A July 2005 trip
to Paris by ripplefan2
Quote: Maybe you wouldn't do the same thing, but I had the best time!
With only two days to spend in Paris, France, what is one supposed to do? Well, I tried my best to figure it out. I had arrived with nowhere to stay – after spending a couple of hazing days in Amsterdam; I just forgot to rent a hostel for Paris. So, I pulled out my trusty Lonely Planet Western Europe book (a must have for any traveler no matter where you are heading, the Lonely Planet series is amazing) and looked up the budget accommodations section of Paris and walked all around. After striking out at a couple of places not listed in the book, I picked one place that was on the other end of the city and lucked out. They had one room left at $10 a night. What a find!
Anyway, I had a day to kill before some friends met up with me, so I bought a day pass on the subway and went wandering. No matter what city you head to, I suggest at least one day of blindly walking around with no actual destination in mind. It’s a great way to experience things. So my first stop was the famed Eiffel Tower. I got off on the other side of the river, walked over the bridge, past underneath the World’s Fair Monument and headed through the park. Next, I walked back over to the river and followed it past its many bridges until I reached my hostel again. It was time to rest and recharge for the night. My friends were arriving that evening, so I needed to rest, shower, and get ready. I met my friends over at one of my neighborhoods only Italian restaurants. Here, we had just a quiet evening of pizza and wine. However, the pizza had an added bonus of a raw egg right in the middle of it. It may sound strange, but the raw egg was great in the pizza. I would suggest giving it a try. After some grub and wine, we all decided to head home and rest up the next day.
I happen to personally be an early bird, so I awoke and headed off to the Louvre. I had always wanted to see the Mona Lisa and get lost in the culture of the France’s (and the world’s) artistic past. If you are like me and have kept your college ID card, you can enter for scores less than the rest of the suspecting world. So, even though I have been out of school for years now, when it comes to paying admission fees for cultural events, I am a born again senior. Before I knew it, it was well past noon and I was supposed to meet my friends over at the Notre Dame Cathedral soon. So finished my walk around and headed out to the rivers edge to follow it to the cathedral. Outside, I met my friends and we entered this mammoth of religious importance only to see that the inside resembled more of a museum than religious prayer center. Even though the hall was filled with pews, windows painted with pictures of people who died for the betterment of man and smelled of moth balls, the surrounding areas were filled with small models of how the church was built and what makes Norte Dame the cultural center that it is. From there, lunch seemed like a novel idea. So we headed over to a French bistro and grab some baguettes.
As I was perusing my Lonely Planet book, I came across something that sounded extremely interesting. Near where we were eating, there was an underground cave system called the Catacombs. Apparently, there was a plague that ripped through Paris and they built this underground tunnel system to deposit the bones. Over time, these bones have been moved around and placed in an ever awing fashion under the bustling streets of "Gay Olde Paris." It was so strange, but definitely cool. Thousands of similar bones grouped together in huge piles, with thousands of skulls literally shrew about this cavernous death world. There is also a giant whole on the ceiling that is apparently getting bigger everyday due to erosion and one day the cave will cave in and destroy the Catacombs.
After a day of death, a strong drink seemed like a good idea. So, I split up with my friends, headed back to my hostel to grab my duty free bottle of Jack Daniel’s while they went to get beers and vodka and mixers. We were to rendez-vous in the park next to the Eiffel Tower. When I came around the groups of people waiting to ascend the large metal behemoth, I was greeted with a hero’s welcome form my drunken compadres. We immediately spent the rest of the day drinking the vodka, whiskey and beer, laughing and peeing in the bushes. As the sun escaped the grips of the blue skies, the tower immediately became illuminated as if it was possessed by some crazy disco ball-loving individual. As the light show ended, we felt it was necessary to ascend the beast and gaze out the world below. There are two ways to get to the top; one is paying an astronomical price for an elevator ride that is reminiscent of a sardine case, or pay a cheaper price to walk the mother of all stairs. We choose the latter. While standing atop of this tower, we were lucky enough to peer out onto the moonlit city of Paris and see the multitude of traffic that engulfs the river. What a sight! As the alcohol stopped being our driving force and tired crept up like a night stalker, it was time to head home. The one thing that you don’t read in any Lonely Planet book is that by the Eiffel Tower at night, there are barely any available cabs, so beware. If you can catch the subway before it closes (at like 11pm or so) then great, but otherwise, try to beat the late night crowd by leaving early and try to hail a cab before they are all gone. Because you can effectively wait for over TWO HOURS for a cab to pick you up.
The next day, I left early to Charles De Gaule Airport for my Dublin bound flight. The one that people rarely hear about it is the fact Charles De Gaule Airport has the most terror threats than anywhere else in the world. I was lucky enough experience a SIX HOUR DELAY due to somebody who went to the bathroom but left their bag unmanned, leading officials to believe that bag was of an explosive nature. It wasn’t but my day was ruined and terrorism had succeeded. But I managed to leave Paris with nothing but an aching to head back as soon as possible. And anyone who has been there before knows exactly what I’m taking about. And for those that don’t, you will soon.
Queens, New York