Paris Day 4

Paris Travel Blog

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Fourth and last day in Paris; is it really almost over? That was the question I asked myself when I woke this last morning in Paris. I could not believe how quickly the last month just flew by. I was going to wake up early and spend the entire day out in Paris, but after an enjoyable night out and having fun with Melinda into the wee early hours of the morning, I decided just to sleep in and relax.

After waking up and getting ready I was off to see The Army Museum and Napoleon’s Tomb at Les Invalides. I read that if you ever wanted to be a dictator of a united Europe come here first. Hitler did, but still went out and made the same mistakes; invading Russia. Napoleon’s Tomb is amazing! Entering the beautiful church I was captivated by the surroundings while looking up at the dome above. Bellow the dome and one floor down from the ground floor is Napoleon’s Tomb. Inside the tomb is an oak coffin, housing two lead ones, then a mahogany, then tinplate until finally you would find Napolean himself stating up at you. After walking around the ground floor and the basement floor I headed for the Army Museum. Being a student of WWII I skipped right through the WWI wing and headed straight for the WWII wing. I was quite impressed how extensive the WWII wing is; many good displays to checkout. After spending a good amount of time walking through the WWII wing I was now off to climb to the top of Notre Dame.

The queue at Notre Dame to climb the tower was long enough that I grabbed a crepe and a drink to enjoy while standing in the queue. There is a funny guy who walks the street in an Einstein mask and has fun with unsuspecting passerbies. I saw him the other day doing this, but today I was able to stand and really watch him have fun with people. It was so funny to watch him sneak up behind a child and mother, remove the child’s hand from the mothers and then place his hand in hers. It would take a second and then the mother would look down and jump out of her skin when she saw this guy crouched over walking hand in hand with her instead of her child. He would also put his arm around women who were walking with their husbands/boyfriends and they would just keep walking for a bit until they looked over. The best were the jumpy Asian tourists; they always produced the best reactions. Watching this guys antics greatly helped the time go by. I am feeling much better but still have a slight cough, and it is around this time that we have started to hear all about this swine flue that is now all over the news here. So while standing in this queue I had a slight cough which I would cough into my shoulder as not to cough on to people. A British couple was in front of me and the lady gave me a nasty look when I coughed. So I said, “Excuse me, I am still a little congested from that long flight from Mexico City.” Ohh you should have seen her face, it was if I just told her she is now infected with Ebola.

 The ascent up Notre Dame is a fairly easy one. After the first set of stairs I emerge at the level with the gargoyles; quite a view of Paris just from here. I ducked in to check out the massive bell of Notre Dame. Inside the bell tower there is a little glass room built for the person who sits in there and monitors the throngs of tourists. The little lady in the glass room was hunched over sitting in her little chair reading a magazine; she looked so much like the hunchback of Notre Dame…haha. The next set of stairs took me up the right tower to an incredible view of Paris; one of the better elevated views of this city for sure! Well worth walking up 400 steps for this view.

Since I am in the Historic District of Paris I am heading over to see Sainte-Chapelle with its cathedral of glass that is suppose to be unrivaled. There is a longer queue here since we now have to go through security. One must access Palais De Justice Courtyard (built in 1776, home of the French Supreme Court) before entering Sainte-Chapelle. While standing in the queue I notice a sign indicating no pocketknives, or eating utensils. GREAT! Another security check and I have things in my pack that I will have to declare or leave with security. Passing my backpack through the x-ray machine and walking through the metal detector I was just waiting for someone to stop me and have me open my pack. Well it never happened so off I went with my banned camping utensils and pocketknife. Sainte-Chapelle was much smaller than I thought it would be, but the windows were amazingly beautiful. It was built in only five years under one architect; amazing for a gothic times. Notre Dame took over 200 years to build.

After walking through Sainte-Chapelle I walked next door to the Conciergerie which was a prison and the last holding place for 2,780 victims of the guillotine. Marie-Antoinette even called this home before her trip to the guillotine. Walking through this place was also quite eerie to think of all the condemned souls who were housed in these walls. The holding cells have mannequins dressed in proper period piece clothing, little cheesy but it does give a sense of scale of the holding cells since people are not allowed to walk into them. Outside on the courtyard where the women prisoners were allowed to get fresh air there is still spikes on top of the walls guarding against any escapes.

After all that touring I headed back to the apartment and see what the girls were up to and see about dinner plans. Tonight I am heading up the Eiffel Tower and then plan to have a good last meal over here in Paris before the inevitable flight back home. Melinda and Angelica have both been taking it easy today and were both up for finding a good place to eat down by the Eiffel Tower; so off we went. Angelica and I worked our way down to the Eiffel Tower following the same path I used the other night as Melinda wanted to go check out the Arc de Triomphe. Once again I find myself in a queue waiting to ascend another structure, but this time it will be by lift. I actually would not mind walking all the way up to the top if allowed and had more time. Squeezing into the small elevators a group of us headed up to the 2nd floor where we alighted then found our way into another queue to head up one more lift to the top of the tower. This was the slowest part of the entire wait. I could not believe that there was a couple in the queue with a baby stroller and a very young baby. They were having difficulties navigating the switchbacks and then finally someone came over and told them they could not take the stroller with them. Standing in line was a tall black man from the states, he looked familiar but I am not a big NBA fan so I could not say who he was, but he was for sure an NBA player. Finally I made it on the lift to head to the top; the view from up here is pretty amazing. I headed up to small opened aired observation deck and made a 360 walk around it to take in the views. The sun had just set so the lights of the tower were now on and Paris was all light up bellow me. It was funny seeing all the camera flashes going off all around bellow the tower. It became quite crowded up there so after a quick text message to my mom & dad of where I was I headed down to catch the lift back to the 2nd floor. The view from the 2nd floor in my own opinion is actually better than from the top. Things are more recognizable, and it is not nearly as crowded. I decided to work my way down to the ground via the stairs from the 2nd floor. I read that it should take 15 minutes to walk to the first floor and then another 15 to the ground. I made my way down to the ground in just a hair less than 15 minutes. It was a cool walk down, the views from the stairs was neat, and every once and awhile an elevator would go by full of people. There is netting all around the stairs to keep people from climbing out on to the tower, but there were several gaps that I spotted which would not require too much effort to get through and then out on to the tower. Finally on the ground floor I walked through the door and OUCH…the door opened funny and took a chunk of skin off my knuckle of my index finger. It was one of those wounds were the skin is hanging off for a few moments before the blood starts flowing. How funny, I just walked very briskly down the Eiffel Tower where I could have easily slipped and fell down several flights of stairs causing all sorts of damage to myself and then at the very end the door gets me. Guess I have to leave my share of blood behind.

            Joining up with Angelica and Melinda we head off to find a place to eat. Melinda found a few places that had a good view of the tower. While walking along the river I figured somewhere around here Princess Diana lost her life in the auto accident. We came across a bridge over the road near the river and there is a small replica of the torch from the Statue of Liberty. Little did we know bellow us was also the tunnel Princess Diana died in.

            The restaurant we ate at was just across the street from this bridge and the view of the tower was superb. We ate outside on the sidewalk that was sectioned off for the restaurant. Luck would have it that a heat lamp was right above us and it would keep us warm for the next several hours. That is right, our dinner lasted nearly 4 hours, well the dinner part did not, but getting the waiter to take our order, get our food, order desert and drinks, and then finally get our bill and take our money, that all lasted nearly four hours. I could not complain too much, I had the best view and had the lovely company of two great girls. For dinner I had an amazing fresh piece of salmon that melted in my mouth. For desert I ordered a crème brulee, yummy!! The three of us chatted about the trip and then Melinda and I realized that we never made it down to the Louvre at night to take pictures of it. Guess that will have to be saved for another trip to Paris. I plan to come back to this great city again, especially since there are direct flights to and from Paris from Salt Lake City.

            Well that month went by entirely too fast; they always do! Tomorrow we head back to Salt Lake City on the direct flight from Paris. It will be so nice not having any layovers. I have emergency row seats lined up for this 11 hour flight.

This has been a great trip and I have had the pleasure of traveling with three great friends off and on throughout the entirety of it. Getting to experience far Eastern Europe was a great thrill and an experience I will never forget. My favorite city in Europe, Salzburg still is as enjoyable as the first time I visited. This time through Paris was a world of difference actually staying there and seeing the better parts of Paris rather than sitting in train stations for hours. Making new friends in Ukraine was one of the highlights of the trip; it is so nice to meet locals wherever I go and spend some time getting to know them, their culture and sharing a little of my culture with them. I feel so lucky to have been able to make this my 6th trip over to Europe and I look forward to many more years of traveling over here, meeting new friends, sharing my love of travel and the European culture with many others. Who knows, maybe some day I will be living over here.

 

            It has been a pleasure sharing my month long adventure with you all, and I hope I was able to convey the exciting times I had over here. I will let you know when my pictures are posted online.

 

One final Goodbye, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Au Revoir, La Revedere, Do Widzenia, Viszontlatasra, Nashledanou, Nasvidenje, До побачення.

 

 

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photo by: Sweetski