Gathering our Bearings: Paris Edition

First of all, we now have reliable internet! Hooray! The internet at our hotel the first night was very expensive, so we only purchased one hour. Considering it took 8 minutes to upload one picture, that wasn't a lot of time. 

Then, yesterday, we spend a lot of time trying to locate an internet cafe. We learned how to pronounce WiFi correctly (WeeFee) so others would understand us. 

Finally, we stumbled upon a Starbucks and purchased 30 minutes of internet. So, we quickly made arrangements to meet up with our couch surfer and I was able to blog in record time! Fortunately, the connection was much faster. It only took 2 minutes per picture!

Now, we have internet at our couch surfer's house and it is much faster, so I have more pictures to share with you now!

I love fountains. So far, we've only seen this one, which was at the Sacre Coeur.

We are trying to unwind from our hectic schedule leading up to our trip, and slowly we are becoming less hectic ourselves. Now that we have met up with our hosts and have a place to stay for the next few days, things feel more relaxed.

We tried to find many things on Tuesday. We were only successful in finding one: Grand Apetit. This is a vegetarian cafe and grocery store in the 4th arrondissement (neighborhood) near Place de la Bastille. We didn't have a clue what to expect when we ordered the Petite Assiette (Small Plate), but we were pleasantly surprised when our food arrived!

I can't find an internet cafe, but I can find seitan in Paris. Crazy.

In the afternoon, we took the train to a suburb of Paris called Palaiseau to meet our couch surfing host. Boy were we happy to see her! Right before our stop, the transit police came around checking everyone's tickets. When we showed our ticket to the man, he said we had purchased the wrong one! Little did we know that there is a different fare for different zones. The farther you travel, the more expensive it is. Makes sense once you know about the rule.

When we exit the train at our stop with the transit policeman, our host (who happens to be American) is there too. I explain that we purchased the wrong train ticket, and she kindly explains our situation to the man, who wanted to fine us 50 euros! eek! And, since we don't have a local address, we would have had to go to the police station to pay it! After much ado, he gave us a warning, and she showed us how to purchase the right train ticket from now on. Without her, we would be in a very different place right now! Whew!

Our hosts (Shawna, who is American, and Jeremy, who is French) are so welcoming and helpful! I'm so glad we decided to couch surf. That has made the biggest positive impact on our trip so far. They graciously opened their kitchen to me, so I made dinner last night!

Their kitchen is adorable and easy to work in. I was expecting a really small kitchen, but they have plenty of counter space and enough room for two people to prepare a meal together.

Strange coincidence: Jeremy's mother sells Tupperware! In this picture, I'm using a Tupperware bread knife!

I almost fell on the floor when I saw Tupperware items in their kitchen! Tupperware is a huge part of my family. My grandmother sold Tupperware; my aunt sold Tupperware; I played with Tupperware toys growing up. And strangely, it sounds like Jeremy's mother is just as big of a fan of Tupperware as my family is! This was not something I expected to have in common with a Frenchman!

Last night, we enjoyed this meal of pasta with a delicious tomato sauce, a simple salad of bibb lettuce and balsamic vinaigrette and some bread. Of course, wine was also included at the meal.

The tomato sauce turned out way better than I had expected. I slowly cooked onions and a ton of garlic (about 1/4 cup!) until they were meltingly soft. Then, I added a red bell pepper and roma tomatoes and cooked that for a long time. Finally, I added some cubed eggplant and cooked it until it fell apart. The effect was a sauce with a simple and yet deep flavor. I'm looking forward to the leftovers!

For today, we plan to head into Paris before noon and maybe meet up with our hosts for lunch. We might end up exploring the islands today (in the Seine River), which includes Notre Dame and a fantastic ice cream shop. Or we might end up doing something completely different. We'll see where the wind takes us!