Last week was crazy.. slept 2-2-3-4-5 hours. Insane rhythm, nobody has time for you, to coach or pamper you.. you’d better be up to speed, and the speed is high.. was stressful especially at the beginning, as I felt a bit from another world in another world, but I ended up learning in this week maybe comparable to what I did in the previous 3 months in terms of “ways things go”.. people adapt to their environment most of the time when they have to, so… I didn’t even feel too sleepy during the week :P.. adrenaline.. such an experience is good, gets your systems pumped up.. thereafter you fall, of course. Luckily, Saturday and Sunday were free for me, so I went on to walk Paris..
I’ve heard people who don’t like Paris. Of course, everyone’s different and de gustibus non disputandum (you don’t sh*t in people’s taste), I just find it difficult to imagine how someone could NOT like Paris (except if they had a bad personal experience, which is always more powerful). I think if you don’t like Paris “just like that” it tells something about you rather than about the city ;P…
Like with many other special places, you have to be there to feel it, descriptions don’t do justice. So I wont describe it, just briefly follow my footsteps: after the drawning week I couldn’t wake up as planned, so left around noon.. beautiful sunny day.. it’s good to go in winter if you catch such a day, it’s not so crowded.. which means, there are lots of tourists and it IS crowded, but not suffocating.. I only imagine how it is in summer.. my hotel was on the Champs Elysees, so the first touch with Paris happened… actually it happened earlier, at the beginning of the week, from the car, on the way from the airport, when I saw Stade de France, temple of football, then passed by La Tour Eiffel.. (sigh). The first “on the ground” experience was on the first night, actually.. morning, at 4:30 am, when on the way to the hotel I couldn’t resist walking up to see the arch of triumph, which was 200m away. Cost me 30 mins of sleep all in all out of the total 2.5 hours, but hey.. time well spent ;).
And that was it for the week. Only on Saturday did I get to walk out again. This time for 11 hours ;). First target was again the Arch of Triumph, this time on daylight, and I climbed it due to the King Kong syndrome as well as a tip from a French colleague. It’s nice up there – always good to get the first orientation from a high place.
Following my sister’s advice, I didn’t take the tourist bus, which I was considering given lack of time, but it was not worth it – you have to WALK Paris, she said, so I took the metro to Hotel de Ville, which in spite of what the name might suggest is the City Hall; there was a small iceskating field in front of it, cool. And then, after a sandwich and a delicious crepe (full of them), to the Notre Dame.. I took my time to eat the sandwich in front of the Notre Dame, meditating to life, the universe and everything…
Notre Dame is unbelievable… the building, as well as its history (started around 1126..). had to climb it, of course. Thankfully, queue wasn’t too long, so not much later I had the view of central Paris from the top.. if you climb something in Paris, make it Notre Dame..
After a short stroll on the Seine shores, being drawn to the bouquinistes I had read in a French schoolbook in childhood about, I wanted to see the Bastille. Asked around.. people were looking a bit weird at me, but showed me directions.. ended up in Place de la Bastille.. asked someone – where is the damn prison? He looked at me and smiled – well, there’s nothing left. They took it down.. around mille sept cent quatre veingt noeuf.. oh.. it took me about 3 minutes to compute that it meant 1789… bloody revolution.. fall of the bastille.. don’t know why I had the impression that “fall” actually meant “conquest”, not that it was literally demolished.. ouch. Bad bad kick.
deeply embarrassed, I headed through the Quartier Celestine, to the Louvre.
The Louvre shows you what real monumental ART is.. huge, but not the biggest, without being opulent or “beautiful”, it gives this sensation of.. majesty. Space. Greatness. And it gives it with its inner courtyards more than the building. Very impressive.
Pyramids are fun. I know there have been controversies around their stylish fit, but since that made them so famous, I guess now it doesn’t even matter any more ;).
Looking down thru the pyramid, to see where Da Vinci had put the Graal ;), I saw a big poster of the “Da Vinci Code” movie, featuring in big letters… JEAN RENO. :)). Unbelievable, these french ppl.. made their almost only actor in the lineup the main character in the movie, hihi..
With the sun setting down behind the eiffel tower ahead, walked through the Tuileries gardens, towards Place de la Concorde, where I thought: thiefs! A great egyptian obelisque dominates the square, and on the postament it shows how napoleon’s ships took it and transported it.. bloody robbers. The obelisk is nice of course.. amazing what those egyptians were up to thousands of years ago..
With the sun set, walked to the Invalides Dome, very pretty, albeit a bit far; then took the metro to Montmartre. I’ve never seen such an agglomeration of cafes and restaurants like in this city, and Montmartre is maybe its core in this respect. Probably one of the most charming places in the world. And probably one of the most charming cafes in the world is le Tire Bouchon, a small piano bar, where walls are covered with small notes and photos from all over the world.. I’ve rarely seen such a nice cozy place. Had a crepe there, listening to the piano.. can’t get that feeling elsewhere.
Sacre Coeur is a new church built in old style, very spectacular, it dominates the top of the montmartre hill, and it’s famous for its… stairs, from where you have an amazing view of Paris.
Dinner was in a small square, outside, watching some studen
ts shivering and singing their lungs out in the street. People started dancing at some point. Don’t get that genuine “in-born” natural bohemian atmosphere in many other places either.
Then the final long walk home, from montmartre all the way through place pigalle, trinite, opera, madeleine, concorde again, and then all the way up the champs-elysees. My office shoes didn’t like this much, but I couldn’t care less about it.
Next day spent some time with Notre Dame again, then a small tour through the Latin Neighborhood, which draws its name from the fact that students at Sorbonne used to speak latin most of the time in the old days (!), very lively, loved les Jardins de Luxembourg – although it was outside, many people were sitting on stairs or benches, reading. Reading, so relaxed, so beautiful such a sunny mood. And by the way, French (or just Parisians? ;P) seemed very polite and well-mannered to me, in the albeit very little interaction I had with them. It doesn’t necessarily hold for all waiters in restaurants ;P, but people on the street – impressed.
After a last look at the extreme rollers who were having a small show on a bridge next to Notre Dame, took off to the airport.. late.. the airport is a mess.. eventually, through an unbelievable chain of events having as common trace “panic”, I managed to get on the flight – au revoir, paris…
Now I’m back in zurich, waiting for my next project to start. Don’t know yet where it will be. I’m still doing stuff to finalize last week’s engagement, and then – we’ll see.
Paris was the first on my list for this year. Very happy it worked out so soon. I will go back.. both because one day and a half is not enough, also because I had forgotten my big camera at home ;P, so all the pictures you see here were taken with the small one. By the way, if you click on “map this” and then to the right on “play timeline”, it shows pretty much by and large my footsteps of a great day thru the most chic town in the world.