Tuesday, March 3, 2009
enamored with paris.
this past weekend was amazing. i am going to try and make you feel like you were there...
the eurostar was great. i have never ridden on a train for longer than it takes to get from south station to mansfield, so i wasn't sure how it would be. but, it was comfortable and there was a little cafe where you could stretch your legs. and, most importantly, i was happy to get more stamps in my passport. the landscapes i saw of france and england's countryside were utterly breathtaking. the sky was grey and misty, but the ground was bright green.
when we arrived on friday afternoon, we dropped our bags off in our room and a group of us headed out. we had no idea where we were going, we just started walking.
we went out to dinner and tried to make a plan. our mission was to find the eiffel tower and we wanted to walk around. we eventually made it to the arch de triumph and jumped in front of it. and when we turned to the left... we saw it... the eiffel tower. it was beautiful. and i think my heart stopped beating for a second or two.
what i thought would be a 10 minute walk to the tower, ended up being about 45. but when we finally reached out ultimate destination, it was more amazing that i could have ever imagined. there were people everywhere. and all these men, trying to sell 3 dumb little plastic eiffel towers for 1 euro. when i got to directly underneath the tower, i positioned my camera to look up at it, and right as i was about to snap a photo, it started sparkling. it was as if the push of my shutter release button caused the lights to sparkle. i started jumping up and down. my neck hurt from looking directly up for so long. it was the most perfect eiffel tower experience... ever.
oh, and the air smelled like crepes and waffles. we obviously bought some waffles with chocolate sauce and whipped cream. and they were scrumptious.
later that night we met up with the rest of our group (there were about 15 of us) and we went to this cool, french bar. the atmosphere was great and people all seemed cool. as soon as we sat down at a booth and settled in, this man got up with his guitar and started singing old american songs from the 90s... like natalie imbruglia and third eye blind. it was awesome. we all sang a long and became fast friends.
the next morning we woke up at the crack of dawn and jumped on a bus to begin our tour of paris. i think the notre dame was my favorite part of the tour. it was such a humbling experience. the cathedral was beautiful. the fact that people sculpted all the sculptures is sort of insane. outside, looking at the building, everyone was quiet. inside, looking at the paintings and the alter, everyone was quiet. music was playing and we were informed by our whispering tour guide that the crown of thorns was being displayed. we obviously couldn't see it, but i guess you just had to believe it was there... after, when we walked outside again, we could hear the music. just a few minutes before we couldn't, even though we were outside in the same exact spot. (i hope that makes sense).
the tour ended at the louve. yea, yea.. i saw the mona lisa. but that museum is far to large to really appreciate. next time i go to paris i am headed straight to the d'orsay which has the kind of artwork i really enjoy...
from there we went to pere lachaise, a huge cemetery, and i was thrilled. it was the most beautiful cemetery i had ever seen. all the love stories that were written on the tombs broke my heart and at the same time gave me a warm hopeful feeling about the beauty of the world. i think for my next photo assignment, i want to document graveyards. i am slightly obsessed with the tragically poetic insanely calm feeling i get when i set foot in one. (kate, you'll never understand...) the weather was beautiful. sunny and about 65. my coat was stuffed around my purse and my sunglasses were guled to my face. i was also beginning to run low on camera battery...
after dinner we went to montmartre. the streets were packed with people and the smell of crepes and waffles filled the air again. we obviously bought some crepes with strawberry jam filling. they were scrumptious. we walked up to the top of sacre core and saw the entire city of paris at sunset. there were so many things going on on the steps.... a man singing and playing guitar (the same man from the bar the night before... so ameile like), break dancers, people kissing and people smoking. kids, old people, students, artists, french, american... you name it. it was diversity at its finest. and i at that moment i fell in love with paris.
after that, we started walking down the hill and found this perfect little cafe resturant. there were big italian lights strung from the gutters to the trees. the picket fence and tables and chairs were painted all different colors. the inside walls were green and blue. there were old mirrors and pictures everywhere. in my dreams... if i could have lived in paris and owned a cafe, that is what it would have looked like. lindsey, kristen and i got their at 6:30, but they didnt start serving food until 7. our waiter was this cute french guy with a black hat and stripped shirt (i swear). he spoke english and said some of the most beautiful things about paris i had ever heard. he was in love with this city, too.
we sat for hours, drinking homemade wine, having intellectual and though-provoking conversation, watching this empty cafe fill up into a hustling, bustling resturant. our waiter brought us over chocolate cake, and then espresso, and then more wine... all on him. he liked our american accents, and the way our eyes lite up when we listened to his stories... or atleast thats what he said.
i can honestly say we spent our saturday night fully embracing the french culture and having one of the most amazing evenings i have had since i've been here.
and sunday morning we went to the market at bastille. another great way to take in the french way of life... i was overwhelmed at how fast the world seemed to be moving at that moment, so i stood, with my arms by my side and my eyes closed, in the center of the market. i took a deep breath and tried my hardest to memorize the smells. i listened to a plethora of different languages being spoken, but somehow i seemed to understand what everyone was feeling. i heard cheeks being kissed, little kids running around, dogs barking, flowers being sold, ukuleles being played... i bought 4 pillow cases. i can't wait for someone to compliment me on them and i can say, "well, at this little market in the middle of paris...."
we got back to london around 4 on sunday afternoon. the train ride home was filled with chatter among these 15 people who left on a trip sort of knowing who everyone was, but returned from the trip with 14 new friends. if i had a penny for every laugh...
ps. i am in the middle of the alchemist. i dont think i could have picked a better time in my life to read that book.