October ... in ... Paris ... (sung)
Trip Start Sep 27, 2005
14Trip End Oct 26, 2005
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In fact, I was such a touristy tourist there that I don't have a whole lot to tell you besides about the breathtaking sites I saw.
Oh, except for that I hung out with a professional soccer player on the train there. No, it was not Pelé.
Once there, I again met up with Aussie Jane who was there with her Auntie Jean. We Eiffel Tower-ed it like pros and I hung out later in a cave below the hostel with a few dozen German students and a €1.50 bottle of French champagne.
The Louvre is Louvre-ly. Saw the Mona Lisa, learned a cool story about her. Also saw the largest painting in the world. Seriously, it was ginormous.
Arc de Triomphe was triumphant, Sacre Coeur was sacred, Champs-Élysées was simply the champ
While waiting by the Eiffel Tower one night for some friends of Jenny's, I talked with an old Russian lady, hung out with the guys selling those flapping mechanical birds, and watched 10,000 roller skaters fly by with 2 au pairs from Virginia.
On my last day there, with an overnight train to catch, I didn't have a place to leave my bag and the train station didn't have any lockers so I took a page from the Kris Cuaresma-Primm Book of European Travel and stashed my fortunately-leaf-colored-backpack amongst some shrubs outside the station. Worked great, only thing close to a hitch was when people started questioning why I was rooting around in the shrubbery when I came to try and find it later that evening.
Probably the coolest building I saw in Paris was Notre Dame. I was lucky to catch the only English-speaking tour that week and there's so much behind the place that my mind was blown 6 ways from Sunday. The grandness of the place was palpable, even after being close to churched-out more than halfway through my trip.
Notre Dame is on Ile de la Cité, a small island in the Seine that was where the city got its start, and the bridges leading off it and the banks around it were filled with musicians, artists, sunbathers, and happy wanderers. Sitting on a bridge wall in the sun with a hazelnut ice cream cone dripping down my wrist and listening to a French New Orleans jazz band croon "Georgia on My Mind" is still vividly joyful in my mind.
Before I had to leave I got sip mint tea and read in la Grande Mosquée de Paris before strolling through Jardin des Plantes (French for "big-ass garden") on my way our of Paris and onto Rome.
Moral of the story: Tourist traps are sometimes tourist traps for a reason ... when something is so magnificent, who wouldn't want to go see it?