Monday, May 21, 2007

City of Lights

I had so much fun in Paris this weekend!!! It was my 2nd trip to the city. I was there in October 2001 for a youth workers conference. That was a good but difficult week on so many levels (right, Heather?) This trip I had a specific list of things I didn’t get to do the first time and others that are a must every trip to Paris. Mission accomplished with time to spare. Forgive any location spelling errors (Christy).

Friday night as I rode the train from the airport into the city, I had a moment of awe and thankfulness. I was so thankful for all the experiences I’ve had to this point that made me comfortable with traveling to Paris by myself for a weekend with no qualms about navigating this city & the metro system. Awe and thankfulness for all the other travel and opportunities that led to that moment. I will be able to post pictures in a day or two since my new camera & card reader are coming Monday. Jose called Friday night to ask some questions about the camera he picked up for me. He started off asking "so where are you at?" "Standing under the Arc de Triumph." Probably the coolest answer I’ve ever been able to give.

I’m bursting with things to share because I had such a great time. Things I learned: 1) I should never go without hair product, 2) avoid buying souvenirs on the Champs Elysee – they cost a lot less in Montmarte and the Latin Quarter, 3) should have brought better walking shoes.
Weekend’s menu: ham & cheese crepe, taziki (sp?) & souvlaki (my favorite Greek foods), escargot Bourgogne (delicious!!), duck in orange sauce, onion soup. The only specialty I haven’t tried yet is fois gras (goose liver pate), but I will.

Friday night I got soaked in a downpour but was determined not to just hole up in my hotel. After my dinner at a café on the Champs Elysee, it cleared off. There were tons of people out & about. It was energizing. Strolled the avenue and went under the Arc de Triumph. Could see the top half of the lit up Eiffel Tower from there.

Saturday dawned cloudy but not rainy, so I headed over to Montmarte. Stopped off to take a picture of Moulin Rouge. Then went to Sacre Coeur (sacred heart). It is a large white basilica that sits high on a hill. Climbed up all the steps, great views. Inside the church above the altar is a beautiful fresco of Jesus with his arms open wide and his heart glowing. All I could think of was the words to this song: Oh Lord, you’re beautiful. Your face is all I seek, and when your eyes are on this child, your grace abounds to me. Did souvenir shopping in Montmarte. Headed down to Notre Dame. There were huge lines to get in, I’d been inside before so I skipped that and did something I hadn’t done previously – walked around the side & back of the cathedral to get a good look at the famous flying buttresses. Did more shopping in the Latin Quarter. Had lunch at a little Greek place. I forgot how all the restaurants down there have someone standing outside to accost people walking by to come in and eat – and they are persistant. Greek, Mexican, French, Indian, Italian, a British pub – it’s all available.

As the sun started shining I walked down to Pont Neuf and crossed to the Left Bank. Walked along the Seine until I was at the Louvre entrance. Then I entered the Tuilleries Gardens and walked thru them to Place de la Concord and all the way up the tree lined Champs Elysee. After a brief rest I was going to climb the Arc de Triumph but the line was ridiculous, so I decided to take advantage of the good weather and took the metro over to the Eiffel Tower. Lines were bad there too, but that was ok since I’d been up it before. I just wanted to get some good pictures of it. Walked down to the end of the gardens in order to get the entire tower into the picture. Then I took the metro back to Champs Elysee to hit the stores for a little shopping. My feet hurt soooo bad that night.

Sunday was rainy. I was thankful I had gotten in the outdoors stuff on Saturday. I headed off to Musee d’Orsay. I’ve been wanting to go to this since museum since my mom’s been raving about it for almost 10 years now but it was closed because of a museum worker’s strike in 2001. It houses an incredible collection of impressionist paintings and Whistler’s mother. I had to wait about 20 minutes in line but within minutes of when I arrived, the line had more than doubled. It was pretty crowded inside, but well worth it. Monet, Van Gogh, Degas, Toulouse-Latrec, Renior, Pissaro, Cezanne, Gaugin, Manet, Rodin, Sisley. Amazing works of art.
The rain had stopped and after a French themed lunch in the Latin Quarter, I took the metro up to the Arc de Triumph. Climbed the 284 steps to the top. While cloudy, there were still great views. It’d be awesome to be up there at night when the city and Eiffel Tower are all lit up.
Now I’m back with very achy feet and joints. It was a great weekend and I am so thankful for the opportunity to do such things.

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