Recently in Paris 2013 Category
One of the more amusing quirks of Tanzanians- or rather, the Sukuma people among whom we live- is the way they pose for pictures. In general, people here are super friendly and are always quick to smile despite all the challenges they face in life. And while many locals here have cameras, people still get excited when you take their picture. They'll get excited with huge smiles on their face, get in a pose, ready for the picture, and then right when you take the picture, they look away from the camera and drop the smile. If they do look at the camera, they almost never smile and often have a slight scowl as well (imagine your typical DMV divers license shot}. I assume that people feel they must be "serious" to look like respectful people, when in actuality they look depressed and not just a little mean. This is the same culture that expects a bride not to smile on her wedding day lest she offend people by looking happy to be leaving her family. Anyway, as with all generalizations, this certainly doesn't apply to everyone, and this is also not limited to Tanzania by any stretch. Regardless I have numerous pictures where everyone is just staring dead-eyed into the camera only seconds after having been the epitome of happiness and smiles. So my friends and I here all like to take pictures "like a Tanzanian."
And now, I present to you, The Reid Gerdes crew in Paris. Enjoy:
On Saturday, the morning after the wedding, we tried to sleep as much as we could and have a leisurely morning, but I think we still got up relatively early. We all agreed that we needed to go to the Eiffel Tower, but we wouldn't bother with going up in it, so as to avoid the lines. To maximize our sight-seeing times, we decided to walk there.
"Don't mind me, I'm just standing here with this fish."
Everyone in Paris was so gorgeous and so fashionable. It was inspiring. Guess who is NOT Parisian?
But seriously, Katie and I forwent the shoes we'd been wearing all week and went with our sneaks and hiking boots. It was the best idea ever.
I love my husband, brother, and sister-in-law so much. There is a long series of photos in front of this fountain (separate blog post to come) because they were being so silly. This makes me so freaking happy.
That afternoon, we played "spot the bride." We found 5! Here are 3!
What a cutie!
Another plant building!
Then we were there!
We got some new hats...
Then took a little rest! While there, Katie discovered that we could take photos like this:
The 4 of us spent a lot of time taking photos like this. We are adults.
Then we had to take photos like this:
What happened next was one of the best memories of the trip for me. The side of the park we were on didn't have an exit that we saw. There was a paneled fence that was the outer edge of the park that was knocked down. We didn't realize that we were going to have to walk over the wobbley fence to get out, but that's what other people were doing. I realized that to my left, there was an older hunched over (but well dressed) gentleman in his mid to late 70s (maybe? Or 80s? I don't know) with a cane. He was trying to figure out how he was going to get over the fence. I offered him my hand and asked if he needed help, and he accepted. Together, we traversed the unstable terrain. When we were safely to the other side, he said "Merci" and I didn't recall how to say "you're welcome" in French. He said "Gracias, Danke schoen" and I remembered my German, and said "bitte." Then we parted ways. It was so sweet to me, this little man with soft hands, and that I could offer some help even though we didn't speak the same language. Priceless.
On the way home, we made one last stop to the grocery store and settled in for our last night in Paris. We feasted on bread, wine, cheese, butter with salt, meats and fruits, and it was lovely. Fuzzy and I packed.
This soda was a huge favorite of ours.
I wanted to live in this butter. Huge chunks of salt crystals. Heavenly.
The macarons were our wedding favor. Beautiful and delicious.
The bonus treat of the night is that Jan and Jeremy had to drop something off to Christopher, so they brought over dinner and came and visited with us for a couple fo hours. It was great having some more intimate time with them just for visits and not in the hectic hubub of a wedding. It was sweet and fun and emotional, and such a lovely capper to the night. But they aren't the only ones who came to say goodbye...we had another special visitor!
Au revoir, mon petit chat!
After the boat dropped us off, we had a couple of hours to kill before dinner. (In this time, too, Jan changed into the most gorgeous va-va-voom wedding dress I've ever seen.) I was super hungry, so we went to a cafe, where Christopher and Fuzzy got dessert and I got hard boiled eggs, salmon rolls and coffee. We had a great time hanging out and trying to speak French, then we headed across the bridge to the restaurant. When we got there, we found out that the place we were going wasn't ready for us & the reservation was delayed an hour. Luckily, this neighborhood was adorable and we did some shopping--the only shopping we did on the trip! (I mean, you can't get a better souvenir than we did.) Our ship had come in!
The restaurant was tiny and adorable. We took up the whole thing with the wedding party. The 4 of us got a table altogether. I know you're probably supposed to make new friends and sit with others at weddings, but dammit, I never get to see C&K so I was gonna sit with them, by gum! The night was awesome, and the food and drinks were amazing. We had cocktails, escargot, scallops, chocolate mousse and a creampuff cake! Katie and I got more than a little toasty, and we laughed out asses off. We were there for 5 hours, and every moment was a total blast. Here are some pics from that night, some from Christopher and Katie, as well.
Please enjoy responsibly.
The next 3 photos are amazing, and sort of sum up the whole trip in a nutshell. Man, we had so much fun.
Speeches! Y'all know me, if I get the chance, I am gonna give a speech at a wedding. So I did.
C'est ne pas un photographe de la espeech. (This is not a photo of the speech. I just made that French up, though I don't think it's inaccurate.)
When the clock struck midnight, we realized that we were tired and the food was done and that the music festival was still happening. Fuzzy and I made sure that C&K had keys to the apartment, and we got out of there. The walk home was gorgeous and transcendent and romantic and fun. I took photos for people, we saw a lot of DJs and bands, we kissed on a bridge and played and danced in the streets. I will never forget it. (Sadly for my poor brother and sister-in-law, they did not have the same experience, but I will let them blog about that.)
These guys had the "Remedy."
The DJ outside the Passage du Caire.
It was a perfect night!
Friday was the big wedding day! Christopher got up early to do wedding officiant things, and the rest of us took our time getting ready, etc. The wedding was at noon on a boat on the Seine, with the reception taking place at a gorgeous tiny restaurant near where we docked. The wedding date was chosen because of the Fete de la Musique, which is where Jeremy and Jan had their first date.
Lady Liberty's Torch
As if a wedding on a boat on the Seine wasn't enough, here is where the boat was parked for the ceremony:
Yup. Right under the tower. It was a dream. So of course I did a "show off your tattoo" photoshoot.
Then it was time for Jeremy and Jan's first looks.
Jan's dress was redesigned/altered by Jeremy's mom out of Jan's mom's wedding dress.
Handsome Jeremy awaits his bride.
I love this. Best friends. Also, check out Christopher's supa-fly suit that he had custom-made in Mwanza!
Ok, so we don't have any photos of the wedding, cause we were all watching and listening. But trust me in that it was gorgeous, funny and sweet. And Christopher did a great job. As a seasoned wedding officiant (ahem), I can say that I am proud of my big brother for the job that he did.
Also, a number of people stood on the bridge above us and watched the wedding. It was so sweet. Everyone applauded when they kissed. And all day, people everywhere on the street and on other boats cheered for J&J. It was awesome and so joyful.
These guys. I love em.
I also love these guys.
Check out my super cool dress, courtesy of the lovely Claire Zulkey! It was also very Parisian, I thought. Thanks, Claire! Though it was colder than I wanted it to be, thus the jacket.
I mean, come on.
The next couple hours were spent drinking and dancing while going up and down the river. Everything was gorgeous. Also, since there were only about 35 of us at the wedding (and we are soooo photogenic), there's going to be a million photos of Fuzzy and I in J&J's official wedding photos. You're welcome, guys.
Cuties. (Hey, Katie--nice dress!!)
There was a beautiful and perfect moment that happened, too, on the boat. Jan's parents this year are celebrating their 40th anniversary, so they played the song that would have been their first dance song (but for some reason, they didn't have a first dance) "The First Time, Ever I Saw Your Face." (Which Jan awesomely accidentally called "If I Ever See Your Face Again.") They invited everyone up for couples dance. The song is really intense, and also really long, and I was getting really emotional dancing with the love of my life and thinking about our lives and what we've been through and thinking about my parents and everything--needless to say, I was getting really emotional, and the air was REALLY thick. At just the perfect moment, the boat his a rough patch, spraying water ALL over everyone on the front deck. We all DIED laughing and literally shook the water off of us and then the music changed to something more upbeat. It was the perfect tension breaker, and a moment that was better than could have been written.
When we were ready to dock, this is what was waiting for J&J:
Ha-cha-cha! I guess this is a thing in Paris, the "we just got married awesome car" cause we saw others over the weekend. And why not, right?
Cause you get amazing photos like this. Including their way fashionable and gorgeous wedding planner.
Part 2 to come soon!
The Thursday of our trip, Christopher left in the morning to go do wedding things with Jeremy, and Katie, Fuzzy and I went for a run. Fuzzy ran every day of our trip (but Monday), and Katie was looking forward to running in a place in which it would be normal for her to run (since customs in Tanzania are different than our norm.) I wasn't REALLY up for a run--I like my vacations to be about lolling about and doing nothing, but my healthy relatives convinced me that we needed to go. The 3 of us ran together and it was fun but hard. I only had about 2 miles in me, and plus, I didn't want to hurt my tattoo. So we ran for a bit, and then walked back. As we were heading back to the apartment, a transient man on the street yelled out to us in the hardest American accent "Good MOR-NING. Good BYE-EE." We now say that all the time.
One thing that we wanted to do was go to the Catacombs, or l'Ossuaire Municipal, which is home to millions of stacked bones. Before we left for the trip, my mom's one piece of advice was "Well, don't get lost in the catacombs." That made me laugh a LOT.
So we met up with Christopher, who arrived at exactly the same time we did (an amazing feat, since none of us were using cell phones), and we got in line. The line was epic. Only a small number of people are allowed in at any given time, so the line sprawled around this one area, and barely moved. We waited for--wait for it--3 hours. Luckily, there was a cafe near by, so we were able to get coffees and sandwiches for our wait.Oh, did I mention that 2.5 hours of that was in the rain? Luckily, I had an umbrella and we all had rain coats/ponchos (it rained every day). However, my thighs got wet. Unfortunately, the dress I wore became see-through when it got wet, so some unsuspecting patrons got a free peep show.
After the summer rain, Fuzzy's beard sprouted a flower!
Fz and me!
You betta werk.
You have to walk a long way to get to the bones. They advise not entering if you are faint of heart, have anxiety or claustrophobia. If you are squeamish about skulls and femurs, maybe skip the next few photos.
Here is the empire of the dead. Spoooky.
That's a lot of bones. The remains of 6 million people.
It was a sacred space.
It's interesting to me how shocking it is at first, but then you become used to it and desensitized to exactly what you are looking at. Those are real human skulls, people. But you know, no big woop. Oh, more skulls? 2km of skulls and thighs? Yawn.
Each bone wall was super thick. Just piled with bones.
After that, we did a little shopping, and ate some food. We headed back to the apartment to freshen up and get ready for the rehearsal dinner. We had a lovely walk there, and ate some delicious food and met some amazing people--not that I am surprised that Jeremy would have amazing friends. Oh, and the food was sooooooo gooooooood.
Jeremy, Jan, and a distinctive bald head.
Our table-mates Madeline and Josh...
...and Hunter and Layla.
And then these dorks.
Katie and Christopher. I love these guys so much. I miss them tremendously. I am seriously so amazingly blessed that I got to have this time with them. Every moment was a treasure.
Brothers. (Though the outer two are biological, the Reid family has never not considered the Muchas/Brudevolds family.) I hadn't seen Jason (on the left) since I was a kid. It was great reconnecting.
So many good conversations. Jason's wife Sandy was the biggest sweetheart ever.
(Sidenote: I hadn't worn that dress in years. It seemed very Parisian to me. I think it will go back in the rotation.)
From there, the fellas went out for a guys night, and the ladies for a ladies night. Katie and I were exhausted (and a little tipsy), so we decided to bow out and head back to the apartment. We had a great time walking and exploring and talking together, and when we got back to the house, we had more wine. I showed Katie a video (remember that, Katie?) And I ate a lot of candy. Smart idea for 1am? It seemed so. The guys were out til late-ish, and were in jaunty moods when they got back. I should know, cause they woke me up and wanted to tell me all about the evening, neverminding that I HAD BEEN ASLEEP, and Christopher proceeded to dance in my bedroom doorway. At the time, this was annoying and I had no patience for it, but in hindsight, it was really sweet. He used to do this CONSTANTLY when we were growing up, and he loved keeping me from going to sleep when we were kids/teenagers and our rooms were adjoined. So it was just like old times. I love my brother so much.
End of day 5!
On Wednesday, the group was going off to Versailles, but I wasn't so much into that. Fz and I only got 2 day museum passes, and there were other things we wanted to see. And I have to say, it was one of my most favorite days of the vacation. Fuzzy went for a run in the morning, so I slept in and read blogs and dozed and listened to music, then we had a leisurely morning and breakfast. The whole day was just for doing whatever the hell we wanted. And I loved it.
Do I look Parisian? I'm thinking about flowers!
First we went to the Pompidou, the modern art museum.
The walkway has great views of the city.
Then we saw some art!
These French school children learned about Joan Miro. More than a couple of people have told me that my new tattoo reminds them of his work.
Marcel Duchamp's Fountain. You know I love me some dada.
Marc Chagall. Of course, "Happiness isn't happiness without a violin playing goat."
Fuzzy recently taught me about International Klein Blue, and here it was! Crazy that you can't quite capture it on screen. Also what you can't tell here is that this is a photograph of a canvas painted this color on a white wall. It was really quite stunning.
This room was padded to be completely silent. Guess what was in it?
A piano! Oh, the juxtaposition!
After that, we ate a street crepe and kept a-wandering.
Fuzzy's beard is majestic.
We came across some goats in a ditch!
The cutest form of lawn mowing.
We headed over to the Musee de l'Orangerie to see some of Claude Monet's Waterlilies (Nympheas). They were gorgeous. No photos allowed, though. When we were finished, it was raining. We took shelter under some trees and just sat in the rain. I loved it.
Handsome Fuzzy in the rain.
Me in the rain. Sadly, it started to DOWNPOUR, but the museum guards were nice enough to let us back inside to try to wait it out. After a while, we decided to leave, but didn't avoid the rain, so we stopped into a cafe for a glass of wine. On our way back to the apartment, look who we saw!
Our goat friends! Taking shelter! How cute is that?!
Well, speaking of cute, what happened next in the day will forever go down in history and never be forgotten. Fuzzy, Christopher, Katie and I were having dinner back home and filling each other in about our respective days' adventures, when we heard something that sounded like a meow. Well, if you know us at all, you know we're all obsessive cat people, so we all got excited. We looked out the window, and this is what we saw.
THIS GUY! Oh my gosh. He was walking along the roof below us! You hear of roof cats in Paris and you think it's a cliche until you see it with your own two eyes.
He was amazing. He had the longest whiskers I've ever seen, and the biggest feet I've ever seen. We named him Henri.
We tried inviting him in, but he didn't want to. Even though we had meat.
That face! He hung out for a little bit, then strolled on down and hopped onto a porch down the way. I could post a million photos of him, but I will only post one more.
I miss him.
It was daylight in Paris til about 10:30pm every night, so at 9:30, we realized that we could still get to the Arc de Triomphe, which was also included in our pass, before it closed. So Fuzzy and I hopped on the Metro and did a little more sight-seeing.
There were a lot of stairs.
The view from the top!
Back down below.
From start to finish, it was an utterly amazing and perfect day.
Monday morning the 17th, we woke up and went to have breakfast with Jeremy & Jan and other family and friends!
Fuzzy, Jeremy and Jeremy's mom, Jean.
It poured down rain, but we were in a beautiful location!
This building was a helpful landmark for our navigation.
Monday afternoon, we of course went and got OUR AMAZING TATTOOS! I kind of want to post more photos of it here, but I will spare you. That night, we went to the grocery store and had one of our many meals at home, which were the best: wine, baguettes, cheeses, meats, chocolates, fruits, and my all time favorite--butter with chunky sea salt! I could have lived in that butter.
Tuesday was a tourist day!
Actual photobomb by Katie.
Thinking about life.
We went over to the Love Lock Bridge. Lovers carve their names into locks, lock them to the bridge, and throw the key into the Seine to secure their love will be locked forever. So sweet.
This one (in the silver) had special meaning to us.
Then we headed over to Sainte-Chapelle to ooh and ahh over the stained glass.
"Hey guys, I brought the movie. Can I load up the projector?"
Then onto the Conciergerie.
"Yoo hoo! Up for a game of ping-pong?"
And then Notre-Dame!
I lit a candle in dad's memory.
We split off from the group, and I had an amazing salmon quiche and a giant beer. DELISH!
After that, we went for a stroll and stopped in a garden to have some beers and watch some crows. It was heaven. I think the thing I loved most about the vacation was not being in too much of a rush or schedule, and just sitting and BEING. It was good for me to start really living in the present.
Another highlight of the trip was just laughing my ass off with Katie. Oh my gosh, what a blast we had! I needed it.
Sliding into home!
On the way back home, we passed this amazing building--with plant walls!