The Eiffel Tower sits silently behind the window of the boat, watching the tourists panic in the rain. Rain drops race down the window, outlining the iron structure. About 90 students and professors had just been funneled into the Bateaux Parisiens, a dinner cruise boat along the Seine River. It is much bigger than I expected with 8 person tables lining the edges of the boat and a bar in the middle.
We sit down at the elegantly set tables, rocking side to side in anticipation of take off. The waiters begin their rounds at the tables, pouring white wine in all the glasses. I take a sip and it’s dry, but very sweet.
The chatter increases as the boat takes off down the river. I look down at my placemat and wish that I actually listened in my cotillion class. 3 forks? Which one am I supposed to use first? Thankfully a girl at my table is a manager of a nice restaurant back home and helped me out (It’s the outside fork first, by the way).
The boat picked up speed and the Eiffel Tower was becoming smaller and smaller. The waiters walked by with large circular trays of mysterious appetizers. They finally reach my table and the first course is served.
The first thing I see is scales. Oh no. Fish. I have a rule that I don’t eat anything that comes from a body of water. Underneath the fish is the main part of the dish: a big, juicy beef stake tomato with vinegar drizzled across. I trade with a girl who accidentally got the vegetarian option. My plan to avoid fish is a success.
I smell the main course before I see it. The savory scent of sweet onion fills the boat. The main course is steak topped with sautéed onions. Unfortunately, it smells better than it tastes. I get a nice arm workout from using a butter knife to saw through the well-done meat. That may be a harsh exaggeration. I’m no chef, that’s for sure.
The refreshing gelato/tart is my favorite part of the meal. You can never have too much gelato. Or dessert for that matter.
The sun breaks through the clouds and highlights the monuments I don’t know the name of. The view from the boat allows for a different perspective. Sitting below street level, the buildings look like they reach for the sky.We were told there would be no dancing. As the meal ended, couples made their way to the dance floor for only a brief moment.
The boat rumbles as we turn back to our familiar spot by the Eiffel Tower. Once again, the large group funnels our way out of the boat like cattle, making way for the next group of nicely dressed tourists. The rain waits for us to get off the boat. Then it pours.
The dinner cruise, bookended by heavy rainfall, will not be remembered for the fabulous food and views. I will remember the moments where we huddled under the one-person umbrella and sprinted to the safety of the bridge; it is my Midnight in Paris moment. I will remember being stuffed in the crowded metro back to Cite Universitaire, praying that I don’t get pickpocketed. Things don’t always go as planned. But, like they say, it’s the journey, not the destination.