Friday, April 18, 2008

The Paris Saga: Day II

The second day, we woke up at 6:30am, showered and got ready, then went downstairs for breakfast. Since we were technically there for Jon's conference, we were given meal vouchers for each of the days, and the food was AMAZING. Mmm. Fruit and "creme fraiche" (a delicious topping somewhere between whipped cream and sour cream), yummy crepe-like pancakes, all sorts of cheeses and breads, scrambled eggs, bacon, sauteed mushrooms, yogurts, and of course, your typical muffins and pastries and cereals. Except they were FRENCH muffins and pastries and cereals. In Paris. Which makes them at least ten times better. Anyway, every day, I made myself what became known as a "Jessie Sandwich" with a hard roll, bacon, and mushrooms. Followed closely by some of the yummy pancakes, joined shortly thereafter by some fresh fruit and creme, and topped off with the best yogurt EVER. And a "pain chocolat" or two.


(Me strategically placing the mushrooms in my Jessie Sandwich.)


This was our walking day. It was also one of the coldest days in history. We started at the hotel, walked to the Arc de Triomphe, and continued down the Champs-Elysees. Turns out, though, that NOTHING is open in France before 10:00, and our noses were so frozen that we couldn't even think about dilly-dallying for an hour for the shops to open. So we booked it all the way down to Place de la Concorde - this 20-acre area filled with fountains and an awesome, 250-ton obelisk that was brought in from Egypt way back in the day. In one piece.





(A view of the Champs-Elysees from Place de la Concorde, looking back at the Arc de Triomphe.)


Continuing in a straight line put us in the Tuilerie gardens, which seemed to go on forever (it was FREEZING), before we arrived at the Louvre.


(I'm so mad that this picture is so blurry. But our batteries kept dying and it's a wonder that I got any picture at all. I'm not kidding you, it was from the cold. We kept pulling the batteries out and warming them in our hands, then they would work for a single picture, then the camera would die again.)


Here's one from inside the pyramid entrance.


Okay, so, first I have to apologize to my art-major sister, Annie, who would probably spend at least 2 or 3 days at the Louvre if she was in Paris as long as I was...but we were the lame tourists that went to see the good stuff. And we were in and out in about two hours. And even then...I felt like the life had been sucked out of me. I know I'm running the risk of sounding uncultured, but just let me explain. There were sooo many people, and we were sooooo tired already, and the museum is crazy-huge, and there were so many flights of stairs... Anyway, here are the highlights.


(Venus de Milo)



(Just so happy to be there)



(Winged Victory --This was my favorite thing that we saw there.)



(She's behind glass in the middle of a huge room, full of a thousand people, being held back a safe distance of about fifteen feet by velvet ropes)



(Michaelangelo)



(Cupid and Psyche...I keep typing "Psycho" on accident and it makes me laugh)


We spent a good half-hour searching for the Code of Hammurabi, only to find that it had been moved to the exhibit we hadn't paid for.

So, my sister is really going to disown me...we went on a trek to find the French paintings, but no one warned us ahead of time that they were on the ninetieth floor of the museum. We just kept following the signs up a ridiculous amount of stairs, until we finally reached what we were SURE must have been the top, only to discover AT LEAST two more flights. So, we gave up, and went back down the way we'd come. We were so unmotivated after the disappearance of Hammurabi's Code.

And on our way out of the maze we'd found ourselves in, we discovered that the only escalator that could take us where we needed to go was out of service. So, unfortunately, Jon got smashed in ANOTHER elevator, only this time it wasn't the doors, it was two huge Scandinavian women that didn't realize their combined bulk. We got in first, followed by about six other people, then these two ladies came running through the hallway and blocked the doors from closing,and forced the group into a corner as they squeezed in. Someone pushed the button for the lobby.....and we waited. ....and waited. And waited....and the doors wouldn't close. So we waited. And someone looked to make sure the button was illuminated, and we all looked at each other, wondering who was going to be the first to let these large late-comers know that they had exceeded the maximum weight capacity, and that we weren't going anywhere until they got off. By this time a huge crowd has gathered, waiting for the next ride down, and it was soooo awkward waiting for these ladies to work it out in their minds that they needed to leave, or else no one was getting to the lobby. But finally they gave up and stepped off, and Jon hit the "door close" button as fast as lightning. And we were on our way.

Coming out the museum, the plan was to head across the bridge to Notre-Dame.


(Pont Neuf, supposably the world's oldest bridge, or the oldest bridge in Paris...one of the two)


But on our way, one of the best things that happened on our entire trip happened. We were walking along with a purpose, when we hear someone call out behind us "Wait! You drop this?" So we turn back and this lady trots up to us, holding out a gold men's ring. So we go "umm..no, it's not ours" and she's like (I don't know what her accent was, it wasn't French though) "Okay, but you keep it, my gift to you". And Jon's like "no, you found it, you keep it" and she's like "no, I cannot wear jewelry, it hurts my skin". So just to appease her, Jon takes the ring and puts it on, she shook our hands, and we turned and took a few steps away. But she calls out to us again, and approaches us, and goes "Very good luck for you. Good luck for you, good luck for me?" ...(we're just as confused as you are at this point). "Umm...what?" "Yes, good luck for you, good luck for me? I give ring, you give something for food?" (Now we're even more confused, because this lady did NOT look homeless, she was actually wearing kind of nice clothes and a cute hat and scarf). So Jon's like "you need food? We have food in our backpack". So he pulls his bag off and unzips it, pulls out a granola bar, and hands it to her. She held the thing away from her a bit, with it resting on her palm, and just stared at it in confusion for a few moments, before looking up at us and saying "no....you have money?" So my hero, Jon, goes "oh, nope, no money, just food", and takes the ring off his finger, hands it to her, PLUCKS the granola bar out of her hands, and walks away.

So, anyway, we ended up at Notre-Dame (I just googled our route and it was FOUR-POINT-ONE miles from our hotel to this point), wandered around inside...


...took a picture of my favorite gargoyle ever...


...and wandered around to the back, to see the buttresses that everyone's always talking about.


And on the side, there was a really cute tree with pink blossoms.


It was way too cold to stand in the hour-long line to go up the towers, and way too cold for Berthillon ice cream (the world's oldest ice cream, or the best ice cream, or the oldest ice cream in Paris, or something), so we promised ourselves we'd go back a different day, and gladly paid the 3 euros for the metro ride back to the Arc de Triomphe. This time around, the shops on the Champs-Elysees were open, so we walked halfway down again, then back up the other side. By this point, we noticed a huge crowd forming alongside the sides of the streets, so we decided to take a seat on a bench to see what all the fuss was about. I'm going to be completely honest, we waited for a good fifteen minutes before finally asking someone what we were waiting for. It just so happened that we were accidentally at the beginning of the Champs-Elysees JUST as the Olympic Torch was about to make it's way around the corner. So that's what all the flags and chanting were all about. Here's a little video clip of the actual event. A couple of things: First, this is the torch escort just as it's about to round the corner onto the Champs-Elysees. Second, my camera cut out (stupid batteries) just before the torch made it's way onto the actual Champs-Elysees. Third, things got REALLY crazy right after the camera cut out. Seriously. And fourth, you can't actually see the torch in this video. At all. That being said, if you'd still like to watch the video, you may.

video

All these people were chasing the escort and screaming and booing and throwing Molotov cocktails. That's another thing you can't see in the video, because it probably didn't happen (the cocktails). But it really was scary right as the torch bearer rounded the corner. People came running by, and for about fifteen very scary seconds, I thought that Jon and I had been separated, and that I was lost, until I looked behind me and he was standing on the bench a few feet away.

Oh, and like five minutes after all the hullabaloo, this float came driving past. Mind you - the ONLY float that there was. It was the most random thing ever.


On our way back to our hotel, we stopped at our favorite sandwich and pastry place and got an amazing dinner of baguette/ham/gruyere sandwiches, desserts, and sodas to take back to our room and eat. This apple tart was the best thing I ate the entire trip.


We took a nap, then went to the market for water, chocolate, and cookies. Back at our hotel, we plotted our next day using the metro map. I should mention that by the end of the second day, I still hadn't seen the whole Eiffel Tower yet - just the very tip of it from behind rows of buildings.

And... to finish of this extremely long day (the most tiring of the entire trip), Jon made me laugh with the following dialogue.

Jon, while drinking unflavored water: "I should have gotten the orange-peach flavor."
Me, disgusted, because I hate flavored water: "Ew. I wouldn't drink it."
Jon: "I know, I would have gotten YOU a regular water, and I'd be drinking orange-peach, and we'd BOTH be happy, instead of one of us being happy and the other being mizzzerable."

TO BE CONTINUED...

4 comments:

  1. oh man. i await each day in great anticipation! seriously. and i'm trying to stifle my laughs because jake is taking a nap in the other room! ha. and i can't believe you were only in the louvre for two hours! ahhhhhhhhhhhh..........

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  2. Corinne just said I look like the goofy gargoyle. But I can't see it.

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  3. Jon + Elevator = Happy ending

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  4. You know, the gargoyle does kind of remind me of Kyle, now that you mention it...

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