Monday, July 26, 2010

Run 2: Les Invalides, the Seine (and the Tour de France)

After the epic success that was our first run in Paris, I was really hoping that that easy energy and "I can run forever" feeling was going to be a Parisian run trait... Sadly, this was not the case. Run 2 ended up being one of the runs where I really struggled to motivate myself to keep running and instead of the longer route that we'd plotted that would have been a tad over 4 miles, we ended up taking the original shorter one instead, hitting a bit over three (if you count all the time that we were running that Mr. Garmin couldn't remember that we were still "more than 100 miles away" from home... even though he'd been used the other day).

For Run 2, we decided to run over to Les Invalides, the old hospital for war vets that houses Napoleon Bonaparte's remains once he was repatriated from Elba. After running around the main domed building and the gardens, we hit the Seine. This was pretty funny because we thought we were going to be able to go down and run next to the river like you can on certain parts of the river. Apparently, it's only at certain places that you can do this. We accidentally ended up first in a metro station and then running on what would be the equivalent of the shoulder of a highway type road... and then up it's entrance ramp back to the normal street level. Needless to say, we'll be more attentive next time.

After the Seine, we moseyed our way back to our dorm via the Boulevard Saint-Germain and the Boulevard Raspail. One thing that is hilarious about street running in Paris is that you run by a lot of cafés with their outdoor terrasses and hence their outdoor waitstaff and patrons, who frequently feel the need or desire to either yell at you or cheer you on (mostly cheer you on). The waiters are especially big fans of this, and I have yet to go on a run here where at least one (male) waiter hasn't yelled either "On y va!" (Let's go!) or some random English comment. All in all, I find it amusing and sort of motivating... It's hard to walk just after being cheered on (especially when you know they're all probably looking at "Ze crazy American girls who are running").

Unfortunately for this run, I kept leaving things in my room upstairs as we went to leave and kept going back to get them... and forgetting a new thing each time. In the end, when I went up to get Mr. Garmin (how could I run without him?!), I ended up leaving both my cellphone (who has a camera) and my camera in the room and didn't realize it until we were already on the Blvd des Invalides... Sad day. We'll definitely either go on a run their again or at least pass by on a tour, I'm sure.

Anyway, here's the break down and map from the run, once MG clued in.

In other news, we spent yesterday watching the arrival of the Tour de France in Paris. Instead of crowding onto the Champs-Elysées, we found a spot at Rue de Rivoli that was also on the circuit, so we were able to take PLENTY of photos. Our camera has a speed shot setting on it with 5 photos per second, so by the time I got home, I had taken 455 photos in a few hours!!! Needless to say, I easily wheedled that down to a more manageable 70 on my iPhoto.

This would be the French interpretation of a hotdog. I don't want to know the points value of this creation: a hot dog stuffed in a baguette smothered in toasted cheese. I only had a bit of Christy's and, oh man was it delicious!

Look! A Garmin car in the parade!

For dinner we hit up a French restaurant on Rue de la Huchette (by the Seine/Notre Dame) and each were able to order a "menu". As an entrée (which is actually an appetizer in French), I had a chèvre chaud salade, which is a green salad that is served with a few slices of baguette that are toasted with goat cheese (chèvre) and spices on top of them. Then, for dinner I had an émincé de rumsteck with a roquefort sauce (steak with a blue cheese sauce) and a small serving of chocolate mousse for dessert. One thing I really love about French restaurants is the ability to order a menu. For one price, you get to chose from each of the three categories (or 2 if you opt out of either the entrée or the dessert). It makes the meal smoother AND allows you to take your time. Here in France, waiters never rush you to finish your food or to move through the courses. Dining out is an experience to be enjoyed and it's not uncommon to spend 2-3 hours at dinner. Afterwards, we took a stroll around the Ile-de-la-Cité (i.e. Notre Dame) before catching the métro back home. What a nice little Parisian day. :)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

First Parisian Run!

Christy and I pre-run

After a few days of getting acclimated, I finally hit the streets of Paris with my running shoes, underarmour, and Garmin watch. Mr. Garmin took awhile to get used to Paris and asked me once if I'd moved "hundreds of miles since my last use." Yes. After this, though, he was fine and kicked right in (thankfully). I ran with two of the participants in our program, Christy and Nikki (like me!). Here's the path we rocked, having started at our dorm and deciding to explore our nearby surroundings:

We left our dorm and headed over to the beautiful Jardin de Luxembourg, which is right nearby. Apparently, this is where Parisians come to jog as we kept seeing other people running all over. I noticed a few interesting things while observing the other Parisian runners.

1. When you cross an oncoming jogger, there's none of that weak smile/head nod that American joggers exchange—It's like you're invisible.
2. They don't hold their arms like we do (for the most part). I wish I'd taken a picture, but one guy just had his arms down at his sides as he ran. Does anyone know if there's a reason for this?
3. Running is the only time that you'll see them in running shoes, by the way.

Regardless, the Jardin is GORGEOUS. I've never run in Central Park, but I'd imagine that it'd be similar only here there's a palace (see below). Perfectly manicured lawns dotted with perfectly manicured shade trees and occasional statues. So beautiful. See?

A road diverged in a Parisian wood?

Probably my favorite sign every time I go to a French park: FORBIDDEN Grass!!!

Perhaps it was the gorgeous surroundings, but I was REALLY impressed with this run. After a few weeks of little to no running in Alabama, I thought hitting our 3 mile goal was going to be work, but when we finally stopped at 4 miles (since Nikki's knee was starting to hurt), I felt like I could have kept going. We kept a good pace and only stopped to take pictures or to cross the street. I think each run we're going to try a new plan and eventually maybe even take the metro to a cool spot and run back to the dorm... To me it sounds like a great way to explore Paris. Here are a few more shots from the run:

Here's the grocery right by our dorm. We got a great look from a Parisian woman who happened to walk by while this photo was happening.

A little park close to the dorm that we'll have to explore more later.

Nikki and I post run

Here's the break down for yesterday's run:

Instead of the boat cruise, we've decided on a night bike tour with Fat Tire Bike Tours that includes a boat cruise as well. We meant to go yesterday, but it ended up raining so we've rescheduled for Monday. Instead, the RA for the dorm recommended a quirky restaurant over in Montmartre called Le Refuge des Fondus. This restaurant is famous for the fact that for 18 euro you get an appetizer, fondu, and, get this, a baby bottle of either red or white wine. With 2 euro refills on the baby bottle, let's just say we definitely had a great time and have been suffering from "wine lag" all day. Oh, well, it was DEFINITELY worth it. I can't wait to find more quirky restaurants here in Paris to try!

Now, we're off for our next run, so more later!!!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Paris in the Summer!

Sorry for the scarce updates since I've been back in internet-land... The time change or décalage horaire in French is bad enough, but when you combine it with two weeks worth of sleeping on a fold-out couch prior to exiting the country... let's just say I slept till noon yesterday.

The plane ride over was uneventful... after I got off the ground. Leaving the house, I was already stressed about not hearing from the Paris Shuttle company and was already exhausted. That ended up being a huge problem later since I realized once we got to the airport in Columbus (1.5 hours from our house) that I'd left my carry-on suitcase at home. This was definitely not good since I always put my most important things in my carry-on: makeup, jewelry, chargers... running shoes... I was so tired and stress that when I figured out it was at home, I burst out in tears in the middle of the airport. Jon really is a trooper, since I'm sure I was definitely making a scene. Thankfully one of my students stopped by my house and brought it so I can get my Parisian run on while I'm here.

That said, I'm going for my first run today with my friend Christy. We'll probably just check out the surroundings near our dorm (we're in the 6ème arondissement) and then branch out from there. I'm already compiling a list of places I want to run...

1. Down next to the Seine
2. In the Jardin de Luxembourg
3. Over in the Bois de Vincennes

The weather here is perfect for running (especially in comparison with summer in Alabama), so it should be fun. I'll be sure to take my camera with me and document what I see! I definitely need to run often in order to work off all this food! Yesterday, we had dessert twice! Paris is definitely not being points friendly so far. Here's a quick sample of some of our recent food intake:

Chèvre (i.e. goat cheese)


Creme brulée

Salted Caramel ice cream

Cognac with Judith!

Despite this decadence, I'm feeling okay... We're walking a lot and I'm feeling really good in all of my clothes after all of the work we did outside this month. Plus, the fact that I've already purchased a pair of REALLY cute shoes here doesn't hurt!

Anyway, I'm off for a run with Christy. On tap for today: Class 1-3, then a boat tour on the Seine and a free evening to do with what we please! :) More later!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Back from Auburn, Off to Paris!

Whew! It's been forever since I've read anyone's blogs (hope you're all doing FABULOUSLY) or even been able to think about opening mine. Auburn was AMAZING (and really tiring). We got so much work accomplished that I'm jealous that a renter is moving into the house and not us! We were SO lucky to have all the help we had from Jon's family and our friends. We DEFINITELY couldn't have done it without them!

List of things accomplished:
1. Stick built an entire fence (augured holes and all!) and two gates
2. Tore down a shed on the back of the house and replaced it with more decking and siding
3. Set up feet for the new free-standing deck in the backyard (to be completed in December 2010)
4. Finished building Jon's retaining wall by hand moving 6,000 lbs of cap blocks (multiple times) and using a bobcat to move 10 tons of stone and 12 tons of Alabama red clay
5. Repainted the kitchen and all of the floorboards in the kitchen/hall/living room white
6. Painted the windows in the loft (with the use of a REALLY tall extension ladder... scary) and the kitchen
7. Painted trim on doors and caulked them (I am the caulk MASTER now)
8. Installed the door and it's hardware up in the closet (Wendy—Jon's mom—and I tried to drill the holes in the door and to route out the place for the latches and managed to epically screw it up... thankfully one of our guy friends helped fix it!)
9. Put blinds up on the loft windows (again with the epically tall ladder)

10. Put new numbers on the house
11. Redid the front flower bed and put scallops in the back one
12. Replaced some of the cedar siding in the back of the house
13. Replaced all of the off-white outlets and switches with whites... This is deceptively difficult. But hey now I can install 3-way switches!
14. Ordered a new bay window to be installed and new carpet for the stairs and upstairs
15. Capped off the old laundry pipes and covered the whole in sheet rock to create a closet/alcove... Had to take up the floor, prime/paint the walls, repaint the floorboards and put it all back down again
16. Repainted the loft and the big wall in the stair well (I'm now a pro with scary ladders)
17. Painted and caulked all of the exterior windows
18. Jon's mom came back after we left to help empty out the house (bye bye terrible sleeper sofa!) and clean... She also replaced all of the kitchen knobs and steamed the cabinets!

Here are a few photos of our epic two weeks of work:

That said, we also had a great time with our friends for the Fourth of July when we had a great day of grilling and drinking and spending time together:

We also went out to the Amsterdam Cafe one night for a classy double date with friends:

Each couple matched... We're just awesome like that!

I also got peddies with Jon's mom and sister... I'd never had one before... let's just say I'm a convert now!

Finally, I did manage to go on one run... I only went once because of what I learned during this 5-miler... When the sun is up in Alabama in the summer, you do not go running. That said, I would have either had to go prior to 8am (but we were exhausted and needed sleep) or in the evening, at which time we were either still working or too exhausted from all that working. I'm going to have to restart at week 1 or 2 for the half training, I think. Sadly, this'll have to wait until tomorrow since I walked off and left my carry-on at home (more on that in a different post) and thus don't have my running shoes until one of my students (who was awesome and stopped by to pick it up) will be here. Odd thing though... Although I admit to not tracking, I managed to gain around 4 pounds while we were there! I'm kind of miffed about this seeing as we had 15-hours of active working around the house everyday! Hopefully I'll be able to see some results walking around Paris all the time!

I swear I don't think I've ever been this sweaty... Here I am taking a brief water/bathroom break in Auburn's Alumni Center

Here are a few photos from my run around Auburn's BEAUTIFUL campus. I need to get an actual tour from one of my lovely friends, or, you know, Jon, the next time we're in town.

Anyway, sorry for the super long post. In short, Alabama was wonderful and, despite being exhausted, we were really sad to leave everyone behind. Hopefully, next time we'll be able to have more "play" time with all of the friends and family (and perhaps catch a AU football game, eh?). Now, I'm already in Paris, after an exhausting 13-hour car trip from AU to Ohio and 15ish hours of plane travel... But, more on that and my future Parisian running adventures later! A bientôt!!! :)