Day 5 - Au Revoir Parliament

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Sept. 21, 2007:  Day 5 – Au Revoir Parliaments


            Today was the last day Justin and I would travel together.  He would be traveling to Ulm, Germany to stay with Yogi for about a week.  After that he would be on a Contiki tour through Europe for one month.  We checked, but our itineraries did not match up.  I was going to be on my own again.  It was going to be a transition.

            We caught the free walking tour of Paris at 1pm.  There were only four of us, plus the tour guide.  All of us were Americans, but the guide had been in Paris for about nine years.  She would normally have not taken us since we were so few people and she gets paid off tips, but since we were American she made an exception.

            Our tour guide, whose name escapes me, came over to Europe nine years prior and toured the continent as a two person reggae band.  I believe she also wrote the tour for Paris that we were on.  I bet she has a lot of interesting stories.

            During the tour we sat down and she told us some Parisian history.  We were sitting in a small park near the River Seine, below a tree with many pigeons perched in it.  One of them decided to discard its waste on our tour guide’s leg.  She didn’t seem too surprised; it had happened about four times in the past month or so.

            She told us that one of the reasons the French feel so proud, and can come off as arrogant is due to how much bloodshed they have witnessed throughout their history.  She went on to give us numbers lost in battles, and talked a lot about Napolean.  Justin and I were perplexed; why would a society feel proud for having lost many soldiers and civilians in wars?  She mentioned how the French (and I’m sure she’s not speaking for all French) scoff at our small amount of losses in the current Iraq war since they don’t even compare to the millions they lost over the centuries.

  Justin and I talked later and both agreed that a society should feel proud for having lost a minimum number of soldiers/civilians, and not the opposite.  We also did not understand why the French (or the tour guide’s perception) honored Napolean at all; he is almost comparable to Hitler in a lot of aspects.  Of course, I am not part of the French culture, and so have a different perspective.  I still respect their viewpoint of course.  I’ll probably have a lot of death threats now from French readers.

             The tour was great; we walked past many historic buildings and parks.  One statue still stands out in my mind.  It was a naked man kneeling over a naked beast with a human body but bull-like head with horns.  The man was thrusting a sword into the beast.

  Both of their male appendages had been stolen long ago.  I took a picture of it and you can see it for yourself in the photos section if you like.  I bet you are dying to see it, aren’t you?

            We took a detour and went through Notre Dame.  It’s typically not part of the tour, but our tour guide made an exception since we were such a small group.  It’s an amazing building that I have read so much about.  The Hunchback of Notre Dame is one of my favorite books.  I think I’ve been in more different churches over the past 2.5 weeks that I have in the past 3 years in America.  The churches are just so beautiful; I could spend hours in them.  I’m a big fan of attending services in a church that has a non-modern atmosphere, but unfortunately a lot of churches in Michigan are modern.

            After the tour, Justin and I walked closer to the Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower.  The tour didn’t take us close to them; just within viewing distance.  I don’t know if I’m becoming desensitized due to all the sites I’m seeing on my trip, but the Eiffel Tower really didn’t impress me much.  It was awesome to see, don’t get me wrong, but it felt like just another building.  Is that sad?  I am still impressed by natural landscapes.  I guess my true love lies in nature and not human built structures.  But I don’t think I’ll feel that way toward the Pyramids or Christian sites in Israel (at least I hope not!).

            The World Cup of Rugby is currently taking place in France, and the Eiffel Tower had a huge rugby ball floating in the middle of it.  A large scoreboard displayed the final score of the last game that French played.  That night would be France vs. Ireland and we were going to watch it at Celine’s with some of her friends.

            As we headed back to Celine’s we got hung up at the Metro station.  While we were waiting for our train, I made some comments about how rude some of the people in Paris had been (maybe I’ll write about all the rude people we met later).

  I didn’t care if people heard us, and there weren’t many people sitting around us.  Plus I said it in English, and from our experience not a majority of Parisians speak English. 

We started hearing announcements over the loudspeaker but couldn’t make them out since they were in French.  We could see some people starting to leave the station.  A man sitting a few feet to our left told us politely in English that there had been a bomb scare and that the trains would be stopped on that line for awhile.  It was probably a false alarm, but security had to check all suspicious bags.  He advised us to find another line as he left the station.  We thought it was kind of him to tell us.  But, we decided to wait a few more minutes. 

As we waited, more and more announcements came, and we were starting to get up when the woman to our left told us what the announcements were saying.

  She was very friendly too.  So, in a matter of minutes after saying in English how many rude Parisians we’ve met, two Parisians went out of their way to be nice to us.  They must have heard me!  Well, I thank them for helping us and for stuffing my foot in my mouth.

Back at Celine’s we watched the rugby game over pizza, beer, and appetizers.  She had three of her girlfriends over; Cecile, Elsa, and Magna.  Elsa had a lot of experience with Couchsurfing.  She had even worked with a lot of the founders or current higher-ups in New Zealand when she was there for school and volunteering part of her time to the initial Couchsurfing effort. 

France ended up winning the rugby match by a large margin; 24-to-3 I think.

  I was astonished at how there were no commercials throughout the game except for half-time.  I expressed this to the women.  They explained that everyone pays a small tax on their televisions when they buy them and this goes to paying for the networks.  I’ll have to do more research into this to understand how it works, because I can’t see how a small tax like that could pay for all the networks.  But it was so nice watching a sports game without being interrupted every 5 to 10 minutes with annoying commercials.  And I am really starting to like rugby.  It is truly a man’s sport with a lot of huge, ogre-like men tackling each other with no pads.  These guys are huge and fast.  A few of them had blood trickling down their faces from cuts by the end of the match.

On the balcony, Justin and I had our last Parliament cigarette.

  He was getting up at 4am to catch a bus to the airport.  It was great traveling with him, and I wish him a safe and experiential trip.  Au revoir Justin and au revoir to your Parliaments.

emmllerg says:
Enjoy your next vacation to Paris
Posted on: Jun 02, 2013
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photo by: Sweetski