Panda in Paris

obligatory post-vacation post

Posted in France by parisianpanda on November 8, 2009
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Here are some pictures of some things I saw on my trips to Barcelona and Marseille:

Gaudi house

National Museum of Catalonian Art


Dali museum

Cliffs around Cassis (France)

Thibault, my host brother in Marseille

Sunset on the cliff

Famous Marseille carousel next to the Stock Exchange

If anyone is considering using a break to go to Barcelona, I can give you this advice:

– I can’t recommend highly enough the Albareda Youth Hostel. It was reasonably priced, centrally located, social without being out of control and the cleanest hostel I’ve ever stayed in – they changed the sheets every day and you could practically eat off the floors.

– Most of the Gaudi stuff is extortionately priced but the Battlo house was totally worth it, even if the audio guide was a little bit hyperbolic. “This is the MOST MODERN ROOM YOU HAVE EVER BEEN IN.” “This is the most BEAUTIFUL MODERN WINDOW YOU WILL EVER SEE.”

– Avoid the big clubs around the Barceloneta if you are a girl because Spanish men are even worse than French men about grabby hands and inappropriate comments and assuming you’re easy because you’re a tourist. Kama is a small Brazilian samba club I wandered into with some of the hostel people which was way more fun than the famous megaclubs.

– The train to Figueras takes two hours and there is nothing much in the town except the Dali museum, but if you have a good chunk of time to spend in Barcelona it’s really worth the trip.

On Marseille:

– Rabbit is actually really delicious but looks gross with eyes and no skin.

– Most people I know who love Paris hate Marseille and insist that it’s really dirty. I really like Marseille and generally try to counter the argument that it’s dirty, but when I was there this time the garbage men in the city had been on strike for six days, so there were huge mountains of trash everywhere on the sidewalks. I want to defend you, Marseille, but you’re killing me here.

– Staying with a host family I hadn’t seen for three and a half years was strange. They were just as friendly and hospitable as I had remembered, but my host brother who was thirteen when I last saw him is now almost seventeen, taller than me and has a real man’s voice now. Time marches on I suppose.

On not being in Paris:

I liked it more than I should have. Barcelona was almost like Olympia (the hippie town where I went to college) in that you can never feel too out of place because there is always someone to out-freak you. The difference was not as marked in the south of France but I was generally treated like a regular human being and not bombarded with the disdainful “why” questions I constantly get in Paris even from my closest friends here. (“Why are you eating that?” “Why are you wearing that?” “Why are you doing that?” “Why are you going there?” “Why are you like this, Yankee circus freak?”) It is slightly frustrating to have invested so much time and money and education in a language and a culture and a city that refuses to let me feel more than slightly integrated. I wonder if my life would be easier if I was like a Parisian girl with perfectly tailored black clothing on a lithe little body and I could puff clouds of cigarette smoke out of big, pouty lips and look down my little button nose at everyone from on top of my high horse and say bitchy little things like “T’es con ou quoi?” instead of the way I am now, which is an awkward girl with an American face who falls up and down the stairs in the metro.

French girls, in general

French girls, in general

Me, in general

Alas, alack, forsooth, and merde alors. But I try not to take things to personally, because Parisians like looking down on fun people and considering Americans stupid. Yet whenever I leave I’m always anxious to come back. It’s a strange and masochistic relationship I have with this city.

Also, I went out with Katarina yesterday for a slightly-too-expensive-for-someone-who-just-got-back-from-vacation-and-still-hasn’t-payed-rent-or-gotten-a-paycheck drink and had a nice, satisfying rant about a slightly-juvenile-but-still-too-personal-for-this-blog issue that has been escalating in my life for the past couple of weeks and she knew exactly what I was talking about, which was very nice because I’ve spent so much time speaking my second language lately and worrying that whatever comes out of my mouth is just an approximation of what I actually want to say.

Eric is probably on a plane on his way here as we speak, which should mean less ranting and more photos in this blog in the near future.