Selfie time: Say, ‘Cheese!’

In the midst of last week’s terribly tragic event and all the writing I was doing for other outlets, not to mention apartment-hunting, bank-account opening and just overall trying to catch a breath, I wasn’t able to properly compose a post about my sister’s visit over New Year’s. Alas, I don’t want to neglect y’all or my sister who came all this way to welcome in 2015 with me. Especially since we had such a great time honoring and experiencing Paris just days before its luminous image as the fairytale City of Light was dimmed.

So instead, I’ll keep this short and savory. Why savory? Because, well, we ate a lot of stanky cheese, from Chevre to Brie and beyond. We even visited an actual cheese farm in the Loire Valley.

We also ice skated in terribly gauche orange skates under the Grand Palais dome where we felt as if we were in a snow globe.

We drank (or, rather, I drank) liquid sugar in the form of “chocolat chaud”—hot chocolate—at a famous spot called Angelina where we waited for nearly an hour to be given the worst table in the house.

We walked through a Pony Parade (with actual pony’s!) on New Year’s Day, and managed to dodge stepping in turd.

We cut lines at the Musée D’Orsay where we mingled with Monet’s water lilies, and got in for free at the MEP (Maison Europeene de La Photographie), but had a total Fail on making it to the Paris Magnum photo exhibit due to my continued inability to properly calculate the 24-hour clock and the French’s continued ability to close things whenever they damn well please, regardless of what it says on the gate.

We caught sunset after sunset, from the banks of the Seine to way up at Sacré Coeur in Montmartre, each of which was more remarkable than the last.

We toured small villages in the Loire Valley like Amboise where we happened upon the tomb of Leonardo da Vinci, and viewed enchanting castles like Chenonceau from under a shared umbrella as it rained and rained and rained…and rained some more.

We followed Google Maps into the hills of Vouvray where we knocked on the door of Francois Pinon, a well-known vintner in the valley who gave us a private tasting for two.

We successfully debated with a French woman—en Francais!—over a parking spot and managed to return our rental car and make our train back to Paris in less than 5 minutes.

We sat in orchestra seats for the production of ‘An American in Paris‘ where one of us (ahem, not me) proceeded to nod off a bit during the first act.

We delighted in the fact that our New Year’s Eve hosts were grilling oysters on the fireplace, but politely declined eating them. (Rach isn’t a fan, and I prefer mine raw.) Instead, we ate extra cheese. (Obviously.)

We took selfies…lots of them.

All in all, it was a whirlwind week of #LieberSisInParis doing and seeing and eating and just being together, trying our hardest to respect each other’s differences and delight in each other’s similarities.

The sorta not funny joke during the whole trip was that so many things were closed. (Paris fact: Things pretty much shut down on Sunday. And Monday. And, obviously, on New Year’s Day. But also, a lot of places shut the day before New Year’s Day. Maybe even after. Or the days before Christmas and leading up to New Year’s and maybe even way beyond.) And while I tried to avoid roadblocks by calling ahead, sometimes it was futile, like the time we trekked all the way to the 11th arrondissement to eat a crepe at West Country Girl, only to find it shut—complete with wooden stools flipped on the bar.

But for all the “fermé” signs we encountered, there was more cheese to eat or a selfie to take to remind us of all that was still available to us. Hours may have been limited and doors may have been closed, but for the first time in any of the trips we’ve taken together—from Spain to Greece to Mexico and beyond—the two of us seemed more open to each other than ever.

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