Thursday, April 19, 2012

European Diaries - Paris

Paris was absolutely whirlwind! Two days did not do justice to all that we wanted to do. But if you do have two days, do Paris like we did! :)
We traveled to Paris in the most plush train I have ever been in - Thalys Rail! Red lounge chairs, three course meal, wine and the works! I never wanted to get off that train. :)
Food in Thalys Rail :)
I think my high point of the trip to Paris was meeting Pallavi. She brings along a whole lot of warm and fuzzy memories right from my school days. The things we did back then deserves a separate page altogether! Now getting back to the trip, Tour de Paris started with the Eiffel Tower.
22nd September, On our way to Basel – Eiffel Tower is extremely hyped. That does not mean that one can avoid going there! You’ve got to just do the entire lame routine – including the pics where you put a finger on top of the Eiffel. Like Pallavi kept saying – It looks like a building under construction! J So, we went to Eiffel Summit, got the customary photographs and decided to come back next day evening to catch the dusky view of Eiffel.
The nicest thing about Europe is that it is very musical! Small alleys, city squares, stations – you’ll find superb musicians everywhere! Playing instruments as varied as the harp or the obo! There was one in front of Eiffel too. Makes one want to stay on indefinitely! J
Our first view of the Eiffel
From Eiffel, we took a walk to Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Élysées. The latter is a glittery street full of life. If you have a heavy pocket, this is the place to be. It has every brand imaginable! As mentioned in previous posts, I had already committed hara-kiri with my finances. So, we just strolled around. 
Arc de Triomphe in the evening
Champs-Élysées
The rest of the evening in Paris was spent in a pseudo pub crawl. Pub Crawl is a concept all over Europe (maybe other countries too) – which basically boils down to cheap drinks and a whole lot of getting drunk at pubs where normally people don’t enter! :D In the good old fashion capital of the world, we girls dressed in shorts and sneakers made quite a picture. But we danced like no one’s watching. Who cares about dress codes anyway! We danced on table tops too. :P We danced through the night and thanked our stars that those were sneakers on our feet instead of painful high heels! :) We got lost yet again later that night. No words would be enough to express our gratitude for Google Maps!


The fashion capital and us!
Oh! Forgot to add – We saw Moulin Rouge too. But only from the outside. The cabaret and dinner costs a bomb. Mental note to become rich (by ANY means) and come back for this.
The second day in Paris was very hectic. By the end of it, I couldn’t feel my legs. I think this was the day when we walked close to 20 kms! Given a choice, I’d probably spend this day the very same way all over again!
22nd September, On our way to Basel – The second day was very touristy. We started with Sacré-Cœur Basilica, which was a 5 minute walk from our hostel. Picked up very French hats on the way (which have proved to be very useful till now!). Sacré-Cœur is a very beautiful church…perched up on a small hill. Pretty as a picture. 


Sacré-Cœur
There was a musician playing the harp on the stairs leading up to the church. Made the entire place picture perfect! Some sunshine, our French hats, entire Paris laid out in front of us, beautiful music and Sacré-Cœur…It’s at these times that I wished that I was in each city for at least a week!
An awesome cappuccino at a small bistro later, we headed to Notre Dame Cathedral. Pallavi and I were mighty excited about this place, thanks to the umpteen times we’ve heard about it in school. The audio guides here are a must!
The cathedral was awe inspiring! The inside is a square and a circle within the square. The square depicts the four seasons/directions/elements of nature and so on. The circle signifies perfection. Both put together signify reincarnation (yes, I actually managed to remember all of that!). The glass work all around is stunning. Candles lit everywhere, people praying and a warm hue all around…I could’ve spent a day there!
People praying at the Catehdral

That day, time seemed like a huge luxury! After the cathedral, we walked along the river Seine towards Louvre. We were already pretty spent but I can be quite the stubborn kid! While walking towards Louvre, saw some really nice and artsy posters, which we promised ourselves that we'll buy on our way back. But that never really happened. That day Lady Luck was on our side. Barring Wednesdays and Fridays, the place shuts down at 6 pm. And that day was a Wednesday and it was 5 pm when we reached! :) 


Tired us at Louvre
Louvre is divided in three zones - Denon, Richelieu and Sully. Each of the zones is a maze where you can get lost easily. Wearing comfortable shoes for this museum trip is a very very good thought. Four hours with tired feet is such a bad idea for this place, but then we made the most with what we had. :) Denon is where the who's who of the art space is housed. You don't even need to ask directions for the Monalisa. A perpetual wave of people keep moving in a certain direction, which invariably leads to the Monalisa. Seeing it was one of those anticlimactic moments. I jostled through the crowd to take glimpse. And there it was...a small painting of a lady who maybe smiled..or maybe didn't! The painting opposite to the Monalisa is a stunner. It is the largest in Louvre, and leaves you gaping with its grandeur and details. 

You don't have to be an art connoisseur to love Louvre. You'll just fall in love with the place anyway. It is almost a humbling experience to be there. With one of their multimedia guides for company, one can really spend a week there. Even the weirdest paintings and skewed sculptures had a story behind them! If I ever go back to Paris some day, it would primarily be for Louvre! Venus De Milo, Psyche being revived by Cupid's kiss..I could just go and on. 


Seeing Louvre in itself was like a marathon run. By the time we were done there, we just had one more thing to check off the list. And that was seeing Eiffel all lit up in the night! I think it was the Starbucks coffee which got our adrenaline going and our sanity dying. We decided to go the distance...on our feet! The funny thing was we were laughing our heads off on the way. Over jokes so bad, good humor would have died a hundred deaths that day. We couldn't feel our feet that night, but the smiles never left us. Travelling with friends so dear is a cure to all maladies I think. 

Laughing helplessly - on our way from Louvre to Eiffel!
Worth a mention was the Photo Quay by the river Seine, very close to Eiffel. A collection of some ridiculous and some amazing pictures. Walking through a city has its own quirky discoveries. 
The Photo Quay!
We finally managed to reach the Eiffel. In true amateur photographer's spirit, we set up the tripod and clicked. Stood in front of the Eiffel and got some groupie shots too, as a memoir for all the walking and all the good things that came with it.
Eiffel in the night - this is what we walked for!
The fun we had in those two days can barely be described in a blog post. I loved Paris not just because of the beautiful city that it is, but because of the company I had. I think I had almost started counting days by now. Days were flying by and the Euro trip just kept getting better and better. Next in line was Lauterbrunnen!

14 comments:

  1. Loved ur description of 'Louvre' ... Da Vinci Code revisited !! Mental note to visit there ASAP !! Sneak pics are making this a real treat to read :-) Lauterbrunnen is awaited !!

    P.S :- Yes finally i solved the technical riddle of getting blocked from commenting! High Point :-)

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  2. I read it the second time and I can read it again!

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    1. Then read it again :P Increases blog traffic :D Thanks waise :)

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  3. been wanting to visit paris for long time..and reading your post, got a good info where to go what to do..!!

    http://sushmita-smile.blogspot.in/

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    1. Hey Sushmita..glad the post helped..you'll love Paris! Drop me a line on my mail (suravi.shome@gmail.com) in case you need more information!

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