Monday, May 03, 2010
Paris...Ooh La La!
Paris was absolutely gorgeous! The city is beautiful, and the weather was idyllic with highs in the 60's and 70's. There is so much to see there, and while we crammed in as much as possible, there are still more places that I want to see on my next trip.
We arrived so early on Saturday morning, most everything wasn't yet open. We walked down to the Champs Elysees and saw the magnificent Arc de Triomphe that Napolean had built to celebrate his troops successes. We found coffee -- I LOVED their coffee, so strong and smooth -- and walked down to the Seine and past the Eiffel Tower, although we saved going up for another day. That first day, we also took a lovely boat cruise, which provided me with a good basic understanding of how the city was laid out. We had a fantastic dinner that night in the Latin Quarter, but the beef left me with a massive tooth ache where the temporary crown is. I drugged myself up for the night and was able to keep it from getting that bad again by only chewing on one side of my mouth for the rest of the trip.
On Sunday, we went shopping, and we enjoyed exploring the little boutiques on Rue de Temple. I navigated the subway system to get us there, and I was impressed with its cleanliness, smooth ride and frequent trains. It was a very easy system to manage. After shopping, we toured Notre Dame, and we were allowed access even though a service was being held. We quietly walked around and respected the sanctity of the church, only taking photos without flash inside. Then we headed over to the Eiffel Tower, where after a quick line for tickets and a cursory look in our bags, we were whisked up to the incredible views of the city. We met some other Americans there, including two women from Houston and a family from Las Vegas, who are in Paris for a year to "learn the language." I envy them!
On Monday, we went to the Museum d'Orsay, but it was closed. And unfortunately, we ran out of time to go back. We walked over to the Louvre, which was open. The garden was fantastic, and I remembered my sister Steph mentioning to me how much she enjoyed it. The Louvre is absolutely massive, so we saw the two pieces we most wanted to see -- the Mona Lisa and the Venus di Milo -- and enjoyed several other pieces to get to those and back.
Monday night we had an amazing dinner at a restaurant that was recommended to me named for the chef, Jacques Cagna. Every course was a delight, but I especially enjoyed the escargot, which were served in mushroom caps and small boiled potatoes, and the crab bisque. After dinner, I was pretty tuckered out, but NM wanted to get a drink at the hotel bar. I started talking to a couple of men beside us, and played "wingman" for her, talking to the late-40's English married guy so she could flirt with the young French guy. I had a good conversation at least, but our whole party was repeatedly interrupted by this obnoxiously drunk Australian woman, who was draping and pressing herself against the two guys. Her friends tried ineffectually to pull her away, but she kept coming back. The young Frenchman was sweet and tried to calm her down when she got to the point of tears. The woman was really embarrassing herself. It was pathetic. But I did get a cute picture out from the evening:
Tuesday, our last day in Paris, we went to Sacre Couer, which is high on a hill in the Northern section of the city. There are many steep steps to get to the cathedral, and on the steps were mimes, sketch artists and musicians, along with groups of tourists enjoying the view. After a moving walk around the sanctuary and taking pictures of the gargoyles on the exterior, we walked down to the Moulin Rouge.
Back to the Champs Elysees for lunch and some shopping, we headed over to the Arc de Triomphe again to walk up 284 more steps to reach the summit and enjoy the view.
But the highlight of Paris for me was getting to meet and hang out with Irish Parisienne, my fellow singleton blogger and virtual friend for the past three years. It was exciting to meet her in person, and we hit it off immediately. She brought along a friend of hers (a girl originally from San Francisco) and we were joined by another Irish guy, and much later her boy-of-the-moment Frenchman. Irish Parisienne and I could have talked all night, filling in the details for each other about our blog stories, but out of respect for the others, we joined the larger conversation. Still, she asked me to regale them with a couple of my stories, and they responded with the appropriate exclamations and laughter.
The next morning, we headed to the train station, on our way to Amsterdam.