Saturday, March 11, 2006

Paris: Our First Day and a Half

Eiffel Tower, originally uploaded by justinpward.

It's nearly 5:00pm Paris time and we just got back from the Rodin Museum. We're going to relax a little bit before we head out, so I figured I could get something posted in short order...

We arrived in Paris yesterday morning with minimal flight turbulence and a couple hours sleep under our belt. It was amazing how helpful that sleep actually was, because flying West > East is definitely enough to take six or seven hours out of your life. I've been to Hawaii and experienced some bad, bad jetlag coming back so I tried to avoid that here at all costs. Luckily, I didn't have to sacrifice much.

We landed and took a awesome bus ride to the other terminal to meet Mark. The driver was very pro-American; "Hey hey, USA USA!" he exclaims with his right hand giving a nice thumbs-up. That's definitely comforting when entering a foreign land of which I know NOTHING of the language.

Once we got to our hotel, via public transportation mind you, it only took us ten minutes to open our hotel room with the old-fashioned key. It worked and we've got it down now, finally.

We went for a stroll around our neighborhood, the Rue Cler, and ended up finding a nice little cafe where we all ordered the same thing: a tallboy of Leffe (a nice Belgium blond ale) and a hot ham and cheese sandwiich. Immediately before that, we went to grab a look at the Eiffel Tower and got rained out of getting any closer than the shot you see above.

We decided to cure our jetlag with beer and wine, which only made getting to sleep later that much more difficult (for other reasons also). We started our buzz off early with lunch and continued to stroll the neighborhood. We bought some very cheap but excellent wine in a small shop on the Rue Cler walk and kept drinking.

We strolled over to the Eiffel Tower again once the weather was nice, but we decided not to try and get to the top considering the threatening clouds. The weather really changes fast here.

We ducked into a cafe where I watched young, French students drinking espresso and gabbing on and on while watching a TRL clone. Interestingly enough, these youngsters drank espresso and smoked cigarettes and it looked so cool to me. Like, wow, they're French. It was exciting to me until I realized that I did the exact thing for a lot of my high school years, and the realization that we're all the same in our own different ways was refreshing and reassuring. I know about two whole words in French, so I've been dealing with information overload here and it was nice to see our worlds come together.

We grabbed some nasty pizza for dinner and drank some wine and played some cards well into the morning. We slept and got comfortable in our tiny-ass hotel room. By tiny-ass, I mean cozy. I really do.

This morning was rough and turned into afternoon pretty quickly before we decided to get moving. Mark and I ran out to grab some croissants and crepes (which they served cold for some odd reason) for brunch and we high-tailed it over to the Rodin Museum.

The museum was packed and there was still plenty of room to move around and see the sculptures and exhibits. We got a couple shots of "The Thinker", his most famous work, and we came away with a strong appreciation for Rodin's scultures as well as miscellaneous butts and junk-piles. Oui oui!

So, here we are, relaxing in our hotel room, trying to decide on something neutral for dinner and something to do in a city where we know only what Rick Steves has told us. For as much as I feel out-of-my-element, the thrill, history, culture, espresso, style, and wine is enough to make me realize that this trip is one of a kind and I'm glad we chose Paris to start.

We're going to hit the Centre Pompidou this evening after getting some dinner, so hopefully I'll have more to report tomorrow once we get through The Lourve. I'm sure we'll have a billion photos from there, and I'll try and get some uploaded in the interim. I'm also going to try and contact a second-cousin of mine that lives in Paris and works as a fashion designer. I bet he has some great ideas for nightlife and stuff to do this weekend, but I haven't had luck getting in touch with him yet.

More to follow...

4 Comments: said...

well for starters, a hot ham and cheese is known as a "croque monsieur", pronounced croak. That's what 4 years of high school french taught me.

Keep snapping photos, and go find some random lounge band to listen to. That's always fun.

1:48 PM  
nelsorp said...

Musee d'orsay: across the river from the louvre. its all impressionist paintings in an old train station.

L'Institut du Monde Arabe: an entire facade is made up of camera shutters. they open and close depending on the level of light outside the building. very cool, i think its on the same side of the river as musee d'orsay, not sure though. visiting is free.

12:39 PM  
Paul said...

sounds like youre havin an awesome time man! keep it up.

2:11 PM  
Justin said...

BO: Yeah, it's on every single menu in every single cafe here. I only ordered once though, it's certainly enough...

nels: Thanks for the tips. Orsay is tomorrow and I'll check out that shutter place.

Paul: We're having a blast and I'm getting culture-shocked hard anyway. Living in Illinois your whole life can lead to a sheltered existence in a lot of ways...

11:55 AM  

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