise of a thousand feet for three days straight. The only perk is when we went to the Louvre she watched our luggage for us. This included my yogurt because she lived in a flat just next door. 

While in Paris I had my first of many medical issues. It was also the first time I was actually pained by her. After lugging things through the streets my ankle was tired. I explained this and I know she had to be a witness to it. However, she ignored it and asked that we go to a church on some hill she needed to see. So I accompanied her clear across Montmarte which is covered in cobblestoned hills and religion seekers. Once at the church she walked off to take photos. So now I was sitting on the steps of this gigantic church pretending to assemble my camera but not even knowing where she was. She then explained how we could go inside the church and visit the top of the basilica. So we gave our money to the lady and climbed 300 stairs to the top. I have never been in so much pain in my life. I was short of breath. I was sweating. The little arch I have left in my feet we're burning. I think I stopped every 25 steps and sipped warm water. Once partially at the top one had to navigate the edge of this dome. I'm scared of heights and had already sworn off the Eiffel Tower. Now I was watching pigeons burrow the beams and looking at ant people on the ground. I was also trying to take photos and swallow. Once at the very top the views were worth it and I was inspired to conquer the tower. Then there was coming down. Now I was cold from the summit breeze. There were no banisters. My calves were on fire. Once at the bottom I was forced to wipe myself with Starbucks napkins, apply melted travel deorderant and spray on a little Lady Gaga. This wasn't in a restroom but just within the moats next to church and adjacent to the crypts. We then walked back down those awful, crowded and bumpy hills for nearly an hour. Of course we stopped for her to take more pictures. Once back to civilization we finally sat at a real brasserie. One reminiscent of old French movies complete with green window trim and rattan armless chairs. Two minutes later we were asked to change seats, then charged for water because I sat my half empty bottle on the table (rude to the owners who sell water) and forced to wait nearly an hour for our main courses. We were also given bread not once but three times. The restroom was closed and our server was a pain. Finally, someone decided to make her caperese salad and my traditional poulet. The meal was worthy of the torture and soon the restroom was opened up.

When we got back to our vinegar bed I attempted to OD on pills and soak my feet. To no avail I woke with club foot and her asking me to accompany a mutual friend of a friend to lunch. I couldn't believe she had planned some sort of random lunch date without asking me first. Also the friend who arranged it did so in confidence and she didn't think to tell her I was a temporary invalid. We also were going to meet this guy at a fucking vegan spot. No offense to vegans but that was the last thing I needed while abroad. So we get to walking, well I'm limping and she left me in the street. At times, I kneeled over wincing in pain and sometimes I found a set of stairs that would do. Finally, I met up with her and started a useless argument. All I could keep saying is what a mean bitch she was. She has a voice of a honey drunk baby. So it really didn't matter how loud or vulgar I got, I wasn't going to win an argument with a her. She literally sounds like a drunk baby when she grows passionate so I was just shouting alone. However, she still made her stupid points about not wanting to walk with me in general. I walked too slow. I walked at an "unhealthy pace". If she walked at my pace she wouldn't be able to "see stuff". She pretty much escaped the notion that I was physically hurt. She didn't even have that in mind when walking a mile ahead of me. All her reasons were superficial. She couldn't even lie to me and say she was claustrophobic or needed space. So when we got to walking again I realized she was the enemy. Yet, I was hopeful things would change. I continually brought up her points making sure she understood even an olympic runner will slow their pace to accompany a blind man or that friends walk in pairs to talk. All of the above stuck, her sentiments and the behavior. It never mattered how I felt or how she reacted. Nothing was worse than limping and having a so-called friend abandon me in throughout fucking Paris fucking France! 

When we met this guy I think I was going to feint from walking. She'd finally agreed to take the Metro but up to a point. She claimed she had to walk everywhere and that if she didn't walk above ground she would feel like she was back in New York. But isn't every great city the inspiration for NYC so there is no difference? We get to whatever side of The Seine this was for vegan food cart cuisine. I'd never had a vegan hot dog before so I got excited but she was probably put off. She drug me all the way there probably expecting some aubergine avec figs or something. Instead of her being sweet and actually enjoying this fellow American in Paris she talked the entire time. She did the same rude conversation takeover like she did in Nantes. The only exception was me rolling a bottle of organic pop on my ankle and him wondering what ran over my foot to cause that much swelling. After a while he asked what did I need to feel better. Thankfully, he explained where we could find a pharmacy open on a Sunday. Only then did she get us a cab and act interested. She paid for that and for the bandages the pharmacist put on. She never apologized and I paid her back in Laduree. Now I was a mummy in Paris walking twenty feet behind a baby voiced bitch who ate a radish roll during lunch. It was extremely hard to continue on the trip. It was also even harder to explain to outsiders how things were going. I had to thank our mutual friend for setting up a torturous lunch. I had to convince my mother I was "fine". I had to ask my friends was I crazy for sleeping with the enemy. I spent the remainder of Paris really doubting anything so awful could have ever happened. Limping in Paris. Sleeping under vinegar sheets. Eating lunch with a complete stranger acting like a hostage. We did the Eiffel. We did the Louvre. I wasn't limping anymore. She didn't seem as bitchy as before.

We took the Metro to our outgoing train station. There we expected to wait a total of four hours for the overnight train to Spain. At first we lingered in a Brioche Duree with our last bottles of French Coke. I invested in the best ibuprofen I'd ever had at le pharmacie. We got our last French magazines and found an indoor waiting spot. There we looked at Spanish brochures about the train and people watched. We were barely talking and then she asked about our train tickets to Lyon and Versailles. When we originally looked they were not on sale yet. When we originally looked I was open to 90 days abroad with my friend. After that wicked weekend in Paris I'd already made up my mind that I was going home. I'd already explained to her the night we arrived in Paris that I was broke and no longer interested in financially winging it. I was pretty much relying on my family versus the funds I'd worked to save for the trip. In less than a month, everything I had was virtually depleted. I'd also arranged to have things shipped to me as needed and customs interfered with that. So now I faced being with her, not having eye contacts and eating crackers. I explained that my family was going to make arrangements to get me home and I was content with that. She then broke into false tears stating how there would be no way for me to get my French train tickets in Spain or Italy. She insisted on getting hers because she was too paranoid about not being able to get back to Nantes. We'd also left half of our belongings at her friends in Nantes (more on this to come) so we both really needed to "plan" getting back. However, with no money for 200 plus euro train tickets all over the south of France and her being a total bitch trying very hard to dig - I wasn't really open to the pretend pity party. She then wiped her tears, got right in line and bought all her own tickets. I knew she was right about possibly not being able to get my return tickets but I wasn't about to let her smell my fear. When she returned with her tickets I swear I wished karma upon them. The fun part is it actually worked.

I did have trouble getting tickets. I attempted to buy tickets to Nantes to retrieve my stuff and then go into Paris - the timing wouldn't work. My landlady insisted that I get directly into Paris at a certain hour to take a specific flight into Iceland. So I then attempted to buy tickets online and couldn't get my card to work. So then I tried to have physical tickets sent back home in the states and then sent to me at our next hotel. After enough tinkering around my mothers debit card worked just fine allowing me to buy tickets online as if were in the U.S. I was able to hold tickets in my hands less than a week after she purchased hers. She then constantly asked about the logistics of my trip as if she was concerned. In actuality she was trying to see if my tickets were anything like hers. My trip consisted of two separate trains at two different Italian stations. There was a decent layover in between and I never had to leave one station to get to another. Her tickets were screwy and forced her to get from one station to another within twenty minutes a.k.a. virtually impossible. She also booked out all these single day stops in the south of France so timing was crucial. I'll admit now I was genuinely concerned about her journey. I know she wanted me gone and I needed to leave but no one should have to go a panicked trip all alone. However, there was no altering non-refundable, non-negotiable tickets like the ones she insisted on buying. I on the other hand had a flawlessly planned out trip home sponsored by real friends. That is what friends are for.

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