Thursday, September 2, 2010

Paris Day 1

Today was our first day in Paris, and after a lousy nights sleep (we were overly optimistic that our tiredness from traveling would get us through and therefore neglected to take a sleeping pill), we awoke to the bustling sounds of the city. We wandered down through the neighborhood and scoped out a couple of places, like a laundromat, the Centre George Pompidou, and the neighborhood patisserie where a very nice French lady gave us our first real taste of Paris in the form of a croissant au buerre (buttered croissant). It was so yummy I wanted to cry.

We determined that we should walk to the Eiffel Tower today, and we did, with a few stops along the way. When we were in Japan, we were introduced to the French macaroons which are now all the craze. But did you know that they make large ones? We got a large one, and it was red, and it was delicious!

We first stopped at Notre Dame cathedral which was mind bogglingly huge. Though ornate and beautiful, there is a definite sense that it is not cared for, or that the sheer volume of foot traffic makes it impossible to retain its original function. A beautiful place to worship for those of faith, but far too noisy and busy if you need to really dig in and confess some sins. There's little silence for meditation.

We wandered through various streets and eventually decided to baffle a poor waiter by accepting his invitation to his cafe where Gregory had a hot chocolate and I had a glass of bordeaux which we sipped over a cheese plate. Tres bon!

We wandered further down the road and happened on the much talked about Musee d'Orsay, which is housed in an old train station. We bought our museum passes and wandered through. The displays were largely impressionists and post impressionists. I found myself particularly taken with Renoir and anything with blood in it. Gregory really liked Van Gogh. Some of the museum was closed due to new exhibit installations in progress. It was still amazing, but we got the sense that when completely open the museum would be incredible.

Sunset was nearing and we finally walked to the far end of the park or mall that housed the Eiffel Tower. We thought it would be more fun to approach it from the east and watch it loom larger and larger. We bought tickets to go to the very top, or the summet. We were there for an hour waiting for the sun to set and it was beautiful and the wind was cold. There were people there from all over the world and at night every hour for the first five minutes the entire tower sparkles.

It was almost ten thirty by the time we got to the bottom and were on our way to a restaurant for dinner. We found a place just across the river that served hot chocolate as such: an empty mug, small cup of melted chocolate, a small pitcher of hot milk, and you stir it all together yourself. The chocolate was amazing on its own. For dessert we had creme brûlée. It was so yummy I though I would cry.

Epilogue: On our return trip to the hotel, there was a group of Russians, at least it sounded like they were speaking Russian, they were quite accomplished vocalists and were entertaining the whole subway car with folk songs in four part harmony. It was so cool! I noticed one of the girls was passing a hat so I gave them a couple of euros.

A la prochain!

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