Yesterday was our 2nd anniversary. It seems like it's been so much longer than two years, in a good way that is. We spent the first half of the day exploring Paris by foot. We walked around in the 8th, 9th, 10th, 2nd and 1st sections or arrondissements of Paris. You see, Paris is laid out in 20 of these arrondissements, I'm not going to try to get into a history lesson of the reasons or layout of this, you can read about that out on your own.
I find Paris to be an incredibly hard city to navigate. Nothing is at a right angle. Years ago I saw this TV show where they were studying the patterns of spider webs. They did a study where they gave some spiders a very small dose of hallucinogenic or psychedelic drugs. Sure enough, the spider webs lost their concentric patterns and turned into these jumbled up messes. If you overlayed one of these jumbled spider webs on a map, that would be Paris. Everything is named, no numbers, which adds a little bit more adventure to the challenge. At least in Manhattan you can rely generally on the street grid, no such luck in Paris.
Our hotel is great. We are staying at the Hyatt Regency Paris-Madeleine. This is definitely the nicest place we've stayed thus far. We intended it to be a little oasis in the middle of our two structured trips. The amenities are wonderful, however there broadband is horrible. I can only get around 12 kbps of bandwidth, no good. Tammy has decided that this is now her favorite hotel ever, dethroaning the previous holder of that position which was the Hotel Monaco in Denver.
We walked our way from our hotel through a variety of shops and got to La Sainte-Chapelle. We checked out the courtyard of the cathedral but didn't go inside, the lines were terrible. We then went over to Notre Dame and walked through the inside of the cathedral. Amazing stuff. The effort that must have went into constructing these things. Wow.
After a lot of walking we got a pass on the Paris "yellow & green" open top buses and circled our way around much of the city.
Paris isn't that hard to get around without knowing French. Tammy's extremely rusty and fragmentary knowledge of French from school has been very helpful. Also, so many words are similar in English that it's fairly straightforward to make your way through a restaurant menu or read signs. It also helps that many in Paris speak either very good English or enough to get through purchasing something.
We had dinner at the Latina Cafe on the Champs Elysees. It was wonderful food and great ambiance. It's owned by a Latina or Salsa radia station and clearly there was some serious dancing going on at this place from time to time.
Today was a full blown tourist day. We slept in and made our morning voyage to the patisserie for some breakfast. We then headed to the Louvre.
Yes, that's a picture where you aren't supposed to take one. We headed straight for the Mona Lisa (which seems to be a popular place to head to right away). Going to the Louvre was like taking a bubble bath in art. It's huge. Gargantuan. So big that it would take weeks to take it all in. We only had three hours plus or minus. We strolled through the museum as if we were soaking in a huge bathtub overflowing with bubbles. We didn't take the time to question why the bubbles existed or what would become of the bubbles, we just enjoyed that they were there. We swam in art. And just like a bubble bath, it sticks with you after you get out. The power of art is almost hard to take at such high volumes.
After our bath in art, we perused some local shops and had our ugly American lunch in Paris. We went to what I must imagine is the American oasis for travellers in Paris. We visited the Hard Rock Cafe Paris. This place doesn't even bother to put out French menus. The waitress came up and spoke near perfect English. The food was as normal as we would get in Bloomington. The water even came with ice! Didn't have to ask.
Can you believe it's taken me until now
to put up a picture of the Eiffel tower!
After taking our temporary trip back to the states for some lunch we headed off to the Eiffel Tower. We took a bunch of pictures and were bothered by some of the people that you run into at the super-duper tourist spots in Paris looking to scam you for something. The Eiffel Tower has only three floors: pretty high, really high and stupid high. We walked the stairs to pretty high. Both Tammy and I are scared of heights so really and stupid high were simply out of the question. I also have an extraordinary fear of heights when combined with open air stairs. Luckily the stairs were not the metal grates you can see through or there is no way I would have made it up. I was clinging the railing making my way up stair by stair. The tower is really neat, we are going to make a trip back tonight when we do some night photography in Paris.
That's it for now, this has gotten long and we are going to get dinner. I'll probably put up one more thing before we head for our hiking section in Switzerland and I expect there will be no Internet anywhere on that trip. Au revoir!