It was raining, 5 degrees cooler than my weather app told me it would be, and we were hungry.
When I imagined my Parisian vacation, I never thought finding a place to eat would be a problem. Croissants, crepes, fondue, croque-monsieurs, wine, cheese, the options should've been endless! But I didn't speak a word of French and we were on a budget. Not to mention, mealtimes in France run on a very different schedule than what I'm used to.
Breakfast was the easy meal, we could always find a pastry shop and a cup of coffee. Lunch, however, is about a 2 hour window that's easy to miss, after which the restaurants close or stop serving food until dinner time (starting at 7 or 8pm). Which wouldn't be a problem if we weren't on a budget, but instead of popping in to the first appealing restaurant we passed or eating at the expensive tourist traps that are always open, we had to walk blocks and blocks, searching for something we could afford, stopping outside of Pret a Mange for free wifi, googling "Cheapest places to eat in Paris (That are still authentic!), snapping at each other because we were tired, and hungry, away from home, and trying to have a perfect trip.
That rainy night, we walked along the streets of the Latin Quarter. Men stood in the doorways of each little bistro, calling out the finer points of their menus and waving us to come in out of the rain. We soldiered on, unable to justify spending more than 40 euros for dinner in the face of our upcoming cross-country move to LA. Suddenly the owner of a restaurant stepped out onto his empty patio and began his rehearsed speech. We responded with our usual nod and smile and started to continue on our way.
"Come have a drink! We have happy hour!"
We glanced over at the sign. Happy hour had ended an hour ago.
The man smiled. "For you, it's still happy hour."
We took it as a sign. We sat down and ordered a couple of drinks, warmed up, laughed a little, and by the time we were done we could see the glowing sign of a crepe stand just around the corner. After all that walking and searching for the perfect dinner spot, I settled for a Nutella and banana crepe and loved every bite.
Thinking back on the trip, those are my favorite moments. When I felt frustrated or out of my comfort zone, and then stumbled onto some sight or sound or taste that helped me appreciate this wonderful culture I was exploring for the first time.
Enjoy this video shot by my wonderful boyfriend and travel partner Joe Megally, showcasing some of the best moments of our picture perfect trip!