Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Europe 2011, Part V: Day 2 in Paris

As I mentioned in Part II of this series of posts about my trip, I didn't blog or post anything online about the trip prior to it happening, nor did I do any From-The-Road -type notes. I did, however, take mental notes about what sort of facebook statuses or tweets I might have created while I was gone. You can find these brief anecdotes - sometimes helpful hints for taking your own trip! - in the remainder of my trip posts; they will be BOLD.

I slept in. When I woke up, Darin was getting ready to leave and let me know that I should do my best to take advantage of the hotel's breakfast. I missed it -- sleep was more delicious to me in that moment.

When I did finally get out of bed, I took some photos of our dainty hotel room, as well as a few shots from the balcony.




For those keeping track, we stayed in the 8th Arrondissement (a fact I didn't know until just now when I looked it up).

Everyone told me that Paris is a filthy city, but I have NEVER seen so many trash trucks. Seems pretty tidy to me.

After my shower I watched some French television and rested, waiting for Darin to get back so that we could explore the city together. At about noon, he arrived and we set off. It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm. We were told that the days we were in France were the country's first of the year of sunshine and warmth, which was apparent from the throngs of people outside, sunworshipping.

First thing I noticed: the inaccuracy of our map.

The map shows this:

A more accurate rendering, with all existing side streets in red, might look more like this:

The second thing I noticed:

Bonjour!

How I love the way Parisians greet others with this word: presented as a gift, floating perfectly out of their mouths in a sing-song bubble. Greeting people was one of my favorite parts of being in Paris.

Parisians aren't rude. In fact, I find them to be more than extremely accommodating and helpful.

We first walked to the Place de la Concorde
(public square: visit via your time machine to watch people experience the guillotine),
through the Jardin des Tuileries


(public park/gardens),
and to the Louvre.
Here's the thing about the Louvre: It's humongous. Like, painfully huge. So Darin and I did what any good American tourists would do. We saw this:
this:
and this:
which is directly across the room from this:
which is just a portion of the crowd straining to get a glance at this:
And then we left, but not before admiring this:
Once outside we decided to walk to Notre Dame (not the one in Indiana, that would be a stupid walk). As we crossed one of the many bridges over the Seine, we ran into a few people from our group, one of which was having his 'portrait drawn by a real Frenchman'. In essence, it was a caricature which, while it looked like a caricature, looked nothing like the guy from our group. The Real Frenchman finished off the drawing with an Eiffel Tower in the background and then told our travel-mate that it would cost 35 Euro. Ahem, what? We laughed and walked away. We later found out that The Drawing By The Authentic Frenchman was sold for 3 Euro.
We didn't climb any towers at Notre Dame, but we did go inside. And when we did, I thanked my lucky stars because I don't know if this kind of thing is going on all the time, but a choir was rehearsing and WOW.
Hearing that was just what I needed (I had been in a grumpy mood, more on that later, if I remember to write about it).
Flying Buttresses!

We crossed the street to visit Trendy Bookstore
and then tried to catch a cab. When you're in Paris, look for a Taxi Stand (I want to say there's a blue circular sign which reads 'Taxi'?) near intersections. Taxis will be lined up in the order they arrived, so go to the front of the line to get the next available taxi. They're expensive, but sometimes, when you need a break from walking, well...it's what you've got to do.

If you want to know what the driving is like in Paris, watch any episode of The Amazing Race.

We exited our taxi near the steps in front of Sacré-Cœur .

Upon finding a place to sit on the steps we were happy to take in the view as well as admire the talent being displayed, such as boys dancing and jumping whilst manipulating a soccer ball to do things you wouldn't think would be possible. Always a show to see in Paris. Thirty seconds after we sat down, two gentlemen took their seats to our left; each was carrying a guitar which was plugged into its own mini-amp, slung around the respective shoulder of its owner. After settling in they began their song. It was the mid-'90s crap-anthem 'Breakfast at Tiffany's', and their version lasted approximately twelve minutes. I don't think we had laughed that hard in a long time.

The quintessential Parisian song: " . . . shee sayed I theenk I ehrhememberh the feelm and . . ."

We toured the church (NO CAMERAS!) before making our way down the steps as the sun was setting.

We browsed the touristy trinket shops and even discovered a store which is set up exactly like Orem's Old Navy.
Nearly exhausted, we walked to dinner, which was so lovely. Though I don't remember, I'm pretty sure we had fish. For dessert, I followed Courtney's advice when she said, 'At least once, try a restaurant where they offer cheeses post dinner. They will wheel out a tray and it will smell like sewer and taste divine.' She was right about that. The sewer smell? It lasted every millisecond until the cheese landed on my tongue and then...oh my. Or whatever the French phrase is for 'Oh My!' It was perfect.

Post-dinner, we nearly fell asleep at our table. It is assumed that you will take three hours or so for your entire dinner experience, so I caught the waiter's attention and said, "L'addition, s'il vous plait." We stopped for eclairs-to-go on the way back to our hotel, and upon arriving at our bed, crashed.

7 comments:

Azúcar said...

Now I'll think of Paris every time I go into that Old Navy. Hee.

Fig said...

Yeah, the Old Navy line ... ZING!

Soooo jealous of the choir-practice-listening.

Dixie Mom said...

I felt the same way about Parisians when I went a couple of years ago...they were all friendly and helpful. None of them were the way I heard they were.
We stayed in a hotel right next to the Sacre Couer!

~j. said...

Azu'car - AS WELL YOU SHOULD.

~j. said...

Fig - Honestly. They kept going over the same portion of a song, and I didn't care, I just wanted them to keep making that sound.

~j. said...

Dixie Mom - what a great location for a hotel! Did you go in the Spring?

Steph said...

Oh my friend. It does my heart good to read your posts about your trip. I can't think of someone else who deserved such an amazing experience. And I loved your pictures.