Paris/Chicago Day 10 - Rome Girl or Paris Girl??

February 12, 2012

I was told early on that you could either be a Rome Girl or a Paris Girl. After spending time in both cities, I don't know if I'm any closer to knowing which Girl I am. But I do like to compare and contrast, so here we go...

Hotel

We had little choice in either hotel. It's not a complaint, really. It just is what it is. And neither of the hotels were bad. They just both had their issues.

Rome - the room was bigger, the beds were as hard as a rock, the bar/dining area was much bigger and served us some fantastic food and drinks. But Adele was crazy allergic to the room and the hot water was nonexistent for a while in the morning. The hotel was very centrally located to the Metro and the neighborhood was very homey with fantastic restaurants nearby.

Paris - the room was smaller, but the beds were very comfortable. The bathroom was teeny-tiny, but the shower was powerful AND hot. I was impressed by the breakfast, even though they just had hard and soft boiled eggs, plus the pastries. A waiter came around each morning and offered coffee and tea. And we really couldn't deny the location. It was near a Metro line that was easy enough to get anywhere.

Rooms - Advantage Rome. The beds may have been harder and the shower may have been colder, but the hotel was just more stylish and classy. Sure, the building and logo seemed to be the same as it was in 1972, but that's not what we saw on the inside.

Food

Rome - there is NOTHING bad I can say about the food. Even at a touristy and probably average restaurant, we ate fantastically well. And at the above average restaurants we ate even better. It also didn't matter what we spent. The best meal we had was probably our first one at Cacio e Pepe. We went in with Bourdain's recommendation and had no concept as to what was on the menu (later we learned the menu was on the wall...we missed it in our delirium state of exhaustion). We paid 18€ and ate like kings. Where Rome lacked was more of the desserts. Don't get me wrong, the gelato was good. But it was too freaking cold out for gelato.

Paris - the food was all very good. I had no complaints. I think our downfall in Paris was that we didn't plan places to go. We expected they would jump out at us (or hoped there would be an episode of The Layover in Paris). We also didn't have specific daily plans. That would have helped us better. Though the food was all very good. The crowning meal had to be at L'Atelier du Joel Robuchon. And it was expected to be the best meal. It did not disappoint. Where Paris excelled was the desserts...the pastries...the bread...the eggs. The expectation was that there would be a boulangerie or a patisserie on every corner. I actually ate less pastries than I expected. In the long run, I guess that's a good thing. But it was mildly disappointing. I wanted more. I still want more...

Food - Advantage Rome. Quite frankly, I can't get the idea of the pasta out of my head. And the pizza. I want to eat this every day. When I think of the food we ate, I think of Rome immediately.

Things to Do

Rome - Rome had some massive monuments, but once the Colosseum and Trevi Fountain have been seen, it felt like we'd seen it all. I know there is still so much to do, but when you can't go inside of the monuments (like we couldn't), it gave us the feeling that we had run out of things to do in the short amount of time we had in the city. Now, this was probably a good thing, seeing Adele got sick near the start of the trip. Our Pompeii Day was a good break from Rome, but a bad day for us health-wise (mental and physical). The good part about Rome is that I know I can go back to see what I missed and I can use Rome to be a jumping off point for other points in Italy. And that is a win in my book.

Paris - Holy Crap, I could spend a ton more time in Paris. I feel like we only saw a fraction of what we could see in the city. More time at the Louvre. Sacre Coeur, we completely didn't see this one. Shopping...barely happened. I feel like I could spend years there and not see it all.

Things to Do - Advantage Paris. There's just no comparison. Paris has more to see and do.

Ambience

Rome - Maybe it was the cold and snow. Maybe people were just staying indoors. But I expected Rome to be more frenetic than it actually was. It actually seemed slightly calm. My favorite visual possibly of the whole trip was on the bus ride into Rome from the airport. There was snow on the ground and people were outside the Colosseum throwing snowballs at each other. Sure, it was the first snow they'd had since 1986 (according to our tour guide on the Scavi Tour), but everyone seemed to be having fun. The rest of the time, I didn't feel like it was an actual working city. The people were wonderful and super pleasant, but I didn't get the vibe of the city and the people who lived there. Again, I blame the snow.

Paris - When we got into Paris, you could feel it. PARIS!! It was electric. There was more hustle and bustle. People were going along their lives at a decent clip (maybe not as much as Chicago, but Chicago folks are fast). It was international. It was metropolitan. It was a city. And in the midst of all of that were the Parisians. There were all types...the couple making out (hard) on the Metro. The dude who whipped out his junk and started peeing in the middle of the day on the Metro (not cool and not something I wanted to see on a Saturday morning). The people just going to and from work on a daily basis. The stereotype of the aloof French wasn't something we actually encountered. Everyone was friendly and courteous. Maybe it was because Adele spoke some French. Maybe we just felt friendly and people fed on that. Either way, I appreciated it.

Ambiance - Advantage Paris. No question.

So what does that mean?? Am I a Rome Girl or a Paris Girl?? Can I be both?? I want to take home the best of both places. Italian food. I want to make it and make it well. I am now bound and determined to perfect a red sauce (already had a recipe sent my way). Bread. I have some great recipes and can make a decent bread. But now I want to step up my game. Macarons. I tried making them once and the crown came off of my tooth. I haven't tried since. No, I don't think the crown came off because I made macarons, but still...I became wary. I want to pour wine from carafes. I want to dress up a little bit more (give me time on this one...Rome wasn't built in a day). I want to redo my kitchen with a jaunty Parisian theme. I want to linger over a two hour lunch or dinner. But most of all, I feel the need to learn a language.

As I said when I left South America, I could not be more grateful for Adele and her ability to speak Spanish. She also has a bit of knowledge of French and it was highly appreciated. I struggled with the language since I only knew a few words. I could muster Bonjour and Merci, but past that, I was lost. I also kept wanting to say basic words in other languages. I was kind of joking when in one of the posts, I went through the many ways I know how to say yes. But it was a problem when I wanted to say Please in Paris and ended up using Por Favor. Sigh...I don't know if I just don't have a mind for language (cue your own joke here) or if I just haven't tried. Elias and I are going to go back to Paris in two years. I told him that he and I would learn French together. Now I'm thinking we need to start sooner rather than later. So get ready, Elias...classes will start soon.

I still haven't answered the question, though. I thought I was a Rome Girl. But the more I think about it, I might be a Paris Girl. Maybe I'm just a Travel Girl. I'll pick up bits and pieces from everywhere and come back with the best of everywhere. I like that plan quite a bit.

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