26.02.2017 - 02.03.2017 55 °F
Orly to Frankfurt and a quick 10 hours via Greenland and Canada and plop, Seattle. On the southbound Amtrak bound for Portland at the moment.
I just paid $10.50 for a pack of cigarettes. Welcome home ;-) Use all those taxes wisely Seattle. Like maybe a trash can here or there to put my fifty cent butt in.
Paris stayed lovely the whole time. I was not in the world's most brilliant mind-space for a couple of the days for reasons unrelated, but the city certainly did it's best to get me to focus. Sit and have some coffee, she says. You'll need it for the frigid wait in line for the catacombs (they are open by the way). Hungry? Let me make you a tasty egg and cheese crepe for the climb up Eiffel. Need to use the bathroom? Can't help you there...bathrooms I don't do. How about another coffee to take your mind off the bathroom?
The list of sights I can give some small amount of insight on grew only slightly. I meandered over to Sacre Coeur one day. Stately and gorgeous. She has the only large amount of sanguine, vibrant red stained glass that'd I'd seen so far. It really is striking and Montemartre is great area outside city center for cafes, bakeries, delis and wine shops, my hotel was there as well ($55 a night for Hotel Du Moulin). I walked from the Arc du Triumph to the Eiffel Tower another day. You don't ever have to worry about getting lost in that area really. Just wander to a place with a bit of view and look for the tower. I think that I had included Eiffel Tower when mentioning possible things that seem smaller in person. I take that back. It's plenty tall. Especially when you're climbing the stairs. Nothing off-putting but leggy for a tired old man ;-) At some point someone installed these fun, gut-flurbling clear plastic floorboards on the first level. If you have the nerve you're welcome to walk all over them and look down at the ground faaaar below you while you do it. It's a singular sensation and I witnessed plenty preferring not to have the experience. I have a thing for falling so it made me kind of weak kneed and floppy but I did it. Kind of hard not to giggle for some reason...lol
The catacombs are a bit difficult to really digest in one go I think. There are 6 million ex-people down there stacked in the old quarries. 6 million. The mines wind around for 200 miles and the catacombs take up 1/800th of them. You keep moving along, staring at endless bones and skulls, deciding whether arranging craniums in a heart shape is disrespectful or sacred. It's wonderfully macabre and slightly claustrophobic in a fun way. You can opt for an audio guide that I passed on. They were definitely worth the hour and a half wait but a lot of them are closed off. You could walk the length of the open section in probably 20 minutes at a steady pace. I spent about an hour which seems average.
It's fairly neat to exit in an entirely different part of the city and look at the streets in a new way. Lots of doin's under yonder.
I strolled through Luxembourg gardens, happened upon The Pantheon and visited St. Etienne within a few hours of each other. I'd had hopes of catching a Bach recital in St. Eustache but due to metro bumps and a prolonged Eiffel visit I made it juuuuust after but in time for mass. St. Eustache was pictured before but I hadn't gone in yet. Due to the religious service I couldn't take any pictures but it's really incredible in there and I suggest you try to visit during a recital or service just to hear the acoustics. The largest organ in France, with 8,000 pipes, is housed there. The Tabernacle organ beats it by more than 3,000 but I'd say the surrounding bit is slightly more awe inspiring ;-)
With one more day the choice between Versailles and the Louvre was a fairly simple one for me. That place is garmungus. Hugantuine times three floors. I had to smile when the first exhibits I came across were the Egyptian collections. I thought I'd breeze through them but I got caught up for too long checking all the I.D. plates and going ooooh that was that missing part in Abydos, or huh....Saqqara would be a lot more interesting if half the stuff was still there. I think they have better quality artifacts in the Louvre than the Egyptian Museum in Cairo ;-)
I'm a bit of an idiot when it comes to high-art but it goes without saying that the Greek sculptures are silkily gratifying to look at. The Spanish, Dutch French and Italian paintings are just too much to take in in one visit but even just walking down the halls surrounded by them can be enough. And of course there are the rock starts that sometimes pop out or are made obvious by loads of people taking pictures of them. Venus de Milo (turns out that without arms or distinguishing marks no one knows if this is Venus or not), a couple Michael Angelo sculptures, a wait-I-know-that-one moment when you pass Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People (like I knew who Delacroix was before that...but knew the painting) . Napoleon III's apartments are just wonderfully/stupidly ostentatious and well worth breaking away from the individual pieces for a spell. And little Lisa is still up there smiling in her huge encasement. She gets her own signs telling you where she is.
A time slot for the Vermeer exhibition was included in the entry price so I picked my slot and looked in on that as well. I had no idea about this guy and his contemporaries...lol These works are over 300 years old and they just POP. You've all seen The Milkmaid whether you know it or not and I can swear in person it looks 3d. It really is something. Even for an idiot. The Astronomer and the Geographer were there too. The colors are almost unbelievably vibrant. A few of the other painters from Delft seemed to have a Who Can Paint the Most Excellent Satin Skirt contest at one point and these were on exhibit as well. I didn't know that era even had paints that could do what they did.
After 8 hours my right leg was starting to cramp so I picked an exit...lol Which took another half hour to actually find and succeed in going through. Then a walk to the metro. Then a walk to the hotel. I was chuckling that I was actually limping by the end. Since when did this start happening :-P
Stupid body. Stupid cellular and telemeric degeneration. Beer helped!
And that was pretty much that folks. Early flight today and the rest was said in the beginning.
I know the blog was a bit of a silly thing to write and thanks for reading. I've been told I might have put myself in more pictures as you can look up the scenery online but too late! So there.
Go buy your tickets and get the hell out :-)
Oh and I'll post a couple more pics soon.