Thursday, November 11, 2004

Paris, France

Two days in Paris. Who would've thought I wouldn't get impressed. I expected Paris to be the world of marvel and high culture. Of course, it didn't help that I was tired as hell, having not slept properly for about 3 days. Did I mention I had two Fridays that week? It still amuses me.

Stays at some hostel in the Monmartre area, metres away from Sacre Coeur.
Settled in at the room and walked up the steps to see the highest point of Paris. It was a Friday afternoon, and by golly, there are a lot of people in Paris. When I had expected Courtney Place on Saturday night, I hadn't even come close. That many people is really quite irritating, scary and mind boggling.

A lot of black people too. African, black as night, but speak French. Funny, and totally unexpected. Chris said it's something to do with some war or revolution in the past, when France lost a lot of its population and had to open its borders to lots of immigrants to boost the economy. French language is the most impossible to understand (maybe after chinese and arabic). One cannot tell when one word/sentence finishes and another begins.

We got some crepes and tea at the touristy area near the Sacre Coeur, then went in search of an internet place as I had promised everyone an email when I arrived and wireless wasn't happening.

Apparently Montmartre is an arty place where residents don't really care about the rest of Paris or France. Probably all BA students :P
There was not a single ATM in sight, no Internet cafes, no Banks, not much in the way of shops. Just little kiosks and a whole pile of Creperies. French keyboards are a nightmare to use if you don't switch to English locale.

Croissants in France are amazing. I never liked them in New Zealand because they're flaky and kind of chewy/hard. In Paris, they were divine, and I'd eat five in one go given the chance.

Finally, made it to bed and was happy as to stretch out on a bed and get a real night's sleep. That didn't last long, as at 7 am, I was awake and rearing to go again.

The Sunday was quite full on. We got some breakfast at the hostel - cereal, bread, croissants, jam, coffee, etc, and set off on our foot voyage around Paris. The only things I really wanted to see were the Catacombs and the Eiffel Tower. When one has only one day to spend, one must get choosy.

Set off in the direction of the catacombs, but kept getting stopped by various other touristy sights. The Opera building was mighty impressive. The Louvre wasn't too pretty from outside, but the glass pyramid is really cool. Lots of people everywhere as expected. Got a coffee outside Louvre. Lots of little bridges across the Seine, and a million of artists trying to sell their wares. I am starting to think they all paint by numbers or from a stencil as a lot of painting are exactly the same.

Checked out the Pantheon, and le Pendule de Foucault was quite interesting, although the area around it was all blocked off - apparently the building is falling apart. Went down to the crypts, but it was just a bunch of caskets and I left.

Had a look at the Luxembourg Garden, but didn't go in. Took some photos outside the Notre Dame. Then grabbed some food at a cafe. At this point, we realised that the Catacombs would be closing in 20 minutes and we were still quite far away. So no skeletons for me. Another time!

Walked along some more, saw the Invalides Hospital, The Military school, and even wanted to visit the Rodin Museum/residence but it was also closed when we got there. Sundays aren't big on long opening hours.

Finally made it to the Eiffel tower and stood in the queue for just about ever. It was all worth it though as the view is amazing. Still, way too many people. I took some photos, will see how they've turned out once I am using my own computer.

Then we walked back to the hostel and got our bags. As I completely screwed up my packing, the bags were massive and heavy, I'm sure Chris got a hernea. We finally made it to the Gare Est and sat around for about an hour waiting for the train to Frankfurt. The trip took 8 hours and it was all sitting down. That didn't fare well with my already sleep starved body, but I guess I made it! Frankfurt was freezing when we arrived at 7am on Monday morning.

The train went through Paris - Reims - Nancy - Strassbourg - Kehl - Karlsruhe - Heidelberg - Darmstadt - Frankfurt.

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