Read part 2 here and part 3 here.
So this was my second trip to Paris, the City of Lights.
The City of Lights – really? Or is it the City-of-Lights-Only-During-Christmas? Sure, the sun was out this time around and it beat the slightly gloomy skies of Christmas, but my opinion of this city remains unchanged from last time – overrated.
In a nutshell, I was disappointed. Again.
Still, the trip was a blast because I was finally able to meet up with my Indian-Canadian nano-homie, coming from the UK. Travelling alone certainly has its charm, but travelling with a long-time buddy adds so much more life to the trip! For one thing, this entry actually contains goofy pictures of me (how rare is that!) that would never have been possible without someone around whom I felt completely comfortable doing silly things. Also, waiting in line for hours didn’t feel nearly as tedious with someone to talk to. Win-win situation? I thought so!
In terms of the city of Paris itself, I think the pictures from here and here are perhaps much more representative. The pictures here are definitely not as elaborate as the ones from before, but contain some of the more enjoyable bits and pieces from the journey. From some of the captions, you may be able to see why I think Paris is so overrated, but these are merely personal perspectives, so if I offend anyone who loves the city of Paris, it is unintentional, and I apologize!
This is the back of the Sacré-Coeur at Montmartre, in a secluded little garden where few people sat on benches and read under the afternoon sun. I rather liked this view. It is not as well-known as the typical front view of the basilica, yet nicely layered and asymmetrical. The garden was also serene and peaceful, away from most tourists and visitors.
Another atypical view of a famous Paris landmark, this time the Notre Dame cathedral. This photo was taken from the side, and it was great to see a Notre Dame that doesn’t look like this.
You’ve seen something similar before, on my previous trip up the Arc de Triomphe. Last time, it was top-down; this time, it was bottom-up. The bottom-up approach seemed to work out better…
People say Montmartre is the highest point in Paris and the best place to get a complete view of the city; I beg to differ. I think I preferred the view from the Arc de Triomphe TOWARDS Montmartre. Also, making a simple tour around the top of the Arc de Triomphe gives a 360-degree view of the city. What an awesome panorama that would be…! (By the way Geoff, there’s a red crane camouflaged in there. I didn’t notice it at the beginning!)
The best part about the Eiffel Tower is seeing it from a distance, whether from the Arc de Triomphe (above) or Trocadéro. Going up was a rip-off but a must, especially if I were bringing a friend around for the first time. Please don’t ask me to go up again…I’d much just watch it sparkle from afar.
What are YOU lookin’ at!?
I wonder how, I wonder why…
Here the fun began. We spent a good half an hour or more just sitting on top of the Arc de Triomphe, taking pictures before the sun was completely gone, with our newly acquired berets (there’s a story behind this that will be revealed at the very end) and whatever props we could find. Among them were my friend’s sunglasses, my ridiculously large collection of pens and stationery that I somehow always keep in my backpack, and Belgian chocolate that I brought for the trip. Bet you’ve never seen gangsta Annie like this before…
Yes, we finally went inside the Louvre. Yes, that’s the crowd of people trying to sneak a peek at the (in)famous Mona Lisa. No, I’m not going to put up her portrait here, because you already know what she looks like. If not, then click here.
After finally seeing the painting eye-to-eye, I still fail to understand why the Joconde (another name for Mona Lisa) is the most famous piece of art in the world. I mean, superficially speaking, she’s not even pretty…is she? Or is there something much deeper, much more profound that I’m not seeing? Whatever it is…I’m sorry to say I cannot fully appreciate the “beauty” of this painting. Minus 500 points for Paris.
Here is a very limited selection of the over 6000 paintings in the Louvre. These ones I DO like, although once again, I am no fine arts expert and therefore do not know how to appreciate them to their full extents. Then again, as someone who can’t draw or paint for my life, I give the artists complete credit for their talent and hard work.
The sculptures were probably more interesting to look at than the paintings. What I liked about the sculptures is the amount of detail that could be seen, especially in the clothing. The folds and wrinkles, the texture, the flow, the shape…now, THIS was fascinating.
Another sculpture, similar to the previous one.
No clothes to admire this time, but my favourite part of this sculpture is, for some reason, the salamander on the right.
The amount of detail in this one is astonishing too. I keep counting more and more babies under this lady’s arms…how many kids is she hiding!??
Time to have some fun with the sculptures! I’m sure some visitors watching us take these photos thought we were crazy or something, but who cares as long as we had loads of fun! I wish we could have spent more time here instead of over at the paintings!
From below the giant Pyramid of the Louvre. The amazingly clear blue sky was a wonderful background for the enormous glass polyhedron.
The Pyramid had always been a huge mystery to me before I actually visited the Louvre. I used to think the museum was INSIDE the Pyramid, not underground, until I gradually realized that there was no way the Pyramid was big enough to house the most famous museum in the world.
So we went up the Eiffel Tower that night. 2-hour line up. No free entry for EU citizens under 26 (most other attractions in Paris had that rule so I was able to enter for free). No sign saying that one couldn’t bring glass or metal, so the guard at the door made me throw away my newly bought bottle of wine. I even tried GIVING it to the guard but he insisted that I discarded it in the garbage. Double-you-tea-eff?!! Wine. PRECIOUS WINE!!
Anyway, aside from that, the elevator ride up the tower was uneventful. We did arrive on the second floor in time for the hourly light show though, a 5-minute sparkling session of the entire tower. To be honest, you can’t see much when you’re inside the tower, and an hour later, when we FINALLY reached the summit, it got worse as the lights made the whole place feel like a distorted nightclub that almost gave me seizures. From the second floor, however, the view wasn’t all that bad…I suppose.
Group picture! Aside from my Indian friend, a Chinese friend from the Bordeaux fellowship joined us for the night as she happened to be in town. By then I was already half dead and my legs felt like they would prefer to be detached from my body. Boy, I was so glad that the day was over, even though I did have a fantastic time with the ladies!
Last day in Paris, we visited Versailles. The line up into the chateau was ridiculously long, and would have caused us to miss our train, so we opted to just go chill in the garden behind the chateau. These statues of horses in the pond reminded me of the ones at Quinconces in Bordeaux. I have a feeling they might represent the same historical event…time to look into that!
And here’s one of my favourite pictures of the trip! I shall briefly tell you the story behind this photo. My friend May decided that it would be fun to make a request before I left for Europe, that I would take a picture under the Eiffel Tower with a beret, a bottle of wine in my left hand, and a baguette in my right hand. May even drew a picture as a reference! A year later, I completed my friend’s request by doing exactly that – I even threw in a striped shirt! The only thing missing was a red bandana, but I really couldn’t care less as long as I had the beret, baguette, wine, and the Eiffel Tower. Mission accomplished!
This ends the recount for my second trip to Paris, but of course the trip after Paris added more anticipation because I was returning to…Bordeaux! Yes, a place I could call a true home away from home, I was going back for two days. The sound of the trams, the smell of wine (oh yes, wine tasting was part of the itinerary), the voices of friends…I literally jumped onto the train and could not wait to arrive! Let’s save that for the next entry, shall we?