1:30 – repeat
2:15 – repeat
3:30 – repeat
4:00 – repeat
AAAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!! Not a good night.
Finally it was actually time to get up and we all got ready and made it to the chunnel with plenty of time, settled into our seats and started off for Paris.
On the chunnel we enjoyed our first taste of Paris, a lovely croissant from the train cafeteria that only cost the equivalent of roughly $7.50. Don’t you just love European tourist prices?
The French countryside was absolutely lovely. The morning we arrived everything was very green. We seemed to have left the rain behind in London at it was replaced by a light mist that settled picturesquely over the French farms and hills. Granted, I was sleeping for most of the train trip due to my less-than stellar night, but the parts I did catch sure were nice!
We arrived in Paris around noonish and immediately set to deciphering the instructions to our hotel. They were a tad cryptic and it took us a while to find it but after going to the absolute last metro stop on the line and carrying our bags for what seemed like 50 miles we chanced upon our hotel. It was simple but nice. We unpacked our bags and headed back out into the city.
Our first stop was probably the most daunting: the Louvre. We popped out of the metro right next to the big beast and were floored. It was similar to the feeling that we had seeing Big Ben for the first time. The Louvre is HUGE! These kings in Europe had absolutely no shame in building disgustingly ostentatious buildings. It did fulfill it’s goal (inspiring awe) I suppose.
The other issue with the Louvre is the sheer number of people inside. We were stuffed in there like sardines. There must have been 500 people in the mosh pit by the Mona Lisa. We saw some pretty famous stuff, but I’ve never known a whole lot about art so I probably didn’t appreciate it as I should have.
About 20 minutes into the museum I got hit by some nasty cramps and gas. I could barely breathe. That made the oppressive crowds and heat all the much more pleasant to deal with. At one point I found a bathroom but quickly discovered that there was someone taking their (and everyone else’s, apparently) sweet time. There were 4 men in line for the only stall and they all spoke different languages. The older Japanese guy who kept patting his midsection was squabbling it out with the young, well-dressed French (possibly gay) guy. I decided to skip that idea and looked for an easier way to find a toilet.
Anyway, I staggered my way around the museum ripping some nasty ones, probably damaging priceless artwork with the fumes. I think it may have killed one of the guards. We finally left the Louvre (which had become my idea of a personal hell) and went looking for some food. We found a neat little café down the road a bit and stopped. I immediately sought out their facilities while my compadres ordered. When I got back I found a lovely little set of sandwiches waiting. I had half of two different baguette sandwiches, one of them some kind of fancy ham and the other sausage pate. I was immediately feeling better about this Paris place. If they could produce food like this they must not be all bad, right?
After our dinner we wandered around the Champs Elysee, stopping to gawk at the Arc d’Triomph.
Much bigger than I expected. No wonder all the many countries that have invaded france have felt it necessary to stomp around outside the arc. Very majestic. Then we wandered around some Parisian back roads (wandering is rapidly becoming one of our favorite activities here in Europe) until we bumped into the Eiffel Tower. Again, much larger and cooler than I anticipated. Really seems like an engineering feat when you get right up next to it. We found a cool little park that was relatively people-free and hung out there for a few minutes until the lights came on the tower and hung around until 9:00 when the whole thing went up in sparkles. Looked pretty dang cool.
Did some more wandering until we bumped into a metro station, walked the distance back to our hotel, showered and hit the sack. Paris was shaping up to be a good time after all!