What's in my head

This is the home of your average girl in her early 30s making her way in the big city...Not really. I have thoughts. Now I have somewhere to put them.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Paris Day 2 (aka I know now why the French revolted)

Wednesday, Oct. 19

Our drive to the Eiffel Tower was an exciting one as a teeny, tiny French car hit our great big bus. There wasn't much damage, but it delayed our morning by 30 minutes. While I'm on the subject of driving in Paris. I think I could be amused for minutes watching it as there are men (and women) in their business best on scooters, vespas, motorcycles, etc. making their way to work. A slightly amusing sight to see. But the best was watching women in three inch spike heels ride a bike to work.

We stopped for our group photo. I don't think I've quite posted enough photos of the famous landmark, so here's one more. This is what it looks like when it's daytime and cloudy. So much different, I know.

Then it was off to Versaille. The home of Louis XVI can only be described as big. Huge. Gigantic. This photo could only capture about 1/4 of it. (This photo was taken just a few hours after the one above and those below. Notice the sky).

The grounds were pretty big too (and free). This is the backyard. Hidden in the trees to the left is a cafe with the most confusing washroom ever. The men's side (I'm pretty sure it was the men's side) had a picture of a person in a robe because that's what men wore back in the day so I went in the other side. However, while I was in the stall I heard men on my side. As I was washing my hands though women came in. I admit I may have used the wrong side, but take comfort in the fact no one understood the pictures. (Another bathroom confusion story to come in Day 3).

This is the sideyard or half of it. To get the full effect imagine what is to the right of the fountain mirrored on the left as well.

The hedges are clipped to look like bullets.

We took a guided tour inside. We saw gold, marble, velet and silk (used as wall coverings depending on the time of year), and ornately painted ceilings. Those 18th century monarchs didn't spare any expense on the decor.

We saw lots of busts and statues. I particularly liked this guy because I thought he had a cool name.

We got a ride back into Paris and were dropped off near Notre Dame so we could go be holy. It was now cloudy again.

The cathedral was beautiful and I was going to go to the top to get a better view of the city, but there was a line and you needed exact change. (Plus the very top was closed).

I liked the stained glass best.

Right in front of Notre Dame is Point Zero, which was the centre of the city when it was first built. The saying goes if you step on it, you will return to Paris.*

We finished up at Notre Dame quickly because (as we would learn was common in Paris) it had begun to rain. We sought shelter in some small stores along the Seine that sold mostly plants. We didn't have umbrellas and it was getting worse so we hurried to a cafe for a more comfortable refuge. I enjoyed a yummy chocolat that cost four euros (I thought Second Cup was pricey), plus tip. The waiter didn't like our accents because he brought those who'd ordered a cafe au lait, a the (image the 'e' with an accent). Granted, lait and the do sound the same (remember the accent). It stopped raining so after a trip to the toilette (where the light did not come on until after you shut and locked the door; there was a communal sink; and the men peed into what could only be described as a hole in the floor covered with a little bit of porcelain, which I know is how one could describe a toilet, but a toilet is a seat high above the hole in the floor) we were on our way.

We walked by the Louvre.

We then attempted to find a place to eat dinner where six people (one of whom is picky in Canada nevermind France -- that would be me) could all find something to eat that wouldn't cost a fortune. We found a place not too far from the Opera House. I got a sandwich for six euros (no fries, no salad just some deli chicken and tomato on a baguette). I attempted to ask for tap water (don't like Perrier, but the waiter didn't understand me so I pulled out my Paris book and attempted to say the word while pointing. It was like a lightbulb went off and he understood what the Canadian girl with the bad accent wanted. I was SO happy. It was sad how pleased I was for having succeeded in my request.

After dinner we had our first experience with the Paris metro (there are 14 lines and only one of them is remotely straight -- I was definitely not in Toronto anymore). We observed that the doors don't open at the stops, but rather you must push the handle up (or on other trains press a button) to get out (or in). We made it safely back to our hotel in Pantin (which totally was the 'burbs and kinda ghetto where everything not only closed by 8 p.m., but where metal covers or bars where used to keep people out of the stores overnight). All I can say now is I'm glad my trip didn't start 10 days later.

*yes, I stepped on Point Zero


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