miércoles, 8 de abril de 2009

Blog du jour x 2

So my mission to stay on top of blogging throughout my journey in Paris clearly failed. Here goes the 2-day summary of probably the most amazing city I’ve ever seen (oh no, I’m going soft):

After the nauseating day trip that was Versailles, we spent our last 2.5 days in Paris. Wow. This city is something else. I really DO NOT want to be one of those bloggers, like I said, who just weeps at the foot of every monument and point of interest, but I will say this: Paris is absolutely gorgeous and more than I ever thought it would be. Okay, donezo with that.

The first thing we did Sunday was tour the Catacombs. Now, if you know anything about me, you know that I might be one of the most squeamish people on Earth. Even movies and shows where I am 100% aware that the goriness is fake, I’m crying. Needless to say, I don’t know WHAT possessed me to want to go to the Catacombs. But we did. To get there, you have to descend very spirally steps that drop you in a dimly lit corridor. All the place was missing was an owl hooting or, like, organs playing – it was like a Goosebumps book that I couldn’t escape from (Remember those ones where you choose your fate at the end of every page? Yeah, that’s what it felt like. Death was imminent).

Anyways, the first part of the Catacombs wasn’t actually as bad as it seemed it would be– they show remnants of it as an old quarry. Besides being stuck behind a slowly moving group of Germans, it was relatively painless. Soon, however, the last signs of the quarry vanished, and we were walking into another dimly lit room. This time, however, it was filled wall-to-wall with HUMAN SKELETONS. I gotta tell you… the first time you look at these things, they look fake. It’s not just piles and piles of bones like I thought it would be. Someone took the time to stack the bones and skulls into PATTERNS along the walls. The arms/legs/whatever bones are stacked like Lincoln logs, and set inside are skulls forming shapes of things like hearts, anchors, crosses, etc. I feel sorry for the guy who had to do that.

“I heard Jacques got a new job?”
“Oh yeah, he’s making a design out of the skeletal remains of all those people who died from disease a few years back. He’s doing it underground in the old quarry.”

So yeah, I pity the fool who had to do that, because there are multiple rooms filled with these things. And we didn’t even have access to all of the Catacombs… (thank GOD). I think the best part, though, is that when you leave the Catacombs, they check your purse to make sure you haven’t knicked any of the bones. Seriously guys, WHO DOES THAT? There was actually a table with a skull and a few bones that they must have found when other people toured earlier. Creepy. After about an hour down there, we came up to street level ready to hit up some non-depressing monuments.

After the Catacombs we went to Notre Dame. Again, not to be all mushy, but it was the most incredible cathedral I’ve ever seen. The front façade isn’t that big, but it’s deceiving - it's ENORMOUS inside. There are also gargoyles on top, a bonus. As we walked in, we were accosted by at least 3 gypsies. The one pregnant one came over and was literally HOVERING over us until I gave her 40 cents just to leave us alone. I just wanted to take a picture of me pretending to be Quasimodo (mission accomplished).

The Lourve was next on our list because it’s free on the first Sunday of every month. I’m not much of an art lover and neither is Angela, so we didn’t need all day to contemplate every painting. Instead, we spent about an hour inside taking disrespectful pictures with classic pieces of art, including the Mona Lisa. After seeing her, I believe that she IS smiling. It’s a little smirk, but it’s there. Oh Mona.

Perhaps the worst part of the Lourve was trying to take a picture of Venus de Milo, one of the more famous works in the museum. She was surrounded by what seemed to be the entire population of Asia. This display was the epitome of why people HATE Asian tourists. If you witnessed their absolute disregard for everyone around them trying to see it or take pictures, you would have no mercy like me. I was just trying to take ONE PICTURE of the damn statue, but the swarm of tourists would not let me. I was so annoyed that I just started walking in front of all of their pictures and wouldn’t move despite cries of, “EXCUSE ME” from the crowd. I really don’t even care about Venus, but just the fact that I was unable to snap one decent photo made me vigilant until the end, waiting like a hawk to capture her on film without the crowd below. After that horrible experience, we were clearly ready to leave the Lourve.

At this point, we decided to head back to our hotel. First, we stopped off at the Opera, which was lovely. I wish I could’ve toured it, but… cest la vie. We then decided to eat at this random café on the way home, complete with loopy waitress and crazy bartender. He spoke to us in French, Spanish and English. Of course, he praised our Commander-in-Chief and, upon mentioning the name ‘George W. Bush,’ did the head-chopping-off motion.

Onto Day 3 in Paris, probably THE BEST DAY EVER. When I saw how blue the sky was, I was a) very excited that we waited to hit up the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Sacre Couer, etc. til Monday, and b) sad, because I knew it was a sign that UNC would win the National Championship while I was abroad. Yes, I’m very happy we won, but a tiny part of me wishes I would’ve studied abroad in the fall so I wouldn’t have had to miss out on Franklin Street, especially because I am freakishly obsessed with UNC Basketball. Oh well… I guess being in Paris is some consolation.

First we hit up the Sacre Couer, a basilica on the highest point in Paris. It was quite lovely, although it was only about 100 years old. In European years, that’s just a baby, and therefore, a rip off. But we went in anyways (it was free), and it was pretty. The real kicker about the Sacre Couer, though, were the African men at the bottom of the hill selling what seemed to be those little friendship bracelets you’d make out of string from Michael’s in, like, third grade. As you walk up, they literally grab your arm and try and put the damn thing on, then force you to buy them. I seriously had to keep walking, grabbed Angela away from them… “It’s a tradition in our country,” they said as we ran off. I really don’t think grabbing someone’s arm is a tradition anywhere, especially for a braided piece of shit. SORRY.

After that display, we were ready to escape and head towards the oasis known as the Eiffel Tower. We ended up running into some other sights, like Hotel de Les Invalides (still not sure what that was, haha). But, like a phallic beacon, the Tower beckoned us. We grabbed some paninis and headed towards the lawn to eat them. When we turned the corner and saw the Iron Lady for the first time… wow. It was seriously a freakin post card. I’ve never seen anything like it… I am pretty sure I took, like, 30 pictures of just the Eiffel Tower and then about 16 of me with the damn thing. Oh well. The day was gorgeous (and so am I *wink), so the pictures were necessary. After laying on the lawn for a while and just soaking it all in, we decided to climb the beast.

In order to save 5 euro, we took the stairs up to the first and second observation decks. I can’t complain though – 668 steps seemed like hell at the time, but the views were definitely worth it. I think we must’ve spent 5 hours at the Tower, between our picnic and picture taking and hellacious climb to the top, but I loved it all.

We then headed towards the Arc de Triomphe, a short walk from the tower. Little Napoleon Bonaparte really outdid himself with this one. Again, maybe it was just the weather, but the thing is beautiful. We came up to the huge traffic circle that goes around the Arc and really didn’t believe we had made it because it looked nothing like it did in pictures. I guess we didn’t realize that we had taken a side street up to the Arc, therefore we were only seeing a SIDE of it. It’s enormous… a lot bigger than I expected (that’s what she said). After harassing it with pictures, we walked the Champs – Elysses for a bit. I ended up grabbing another crepe (believe me, crepes are THE BEST thing that’s ever happened to me) before taking the metro to check out the Moulin Rouge.

Moulin Rouge = Red Windmill in English, and that’s about all it was. It was cool to see it, though. We didn’t have tickets or anything to see the show (which I’ve heard is just a lot of boobs), so we just checked out the outside and took pictures of us pretending to be burlesque dancers. The area surrounding Moulin Rouge is quite interesting. And by interesting, I mean it’s all sex shops. As we walked through giggling at the name of stores (my favorite being “Pussy’s”), I heard a voice next to us on a bench. A man called out, “How much?” Can you BELIEVE that? It wasn’t Borat, either, so it wasn’t okay. I was asked HOW MUCH? And I thought I had dressed cute that day (clearly I had). Aah, it’s actually pretty funny. Definitely a story for the parents. And the grandkids.

So, that about wraps up our visit to Paree. I recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone with any respect for history, architecture, art… but for those of you without taste, like me, you’ll enjoy it, too.

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