Thursday, June 21, 2012

Eiffel for Paris

Actually, I hated Paris the first 6 hours we were there. And actually, maybe, even days before we got there.

First of all, I wanted to take the Chunnel. I was very excited about riding a train or a bus under the English Channel from England and Paris. But, train tickets were expensive. And a bus basically took a whole freaking day. So we had to fly. And I had to buy our plane tickets like 4 times because of one disaster or another. It was a pain. But eventually, we got on a Lufthansa flight and we were making our way to Paris!

Except, we had a layover in Frankfurt, Germany. And while Lufthansa itself is AMAZING (so much legroom, and free snacks and drinks for the shortest flight!), the airport was so... so... convoluted. We walked MILES just to get from one gate to another. Up stairs, down stairs, along walking sidewalks, up some more stairs, down some more stairs. I wanted to kill myself, as the hand luggage we decided to share dug itself deeper and deeper into my shoulder. (It was worse on the trip back, since my feet were already protesting from all the walking and climbing we ended up doing once we got to Paris!)

The layover in Germany also meant something that I'm having a hard time forgiving.
I didn't get a Paris stamp in my passport. No Paris stamp in my passport! Instead I have a Frankfurt one! And I barely even SAW Frankfurt.

The only thing I really saw in Frankfurt...
besides the massive airport
Did I mention it was rainy and in switching planes,
we had to get on a stupid bus?!






This was pretty much the extent of where
we stayed. There's a bathroom and a small
kitchen nook, too. This is a Paris flat.
We arrived in Paris and internally, I was on a warpath. But I was also trying to remain flexible and upbeat. After all, we arrived, didn't we? And world travelers must be flexible! We ate dinner, and walked to the Arc de Triomphe, which was very close to where were were staying. And then finally, we were able to get the keys to the flat we rented. It was tiny. My dorm room was bigger. My studio apartment in Chicago was bigger (and for any of you who visited, you know... it was tiny).

Napoleon built this in honor of himself.
Sad, I know. But still pretty beautiful.











Overall, Paris is a bit dirty. And everyone smokes. Even in the rain. Some people smelled like "unwashed armpit," as Becky kept saying. But... the architecture was amazing. Instead of knocking down old buildings, they tend to just renovate the inside. And so there was this quaint charm to every street you walked down. Taking the train was much cheaper than it is in London (my bank account was thankful for that!), and while you really could walk anywhere you wanted, my feet were thankful that we didn't.

We saw all the major landmarks. Notre Dame. Sacré-Cœur Basilica (Basilica of the Sacred Heart). Arc de Triomphe. L'hôtel de Ville (where there was a watch party for the French Open going on). Musee du Louvre. Shopped and ate along the Champs-Élysées. And of course the Eiffel Tower.

The Louvre and the Eiffel Tower were by far my favorite. And I may have stayed pretty grumpy with Paris if not for those two gems. Very touristy of me, I know. But I love museums... and the Louvre was MASSIVE. There's three sections of it, and in four hours, we only really got through one and a half. We saw most of the "big ticket" items. The Mona Lisa. The Wedding at Cana. The famous statues and stuff. It was just amazing to see things so old still standing the test of time. The amount of amazing detail used considering the lack of modern appliances. It was fabulous.

There was one section filled with different versions of Mary and the baby Jesus. And... well... let's just say Becky and I had a lot of laughs in that room. Some artists portrayed Jesus in very funny ways. But I was also in awe of some of the renditions. And the ones of Jesus on the cross were actually very moving.

The Greek, Roman, and Egyptian antiquities were fun since I had just finished teaching my students about these ancient civilizations. I took a lot of pictures for class, and then realized I wouldn't be able to show most (if any) of them since the Greeks and Romans, especially, apparently loved nudity.

In awe of all the art work

The famous Mona Lisa
The Wedding Feast at Cana

Mary and Jesus
If you ever wondered where they got the idea for The Dancing Baby... wonder no more.
Check out Baby Jesus. He's working it!


I could go on and on and on. And I haven't even begun talking about the Eiffel Tower.

Hmm... I've save it for another post!

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