Part Three: There was ice cream.
Other highlights from our trip:
Versailles (“Ver-Sails”). Visit this place, and you will totally understand why the French Revolution happened. If there is a word that means supercallifragallistically gaudy, Versailles is it.
These people had antechambers. You know what antechambers are? Rooms that exist just to be rooms! They serve no other purpose than to be a room you can go in before you go into the next room. Sometimes, there were antechambers to antechambers!
Each room had intricate paintings on the ceilings and furniture covered in gold, but that isn’t even the best part. The Versailles palace also contains a separate palace so that if you just need to get away from the palace, you have another palace to go to.
This second palace was given to Marie Antoinette and there was a lot of information in French about her. I’m not sure about the whole story, but all I know is that you cannot, in fact, buy just her head in the gift shop.
Louvre in a Nutshell: Massive Museum, Teeny Mona Lisa. Seriously. It's as big as my framed diploma. And you can't get within 10 feet of it because of all the other tourists and their cameras pushing each other to get close. If Leo had just made it a mite bigger, it would have been easier on all of us.
Arc de Triomphe (“We Surrender!”) and Eiffel Tower (“Migdal Ayfel”): These represent two entries in our ever-growing list of “Tall Buildings We Have Not Ascended.” Don't worry, there are selfies to prove we were there.
Haagen Daaz restaurant. You read that right. An entire restaurant devoted exclusively to ice cream. Two floors plus outdoor seating, with fancy wait staff and everything. As part of our QKE vacation certification (Quite Kosher Enough), we felt comfortable eating Parisian Haagen Daaz. Sadly, most of the menu items came with a baked good, which even for the lax standards of QKE is NQKE. But we found two exquisite cookie-free desserts: I ordered one that had five scoops of ice cream surrounded by fresh raspberries, strawberries and whipped cream and are you drooling yet???? Donny ordered a scoop of ice cream in an espresso (I told you he got into it). We sat in rapturous, heavenly-ice-cream-eating-induced silence, until it was broken by:
The Amcha. Aka fellow Jews/Israelis. Funny because when you're in Israel, you say “Israelis!” in a mumbly, exasperated grunt, but while in Paris, you say, “Israelis!” with a cry of excitement. This particular amcha – an Israeli woman – interrupted our bliss to ask a question on behalf of her French-speaking charedi sister. The sister was wondering if it was okay to eat here, and when her eyes alighted upon Donny’s kippah, she felt we were safe people to ask. We explained that the ice cream itself was kosher; stay away from the cookies. QKE FTW!
We enjoyed our other encounters with the Amcha during our trip. In one restaurant, we had a choice of speaking to the waiter in French (“?como estas?”) or Hebrew. Naturally, we jumped at the chance to speak Hebrew. Did you read me?? We were HAPPY and GRATEFUL to speak Hebrew. Someone please tell my ulpan teacher. We also got chance to converse with the Amcha during our stroll around the Jewish Quarter. We passed numerous falafel stands including one that –and let me tell you, it hurt to read this – proclaimed its falafel “The Best in the World!” Um, excusez-moi, Paree? Clearly they have never been to Ofer’s. Or any other falafel stand in all of Israel. Please, Paris. We don’t claim to have awesome macarons. (As TZ-carrying Israelis, we’re not even sure that they qualify as dessert, lacking as they are in yeast dough and chocolate). So just stay away from our falafel.
Then, suddenly, it was time to leave. Pack up our stuff, say "A I R P O R T" really slowly to the cab driver, and head off into the sunrise (the only time we saw sun). All in all, the trip was amazing, but it was also great to come home. To the fam, the world’s actual best falafel, and even to Hebrew.