Monday, July 23, 2012

Paris and Nice: Part 2

I know, I know...I'm really behind. But don't worry, I am making up for it with a new France trip post every day this week!

Make sure you check out Part 1 first if you haven't seen it already so you can know what a whirlwind the first two days of our trip were. Also, I've added links to this post, so if you're interested in learning more about something, click away! (and click pictures for a closer look!) I apologize for any weird formatting issues, Blogger and I are having a disagreement today. I promise it looks exactly right on my end, but not so great on yours. I tried!

Day 3:  Wednesday, May 30th
(written at 11:50 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Montparnasse)

Wow. Today was only our second day of sightseeing and I am exhausted. Hopefully I'll make it through the rest of the week! 

We were in the early breakfast group this morning, which came a lot earlier than it seemed. Madame actually had to come knock on our door to wake us up. I didn't feel like I'd even slept a wink.

Our first thing this morning was  a bus tour of the city. Our guide's name was Amal and she was wonderful. She told us a lot of fun and entertaining stories about Parisian culture and architecture. We also got to see sights like the Louvre, the Place de la Concorde, and the Eiffel Tower.

Mom and Hannah at L'Hôtel des Invalides.
Not pictured: me crying on the bus over
my stupid camera.

When we stopped at L'Hôtel des Invalides, disaster struck. I realized at that point that the memory card in my camera was damaged. All the pictures from the first two days...gone. And not just the memory card was damaged, it seemed that there was a problem with my camera. Not surprising as it had been on the fritz before the trip, but infuriating none the less. All the pictures were replaced with little blue squares with question marks in them. No more Arc de Triomphe, no more Notre Dame. Even my food photojournal (which I was so excited about, because France has some interesting food), gone. Even though Shane and Hannah and Mom took pictures of most all of the same things, it's just not the same :(

*Sidenote: I had something similar happen once on a trip to New York city in high school, through a weird memory card error two-thirds of my pictures got deleted and the remaining one-third was repeated three times. So that means all the awesome pictures I took at the Museum of Natural History went missing but I still had the picture of the guy dressed as Spiderman in Times Square. I apparently have horrible luck with digital cameras on trips.*

Galeries Lafayette. Can you believe this
is a department store?!?

The tour ended at L'Opera Garnier, which was Shane's must-see for the trip (he's obsessed with Phantom of the Opera). Before we actually went for the tour, we had a free period for lunch and shopping. I opted for eggplant lasagna at a French sandwich chain but Hannah couldn't find anything she liked there so we had to look around for other options. We tried Pizza Hut but were quickly reminded that pepperoni pizza does not exist in France (and really no American-style pizzas at all) and so off we went to McDo! (McDonalds, just don't tell Madame!) We made a quick stop in the Galeries Lafayette (GIANT department store) after lunch, where Shane bought a new Swatch and Mom couldn't decide on a Longchamps bag. Hannah added to the Swatch collection when we hit up the Swatch store outside the Opera house. 

At the Opéra. I have no words.

Finally it was time for a tour of the Opera and see where the Phantom lives! Even if he's not real, it is still a fabulous place to visit. The whole building is stunning inside and out. I can only imagine how it would be to dance there in the ballet (primary usage for the Opera house today), especially because the stage has an incline of 14% from front to back. Dancing downhill on pointe would be terrifying.

Stairs on the left, tram on the right. I know it doesn't
look like it from here, but trust me, that's too many

Our next stop was up the hill to Montmartre. Shane and I were two of the three people who decided to walk up the stairs rather than take the tram up the hill. Yes, there are that many stairs that the city of Paris had to build an incline tram to take people up instead. And of course Shane wanted to walk, as if we hadn't walked enough yesterday. I think he's trying to kill me. (Halfway up I was contemplating jumping the tracks and holding on to the outside of the tram car for dear life, but by some miracle I made it to the top without passing out).

While on Montmartre, we saw the Sacré-Coeur Basilica, which is the only church in Paris dedicated to Jesus instead of Mary. Then we had some free time to explore. Unfortunately, a majority of the shops on Montmartre are Gatlinburg-esque junk stores. There's always the option of getting your portrait or caricature done by some of Montmartre's famous portrait artists, but Shane and I weren't in the mood. We decided to try and walk to the Moulin Rouge but couldn't find it, so we gave up and went to a street cafe. While Mom was sipping her 7€ Coca-Light (Diet Coke, and approx. $8.50 US), we watched another American family get scammed by two portrait artists. Let me just say that the "real" artists hang out mostly on the square and have a set-up and let you come to them. Then there are those who walk around and swarm tourists like flies. They're relentless. Their work is questionable, their prices are high, and they try anything to trick you into paying more than you should. This family wanted one picture drawn of their two kids together, and negotiated the price down to 20€. They ended up paying 40€ for two separate, ugly pictures from two separate artists (because artist no.1 said he wanted to give his friend artist no.2 some work too). After that they were talking to yet another artist, who promised his work was better than no.1 and no.2. Hopefully they came out of that with a decent drawing and didn't blow their whole vacation budget.

Fun fact: I got to see the show at the Moulin Rouge in
2006 as a graduation gift from my mom! It was awesome.
Next came dinner. We walked down the hill to Pigalle and saw the Moulin Rouge (no wonder I couldn't find it, I was looking in all the wrong places), although briefly, because the Moulin Rouge is conveniently situated in the Red Light district and Madame was about to have a heart attack with so many students in an area with neon lights blinking some very inappropriate things. 

After dinner we rode the Métro down to the base of the Eiffel Tower to take a ride on the Seine river on a bateau mouche (fly boat). The sights were spectacular, seeing Paris all lit up at night like that. It had been raining so I tried sitting down inside the boat for a while but had to get up because I started falling asleep (like a lot of other people on the trip). I know it's hard to imagine falling asleep surrounded by so many sights, but I was so exhausted I just couldn't help it. 

Of course, it's not Paris at night without stopping to see the Eiffel Tower twinkle. For five minutes every hour, hundreds of strobe lights make the tower that much more magical. Of course, enjoying a crêpe with Nutella helps the effect :) 

Don't forget to check out my video with more pictures from day 3! 

No comments:

Post a Comment