Thursday was another train day. Amsterdam to Paris. After taking a taxi to my hotel and getting settled, I tried to walk around a bit to check out my neighborhood. Not great, I have to say. Not being familiar with Paris, I just took an affordable stab and it turns out, that wasn’t the wisest choice. The buildings around the hotel are very ordinary and unattractive. And, there are a lot of really ordinary looking folks around (where are all the stylish Parisians?) The area is not bad, per se, just not what you hope for in Paris.
On Friday, after an extremely crowded, claustrophobic, uncomfortable, why-did-I-come here? ride on the metro, I walked around a bit. Getting the lay of the land. Where is Notre Dame? Oh, there’s The Louvre. Where is the Eiffel Tower? Etc. I had no particular plan, I just wanted to wander and get a feel for things.
I figured that my stay was so short and the weather was so nice, I probably wouldn’t want to spend time inside of museums. But, then walking around the Musee du Louvre, trying to grasp how enormous it is, I decided I might need to go inside. However, not being a fan of waiting in long (I mean loooooonnnnngggg) lines, I checked for online tickets for the next day. I got a slot for 30 minutes after they open, so that was the plan.
I wandered through the Jardin des Tuileries (unexpectedly getting my shoes super dusty).
I randomly took a turn and ended up in a sweet little park, gazing at Le Tour Saint-Jacques. Then, I decided to have lunch not far from there. My waiter asked where I was from, I said the US, and he said “I thought you were from Italy, you smile like an Italian girl.” I told him I had been there for the past month, so it must have rubbed off. Then, when he came back he spoke Italian to me. It was awesome.
After checking emails and resting at the hotel for a while, I decided I would go over to the Eiffel Tower around sunset to catch the hourly twinkly lights. (In the evening/nighttime, the tower lights up for a few minutes every hour. I was trying to catch the first Friday light up.) Unfortunately, I went too early. Two hours too early. Ultimately, I decided to wait around, ever so slowly passing the time and then finally sharing the experience with my friends on Periscope. It was a simple thing, but it was a lot of fun.
Saturday morning, I decided to go over toward The Louvre a little early and have breakfast at a cafe across the street. I finished up a little early, but decided to head over to the museum anyway. That turned out to be a great idea, because even though I was 30 minutes ahead of my entry time, they let me in. (Right at opening! Huzzah!) Since I’ve heard it can be mobbed with crowds, I figured I’d go straight to Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, while the day was new – and then go on from there. Everyone (as in, every single person entering with me) was running past me (with the same brilliant idea). I was so offended on behalf of all of the incredible artwork they were passing (and not noticing) on the way, I decided then and there, after Mona Lisa, I would literally go back to where I came in and truly start from there. I only had to wait three selfies to get right up to the rope and snap my own shot with this famous lady!
I spent hours roaming the halls of the Louvre. Quite a lot of it — as I was ahead of most people, and actually looking at things other than the “famous” pieces — felt very private. I was able to wander around, taking everything in generally, stopping when something grabbed me. I really enjoyed the sculptures the most, but the whole time turned out to be a really fantastic experience. I’m so glad I went.
After getting a little sustenance I wandered the city a bit more, stopping into Shakespeare and Company to pick up a copy of Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. Then, you guessed it, I went back over to Notre Dame (which happens to be just across the river), hopped in the line (which was about one-tenth as long as it had been the day before), and went inside. Beautiful.
After teaching a virtual yoga session, back at my hotel, I took the metro to Montmartre to climb the 300 steps to Sacré-Cœur and get some dinner before calling it a night.
It takes me a while to adjust to France. I don’t know why, it just does. So, for the first 36-hours or so, I’m a little off-kilter. But, after that, I got into the groove and had a great time enjoying the beauty of Paris.