Bonne Annee

Trip Start Dec 30, 2005
Trip End Jan 11, 2006

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Flag of France  ,
Sunday, January 1, 2006

Hmm yesterday was definitely the day that never ended. My first transatlantic flight with an inappropriately old child to be screaming for a good portion of it. Mother and child were both about to be voted off the plane somewhere over Greenland (where it's icy, as opposed to Iceland where it's green). So much fun to be using my French (or what is left of it) and people have been kind to my attempts. I feel like 7 years of schooling in the language has finally paid off, though the academic teachings never prepared me to politely ask a hooker to move aside so I could get into the apartment building.

With three hours left until checking in to our apartment, we found a good lunch at Le Pain Quotidien. Sadly, they have stores in England and the States, but we'll go with this being more authentic, for the sake of it being on the Montorgueil street market if nothing else. Sitting outside seemed appropriate due to our baggage but left me susceptible to a crazy woman screaming at me and demanding (taking) food off my plate. She kindly discarded the ham in the middle of the street and proceeded to finish the rest of the sandwich while still glaring at us a half block down.

A nap was in order before heading out for New Year's Eve celebrations. We walked to the Seine and towards the Eiffel Tower for a good view of what we expected to be the most spectacular fireworks show we'd ever seen. About quarter after twelve, and after one shimmering light show, we finally figured out Paris opted out of fireworks for New Year's - as they apparently had the previous 4 or 5. No one sent me the memo. Followed the crowds along the now pedestrian Champs-Elysees, champagne flowing freely amongst strangers and lovers and us dodging a hairy little Frenchman determined to offer Ashley a celebratory kiss. Her phrase to discourage overly friendly men came to her after a half block of him pawing away. C'est la vie...

Today started dark and drizzly. We started at Ile de la Cite having breakfast at a tourist trap. Damn us not having financial power over our thoroughly useless waiter when tip is included in the price. Felt the need to hit up a souvenir shop in search of small shiny objects that were (while still overpriced) better than similar things in American boutiques. Notre Dame loomed over us closer than we thought and we stumbled on it earlier than anticipated (cutting our hunt for shiny objects short). Even for it being cold and rainy, one of few things open in the city brought out the throngs of tourists. It felt sooo disrespectful to be taking photos (allowed) inside but god (yes you, God) it was unbelievable and glad to have the reminders on film. The most beautiful architecture, glass and sanctuary all in the name of organized religion. Catholics know how to do it up in style. The tourists cheapened the experience but I feel so honored to have been able to see it.

Walked through St. Germain-de-Pres (the Cambridge to a Boston) and I got us turned around. Map blunder #1 for Lee. The weather dropped to freezing by the time we reached La Tour Eiffel, the lines took forever, but it was amazing. Good view of the City of Lights from the top! Like a lot of the Paris attractions though, being around it, experiencing it externally was almost as spectacular as doing it, being in it...

I'm already having serious issues with the European's apparent lack of personal space. I understand, big city, blah blah, but I feel like no matter where I am, what I am waiting for, there's a European (local French or other visitor) on me in some way or another. Is it a lack of respect for someone else's space or a comfort with your fellow man? Don't like.
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