We all know that one Emerson quote (frequently used to caption Instagram posts) that says something about living in the sunshine, swimming in the sea, and drinking the wild air, riiiight? Although it was a quote ruined by basic bitches, it’s still a good one. There is something so purifying about being near the sea.
Right now it is 19 degrees in Pittsburgh and there is fresh snowfall on the ground. I am beyond grateful that I got to spend my birthday weekend visiting friends in sunny AF south Florida with my husband. I hope that the memories of the colorful lifeguard stands of South Beach and the crystal clear waters of Ft Lauderdale can carry me through the winter. At the very least, I have enough blog material to pretend like I’m somewhere sunny for the rest of the year…
If you find yourself in Paris feeling guilty about all of the gluten filled pastries you’ve been wolfing down, you might want to try burning some calories by taking a walking tour of the most charming Parisian neighborhood, Montmarte. It will be a delightful feast for your eyes!
One place we will probably never go inside of in Paris is the Moulin Rouge. Nothing against cabaret, it’s just that the film with the same name is one of my favorites of all time and I don’t want my illusions to ever be shattered. That being said, the Moulin Rouge is a good starting point for when things start to get steep. The hills and stairs you will go up will leave your thighs burning! Ready, set, hike.
Oh, wait. Before you start heading up up up, be sure to check out the Pigalle Basketball Court. Seriously, if the San Antonio Spurs played on a court like this, I might start caring about the sport a little bit more… QUELLE MAGNIFIQUE!!!!
Sitting at the top of Montmarte, is Sacre Coeur. I dare you to run up all of the steps in one go! Honestly, that’s the best way to get to the top while simultaneously avoiding people trying to sell friendship bracelets to tourists.
The “Sinking House” can be found to the left of the last set of steps en route to Sacre Coeur (disclaimer- it’s not really sinking as Joel showed you in this video).
When I think of Paris’ landmarks, I think of the Eiffel Tower, Arc Di Triomphe, The Louvre Pyramid, and La Maison Rose. It was probably the Millennial Pink shade that initially drew me to this place, but I also thought it was a bakery. It’s definitely not, so don’t try knocking. Worry not, though, if you’re looking for a well deserved snack after all that exercise you just did, Pain Pain is on your way down through Montmarte. “Pain pain” translates to “bread bread”, which translates to “yum yum” if ya ask me….
Even though I don’t have children of my own, I’ve always had an interest in Child Development. Kids fascinate me! Last year, my very pregnant Francophile sister-in-law recommended Bringing Up Bébé, a book written by an American mother raising kiddos in Paris. It was très intéressant. Basically, the French have perfected the art of child rearing; but not only that, they make it look so easy. Anyway, it’s a great read and I can’t wait to test it out on all 8 of the future Little Blumer Babies (jk, Joel, calm down!).
During our most recent stay in France, I tried to make it a point to be especially observant of French children. Are they really as well behaved as Pamela Druckerman made them out to be? The answer is: I guess so? Honestly, I was way too distracted by how abnormally well behaved every single dog we saw was that I kind of forget about the tiny humans.
Full disclaimer: I wasn’t always the crazy cat lady my Instagram followers have come to know and love. I was raised with a full spectrum of pets from cats to lizards and snakes, one ferret, a pigeon, and a brief stint with a piglet. As well as, of course, dogs.
The best pet I ever had, was my Great Dane, Samson.
Samson loved me, unconditionally, and the feeling was mutual! Although our time together was brief, it would still rank as one of the top friendships I’ve ever had. He was a good boy, BUT…. he was terrible on the leash. I can’t even tell you the number of times my arm was almost ripped from its socket trying to take him on a walk around the block. Since we had a fenced in backyard, our walks around the neighborhood were probably not as frequent as old Sammy Boy would have liked. So if I, or family member, ever left the front door open (to bring in groceries or whatever), Samson would book it. And that big lug was lightning fast, so he’d be out of sight in no time. The quickest way to get Samson back would be to make a “Lost Black Great Dane” ad on Craigslist, which would take about an hour to work and I’d get a call from someone a mile or two away saying they’d found my baby. One time, though, he was brought home in the back of a police SUV. Every parents’ worst nightmare!
My point is: this bad dog behavior would not fly in France. Almost every single dog I saw, ranging in sizes from tiny to huge, was walking alongside his/her owner sans leash. More than a few times, I’d look down and see a dog walking by Joel and I and I’d have to fight the urge to pick it up and start yelling “whose dog is this?!” over and over until someone replied, because the owner was always just a few paces in front of us and the dog would totally know it. Pups are welcome everywhere too! We went to happy hour one night and a sweet couple had their little chihuahua with them. The petite pooch would take an hourly sniff of the cafe in its entirety, then return to his master’s feet. Bon chien! If you find yourself an American in Paris, watch the dogs. Seriously…
So what is it that makes French Canines so good? Is it in the kibble? Are the French bribing their puppies with filet mignon every night to get their undying love and affection?! Are they wearing chew toy scented perfume to make their dogs follow them in the street? Is it that French Dogs have the freedom to take dumps anywhere and their owners don’t have to worry about cleaning up the mess because the Parisian Poop Patrol will take care of it? I guess I’m going to have to move to Paris to research my next book… I’ll call it “Bringing Up TouTou” and it’ll be a New York Times Bestseller, too, I’m sure.
Do you ever dream that your life is a movie? Maybe I’m just a particular breed of Romantic/Drama Queen, but when I was younger I used to fantasize about accepting my Academy Award for Best Actress for my role as Sarah Haase, Witty and Lovable Middle Child. I didn’t realize until after we were married, that Joel would be the creative genius behind my starring role. I love that he finds me so a-muse-ing.
Maybe I’m biased (with just a hint of narcissistic) because my husband made it, but I could watch this video of my good side traipsing around Paris and Reykjavik all day. The colors are gorgeous (enhanced by Joel!), the music is perfectly timed (thanks, Joel!), and you can hardly see the croissant food baby I’m hiding throughout (great camera angles, babe!). Crank up the volume and enjoy! Or don’t! We don’t care! BYEEEE.
Since we’re on the subject of street art anyway, let’s take the appreciation for colorful walls and murals across the pond… Back to Reykjavik, Iceland; a city that looks like the inside of a psychedelic kaleidoscope!
I mentioned before that when we went to Iceland last month, we didn’t venture far out of Reykjavik. Which is fine, because holy color explosion, it’s a vividly chromatic feast for your eyeballs. Hue won’t be disappointed (color pun, I’ll stop talking now)…
Whether it’s the outside of a bakery, the inside of a parking garage, or the entrance to the Punk Rock Museum, those talented Icelandic artists won’t leave you hanging when it comes to all things colorful. If you find yourself needing to kill some time on a stopover in Iceland, but you don’t want to spend a small fortune on excursions, just go for a wall crawl. And while you’re out and about, spend $4 on an Icelandic hot dog, just don’t ask what it’s made of…
Pro tip: pay $8 and go up to the top of That One Church to scope out the nearby street art.
In case you haven’t noticed, we’re pretty big fans of frugality around here. Is it just me, or do I keep talking about how we’re trying to pinch pennies while simultaneous livin’ it up? Okay maybe it was just this post where I mentioned saving money while visiting one of the most luxurious cities in the world, but that’s how Joel and I are most of the time. Well, that’s how Joel is and how I’m learning to be (adulting is hard sometimes). We have a weekly budget that we stick to as well as a travel budget where we dump any extra cash we get from babysitting (me) or leftover per diem (Joel).
Even though 95% of the time you’ll find the two of us being a boring old married couple at home, on our couch, with our cats, binge watching something (rn it’s Rick and Morty), we still like to do fun stuff with the remaining 5%. I think that it is important in a marriage to date your spouse. Dates are great, right?! Especially when you’re already married to the guy and you don’t have to worry about shaving your legs or whether or not he’s going to murder you when you go home with him! See? Great!
I started this new “Cheap Date” category on here because dates are fun and, according to my husband, so is saving money. For the first installment, I thought I’d talk about how we went on super cheap Parisian date while we were in Paris last month.
Did you know you can eat a fancy dinner on a boat on the Seine? Did you also know that a lot of people say it’s overpriced and overrated? We opted for the cheap-o version. We dressed up hella fancy on our last night in town, took the metro down to Pont D’Alma where we hopped on a 1 hour river cruise via Bateaux Mouches. When all of the tourists wearing cargo shorts pushed and shoved to get a good seat at the top of the boat, Joel and I high tailed it to the side where we could be all alone. We bought champagne. We snuggled and whispered sweet nothings to each other the whole time. It was perfect. We didn’t need a fancy, expensive dinner because we knew we’d get crepes on our way back to the hotel.
Side note: since 2009, I haven’t been able to get on a boat without this song getting stuck in my head. Not complaining, it’s awesome.
“We drinking Santana champ, cause it’s so crisp…”
12 Euros for boat tickets, 20 for champagne + plastic flutes, a few more for late night crepes compared to 99 per person for shitty cruise food? Yes, please! Cheap dates for the win! BOO YA.
On the next installment of Cheap Dates, we see if our marriage can withstand All You Can Eat Appetizers… See ya then!
Fact: a little bit of an effort to speak the local language will go a long way in a foreign country. I mean, that makes total sense, right? To give you some perspective, imagine you’re in your hometown and a stranger comes up to you and starts speaking a language you only kind of understand. You’d be like “yo, I took Mandarin in high school, but I don’t understand this specific dialect… English? Maybe?”
I’ve heard stories of Americans going abroad and just assuming everyone speaks English, but you know what they say about people who assume, right? Don’t make an ass of yourself, learn the bare minimum of a new language to at least skate by without annoying everyone you meet! The effort goes a long way, especially in France. Hence why this post you’re reading has come to fruition: it’s not just me blabbing, it’s actually useful (I even included links to youtube pronunciation videos)!
French Phrases You Should Know In Paris:
“Bonjour/Bonsoir“- GREET. EVERYONE. OR YOU’RE BEING RUDE. Okay, greet everyone you encounter in businesses (the hotel concierge, taxi/uber drivers, the coffee shop barista, the boutique employee, the checkout guy at the grocery store, etc). Don’t greet strangers on the street or you’re being a creepy American weirdo (the beautiful French person doesn’t give a shit if you like her scarf). Bonjour means “good day,” so when evening rolls along, be sure to change your greeting to bonsoir (apparently 6 p.m. is a safe time to make the switch).
“Pardon“- Manners, remember? If you’re thinking “excuse moi” is the acceptable version of “excuse me,” well you’re wrong.. It’s not your fault, “excuse moi” just translates closer to “sorry” than “pardon me”.
“Apres vous“- We’ve all done that awkward hold-the-door tango, right? Gesturing and saying “after you” in French will get you into the building much faster.
“L’addition, s’il vous plait“- This is probably the most useful thing you’ll learn to say en Francais because once you’ve been given your food at a restaurant, your waiter will probably leave you alone until you’re ready to pay. When you do grab his or her attention, asking for the bill in French is sure to get you a smile of appreciation.
“D’accord“- Okay! Look at you being all agreeable!
“Au revoir“- Much like greeting, it’s important to say your goodbyes as well. Too bad I can’t say “au revoir” without wanting to yell “SHOSHANNNAAAAA” after… you know, because of Inglorious Basterds? Oh, just me then…
“Parlez vous Anglais?“- Sometimes the answer is “no,” so it’s much more polite to ask people if they speak English than to assume that they do.
I was going to include “puis-je épater votre chien?” but the answer to “may I pet your dog” is always “non” anyway ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
Yes I took French in high school, but that doesn’t mean I don’t butcher this beautiful language when it comes out of my mouth. I’d say that in Paris it’s okay if your pronunciation isn’t perfection, and that a little effort goes a long way. Even my husband (who has never spoken a lick of French and actually kept accidentally saying “hola” the first time we were in Paris) had these few phrases on lock down and used them everyday!
It’s also a good idea to have the Google Translate App downloaded and ready to use. You know, just in case the one person who doesn’t speak English at all happens to be the pharmacist you’re trying to buy laxatives from. That’s not something you want to mime out. Trust me.