Thursday, November 11, 2010

Paris: The Experience

I arrived in Paris Saturday evening.  I learned later that there had been strikes on Saturday.  Likely causing my having to stand in line for a cab.

Sunday I was planning to spend the day learning how the Metro system worked.  I paid an excess amount of euro’s to get wireless Internet in my hotel room.  I used my relatively new Android based MyTouch 3g Slide to download maps of Paris and schedules for the public transportation system.  It’s kind of amazing to me that 10 years ago I didn’t even own a cell phone and now I can’t live without it.

It turned out to be about a 20 minute walk from my hotel to the nearest Metro station.  I could have taken a bus, but I am not fond of being cramped into small places with a bunch of sniffling sneezing people that I can’t understand.  At the Metro station I bought a 5 day tourist pass which would allow me to take any form of public transportation I needed to within Paris (what they call zones 1, 2 and 3).

image I took the Metro 13 down to Les Invalides.  The Metro stations are pretty much all underground.  There are no guard rails keeping you from falling down in the tracks and I didn’t see any way back up if you did fall.  The crowds of people waiting to get on the trains made me nervous about this situation.  But, I obviously didn’t fall.

Since, this was my first time in Paris, I picked out the Eiffel Tower in theimage distance and just started walking towards it.  It was an obvious landmark to help keep my bearings as I explored a new city.

A friend of mine from England picked me up while I was exploring the area underneath the tower.  It was my first time to ride in a car where the controls were on the wrong side, which is the right side, of the car.

imageWe went for a drive up to  Charles de Gaulle airport where we stopped for a late lunch and then I had to figure out how to get back to my hotel.  The airport was in zone 4 or 5.  It was a fun drive though.  Bob showed me several little interesting sites in Paris that are not necessarily listed on the tourist maps (like where the hookers hang out).

I spent most of Monday at a cemetery.  The Cimetière du Père Lachaise.  It was rather surreal.  I got lost several times.  It’s like a labyrinth of sepulchers.  I think if you go to Paris, you need to go see it.  I don’t know that I’d ever want to see it again, but it was rather incredible.  I went and saw where Jim Morrison is supposedly buried.

I took lots of pictures…

 IMAG0099 IMAG0101 IMAG0104 Picture 015 Picture 027

Picture 079 I also walked to the Louvre.  They had an interesting outdoor art exhibit going on.  After spending time at the Eiffel Tower and various other towers, I was starting to understand why they call it, “The City of Love”.

They had an interesting piece of architecture resembling aPicture 072 broken American flag.  I’m not real sure what the intent was, but I thought it looked real cool.  That’s my best vocabulary of the day, “real cool”.  My kids thought maybe it was done because the French don’t like America.  It’s an interesting take on it.  I wonder what everyone else thought…

Tuesday was “cruise day”.  I took the river boats all day.  It was nice and relaxing.  After the cruises were over I set out to find the Statue of Liberty.  It’s on the end of a man made island.  I had literally given up on finding the darn thing when I decided to explore this stair case in the middle of a bridge.  I thought it odd to have stairs coming down the side of a bridge at it’s apex over the water.  So, being the curious person I am, I decided to investigate.

It led to a walking trail which I later learned to be part of a man made island.  As I approached the trails end, I decided to go up the next set of stairs to get back up to street level.  This is what I saw… It almost brought a tear to my eye.


Picture 103 image

I finished up Tuesday with a bottle of wine at an Italian food place underneath the EiffelPicture 114 Tower followed by some miraculous attempts to take night time photos without a flash or a tripod.  I spent a lot of time Picture 113precariously balancing my little pocket camera on fence posts…

I should note, at this point, that I never ventured into any buildings.  I realize I could have paid some bucks and went up the elevators in the Tower, but I’ve done stuff like that before.  I pay the money, get to the top of the tower, say, “Wow.  Breathtaking,” and then try and figure out how to get back down.

I also decided that if I set foot inside any museums I’d probably spend my entire 4 days indoors.  So, I just looked in from the outside.

On Wednesday I had no real plan so I just went walking.  As I walked I discovered an interesting way to discreetly take pictures with my cell phone so I decided to make Wednesday the day of the people. 


As I  was walking along I also saw a McDonalds so I had to stop in.  I’ve now eaten at McDonalds in Amsterdam, Berlin, Milan and Paris.   image


You can see all my pictures here:

Day One

Day Two

Day Three

Day Four

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