Saturday, August 1, 2009

July 16- The Rest of Paris

We walked, for the final time, down to the Eiffel Tower in search of the bike tour. As magical as the Eiffel tower is an hour walk kind of dulls it down a little bit. Once we realized that it probably was not occurring on the day after Bastille day we took the metro back to the hotel and completely gave up.
We reconvened and decided to go walk to the major cites since Notre Dame was just down the road. We didn't have to walk too long before seeing the massive steeples of the cathedral sticking up above the rest of the city. The courtyard was surprisingly empty for it being so well known. I expected throngs of tourists and cameras and lines to get into it to be as long as in Rome. After gaping at the gargoyles and statues of Mary and the Saints that I have been watching for years in the movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame we got in line to go inside. It only took about 10 minutes of waiting in line to make our way inside the church. I love the dark old architecture, its so easy to see, when walkig into these old churches, how the Catholic church used scare tactics and complete awe to push the peasants and people of power into fulling accpeting every canon and law the church wrote down. The stianed glass and vaulted ceilings were fantastic and people all around were snapping pictures as other people prayed. We walked around back to the garden and sat down for a little while admiringthe "best view of Notre Dame", which is from the back.
As we sat there Laura and I decided we really wanted to see the Lourve, but everyone else, to my surprise said that they were tired and wanted to go back. So Laura and I walked a bit farther down river where we found a side entrance. We walked into a courtyard that led to the big glass pyramid that is now the Lourve entrance. There were people sitting by the fountains outside and even walking through them. The line to get in was not very long so we got in it and then realized that on Wednesdays students get in for half price which was awesome! We paid our 9 euro, got our map and hit out to find the Mona Lisa. I think every entry way we passed and hallway we went down there were arrows pointing to the Mona Lisa. I'd always heard how small the painting is and how it's impossible to get close, but I got to stand as close to it as the railings allow. It was thrilling just seeing a painting that the entore world knows by name.
We wondered around for a few more hours and saw Milo's Venus and a statue of Ramses as well as tons of stuff from ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. When Laura and I decided we were tired we walked out and headed home.
When we got back we headed to the park for cheese and wine and to wait for dusk so we could go up the Eiffel tower. The sun started to go down at around 9 and we got in line. After 45 minutes of waiting lightening started to go off int he distance and we also realized that we were in line for the stairs, not the elevator up. So we got out of line and into another one just as the lightening illuminated the entire city. The signs flashed saying the top of the Eiffel Tower was closed, but that we could still go up to the first observation deck, so we stayed in line. The lightening started getting closer and brighter as we got closer and closer to the ticket counter. The first rain drops started to fall just a few rows away from the platform. Diana got out the sheet we had sat on in the park to put over our heads so we wouldn't get wet from the rain. Right as we were celebrating how good an idea this had been the down pour began. I can't remember exactly how things happened but the rain became a torrential down pour and the wind picked up as though a hurricane were headed in. As the sheet became more and more drentched and wind made it impossible to throw off of our heads. We were all screaming in line as pepople are running around us and the people behind us are yelling at us to move. Diana finally threw off the sheet into the wind where we lost track of it and all of us started to run towards the tower. I ducked under the dividers and got to the tower in time to see everyone else running through the corrals. The attendants ushered everyone inside the bottom of the Eiffel tower where the elevator is and locked the door behind us. About 100 drentched people stood squished inside the little complartment as the wind and rain shook outside. I wrang out my skirt onto the floor as we stood there almost in shock of what had happened and Laura laughed.
After a few minutes the storm died down and everyone was forced back outside. Debris was everywhere and a few yards from where we had dropped in lay our sheet, completely wet, muddy, and debris strewn.
The tower closed completely and we began the walk to the metro, laughing and replaying what had just happened when I looked down and saw a man in a blue shirt hunched in the middle of our group at Abby's waist level. I screamed, unsure who he was or what he was doing which made Tara scream and everyone else panic. After 2 seconds of mayhem the man ran off, and we ralized he joined a group of other men in blue shirt- the French police. They were chasing away the gypses selling illegal goods. The man looked back at us and gave us the thumbs up and then tured to his buddies and began talking to them, and they all looked back at us and began to laugh.
We made the trip back under fairly uneventful circumstances, unless you call a subway violinist odd. When we got back to the room we changed and showered and hung our wet clothing all over the room in hopes that it would dry before the plane the next morning.

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