How Gay Paris lived up to its name!
2007-06-07 to 2007-06-12
Ok, so maybe coming unannounced wasn`t the greatest idea I have ever had! I had to book into a hotel which should have been a luxury but really some hostels are better than 2 star hotels, especially for the price. Still, I found myself right beside the Moulin Rouge and a short walk from Sacre Coeur and its amazing city views and I began immediately to appreciate why they say that there is truly only one Paris.
As any of you that read these entries regularly I tend to walk prodigiously when I hit a new city but rarely have I been to a city where a mindless amble has led me to so many internationally known `must sees`. They are scattered generously around the city and it gives the city a museumal feeling (think I may have just created a word there!)
I took a walk which brought me to the Eiffel Tower and I have to say I was impressed. It`s a chocolately brown and they have truly painted every inch of it, I was desperate to see one nut or bolt that some lax worker had overlooked but no, every inch. Forget the architectural magnificence, the engineering feat of the lifts or the panoramic views, this was a true dedication to workmanship! But it was amazing, right up at the roof of the city, and all the time `A View to a Kill` by Duran Duran was going through my head (from the Bond flick of the same name!)
I went to Notre Dame, and yes I know I am going to hell for this, but I scoured around looking to see anyone that was even remotely bent over and see if I could grab them in for a shot but everyone was from the perfect posture club.
I popped by the Louvre but didn`t go in deciding to give it a day. I overheard a young surfer dude from the States bemoan the length of the queues, “The DaVinci Code must have made this place so popular”. Oh give me strength…. (I have been reliably informed that a friend overheard too middle aged Americans who, to their eternal credit, were going through a dictionary to brush up on the local lingo, were confused to find that the French didn`t have a word for “Ya`ll”)
L`Arc de Triomphe is impressive because it has spawned so many replicas around the world. Napoleon had it constructed for his returning armies, they might have preferred a shower and a steak but thankfully the not so tiny general was into grander displays of gratitude.
I am writing this entry in London because it is just too hard to type on French keyboards. They have a tendency to leave the keys the same as the English with the exception of swapping just a few letters to frustrate you! Bafflingly though they have the full stop on top of a key, so you have to hit the shift button with it to get one? As if you would hardly use one, bewildering.
But maybe that`s because things rarely if ever stop in Paris (nice segue eh?!) It is all go during the day and equally as busy as night. Courtney, Aislinn, Eric, Suzanne and I went out to Corcoran`s one night and found of full of Rastafarian`s which I thought was a great if strange mix. Now I rarely dance (unless the Jackson 5 `ABC` comes on) but sometimes the challenge of a dance off appeals to the stupid side of me and I was up there with my black sisters and brothers getting all ghetto! Great fun!
I walked around the city again and I saw a sign for `Le Centre George Pompidou` and I squealed with kid like innocence as I recalled Zig and Zag, two puppet TV characters from my youth who had a catch phrase of “Ou est le centre George Pompidou?” so I had to try it out! I asked several people and they probably couldn`t understand why I was smiling so inanely as they were trying to direct me! Hey, who says my travels have to be all about culture?!
I met Jim, a friend of my brothers and we were having a few pints, ironically if not unsurprisingly talking about women when we approached by the bar girl with a note for Jim. Wow, I thought, as I looked up to see the bar girls friend look over at us, this guy is a magnet! But his poorly disguised attempt at nonchalantly and coolly opening the note gave way to barely suppressed despair when he threw it down where I quickly snaffled it up. The note had been left by Ruben, a guy who had just left the bar (fortunately for all parties I suspect!) which I thought was cute and endearing and perfectly gave me the opportunity to say, Ah Gay Paris!
I visited the Louvre the next day and it is simply huge, amazingly and almost intimidatingly big. If you were to spend the requisite amount of time to really take in any art piece, say even one minute, you would be in there for three months. I had to be really selective so I started with the Venus di Milo and I have to say it was impressive but my love of Simpsons meant I couldn`t help but draw reference between it and the Gummy Venus di Milo, the most famous gummy of all!
Then I seeked out the museum`s most famous lodger. I have to say that I saw her before she saw me but it didn`t take her long to catch my eye through the throng although I strongly suspect that everyone there could have said the same thing. I had prepared myself mentally to disparage the Mona Lisa, the famous picture of the smile that Da Vinci couldn`t quite get right (too busy writing codes presumably) but I was impressed. It`s bigger than I thought and she really does have eyes that follow you.
But after that I was left a little numbed by the massive amount of art on show. You kept pushing yourself to see as much as you could, but then you couldn`t really take in anything. Everything whizzed by and after hours I despaired in the tiny amount of the 8 miles of art I had covered.
In contrast though, I went to the Musee d`Orsay the next day and was by far the most amazing museum I have ever been to. It was manageable and with the cheap but incredibly informative audio guide I was whisked around the museum with a greater appreciation than ever for Van Gogh, Monet and JB Millet (never been one for Renoit, Degas or Toulouse-Lautrec!)
The great thing too was that you could take pictures assuming that you didn`t have the flash on (I caught one person who regularly feigned deathly embarrassment that their flash was on, fiddle with the camera and move on to another picture and do the same thing until I pointed out that I could either help them turn it off or I could get one of the stewards to help them from the place, their choice!)
It was open mike night in the Galway and I joined Jan (from Germany but with the thickest Cork accent you`ll ever here!) and about 6 or 7 others get up and belt out a few songs with his guitar. There was a big bunch of us there along with Norna, an Aussie girl from my hostel room who has derived a new term all to herself, a pregpaker! She found out she was pregnant shortly after she left home and is now going back because she can`t go out and socialise with everyone else as she can`t drink. She said she was going to tell everyone that she was coming home `three months early because she was two months late!`
As my brother says, you could go to Paris every weekend and never get bored but it was time to move on. How I got to London is a story all to itself…
The Bus trip from Hell!