Le disk-jokey Sash est de retour.” – Sash – Encore Une Fois
Yes, that kinda does sum up the extent of my french. Passible C-grade GCSE level from Secondary school
Which, to be fair, is a fair smidgen better, than my spanish (see here for my last trip to Barcelona).
Anyway, this day started slightly hungover, and I totally blame this on a good friend for introducing me to her new workmates. She’ll say I had three drinks. This is true. and I will employ the age old myth/defense of not eating anything before hand. And also, I’m getting old *sigh*.
I also have not packed yet. Do I even have clean clothes? But more importantly, I haven’t even made a list of places to eat yet.
I need to really do my research…
But first off, I need to go to the dentist. Trust me, I know, you lot don’t like the dentist (in general). However, since I’ve been going so much over the past year, I now basically start falling asleep in the dentist chair while they drill and file away. Injections? not an issue. I could chew glass these days. Long story short, new crown put in, and a small filling since I chipped the tooth next it a few days prior.
sighs in french
You try to do the right thing… Anyway, that’s my dental work done, and I can go back in 3 months for a check-up.
In the meantime, I have a Eurostar train to catch. But before that… food.
One of the great things about the Eurostar is that you catch it from St Pancras station. While the station is nice too look at and take pictures of.
The main reason that it is great is that it’s right next to Kings Cross Station, which is right next to Granary Square…
This is the important bit: Granary Square is home to a KERB street food market.
so steak and chips with a fried egg please. Thank you Stakehaus.
*mumblesomethingsomething learn how to do egg yolk pictures properly mumble*
Go drool at their instagram here.
Fast forward a bit, and I’m on the Eurostar, economy class. And I’ll happily admit it’s fairly spacious, even for a hefty lad like myself.
The best thing though… No one is in the seat next to me.
Now, for some info, everyone pretty much fell asleep as soon as the train started moving. I, on the other hand, was excited to see how this works.
Next thing I know, I wake up, just in time to see a french billboard go whizzing past.
Holy crap, we’re in France already??? How long were in the tunnel…
and more urgently… was I snoring??? shit…
Bienvenue en France!!! Now my hostel, St Christopher’s Inn, is literally a 5-minute walk away. And it looks absolutely rammed. Which I should have expected having visited the London one when a few friends from Canada came over. However, check-in was quick, easy. The staff were very friendly. And everyone looked at least 10 years younger than me. In most cases, 15 to 20 years younger. And they have a Belushi’s right underneath the hostel…
My dorm is on the 4th floor. It has ten beds. I did request, for a bottom bunk, since, you know, heft.
I’m on a top bunk. shit.
The other inhabitants are friendly, if young. And by young, I mean about 19 to 25 years. Interesting coincidences. We’re all asian. In about half the cases, Filipino. And, all of our names begin with the letter “J”.
It’s a making of a boy-band…
Anyway, I’ve settled myself onto my bunk. Thankfully, it’s really sturdy, so while I’m not a fan of the situation, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that it’s not going to change.
I decided to concentrate on the things I can change. Namely, the status of my hunger. Which at this point is heading towards “ravenous”. It’is now 8:10 PM in France and the last time I ate was 1:00PM in London. Taking into account the time difference, this means the last time I ate was some point last week. #Seriously
I head out, and start walking, again, putting my life in the hands of google maps… again.
Now while on the Eurostar I had looked up a few places for dinner, and headed in their direction. And when I got there, I’d go straight pass thinking, nuh-uh. And honestly, I was judging it by how much non-French conversations I could pick up. And all I heard was English. So I kept walking…
going straight down Boulevard de Strasbourg, all the while thinking. “should I be here?” Nothing where I was said this is where tourists should be. Which as I think back on it, was a great thing. Or else I would not have found “Le Petit Cafe”. Or at least, one form of them. Further research, later on, would suggest there are a few. The main thing though, I couldn’t hear a lick of english. And it was really busy. That’s a good sign, right?
I walk in, and in my best french try to ask for a table for one (in all honesty, it’s more likely me gesturing the number “1” with my hand that let him know I needed). The waiter indicates for me to take one of the free tables (there are only two left), so I scurry on over and sit down. The only other free table next to me quickly taken up by two more people. The menus are on the wall, they’re written in French, I can’t take a picture that google translate can use…
What do the french eat anyway? Baguettes, stinky cheese, onions, and wine? well yes (maybe not the raw onions, that’s the Croatians) but I’m sure that there is much better fare to be had. Just looking around and I see fantastic cheese boards, charcuterie boards, mixed cheese and charcuterie platters. lovely stews…
I ordered the burger, with chips… and a beer… Epic Fail JT. Epic Fail…
And it was a good burger. Well seasoned, nicely cooked, the bun wasn’t stale, and the fries were handcut potatoes. Not, as one sometimes expects, pre-cut fries you see from places like McDonalds etc. That, along with the beer, would at least fuel me for the next few hours. However, as if to be punished for my absurdity, I would be greeted with rain when I left the Cafe. Note, that is the ONLY time during the whole trip it would rain. And the only time I didn’t bring my jacket with me.
Ok I promise, no more burgers. I head back to the hostel, and into my room. I run into Jeff, who I met earlier. He’d managed to find a place that did snails. I feel totally inadequate.
I plump myself on my bunk and start charging various bits and pieces, headphones, phone. More importanly I relax.
for all of 30 minutes. It’s 10:00PM and all I can do is debate internally if I should go out and find something to do. Or go to sleep, since it’s been a long day. Thankfully, saner heads prevailed, and I went out. It’s not like I was gonna get any sleep with Belushi’s pumping out club music downstairs. I head out, camera in hand, towards Cafe Francoeur on Rue Caulaincourt in the 18th arrondissement (Don’t ask about me, about arrondissements). It’s about a mile away from the Hostel, with a number of cafe’s on the way that I easily could have also tried.
I arrive and quickly get seated. Still full from the burger and chips, I decided to order something lighter. I would have sat outside, however, it’s still lightly raining. Although that has not detered the locals in the slightest.
Like cheesecake, with a beer, and sparkling water. How rock and roll!
Either way, I spend about an hour, just relaxing, watching the world go by. And trying to take pictures in this horrendously low light.
I get back to the hostel by 1:00 AM. And Belushi’s is in full flow, loads of drunk twenty somethings screaming about goodness knows what. But for me, I’m ready to sleep.