GET READY FOR SOME MAJOR PICTURE BLOGGING! FORGIVE THE HORRIBLE WRITING FOR I HAVEN”T SLEPT IN DAYS!!!
(Oh yes, SHE'S coming to Europe.)
(Always a nice thing to have lining the walls of the plank as you walk to the plane. Would it be our fate?!)
Being a tourist is fucking exhausting. Sorry for the language but after being up for over 36 hours (with a one hour power nap after having a break down about not having an alarm clock) I am ready to give these tired legs a rest. It stuns me how quickly I can be transported from New York City and submerged in this incredible artistic playground that I am dying to explore, but who am I to get caught up on trivial details like travel?!
(The view from my hotel room. Ah, gay Paris!)
Oh, what a day it was! Having only been out of the country once (with ABT when we went to Japan two summers ago which quickly became one of my favorite places ever) I cannot exactly call myself an experienced world traveler. I'm the boy on the subway with his nose stuck in the tour book constantly trying to have his agenda become the group agenda. Thankfully today there was universal agreement on what we wanted to do. In an effort to not kill ourselves after the travel day we agreed it would be best to do some low key exploring walking around a few different Parisian stomping grounds. How quickly that became exhaustion.
For some reason in Japan I wasn’t nearly as overwhelmed by the tour book as I am with this Fodor’s guide to Paris, which has seemingly endless amounts of wonderful things to do. This place is dripping with history at every step and looking at the exquisite architecture alone could take months of studious devotion. Well, I need to cram it all (art, nightlife, history, and that little thing called work) into a week. I am having vivid flashbacks of my first few days in Japan where I felt completely out of place and like I couldn’t get home quickly enough. Having that under my belt makes me accept the “fish out of water” feeling I have and overcome it. Sure I don’t speak the language and when I attempt to say even the simplest phrase I sound like nails on a chalkboard but I am going to enjoy this like it’s my last week on Earth.
I was too anxious on the flight to sleep at all so when I finally arrived I knew I had to get a little rest before the day really began. Immediately I was struck by how run down the suburbs of Paris are but as soon as we reached the city I was amazed at the incredible statues, architecture and winding streets that were screaming my name as I sat on the bus in a delusional stupor. Where to begin!? Even after the flight I hadn’t truly narrowed down my choices but Adrienne (yes THAT blog superstar) and I decided Montmatre was a good place to begin. Sure, it is a bit touristy but it was rumored to have a stunning view of the city (albeit overcast as it will continue to be the whole week I am here) so I gathered up a group who thought it sounded like fun.
(The first subway ride in a new place is always scary. Marian and I were amazed at how cool the locals are. They have control over when the door opens at the station so when the train speeds in, they open it before it stops and leisurly jump out with such ease and without missing a step. I hope to this cool by the time I leave on Sunday.)
Making a quick pit stop for some quiche and cappuccino was only the beginning of our journey. We quickly learned that the subway is surprisingly easy to navigate and emerged from the tunnel in Pigalle (the sex district) to neon lights advertising frightening things. While this view may have been entertaining, it wasn’t what we had come for because the hill winding it’s way to the upper most peak overlooking the city was calling our name. What better way to begin Paris than by soaking it all up in one glance?!
(One of many sex shops in Pigalle. "Sexodrome," I think it's a good name for this blog, no?)
(Beginning to wind our way up through Montmatre gave these dancer legs some work.)
Cobblestone streets and never-ending staircases led us up the hillside at steep angles rushing towards the top. Along the way there were endless amusing apartment buildings that were so adorable I still can’t believe they’re real. Reading my tour book and learning of all of the incredible artists that used to walk these very passageways every day was inspiring even though the area has become noticeably touristy.
(Ewww...she just can't stop hogging the camera can she?)
The icing on the cake was even greater than expected. After navigating our way through a small plaza where endless portrait painters harassed us we turned a corner and set our eyes on the Sacre Coeur, a 19th century Catholic Church masterpiece that was created to “symbolize the return of self confidence to late 19th century Paris.” Well I would say if you mean that it is elegant and large enough to eat New York’s St. Patricks Cathedral for lunch, it sure symbolizes self-confidence. Not only it’s structure, but it’s place in the layout of Paris, looms over the rest of the city. If only I had been able to take a few pictures inside to demonstrate the incredible architecture (especially the interior of the dome with four “guardian” angles watching over the church) but I guess the views of the outside will have to do.
(Sacre-Cour, minus the annoying peddlers who bothered us outside.)
Having felt like the King of the World (not in the Titanic sense) for a few moments standing looking out over Paris, we all turned to each other and asked “what’s next?” Going on one hour of sleep we thought perhaps a quick jaunt down to the Seine (which I can never pronounce correctly) would be the perfect nightcap. Well, it’s amazing what those Parisian coffees will do to you because after another stop in a café I was ready to keep the sightseeing going. I figured as much as I could fit into this day would leave more room the rest of the week for serious art viewing and getting lost exploring the smaller aspects of the city.
(Gorgeous view of the Seine crossing a bridge on our trek to the Eiffel Tower.)
Up until stepping out of the second café, I hadn’t quite decided what I was feeling about Paris. Yes, the architecture was amazing and the people seemed surprisingly kind but something just wasn’t stunning me yet. Then the sun began to set and the Parisian magic set in. Leisurely walking with friends by the Seine looking out over the illuminated mansions, palaces and monuments, there was a sensational tranquil excitement that set in. Looking to our right as we crossed a bridge we saw the Eiffel Tower shining its beacon over Paris and you may as well have started the cheesy movie music at that moment. Little did I know what I was in store for…
(A little blurry but you can still see it in the background. We were delusional enough to think that it was a quick walk from where we stood taking this picture. Think it looks good? Wait until the next blog!)