Rest day and La Grande Galèrie de l’Évolution, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturel, Jardins des Plantes.

La Grande Galèrie de l’Évolution, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturel, Jardins des Plantes.

highlights: Going to the Alps; Volunteering at a Ski Chalet with an English family; Day off in Paris; Went to a bar all by my lonesome, made no friends; Scary underpass at night which creeped me out mega; Finally had Asian food, omg; Galèrie de l’Évolution; A full taxidermy safari on show; A dark hall of extinct animals, just in case you weren’t sad enough.

This is a bit of a catch up blog, as I haven’t been writing for a few days.

To be honest, I didn’t really get up to a lot before today, just really taking it easy now. Six weeks of travel does take a lot of effort and it can be exhausting, so chilling out ain’t so bad.

I secured a placement with a host family in the French Alps! So I will be heading there on Tuesday, March 4. They own a ski chalet that they are renovating, so they will be needing some help with that. In return for my muscles and help, they will be providing accommodation and some meals (I guess most meals).

There is another guy staying with them at the same time as me, though he arrives a day earlier. I hope we make a good team and make a lot of progress in the renovations so this family can get on with whatever they plan to do with the chalet.

So on one of my day’s off, I spent nearly the entire day researching how to get myself from Paris to Aime, where they live. I worked out that the SNCF, TER and TGV (fast train) will get me there in approximately 7-8 hours. There will be 2 connections, so I need to make sure I am alert and ready to jump off the train at the correct station.

The full fare would have been €95 aller-simple (one-way), but I chose to purchase a Carte-Jeune, which is a special membership card for young people 27 and under, allows access to reduced ticket prices often at 50%! So the cost was €50 for the Carte Jeune, but that meant that my ticket was half-price, so while I don’t make a real saving on the ticket now, all future tickets for the next 365 days will be at reduced prices. Yay, go me!

Since I did not leave the hostel for the whole day, I decided to go out at night. I left quite late after I had dinner, around 21:15, and headed for Chatelet, which is the station most central in the city (for pubs and bars and the like).

I had googled a bar called Sly, supposed to be where all the young people hang out. I went there, ordered myself a drink and sat at a table by myself. It was really the first time I had ever done something like that on my own- a very strange feeling indeed. But being Europe and people not heading out to town until after midnight, the place was basically a dead-zone. So I finished my beer and went home, I was tired anyway.

Did I mention my hostel is 10 minutes from Porte de Vanves metro station? I have to cross and underpass which is approximately 100m long, it reminds me of a scary alleyway where druggos hang out and homeless people snatch handbags from unsuspecting women.

Thankfully for me there was noone in this tunnel at 23:00 when I passed through. Though it was probably safe to do so at night, I still felt myself being very cautious there.

After waking up at like 09:15 or something (I am really loving the whole not having to wake up at a certain time to be somewhere or do something), I had a shower, brushed my teeth and got myself all ready for a morning of skype sessions with Ross and later on my Mom.

It was awesome to catch up with Ross and Lizzie. I miss them so. Hopefully it won’t be too long until they can join me over here in Europe, somewhere, someday.

Then I had arranged a skype call with Mom and Dad. Well, first of all, fail. The version of skype that was installed on their machine was so outdated it could not accept video calls with me. LEL

Dad fell asleep, so he couldn’t help Mom to update it. We ended up just doing the chat/messaging thing. Always lovely to hear of news from home and what everyone is up to- almost like I don’t need to come home ever again, ha!

After skype, I went out to find a Borne Libre Service machine, which is an auto-teller that dispenses train tickets etc. I walked all the way to the Monoprix near Plaisance, which was about 15 minutes from my hostel and was faced with closed doors- why? Because it was bloody Sunday and of course everything is closed on a Sunday. Grr.

I went down in the Plaisance metro station and asked the attendant if I could pick up my tickets from her. She directed me to go to Montparnasse-Bienvenüe. I did and then an officer, who could tell that French was not my first language, helped me to get to the right place. The Montparnasse-Bienvenüestation is massive, it has 5 connection metro lines as well as a coach station and lines for all the trains that go to the rest of France.

I got my tickets and was on my merry way to La Grande Galèrie de l’Évolution, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturel, in the Jardin des plantes. I decided to get off at a station just before the Garden of Plants, so I could walk up and check out the locale. Place Monge was probably not the best station to disembark at, as I spent nearly 25 minutes walking around trying to find my way around. Mind you, I would glance at Google Maps, assume I was facing the right way and follow my nose. Lel, well that was a massive fail.

I thought I would treat myself to a restaurant lunch today, so I went hunting for Asian food. Didn’t have to go far before I stumbled upon a little tuckshop style restaurant, where you just point and they serve it up.

I chose the Formule à €6,80, which included 3 Raviolis and a main dish with either fried rice or noodles. I was a little confused with the Ravioli thing, until the lady indicated that Ravioli was dumpling. I was excited, yes, I missed my dumplings. I had Hargao and Siu-mai. Yes, I did. Drowned them in Rooster sauce and everything. I even got the rooster sauce on my shirt, yep.

For my main, I chose the Porc Lacqué and noodles. Basically, it was Char-siu (bbq pork) on top of hokkien noodles. Yummo.

When I finally made it to the Jardin des plantes, I heard a little girl squeal in excitement: On verra les dragons? (Will we see the dragons?) to which her grandmother responded, Oui, mais on ne les appelle pas les dragons, on les appelle comment? (Yes, but we don’t call them dragons, what do we call them?). The little girl seemed confused, but found the words: Euh, les di-no-sauuurrrrrs? I am sure you can guess what she said.

I got in for free, yep. I love this, I reckon I’ve saved like a few hundred euros thanks to my visa, which I am sure you already know how much I love it.

As I passed through the turnstile, I felt like I was immediately in my element. There were bones, there were taxidermy models, there were charts about prehistoric things, charts about more recent things. All these together told the (rough) story of evolution.

On the second level, there was a full safari of taxidermy animals. I loved the baby giraffe resting on the ground, what a cutie!

The third level would be the one to nearly break my spirit. The museum was a big square, but only the first and second floors were full floors, level three was skirting the sides and had a massive void in the middle so you could see down to the lower levels.

I took the elevator to Level three. Fine. I walk out and not a metre from the lift is the railing. I could see down three levels, this scared me. I found it hard to walk, I knew that there was so much height beneath my feet. My fear of heights kicked in and jelly legs, but with the little courage I could muster I made it across the floor and around the otherside.

The highlight of the museum for me would be the taxidermy safari and the hall of the eteint (extinct). There was a Tasmanian Tiger in this hall, it reminded me of home because duh, Australia.

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