Friday, July 18, 2003

Paris in a Day

So in France there's this city called Paris. It's been "lit up" several times I hear. Perhaps by revolutionaries or conquering armies or nightclubbers. I don't know.

Well I visited that city because I know my elementary geography. I was in Spain. And I needed to get to Germany. Well, France is in the way. So I figured, I'll hop on a night train to Paris. I'd never been there before, and despite Ryan's opinions of the aforementioned French megalopolis, I thought it would be an enlightening place to visit. If only just once.

Despite the heat, I got a good night sleep on the train. A night train is definitely a great way to travel; you don't waste any daylight sightseeing hours! I got pretty cozy with five people I didn't know. You share a little compartment when you take the kind of night trains I can afford. Not like the private compartments in those Golden Age of Hollywood films with Gregory Peck, tommy guns, dames, etc. But I digress.

As I rolled into Paris in the wee morning hours, I didn't know what to expect. Jessica had warned me that Iranian protesters were setting themselves on fire. "Check into that.... may be a bad social climate to be roaming around aimlessly." I looked forward to an exciting day filled with dangers and adventures untold.

I was so early, I had to wait for things like the Louvre to open. I took a stroll down wide empty boulevards surrounded by places with names like "Le Cafe" and "Chez Whitey." I tried hard not to smell the urine, just beginning to steam up from the sewer vents. Ah yes, I had entered another Old and Important European City.

I took in a Picasso museum, but wasn't much impressed. What I appreciated more was just wandering the city, schmoozing with the intelligensia. Failing that, I was willing to at least hang out with tourists that didn't look quite so dorky. I saw the gargoyles on the cathedral of Notre Dame and then headed to the Louvre, enjoying a five dollar coke along the way. At the Louvre, I found myself most interested in the ancient artifacts. The Indian Jones in me came out to play. Babylonian statues, the Code of Hammurabi, pottery from before the invention the writing... Cool! I figured I should focus on something, since I only had a few hours and the Louvre is friggin' huge!

I walked to another part of the city after the Louvre, nearby the Paris mosque. I also stopped by, of all places, the natural history museum, which they appropriately call the "Gallery of Evolution." In some part of town whose name I forget, I got one of those scrumptuous Nutella crepes! I gotta learn how to make one of those.

One of the wonderful things about wandering Paris was the live music. On nearly every street, I saw bands setting up and playing music, mostly alt/modern stuff or music with a Latin beat. I could see how if they did that in Pasadena, there would be complaints of disturbing of peace, etc. It's awesome to wander around on a hot summer evening and listening to live music.

My feet were killing me toward early evening, so I took a break in a big park and rested the aching bloody stumps on the bottom of my legs. Ahh, the relief.

As night approached, I went to the Eiffel Tower. I really wanted to see the city lights from on high. But I had to catch a night train to Germany at 10 pm, so I didn't think I would be able to see the lights. It was beautiful view anyway.

My time in Paris was nice, though brief. The smell of urine didn't even bother me so much, and was offset by the sweet smell of flowers and perfume which occasionally wafted my way. One day wasn't enough to experience the place. Just enough to get an overview. I'm pretty sure that one day I'll go back. Given a week or so, I may be able to get an idea of exactly how much the Louvre holds. Viva la France!


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