Monday, March 2, 2009

9:48 AM: The Paris Blog, Part Deux

So, we left off at the Louvre, didn't we? Kristen and I were waiting around for Caris and Julia to return from finding Caris' sister-in-law, Julie, and we were occupied with the clear blue sky, the adamant sidewalk salesman trying to get us to buy Eiffel Tower keychains, and taking lots of pictures of the two big fountains around the Louvre. The three finally walked up, and we introduced ourselves to Julie, who instantly became one of our little group. We began walking down the Champs de Elysees toward the Arc du Triomphe, simply talking and taking in the beautiful atmosphere. Once we had made it to the main road of the city, we ducked into a Sephora for two minutes (by my request), and then headed to find an open cafe for a cup of something hot (my choice: hot chocolate. No coffee, thanks). When we headed back to the main road, we encountered a huge group of people surrounding three or four street performers dancing to electronic music. We're standing there watching them, and I happen to look over the faces in the crowd to see their reactions... and I see someone I know! Laura, a girl from my Cont. Brit. Fict. class, had told me she was going to Paris that weekend, but I never dreamed that I'd see her there, of all the great places in the city. I went over to talk to her, and she was just as surprised as I was. It really is a small world...

There was some more wandering and photo-taking and talking, and we finally made our way back to the Louvre, which was free for students on Fridays after 6 pm. We made our way inside, decided what we wanted to see the most, and took off in different directions. The one thing I wanted to see more than anything else was the marble white statue of Cupid and Psyche. I've done research on that myth in the past, but have only seen pictures of that glorious sculpture. To see it in person, to stand a mere foot away from it, was heaven. You're allowed to take pictures in the Louvre, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I felt that I'd be defiling it with modern technology. Is that weird? I simply took a mental picture--I stood there forever--and stored it away. I can look at it in my head whenever I like.

We saw the Mona Lisa (the most popular thing in the Museum), the statue of Aphrodite, amazing painted ceilings, more painting, more sculpture... tons of stuff, and we didn't even see all of it. Someone told us that it would take 365 days for you to really see everything in the Louvre, and we only stayed for 2 hours. Our feet ached from walking all day, so we opted to eat dinner and head back to the hotel for the night. We found a little restaurant that was still open, ate omelettes (which is what they were serving that was inexpensive, but still VERY good, as all French food is), and drank hot cups of tea. That night, we slept very, very soundly, all except Julie who had a pretty bad headcold.

The next day, Julia got up early to head for Disney World Paris for the day. The four of us--Julie, Caris, Kristen, and I--visited a little bakery for breakfast and jumped on the metro to head to Montmarte, the Sacre-Coeur Basilica, and the Moulin Rouge. The Sacre-Coeur, a huge church that looked remniscent of the Taj Mahal with its rounded tops that form little points, was gorgeous, but the weather outside was extremely cold, a big change from the day before. As we were walking down toward the city-center, trying to dodge the crafty salesmen who would bombard you with stupid, expensive gifts (no, really, they would come up to you and tie a bracelet, just a piece of colored string, around your wrist, but when you tried to refuse and walk away, they demanded that you paid for the bracelet around your wrist, which you took from them... and so you had to pay. Thankfully, Julie warned us about them, so we wrestled our way through them and emerged without the infamous bracelets), it started snowing. Really, snowing... in France. We thought we'd escaped it in England, but it found us in France! We walked down to see the Moulin Rouge--yeah, definitely anti-climactic. It looks nothing like I thought it would, but I wasn't expecting it to look like the movie... so I don't know what I was expecting.

Julie knew of this amazingly huge and cheap market near Montmarte, so we decided to find and explore it... in the snow. Bad idea. The stuff we found was awesome, at great prices too (like boots for 15 Euro), but it was so terribly cold and snowy that we couldn't even feel our fingers. Eventually, we got so cold that we ducked into the first restaurant we saw and stayed there for about 2 hours eating lunch and talking. A big Italian man with his wife and another Italian couple sat at the table next to us, and he struck up a very interesting conversation--he hardly spoke any English and even less French, and he was wonderfully loud and boisterous. I liked that he scared the French. He told us about his company, Ferlandia, and how we all should come stay with him in Italy and that his wife would cook for us (at this, she vigorously shook her head "No," laughed, and punched her husband in the shoulder). He gave us a little sticker with the name of the company and the website on it... we looked it up when we got back to London, and our Italian turned out to be a Nazi supporter. We thought it was weird when he mentioned Mussolini and how Obama being black was bad... yeah, we won't be staying with him.

We made our way back to Paris and the Tour Eiffel. Caris, Julie and I were wiped out, cold, and didn't want to climb up the stairs to the Tour Eiffel. So, we dropped off Kristen and met her two friends who are studying in Geneva, and went back to the hotel. Caris and Julie ventured out to find cold medicine for Julie but returned with five types of cheeses and a bottle of red wine--a truly French tradition! We didn't have a table in our room, so we sat on the floor and sampled the cheese and wine. It was so much fun! When Julie, Kristen, and her two friends joined us later, we headed back to the little creperie we visited our first night and celebrated our last night in Paris.

I was so sad to leave the next morning. I had loved every second of my time there, even the snowy days and the aching feet parts. Getting on the plane and flying back to London was very hard, but it was nice to relax that afternoon at Regent's and recover from the wonderful trip. I pray I get to go back sometime in my life to lovely Paris.

And that is the end.

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