Sunday, April 5, 2009

Day 2 in Paris

First, a trivia item: Paris is named after the Parisi tribe that discovered the island and set up their huts here in 200 BC. They set up on Ile de la Cite, where I am staying. It's one of two islands on the Seine; the other being Ile Saint Louis. On this particular island is Notre Dame. Another interesting fact: there was discussion among city planners to tear down Notre Dame until Victor Hugo's book "The Hunchback of Notre Dame"" was written and made the place famous.

So today (Friday to me) I started out at the gym - see, it's possible to work out on vacation, even in a foodie place like Paris. After getting back and having breakfast it was decided that Byron, Glenn, and I would trek along Champs-Elysees from Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe. Concorde is where the beheadings took place during the French Revoluution...The Directory renamed the square Place de la Concorde (from Place de la Revolution). On the northwest corner of Concorde is where the guillotine (aka the national razor) was placed. It is now marked with a statue of Brest and underneath that it's a bathroom. So from a place to where Marie Antoinette lost her head to aa place where you drop your pants...crazy. The rest is blah,blah tourist stuff that you should do if you're in Paris...walk the Champs-Elysees, go to the Arc de Triomphe, then walk to the Eiffel Tower. I could describe it for you, but you have to experience it yourself. All I can say is that Hitler was only in Paris for a day and got a photograph of himself in front of the Eiffel Tower and marched through the Arc de Triomphe, so then should you.

Speaking of the Eiffel Tower - go up, Take the time and spend the money: 12 euros. It's quite a view. Just watch out for all the trinket people! They'll try to sell you 100 different miniature versions of the tower. Yeah, so they got me.

Last thing - the ride home was on a Batobus: a river taxi of sorts. There are different versions - some with naratives of the city and others without.

Oh, yeah, one more thing: my thought of the day. Taking the batobus home I couldn't help but wonder how it would be to live in Paris. Actually, I do this in every city I travel to. I wonder what I would do for work: would I start a gym? Would I wait tables and live a day-to-day existence? How livable is Paris? What about the climate? Then I think about about how I could make it happen. Sell my share of the business. Find a job. Learn French. Get an apartment. It's a thing that I have done in every city that I've been to. Paris would be fun, but I think that the cost would be a tough thing to deal with. It's on par with London and worse than New York, especially with the exchange rate. I tend to think that I would pick up a smoking habit in about 3 months, as seems to be the case with everyone I see. I would date a smoking hot super-model girlfriend. Yeah, every girl here is smoking hot and dresses with crazy style.

Ok, that's it. Versailles on Saturday, museums on Sunday (they're free!)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Paris in the springtime!

The trees are turning green, the sun is shining, couples are hanging out along the Seine - yes, it's spring in Paris. I arrived here Thursday morning...via Cincinnati. Of all the things I wanted to get done before I left, buying a guide book was one that I failed to complete. Once I arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport I had to find my way to Paris and the apartment that my friends Byron and Glenn rented. At this point I realized that I should have paid attention in my college freshman French class. I tried in vain to figure out how to get to Paris, but to no avail...I ended up getting directions at the info booth. They told me to get on the free train, get off, buy a ticket, get back on another train, etc, etc. Seemed like a lot to when it was time to get off the train, I was met with an onslaught of boarding passengers and I couldn't get off. Instead I took a wait and see approach. Finally I arrived at (one of) the main metro stops where everyone else got off. I followed them and realized that I had to switch lines. Then I was given two options: buy a ticket and walk through the turnstile, or just walk through an open gate that everyone else was walking through...I choose the latter option. Once I got to my destination (Ile de la Cile) I calculated that I had saved 8 euros. Now I could eat!

Now as I write this I am sitting at Le Petit Plateau - across from Notre Dame and Ile Saint Louis - drinking a much anticipated glass of red's currently 7:10 a.m. DC's a little early for wine in DC, but just the right time in Paris.

Here are my early observations and thoughts: on the train/metro ride here I noticed a NYC-amount of graffiti along the rails. Also, not having a guide book, I had no idea which way to go to find the apartment - all I had was the address and a Metro map. I knew that the apartment was on Ile de la Cile, which limited how lost I could get!

After eating (I've ordered a quiche and 3-cheese plate) I have to find a place to drop my bag since I don't have a key and then get to Musee d'Orsay by 5 p.m. to meet Byron and Glenn.

Ahh! Lunch is served! Excuse me while I eat....


ok...yes french food is quite good! (understatement, yes, I know) A vegetable quiche followed by 3 small but delicious cheeses. The quiche was larger than what is typically served in the States and came with a very fresh salad - simple but delicious. In total, a glass of red, a quiche and salad, 3 cheeses and bread...all for 11 euros, or $20 including "tip". But, hey, the waitress gets 12 weeks vacation, so it's worth it!