Yes, I suck at updating. No, I haven’t been in Europe all this time. 🙂 I got back in mid-October. Everyone was amazed though because I navigated Paris solo with only Wi-Fi to guide me. My phone didn’t work, not even in the hotel. Either that or I couldn’t figure out how to dial.
I realized since my SSL is due for renewal I’m paying a fortune for this domain and I rarely use it. So I’m hopeful to get this updated more but don’t hold your breath.
The first day I was there I just rested and went for a walk. I wrote a lot in Paris, long journal entries. It’s kind of odd though, the cliché of sitting in a café and writing doesn’t really exist in Paris. And nobody goes out to party til 10:30pm. By then I was in bed from all the walking.
The second day I went to the catacombs. In Paris they have a cooler name – “La Tombe d’Issoire”
Man, it’s a long walk. And it’s 140 somn stairs down and 118 up on a narrow staircase with people behind you in better shape than you. I came home with arthritis in my knee from all the stairs I did. I can’t remember much of the history except that it’s been there since the Romans and was originally a limestone quarry. There’s all sorts of creepy inscriptions along the way, some in French, some in Latin.
Oddly, the vibe isn’t creepy. It’s kind of cool because it feels like all these people who were uprooted and forgotten are not all together to be admired.
The third day I took the Big Bus (tour bus) to the Musée d’Orsay. I did a Rick Steves’ audio tour through the museum. Made it much cooler. I love impressionism. Was really cool to see paintings you’d only seen pictures of before. Here’s a few of my favorites:
The bus tour also took me around the city, but here’s something interesting – while I was there, former French president Jacques Cirac died! And his funeral processions were all over the city. I didn’t witness any motorcades but there were gendarmes (police) everywhere. We got stuck on the bus by the shuttered Notre Dame and by the Champs-Elysees for hours. Still was nice to look around:
I did see the Louvre, and if you go, man, don’t bother with the Mona Lisa. There’s a million Asian tourists with selfie sticks who hit you in the head and you can’t get anywhere near her. FYI she’s called La Joconde in Paris.
Take a break somewhere in the middle of the Louvre too, because it’s huge and confusing. Much more worthwhile to see rather than the Mona Lisa is the Venus de Milo. You can get right up to her and it’s nowhere near as crowded. But yes, still there’s Asians with selfie sticks.
That’s probably the best shot I got and it’s still blurry cos people were elbowing me.
But look at the Venus de Milo:
She’s in an alcove all by herself at the end of a room of reproduced Greek and Roman statues. So much beautiful art at the Louvre, it’s hard to select.
This painting spoke to me, it’s a painting from the 13 or 1400s of the King of France. I sent a postcard of it to one of my friends. Instead of bringing a lot of junky souvenirs I sent nice postcards from museums.
Almost forgot Versailles! I actually went there before the Louvre, the Louvre was my last full day in Paris. But if you go to Versailles, go by van and go on a sunny day. The vans drive right up to the gate and the sun makes it sparkle. But take a full day tour if you want to explore the gardens. It takes so long just to get through the palace because there’s so many people that you barely get to look around the gardens if you do a half day tour.
I’m so grateful to have gone to Paris, and for all that I saw. I’m getting restless to go back now. And I would stay at the same hotel, the Home Moderne. It was in a residential area, so I got to see people coming home from work with their bags and baguettes. I even did laundry in Paris at a laundromat down the block! A Portugese woman who spoke English, French, and Portugese helped me.
I didn’t realize I was going to write this much, so it only makes sense to put Ghent and Dublin in the next entry. I was in Paris 7 days, Ghent 3, and Dublin 5. I met my friends Fra and Rudi in Ghent, then stayed with my cousins in Dublin. So really here’s my reflection….
Paris, as much as it’s been said, it’s still a good place to find yourself. Even though I didn’t spend hours at cafés writing, I developed a love of Nescafé and quiet time with my journal. I had a wonderful, wonderful time.
One tip – for anywhere in Europe, if you can book skip the line or assigned times through the museum/attraction directly, do it. And arrive early to anticipate a line even if you have a reservation. Also, make reservations for restaurants, no matter where they fill up pretty quickly. Have a basic knowledge of French. I took 7 years and murdered the language everywhere I went but the French people still appreciated I tried.
Like I said, I’m paying tons for this crazy domain so I might as well use it. I apologize for such a punishing entry but I hoped you enjoyed it. My mom and I sent many emails while I was gone and she told me she was glad for my adventurous spirit returning. Some girls need to run wild, until they find someone else to run wild with.