Thursday, October 16, 2014

Day 3 of Paris.

 Once we had repaired ourselves after a long day walking, it was time to recharge the bTteries Nd have some dinner
This was to be our last full day of the independent Parisienne lifestyle.
We have been so busy for the past 21/2 days becoming familiar with local landmarks and traversing along this romantic river, that time has flown and this time tomorrow we will be established in our new residence on the Seine. This will be our home for the next 11 days and even though we have very much enjoyed our initial foray into all things French, step 2 promises to be even more exciting than step 1.
So, up with the birds today....speaking of, I am certain crows caw here with a distinct French accent. They do sound different to the crows of home and are more guttural sounding. Perhaps it's related to standing on the heads of so many statues that are prolific around this wonderful city, who knows.
Anyway, as I wrote, we arose early today to ensure we fitted in as much as we could.
Breakfast was amply provided yet again by The Citadines and we ventured forth a little after 9 this morning. 
Once again there were numerous beggars who had slept rough over night, even across the road from the hotel outside a shoe shop that I had selected a pair of shoes from (in my dreams). 200 E was the asking price but they looked decidely comfortable. This adventure is just starting out though so I don't want to spend all my money in one hit and I consequently desisted in purchasing them.
It had rained a little overnight and this morning the sky was decidedly overcast with grey clouds looming over the Eiffel Tower way.
We decided to walk to our first stop this morning as according to the maps it is not too far.
So, walk we did and just when we weren't too sure and asked a lovely lady who offered to help us foreigners with maps going every which way, she laughed and said "you are there"!
Loosely translated, this means we had arrived at the back end of Le Louvre. I was looking for the pyramids made of glass but didn't realise the whole vast area of the world famous art museum was in fact an enormous former castle (one of many here in Paris) and was built around a town enormous town square to be precise.
We walked into this square, jaws agape, at the enormity of the building with its own columns and statues and cobblestones and yes, beggars and people walking dogs and others going to work as well as those pesky tourists out for another day of queuing.
There were two queues at the entrance to Le Louvre. One was the queue if you had purchased tickets in advance and the other was a queue for those silly enough not to have purchased tickets in advance. Guess which queue we joined when we should have known better! Mind, we were just as quick to get through as those who had foresight and clear thinking under their belts as we all had to submit to X-ray machines regardless of our intelligence in case we were bringing bombs or acid or paint I guess into Le Louvre which is kind of sad when you think about it.
Anyway, we were cleared of any suspicion, rode the escalators down into the bowels of A Very Noisy Place and then had to join another queue to purchase tickets to enter (yet again)!
After that queue we were so disappointed as we got through quickly we decided to join yet another queue, this one to provide us with a talking guide as we gazed in wonder at the art there before us.
This queue was a little longer as the one guide present had to explain to every individual how to get the earphones and the hand held interactive pilot how to work. I don't think he did a very good job as I could not get mine working no matter what  I did. Eventually I asked a guide sitting there looking decidedly bored how to get it going and he pressed the volume button and voila! there was someone's talking to me all the time. Too bad I couldn't hear them before.
Well, we walked up numerous flights of stairs. There were so many, I began to wonder if I would develop altitude sickness before too long. I might add that we came across some magnificent works of art as we explored the Denon Wing. Many recognisable pieces were there, fragments of my childhood when I studied art and had a significant interest in what now appears to be Italian Art. The vast pieces we saw were created by so many and even today there were artists in residence, painstakingly copying major pieces of art presumably for their own pleasure.
There were statues galore, people galore and the noise....oh the noise. It started out to be a gentle hum, but as we progressed deeper and deeper into this fortress, the hum grew louder and louder. We followed our ears and because of signage knew where we were off to, and after a few twists and turns there 'She' was, awaiting my eyes to fall upon here.
The Mona Lisa folks, sitting there with her enigmatic grin, probably wondering what the crush of people  were all about but getting on with it all the same as she puts up with this type of behaviour every day.
There was pushing and shoving galore as we all attempted to get prime advantage pics. No opportunity for selfie pouty poses with Mona Lisa here, the most celebrated painting in our lifetime..
There were guards ensuring not one person got too close and the crush of people phenomenal.
That was something I will not care to repeat ever.
Eventually we found our way out of Le Louvre (literally had to retrace our steps to the beginning), joined  yet another queue to return our interactive earpieces then we were out of there.
It was amazingly refreshing to walk out into the rain and after being besieged with umbrella sellers we made our way to The Bus Stop to hop on the bus and continue our travels.
Next stop was 'fait accomplee' with yet another tick on the bucket list. This was a visit up the Champs Élysée which loosely translated means Elyssian Fields, something I did not know until now, to visit the L'Arc de Triomphe. 
Ahhh......... Paris is so beautiful with its wonderful statues and monuments, with so much history and with its genteel gracious people. I have yet to meet anyone who was unwelcoming and or rude to us. Admittedly we do try to speak a little French which I am sure is appreciated but everyone smiles and seems happy with our presence. All the more reason to return sooner rather than later once we go back home.
L'Arc De Triomphe is spectacular with its vista from afar and as you get closer and closer you begin to appreciate the enormity of the structure in itself.
We did as good tourists do and travelled up to the summit so as to appreciate the views of all Paris, including the view towards the Eiffel Tower. The construction of streets and roads from a central position provided Murray with much amazement. The theory is that the roads were built some hundreds of years ago so that soldiers were able to visualise the peasants and fire upon them when necessary.
Once we had met that achievement and we were back on the ground yet again, we then travelled via bus back to the Eiffel Tower stop to view the city from on top the adjoins hill at********
I was beginning to feel decidely weary by then as it had been yet another long day full of walking....up stairs, up hills and down again. This is central Paris and there is so much happening as we walk by. You don't see just one police car with sirens blaring, you see three or four in quick succession often. We saw cheap trinket vendors arguing frequently with each other over territorial rights, we saw children, dogs...little dogs, never large dogs and we saw so many young folk smoking. It seems to be the Parisienne way here that it is ok to smoke either on the edge of restaurants, on the streets wherever. Interestingly there are very few older aged folk such as ourselves come dinner time walking the streets. It's all young aged folk and I feel we are tolerated because we are tourists but who cares when you're on holidays anyhow regardless of your age.
Eventually we returned back to our little abode and had a rest before preparing for our last independent dinner in Paris.
Once we were ready, we strolled the streets again until we found what we were unconsciously looking for..., an Asian  restaurant with a chef in the front window hand making his own noodles and pastry for the delicasies within.
We walked in and were waited on immediately which was lovely and within 5 minutes our entree orders were made available to us...steamed prawn wontons with a touch of soy sauce which were hot andc delicious. We had only just finished these when our main dishes arrived......Murray had a beef stir fry with noodles and I a chicken dish which was also delightful.
Once this was completed we then paid and departed, going for one last stroll along the cobblestones to look into the shop windows and pretend we were French again.
Once again, it struck me how this is a city for young people, a very active lifestyle for them in bars and restaurants...with many riding bikes and scooters with the occasional roller skates for good measure.
Soon enough we were home again and ready for a good nights sleep yet again to prepare for yet another day.

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