Ahhh, Paris! (You better have said that in a French accent!) Where to start. My first day there was a bit overshadowed by the fact that I had just gotten off the night train from Hamburg. Although I lacked any roommates the entire ride, it was still hard to get a complete nights sleep. Nevertheless, I willed myself to my hostel and then back out the door with my camera in hand. The weather was simply beautiful. It was probably the warmest day I had had yet with temperatures in the mid 70s. I decided on the following itinerary: walk from my hostel in district 18 all the way to the Arc De Triomphe, then down the Avenue Des Champs Elysees to the Louvre, across the Seine to Notre Dame, then to the other side of the Seine walking along it back west with a quick side tour of Rue Cler which I had heard was a nice stroll, finally ending with a stop at a supermarket where I purchased a baguette, cheese, sausage, and because I was in Paris, a mini bottle of red wine. All so I could have myself an idyllic picnic on the lawn overshadowed by the always breathtaking Tower Eiffel. For those who don’t have a sense of scale for Paris, that’s a lot of walking. But on such a wonderful day why would I spend it doing anything else?
Because I had been to Paris previously, I decided not to redo the Louvre or the top of the Tower Eiffel. The lines were hideous anyway. After my excursion finished I went back to my hostel and met one of my roommates, Gordon from Montreal, who was on a bit of a vacation by himself as well. Originally from New Brunswick, Gordon spoke wonderful French and so, after I managed to slip in a bit of a nap, we went to check out an English Bookstore he had heard of near Notre Dame. When we arrived a crowd had congregated outside the store and was actually listening to a book reading by an English author. We stopped for a bit but then decided to head off to find a fine French dinner in the Latin district. Although we didn’t want to pay too much, we accepted that Paris is expensive and if you’re going to overspend on food in one city in the world, Paris may be it. So, we picked out what we felt was a nice little place, bought a two-course meal and some wine (again, it’s Paris) and had a great time. I had the (French) onion soup to start (appropriate, no?) and a lamb skewer of some sort.
Afterwards we retreated back to the hostel, picked up some coats, and headed up to the Sacre Coeur which was about 2 min from our hostel (we even had a view of it from our window!!) which was lit up beautifully in the night. Still feeling like the night was young, we went back to the hostel to regroup and literally did regroup meeting a couple Belgians, Daan and Stephanie, who invited us to play some crazy mining card game that, if I’m remembering correctly was called “saboteur”. We had a good time playing and talking and ended up heading back out pretty late and found a small pub near (one of the many) train stations to hang out in. To my astonishment the pub had ESPN America on their TV with the Red Sox game on. We couldn’t watch all of it of course (it started at 1am) but I didn’t mind because I knew the outcome after the first couple innings anyway. Dice-K looked awful, leaving everything over the middle and throwing too many fastballs (yea, I said it. They shouldn’t be forcing him to throw so many fastballs. If it was still 95 mph like in ’07, fine. But it’s not anymore, just 90 mph. Plus, his off-speed stuff is not only incredibly varied but also incredibly good. So there. [note: This was written previous to Dice-K’s last two starts in which he has gone 15 innings allowing only two hits. Hoorah!])
Planning to only stay a night in Paris the next day I got up, did some blog work, tried to meet up with the gang at the Tower Eiffel, then headed back to the hostel where I actually ended up finding them (the weather had cooled a bit) and then attempted to make my train. But…
I missed my train from Paris to Barcelona by 2 min. *sigh* Unfortunately there was no other way to get to Barcelona that day so I had to sacrifice the night I had already paid for in Barcelona and then pay for another night in not so cheap Paris. But, it all worked out in the end.
There are worse places to be stuck an extra night than Paris with new friends. Plus, I witnessed something I hadn’t in my first trip to Paris in ’06 or the day before, the Tower Eiffel at night. I don’t know if I have ever seen anything as magnificent when lit up at night. I quickly realized why Paris is the City of Lights. The midnight blue sky contrasted with the orangey illuminated iron of the Tower Eiffel skirted by dark green grass and trees just barely catching some of the lighting. The whole scene was pure eye candy. On my way back to the subway I stopped to take a last look and listened to the people getting off the train and seeing the Tower Eiffel lit up for the first time. There were “oh my God”s, “wow”s, and wide-eyed stares abound. If you can only see the Tower Eiffel once, see it at night. Approach from the Palais De Chaillot side of the Seine and allow yourself some time to gawk in awe and maybe bring someone along to hold on to in case you faint. It was that breathtaking.