Monday, May 05, 2008

Europe Recap Part 2: Paris

From London we flew to Munich to pick up the car (more on that later) and then immediately hopped a flight to Paris for a few days. Here's your Paris recap.

Good photo, Bryan!

Paris, the City of Lights. This should be one of the prettiest, most beautiful places on Earth with a moniker like that. Umm, not so much. Our first impression getting on the train from CDG into the City was "did they fly us to the wrong place?" The train ride was a little sketchy and both Katie and I hurried off the second we arrived at our stop, relived to be in a better, cleaner, safer place.

The Siene river and Pont Neuf

Umm, not so much. The train dropped us off in this mall that was closed (it was about 9PM or so) but still had sketchy people all around. Once we got outside it had to be better... Umm, not so much. The long and the short of it is that Paris at night is pretty F'n sketchy unless you're on Champs de Elysse or within a block of any major tourist attraction.

My favorite Spinal Tap album: Intravenous de Milo

Once morning came we left the hotel (another Priceline score) and began our walking tour of Paris, which was far more inviting and beautiful in daylight. All told we walked over 12 miles this first day from the hotel to the Louvre to Arc de Triumph to Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame and all sorts of stuff in between. We didn't realize how much we had walked until we stopped and every muscle just started waving the white flag.

Eiffel Tower view looking down

Notre Dame is one of the most fantastic things I have ever seen. The size of that church along with the amazing sculpture and stained glass are truly a sight to behold. It was a gorgeous day and the way the afternoon sun was shining through the stained glass was breathtaking. This is a must-see stop in Paris.

The Church, not the underachieving Big East school

The Louvre, too, is a sight to behold if for nothing else because of how freaking big it is. The building is shaped like a "U" and the 2 long sides are each approximately 1km long. On our second day we would go in around 7PM for the evening rate and walk it, which was not that fun as our bodies were beat from the marathon walk session the day before. The # of pieces in this museum is staggering. We walked about 75% of the museum, stopping at maybe 10% of the pieces on display for 20-30 seconds at a pop and it took us almost 3 hours. The highlights are obviously the Mona Lisa (which is really small and in a giant room with other paintings that are around 20' wide) and Venus de Milo. Venus was cool to see and the way they had it arranged was very cool. Lots of Greek antiquities and such here so if you're a fan of big name artists and paintings, you may be better served hitting up Musee de Orsay.

Does the pyramid look crooked? Don't hire me for photo editing work...

The Orsay was interesting, as well, but in a totally different way. Many big name artists here and several paintings everyone knows, but the place had a huge slant towards the French. French artists, French exhibits, stuff like that. I would have appreciated it more had it not been so overly French and full of itself. There, I said it.

The Eiffel tower is a no-brainer. The lines to get up the tower sucked, but it was no surprise. The structure itself is massive; way bigger than I thought it would be. The views of the city are spectacular and you really get a sense for how crowded Paris architecture is when viewing it from above. The city was built on top of itself several times over and there's not a meter of wasted space.

Eiffel Tower = BIG

The food in Paris was OK but expensive as sin. The food and drink here were actually more expensive than London, which was a real shocker as we had prepared ourselves that London would be the most expensive leg of the trip. We paid $19USD for a 1-litre glass of coke, which equates to about 3.5 small bottles of coke (what can I say: we were thirsty!). The last couple days we got in the habit of visiting our bakery just a couple blocks from the hotel and buying a baguette then grabbing some spreadable cheese and salami and making a lunch out of it and boy was it good. The breads in Paris are second to none and this little meal would feed both of us for about 6 Euro.

Paris from above, crammed for as far as the eye can see

After 3 days we were ready to leave Paris. We saw pretty much everything you could see and enjoyed everything here but we were ready to move on. Would I go back? Probably not. There's not enough here for me between being wicked expensive and too many big tourist trap things too see; I'd like to be somewhere I can explore a bit more and through all the exploring I did I realized that Paris was all pretty much the same. Maybe I'd try it in the summer months if I was in Europe and looking for a 2 day trip and I'd certainly love to visit other areas of France, but probably not Paris.

Next up: a little rest and relazation in Salzburg, Austria.

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