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Paris

Paris – O- Paris – where do I begin. I fell for this city the moment I saw it from over 20000 feet above sea level. This was an hour away from midnight. Hours earlier, I had cursed Air France for the inordinate delay of over 5hrs of their flight from Venice to Paris. Upgrading us to business class ensured we got a free seat in between the two of us..it had a nice flat tray for you to rest your hands on. Aye aye business class or the C class! Won’t go into the excellent facilities the business class lounge had earlier offered us at the Venice airport that was reeking of bad odour, serpentine queues, messy crowds, and the like. Now just a few thousand feet over Paris, the long wait and the delayed flight all seemed worth it. Eiffel tower, river Seine..i could recognize these and much more.

We got down at the airport, and started our walkathlon(of over 15 mins) towards the metro station. We were told this was the cheapest and also the best way to beat the traffic at that hour. As always, we could not figure out how to use the automatic ticket vending machines, and joined the queue to be serviced by anything/anyone other than lifeless machines. At the platform, we ran into our buddies who went through the same travails as us from Venice to Paris. They were Parisians and we were delighted.

At the St.Jacques terminal an hour later, and having spotted our hotel from the train itself, our hearts pounded and steps quickened. We did not want our bookings cancelled on account of “no-show” at the hotel. But Mariott is all that it stands for. Patient, quick, organized, and we were in our room in less than 10 minutes after check in. What a stay it was going to be! Do visit the Mariott’s web page to find out for yourself.

With a resolve to start the next day early, as much for the breakfast(the veggie me got no dinner the previous night, not even the rotten apple that apologetic air hostesses usually serve me on such occasions) as to cover the maximum places in the city in a day’s time, we dozed off in less than a minute.

Breakfast next day was a king’s feast. Omelettes fresh off the stove , with all conceivable coloured vegetables, pancakes in chocolate sauce, cappuccino, marmalade, butter and brown toast, milk, fruits, cakes and tarts…there was much more. Lunch was definitely atleast another 5 hours away.

Armed with the 1 day pass (now, we had not bought this 1 day pass anywhere. Always wondered whether it would have been worth it, but at the end of the day invariably concluded we are wisdom’s special children for not having bought it) as it was highly recommended by the hotel staff, and also because we had noticed the previous day on our train journey that Paris is indeed a big city, we set off to Notre Dame. Main church of Paris, church of Virgin Mary, high ceiling, glass art and the like.

Over endless debate on our spattering French knowledge that Notre means North, and Dame means woman aka Mary, we clicked(photo ops) clucked(chatted) merrily and walked towards the Louvre.
This was one long walk. Long, maybe because, we had not yet realized that we were very tired, maybe because it was pleasantly chilly, maybe because it was nowhere in sight for atleast the next 20 minutes.

The Louvre was typical of any national museum. With an architecture to boast of, and milling crowds, this easily has to be one of the well documented museums of the world. But we had taken the back entrance, and it took us a while to figure out the entrance gates to the place and the ticket counter. No signboards anywhere. Manageable queues there, not outside the rest room though. Common sense as well as experience with the museums at Florence should have indicated that there would be more loos inside the place that housed over 35,000 works of art drawn from eight departments, displayed in over 60,000 square meters of exhibition space dedicated to the permanent collections – what do you call lack of common sense at the appropriate time and hour?? We move on.

Once inside, the-what-I-would-call “the museum syndrome” took over. We were not too keen on the history behind the exhibits, wanted to get it over and done with. It was more of a been there feeling that we wanted to have, and not really observe and admire history. The lack of English translation at most exhibits, here and at the Uffizi did help our cause. Not to forget the mini brochure they give with the entry tickets. It points out the important/famed pieces in each room. We went, we saw, we conquered them. Thankfully, cameras aren’t banned here. Took a few memorable pictures, and were out in a jiffy.Yes,It was important to see this.
The famed real Mona Lisa
And this was the only crowd we saw inside the Louvre. In front of Mona Lisa. She must be feeling like the real “Queen of Hearts”.

It was lunch time. Travel weariness was overtaking us…there was so much left to see in Paris, and we had just 8 hours ahead of us. Rush hour. Food is so expensive here, or are we not doing our calculations right. No more energy. Lets have a quick one. Walk to a Chinese restaurant. We find rice alright. Something that looks veggie. And there is exciting non veggie stuff too. Iced tea in a glass sure does look as good as wine.

Then we move on towards Champ Elysses. The walk through the lush greens is good.

You see what I mean.
Been there done that again feeling. We decide that since we can see the Eiffel tower from this end, it must be close to the Eiffel tower, which we are to anyways see at night with the lights on, while we are on the famed cruise on the Seine river, so why walk all the way there now?. Twisted logic. So we turn back.

Take the train to Arc Du Triomphe. Some incoherent mumble about Joan of Arc;-) Okay..we do know it is a momument for the unsung/unidentified/not glorified World War hero, in front of which Hillary Clinton made a remarkable presence on the BBCs and CNN’s the last time she was here and sparked off her possible future presidency debate the first time. Time to go catch some rest before we are up once again for our owl watch at the Eiffel at the night.

But no, the Moulin Rouge is yet to be seen. We decide that Paris needs to be visited again. It is such a beautiful city, and we have not been able to do justice to it on such a short visit, where the mind is willing the tired physical self to go ahead. The uncertainity of our next visit will us towards Moulin Rouge. Promise of a Haigen Dass ice cream at the end of it perk us up a little.

Onto Moulin Rouge. We see the famed site; accidentally walk into a cemetery; retrace back 🙂 Moulin Rouge done. What next? We do not have the energy to think – so we head back to the hotel. Haigen Dass remains forgotten.Refreshed after a good sleep, and up a little before 6.30 pm, we decide it is the right time to head to the Eiffel. More on that later.

Filed under: Travel & Books - my pastimes, , , , ,

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