My first full day in Paris (as well as my first weekend) allowed me to really experience and take in the true nature of Parisian living- walking, transiting (by train and bus) and dining out. Mind you we dined at a Chinese restaurant last night (my first evening here) and a sushi restaurant (a stone’s throw from our apartment) today. And even though the menu and food were tres familiar, the wine glasses with every meal and the service in Francais very much reminded us that we were dining in Paris.
Yesterday Camille took me on a nice lengthy walk around our neighborhood (Le Gay and Jewish area) where I decided to take pictures of everything from a white bunny from a shop window, the “inside-out” building (aka Le Pompidou) and the scenic and interesting architectural surroundings. I experienced the claustrophobic hysteria that takes over when on the train during rush hour; thinking perhaps you could die of being crushed by the doors, sweat your face off, be stuck on the crowded train or suffocate from unbearable B.O. (however we all know the latter excludes me). There were some small things I had to get used to: the handles from inside and outside the train doors were not automatic therefore the person getting off or the person standing by the exit must turn the handle to open it (sometimes while still in movement); your ticket is scanned at almost every entrance or exit to and from every train; the subway (including over 15+ full lines with almost over 15+ stops on each line) can be alarmingly confusing and disgruntling as anything you’ve ever experienced before especially for first time tourists but undoubtedly better than driving on the streets of Paris. However, motorists here have the luxury of creating parking spots anywhere their hearts desire, from corners of intersections to blocking alleyways (one can be seriously run down if not paying attention or obeying the traffic lights).
Cam’s apartment is extremely comfortable, stylish and homey. The only dreadful part of it and probably the same goes for most older apartments in Paris is the amount of stairs to be climbed to and from her apartment (6, asma-attack-heartstopping-passing-out-because-of-lack-of-oxygen, flights).
Today was an eventful day, we visited the historic attraction Palace de Versailles, an ornate and intricate expansive castle that stretches almost 5 miles (land included) and would take approximately 60 minutes to travel by feet from one end to the other. Inside the castle we saw the Kings Chamber, the Hall of Mirrors and many, many amazing art work and paintings. The restoration of its rooms, antiques, velvet walls to velvet curtains and the enormity of this castle and its’ surrounding land including beautiful gardens and fountains are most definitely breathtaking.
Funny story of the day: we were at the “Invalides station” (yes, we know) waiting for our train to Versaille and Cam read from the prompter that it would be there in 20 minutes so we decided to boost our energy with some evian beverage (surprisingly cheaper here) and a chocolate bar each. An end of the line train came roaring by and stopped at the very end of the station. We sat in the middle of the station commenting on the subway advertisements (translating and critiquing) and watching people run towards the stalled train. Cam then said, “you know, the tourists are the ones running for the end of the line train thinking they go somewhere”. I then chuckled and nodded in agreement. We continued to sit, relax and admire our chocolate bars then out of nowhere some crazy lady yelled out “Versailles” and we thought, wouldn’t it be funny if that were our train lol. We then asked the first conductor we saw and he said it WAS our train and we started hauling ass but stopped as soon as he yelled back that it was not leaving for another ten minutes LOL.
*sigh* had to be there… too funny.
A great day!