Day 3 - Paris, France. Rainy.

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Europe » France » Île-de-France » Paris
May 6th 2006
Published: June 10th 2006
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What a cloudy dayWhat a cloudy dayWhat a cloudy day

The Louvre Museum

Gare du Nord, The Louvre, Notre Dame, Latin Quarters, Gare du Austerlitz

I can’t put my finger on that ‘one’ thing I don’t like about Paris…perhaps my expectation of it was too high the last time I visited since I took French in high school and have always heard what a marvelous city Paris was…so maybe my over expectation led to a diminished return of enjoyment of the city last time. But since I disliked the city so much last time (or so my memory remembers), I had very low expectation of our half day in Paris this trip around. I can’t say I wasn’t prejudice in giving Paris less time when I planned this trip…but I guess only half a day was doing it quite a bit of injustice. But anyhow, I don’t think my prejudice was unfounded, I hated this place just as much this time around. We arrived early afternoon via the speedy Thalys train from Amsterdam (which we almost missed cause of misguided information from many different people in Amsterdam) and beelined straight for the Tourist Information booth knowing we had little time to spare. Our agenda was simple - get to the Louvre, take the English tour, and take the overnight train out. I was quite unhappy to find a multi-headed TI line that was not moving, and people cutting in everywhere. After much push and shove, the Australian behind us let us stand comfortably in front of him (have I mentioned that Europeans have no sense of ‘personal space’?!). Because the line was moving so slowly, Sam and I striked up a conversation with him and found out he’s on somewhat of a 6 months sabbatical from his work in Australia. He shared with us his adventures in Greece with old Greek ladies cutting in line, and hoping around on a moped. I wished he hadn’t gotten Sam so fired up about riding a moped, while I was doing my research on visiting Greece, I was forewarned by many tour guides that if you don’t know how to ride a motorcycle or have never ridden one, the winding narrow streets coupled with Europeans’ mad lawless driving is not the place to learn. While the thought of riding a moped would be fun, I wasn’t too keen on the idea of visiting a foreign hospital and being shipped back to the states. Anyways, we finally
Winged GloryWinged GloryWinged Glory

The Louvre Museum
got to the front of the line, and the TI guy was as helpful as a bum on the street. We took the free map and decided to go figure it out on our own. We got as far as across the street when I encountered the first food menu salesman. In the states, you have car salesmen, in France, there are restaurant salesmen. He sold us on our empty stomachs, disorientation of the city, low budget pockets and a need to go potty. I never knew such rude service could exist until our waiter came and tried to UPSELL us on what we wanted to eat!!! We got the ultimate dirty look when we asked for tap water. I think he was trying to pretend he didn’t understand what that was even though I was showing him the word in French WRITTEN down! (well, I guess I have experienced rude service from the last time in Paris when I spoke to a waitress and French and she gave me a dirty then replied back to me in English as though I was butchering her language!) Yes lot of complaining I know, and we have only been in Paris for less than 2 hrs at this point. There’s not much else to note about the city, I found it too busy in every sense. Switching train lines in the subway was a horrendous experience. The multi line stop Charmatin connects I think 5-6 lines…but to get from one to the next, you walk about a mile underground literally. There’s also no stopping anywhere in the pedestrian walkway or you’ll risk getting ran over by the 80 year old man behind you. The escalators move at the speed of light and it was almost impossible to get on with our rollie bags without fearing you’ll permanently be scarred by the escalators’ grill-like surface when you trip and fall on your face. (well that was my personal fear, I have fallen flat on my face on the escalator when I was a kid =)). Anyways, so after going thur fire and brimstones, we made it to the glass pyramid at the Louvre. But I guess in our quest to make it to the only English tour left of the day, we ran thru the courtyard and neglected to check out the rose emblems that are supposedly there (or so we learned from

Notre Dame
Hollywood =)). Since this is my somewhat ‘personal’ diary, a place to remember all my memories from this backpacking trip years down the road, I’m going to have to share what I think will be one of many to come bathroom encounters in Europe, this one happened inside the Louvre. As Sam was waiting in line to purchase our tickets, I wanted to take advantage of the free bathroom before our hour long tour. I walked around the corner and was actually ecstatic to find no line outside! I walked in and was immediately stopped by the cleaning lady waving her fingers at me left to right, I guess I was messing up her recently moped floor. She nudged me backwards back out the doorway and then blocked the entrance with her cleaning cart. DARN. I had to pee pretty badly at this point, and I knew the tour was about to start too. So I ran, literally…very un-lady like all the way ACROSS the central area of the Louvre. Yes, security guards were eyeing my every move at this point. But I guess every other women inside the Louvre tried their chance with the cleaning lady at the other
Pigeon ManPigeon ManPigeon Man

Notre Dame
bathroom, cause the line for this one was out the door and around the building!!! I decided to run back to the other one praying she’d be done with her meticulous cleaning by then. I found her…but this time she used her fingers to point again, directing me to the bathroom down the hall. I gave her a puzzled look cause I didn’t think there would be another bathroom so close by. I hobbled over, (at this point trying very hard to control my bladder) and sure enough, there was a bathroom, door wide open, no cleaning lady and 3 stalls. All the doors were closed though as I made my way in, so I waited patiently - YES! I was first in line! The fortune turned into unfortune just as quickly when a man walked out of one of the stalls and looked at me ponderously wondering what the heck I was doing in the MEN’s toilet!!!!! AH, I didn’t even think in my distressed bladder state that down the hall from the ladies’ bathroom would be a men’s!!!!! I was too embarrassed at that point to run into the open men’s stall…even though that thought obviously crossed my
Frozen in TimeFrozen in TimeFrozen in Time

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mind. I headed back to the still being cleaned ladies’ bathroom to find a laughing, not working cleaning lady. UGH. I gave her a ‘pretty please I really need to go’ look, and I guess she couldn’t resist how cute I looked and moved her cleaning cart an inch to let my over filled bladder squeeze thru the doorway. GRRR. Oh my goodness…as ridiculous as the whole ordeal was, I still prayfully thanked her for her kindness as I went since letting me in meant letting about 10 other ladies in also. I guess they were all waiting around the area and probably saw my entire encounter with the mens toilet =( I guess that was probably too much information for you to know about what my bladder experience =P. Just so you know, I caught the tour just find, since the French work a tad bit slower than us too, and our tour guide was a petite, old French woman whos every third step equaled to my one stride. I don’t remember much from the historical and artistic insights she provided on the main pieces inside the Louvre (winged glory…mona lisa…etc etc) since I was more busy snapping shots,
Prayer CandlesPrayer CandlesPrayer Candles

Notre Dame
but I did catch her saying ‘buttt whatttteva” at the end of EVERY sentence. Must be a French thing. Another observation we came to conclude was that a French kiss is very properly named…I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much public display of affection anywhere else, and at such young ages. So I’ve came to conclude that the French move very fast for only one reason, and it’s not to get to work on time. =P

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In Mary's ArmsIn Mary's Arms
In Mary's Arms

Notre Dame

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