Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Day 2 of Paris
We slept the sleep of the dead (almost, not quite) last night as the long time on the plane had exhausted us both.
I had had a luxurious bath before retiring last night, something I don't do very often nowadays. I read a little then slept a lot.
Mind, I was a bit disoriented when awakening as the sounds (water fountain and people laughing) are not the normal sounds I listen to first thing in the morning as a rule. Usually it's birds and motor mowers.
It actually sounded like a beach initially, but then I realised where I was, so I got up and watched the sun spill into the square where we are, and watched five separate plane trails, all there at the same time in the sky above as people walked their dogs....(le petite chien) and workers bustled on their way to travail close by.
Eventually we both awoke, showered, and dressed for a big day out then went down in the lift for 'le petit dejeuner' provided on the ground floor.
I have realised I am a little hesitant in using my scanty french for fear parisiennes will laugh at me. It's a big inferiority complex I have and I will have to swallow it.
Mind, last night in my wanders on my own, I came across a yummy boulangerie that advertised the best baguettes in Paris and spoke to the woman behind the counter in broken french and.....she understood me!!!!!!!
Today as we were walking the streets along the Seine (more about that later) I said "Bonjour" to a gentleman who could see we were tourists and he commented on my 'lovely french accent" so I should be happy with myself.
Anyhow, I digress. Following breakfast, we ventured out into the world and decided after much discussion that we would see how we went walking to The Eiffel Tower.
It was actually a wonderful stroll and we came across many sights one does not normally see in Melbourne. The architecture is amazingly beautiful, possibly because we are used to more contemporary buildings back home. We crossed bridges back and forth to see this city at large and came across Pont Neuf, reknown for all the padlocks placed there by lovers and the like from all over the world.
We came across gypsies, quite distinct because of their skin colouring who wanted to trick us with their golden ring on the ground trick. Fortunately I had seen one woman do it in front of Murray....pick the ring up off the ground that is, so when the second woman did the same, we were 'en guard'!
They pretend someone has dropped a ring then pick it up in front of you and claim they have just found it. This first woman asked Murray if it was gold then asked him for money for a sandwich... all in the same sentence. They then offer you the ring and if you accept and take the ring then chase after you for money! We were onto their scam fortunately and knew just to ignore after the first encounter.
There are so many tourists like us on the walk to the Eiffel Tower. So many with their cameras, talking selfies with Go Pro cameras and extended sticks. Kind of detracts from the beauties of the sights when you see so many doing the 'lip pout in front of Eiffel Tower' pose.
The Seine is a gently lapping wide river. Many tourist boats travel up and down as do occasional cargo boats, we even saw one boat transporting a car, tyres and tubs of probable oil as well.
There are also many people doing it tough it seems, sleeping on the pavements, begging and generally down and out. I suppose this is their life and perhaps they are happy in a sense. It is not for me to ask, judge or criticise. Occasionally you will come across someone begging but we have not been hassled when we refuse. They just turn onto the next person and ask for money again and again.
There are so many beautiful people here also. I now understand what I have read about the women of Paris. They really are magnificent in their dress. There is very little obesity from what I can see out in the streets and most of the women are extremely well turned out in their clothing, footwear and hair styles.
I feel quite dowdy in comparison.
Anyway, we walked and walked, calling into a pharmacy to purchase some Nurofen on the way for my sore back and then all of a sudden we were there at Le Tour Eiffel as were thousands of others.
This was supposedly a quiet day as the kids are back at school the world over but we still had a wait to purchase tickets for about 1/2 an hour, then a wait to go up the lift, plus a wait to go to the toilet on the second floor, then a wait to go right up to the top, then a wait to come down to the second foor again, then a wait once more to go down to the ground, but, boy was it worth it.
Too bad we chose our own pathway and didn't purchase tickets prior to the event but you live and learn and we know that tomorrow we will buy in advance!
For those that have not been to the Eiffel Tower, it is a mammoth structure and can be seen from all parts of Paris, standing in the sky waiting for its tourists to arrive each day. Fortunately, the sign people create notices in multiple languages telling us the costs to climb aboard (30 euro each to get to the top) . You have the option of lifts and or stairs and so, up we went the quickest of ways to the second floor. We took numerous photos and it was here that I realised that the battery on my camera which I had not charged since purchase had not been fully charged and after 10 photos or so, told me it was exhausted and consequently could not take any further photos.
All I can say to that is thank god for smart phones!!!!
We bought a bite to eat on this second floor (a baguette for Murray, a toasted ham and cheese sandwich for me), then joined the queue to go up to the top. The views from up there were fantastic and we are so happy with what we did and saw but just a bit more disappointed we didn't have a functioning battery in my camera to take more photos with.
In our travels today we chatted with a male couple from Canada (outside a shop close to our apartment, that has stuffed rats in the window), who told us we each had different accents, a brother and sister from Qld (in the queue for Eiffel tickets on the ground), and a young couple from Norway (in the queue to go up to the top of the tower). We are all visitors from other worlds and have a united excitement about being here in the City for Lovers.
We eventually descended to the ground and were besieged by men wanted get to sell us artifacts that were not strictly legitimate. In fact, there are signs posted that ask you not to purchase from the street sellers. There are signs as you enter the lifts to beware of pickpockets and everywhere people urge you to be cautious for there are people who will do you harm if you allow them.
When we returned to the earth we then decided to try out the On-Off Bus and we were pleasantly surprised with our lesson on Parisienne history and architecture. We listened to tales about Napoleon, Marie Antoinette and Rodin (I even saw 'The Thinker's backside) plus the building of some rather amazing man-made creations. The buildings are beautiful and there are so many iconic places here....as well as Monsieur Eiffel's tower....... the Champs Élysées which beckons us tomorrow, Notre Dame Cathedral, Le Louvre....and so on and so on. We know an early start is in order as there is only one and a half days before we board the boat and even though there is an unspoken promise of returning here some other time already, we want to see as much as we can this time around.
Back into our neighbourhood we go, on the bus, then disembark at Stop No. 5 and as we get off there are police cars with their sirens blaring, rushing past in quick succession.
We stopped at a cafe for coffee, lemon tea and cake, then we are back at The Citadines before we know it.
Already we are becoming street savvy in this cosmopolitan neighbourhood and I love it!!!!!!
A short respite tonight to recharge the batteries (I am talking human bodies here as well as the other kind) and out we go again to stroll around the local community prior to la grande déjeuner. I watched Midnight In Paris a couple of years ago and wasn't overly impressed with the movie but now I think I will watch it again when I return home to Melbourne, for the streets take on an ambience of their own when the sun disappears at the end of the day and the lights return to bathe the cobblestones in a completely different hue.
We walked a few blocks feeling more and more confident of our bearings then found a quiet little café which was well frequented where we ate. Murray's choice this time was a César Salad, whereas I had a cheese, aubergine, artichoke and capsicum pizza which was delicious. It was all washed down with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon too which was yummy as well.
Soon enough it is time to return to our temporary abode and bed beckons us in preparation for yet another busy day tomorrow.
Bon Chance mes armies.
Au bientôt tout suite.