maarmie's musings

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

PARIS! (night 1 and the following day)

C* booked a weekend trip to PARIS! for us a week or so before I flew to Europe. I've always wanted to go to Paris, and I was turning 35 that weekend. What better way to celebrate?

We flew into Beauvais airport an hour or so south of Paris. Ryanair got us there at a cost of 1 pence for each ticket plus taxes. We each ended up paying $25 American for a round-trip ticket, but we had to drive to Glasgow to catch the flight at Prestwick Airport and catch a bus from Beauvais to Paris.

Paris is beautiful. Talk about every view being a postcard! Et voila:

After we found out about the three-day, unlimited-use pass for the subway and got directions (twice) for our maiden subway voyage to the hotel, we got to the hotel, checked in and had a walk around the neighborhood.

We stopped for cigarettes (when in France...) and a couple of pints at the nearest bar where we got a taste of just how expensive things can be in a large European city. Two pints of 1664 cost 13 Euros ($17.57 American)! Added to that was a mystery charge of 3 Euros. We think it was added on because we chose to sit outside but we're not sure, and we didn't want to look cheap and/or stupid by asking. We looked dumb enough trying to order drinks and cigarettes.

The next morning, we headed off to Pere-Lachaise, the final resting place of such notable greats as Apollinaire, Bernhardt, Camus, Chopin, Ernst, Modigliani, Moliere, Piaf, Proust, Seurat, Stein (Gertrude, of course!) and Wilde. The main reason we made the long trek there was to see where Jim Morisson lay, of course.

I had seen TV images of Morisson's grave. The candles, the grafitti. The flowers. The hordes of people travelling from far and wide to offer gifts to the grave of the famous and infamous rock legend. We went there on a quiet day, however. Of anyone's grave, Morisson's definitely attracted the most attention, but, the whole time we were there, there weren't but a dozen visitors at any one time.

Morisson's grave is packed tightly among various other graves making it hard to photograph. It's made even harder by the fact that a metal fence circles it to try and keep the grafitti artists at bay. But the fence was easily climbed. Voici:

After several hours at Pere-Lachaise, we wandered on over to the Sacre Coueur and spent the rest of the day in the part of Paris known as Montmartre. Historically, Montmartre is where so many of the great painters lived and spent their time painting and drinking their lives away. It's widely known as a tourist area now, but plenty of locals still live there. Its narrow cobbled streets and the variety of painters who still peddle their paintings there allow residents and visitors alike a glimpse into the past that's still alive and well there. This is the area I'd want to live in if I ever moved to Paris. I mean, come on! You can still buy absinthe there! How great is that?

The Sacre Coeur:

Looking down on Paris from the steps of the Sacre Coeur:

Painter row in Montmartre:

Painters love their absinthe. I'm thinking it's more expensive now than it was in the 1800s:

The preferred mode of transportation in Paris:

C* posing with his first-ever crepe - with cheese:

The view from where we stopped for a beer in Montmartre:

A gorgeous residential street in Montmartre:

After the cemetery but before hitting the mean streets of the tourist area of Montmartre, C* and I stopped at a lovely little grocery and stocked up on provisions for a picnic in a park. Restaurants are wildly expensive in Europe, so we dined on grocery goods the entire time we were in Paris. This meal included ham and cheese sandwiches, chips and drinks in an urban park frequented by bums and other Parisian weirdos. While we were there, C* made a friend who told him, in French, that he looked like an American. But not just any American. He looked like an American cowboy.

C* and his new Parisian friend:

Before we left Montmartre, we stopped at a museum there dedicated to 300 works by Salvador Dali. St. Petersburg, Florida, holds the highest number of works by Dali outside of Figueres, Spain, but this museum held several of Dali's 3D works, all of which I had never seen, even in a book. He made statues. He made furniture. He even made dresses, none of which I would ever be caught dead in. But the trip to the museum was well worth it as I had a chance to see 2D works by the frazzled genius that were outside the realm of what you'd normally expect from Dali.

One of Dali's sculptures and some 2D works you would never attribute to Dali:

After this long day of walking, we went back to the hotel and stayed in for the rest of the night watching funny French commercials and writhing naked women on the hotel TV.

Next post: Day 2 in Paris

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