Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Paris - Culture Coming out the Whazoo

Day 2.

Today, I forgot to set my phone to Paris time so we shot out of bed after sleeping in an extra hour. Oh well. Free breakfast at the hostel which consisted crazy cleaning lady firing bread rolls and orange juice at us. After recovering we set out to see the Place de la Bastille. Miranda sung me lovely renditions of all the various Les Miserables songs as we then went to see Victor Hugo's actual house! Pretty cool stuff. You can't really tell in the photo but there is a plaque there saying that it is his house - we didn't just find a random house... Or did we? ... No.

We then walked to go and see Notre Dame and visit Quasimodo - I hear he gets lonely given that Esmeralda ditched him for Phoebus. Lame. On the way we spied the Napoleon Bridge, the Conciergerie and Saint Chappelle. Around Notre Dame there was this "Fete du Pain" or bread festival as I decoded and inside these marquees they had all these various breaks cooking - YUM. Oh my goodness bread in Europe is the most amazing thing in the world. You wouldn't think that bread could be perfect - but it really truly can. We took a quick squizz inside Notre Dame and then decided to join the very long queue to go up the tower (which I hadn't done before due to said queue). But we waited! And waited... and got a hot chocolate... and waited... ate a sandwich... met the nice Americans behind us... waited and into the tower! Hooray! The Americans behind us were very nice though I notice that when we do introductions (and this continues throughout the entire trip) that the Americans will swap places and when it comes to my turn and I say "Australia" they quickly switch back to Miranda and go "So where in Arizona?" Alas I will never belong. Anyway the American guy had completed a marathon the day before! And he was climbing up all 400 steps! Madness! The view was really spectacular. Even though I saw the view of Paris yesterday at the Arc it really varies depending where you are. The gargoyles hanging out on the side of the tower greeted us but I think Quasimodo was just popping out to the shops when we went because we didn't see him... Take a look at the gargoyle in the following photo - tee hee!

Back down thousands of stairs and outside we saw a man feeding the birds (tuppence a bag - not really) so I was trying to feed them too with some old bread crumbs I found in my handbag. The birds were far too interested in this old man so he came over and offered whatever he had (I think it was a madeleine biscuit) to Miranda and got her to only hold it with two fingers. The birds were all over her! Then it was my turn and I held it with two fingers, like Miranda, when the Frenchman indicated that I didn't have to because my nails weren't painted. It seemed that Miranda's red nail polish would frighten the birds off or confuse them! Pretty cool. The old man would show off my putting bits of cake on his tongue and having the birds eat them out of his mouth - Bleh! That had to be one our main highlights in Paris - it seems lame just feeding some birds but it was really neat.
Next we set off to walk around St Michel which was so lovely because that's where I stayed last time I was in Paris. It was really awesome knowing where I was... my brain had all these directions stored in my head - what else is it keeping from me? Intelligence apparently...
Next stop - the Pantheon. Once again it was free! Hooray! It was all up hill and, sadly, at some point the map fell out of Miranda's pocket which got her down - though it needn't have because - hey - we were in PARIS. I don't remember if we took the metro or walked but the metro lines are all colour coded so we thought we would make up our own names for the lines which basically consisted of Miranda and I saying "so we take the poop line and change at the urine line and when we get back we take the jungle line to the fanta line? No wait to the asparagus line". It keeps us entertained. Anyway the Pantheon was pretty cool it had Foucault's pendulum in it which swings in a very slow circle everyday and we didn't really get it until there was this educational video explaining it - 7 minutes and 38 seconds later we discovered that the pendulum is swinging in the circle that the earth is making... so it's like the earth is moving and the pendulum is staying still - or something. It was pretty neat.

We stopped in at McDonald's for some free internet and I had a frappe! McDee's is fancy here - you can even get mousse! I ordered my drink in French, thinking I was doing well, only to have the serving individual read back my order and the price in English. Sigh. I am trying. Though all in all I think we did pretty darn well getting through Paris despite the several grumpy frogs telling us "Non non non".
After this we walked back down the street and did some slow and relaxed shopping which was really pleasant. I bought my dress for the Summer Ball! Miranda has excellent finding eyes when shopping so if you ever get the change to shop with her DO IT. Everyone! Now!

Next we went to the Grand Poo Bah of Paris - the Eiffel Tower. Last time I was here I remember walking up most of the way because the queue to the lift was way too long but this time everyone was made to take the lift. Darn that thing is high. We got to the top only to see this massive storm rolling in and devouring the landscape. We were at the very top hoping that the tower didn't topple over though Miranda's Europe book said it only ever leans at a maximum of 7cm. Her book also said there was some tailor who, many years ago, strapped on a cape and threw himself off the top expecting to fly - he flew... down. We stayed on the second level and decided to wait out the storm by having dinner there - pizza and waffles! This is living the high life - literally this thing gives me vertigo. We took the lift down to the bottom and were in the lift with all these little French children who kept staring at us - quite openly - so Miranda and I began to put on our most stereotypical and strong accents to freak them out - it worked though it had them staring more. By the time we got down to the bottom the storm had passed and we got to the tower all lit up and sparkling! It's so magical and romantic - once again Miranda and I only had each other for company... C'est la vie! The magic is sort of tainted by the scary army dudes walking around the bottom of the tower with their huge rifles and... berets...

On the metro ride back along - the regal line? (It's blue) - we wondered if anyone would be in our room that night. We estimated an 80% chance that there would be no one - it was full. One girl from Japan and I don't know where the other one was from - she didn't say much. Hot showers though! What a miracle... I discovered that there was a switch to turn on the hot water - we're learning!

What we have learned:

1. Paris is not London (tube wise the London one is much more efficient and less confusing)
2. You can't do what you want to do in Paris you must do what the Parisians tell you - In Notre Dame we had two people who we assumed worked there who would stop us going up or down the stairs until it was clear or something. We were a little confused as the guy who told us to stop going up just left. He walked out! Did he even work there?
3. There is no way of predicting the weather and how to dress for it
4. Tourists stick together - we all take one anothers' photos knowing that we won't run off with them.

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