Saturday, July 21, 2012

Paris - Day 1

Things I did
-arrived at CDG at 9:45am
-Took metro to Monmartre
-Checked in at hotel at 12pm
-Went out walking, saw street performers , found Sacre Coeur from the back entrance and just sat on the lawn in front and absorbed the amazing view of Paris ( I had to turn down guys selling water and Heinken here and then realized...this is a church...why are they selling beer?)
-found the discount fabric district and a shop selling belly dancing outfits; bought the girls Japanese dresses for 7 Euro each
-found grocery store and bakery and took on survial supplies of wine, bread and cheese and water.
-came back at about 4pm ate late lunch, and had a nap
-woke up , took metro down about 6:30pm  to the Seine and proceeded to walk a crazy distance from metro to Eiffel tower and then back toward Notre Dame
-came home at 9:30pm changed shoes and went out for dinner at 10pm across the street.

Paris overloads the senses - the people , the history , the architecture and the beauty. I feel quite safe here and found my bearings with the metro quickly.  It was a gorgeous warm sunny day with tinge of coolness that was refreshing.   The people are very friendly and don't speak as much English as I thought; they happily accepted my tentative French.  The people trying to sell you stuff are all over  (water at Sacre Coeur, toys and fruit in the metro, souvenirs, busking, etc.)  and it I feel a sense of desperation that their life must be so hard to make a living this way. What if they don't sell their stuff -- will they have enough to eat, and so forth? It seems like a very stressful way to live.

What I ate
I bought small gouda, soft and hard cheese packages from the grocery "snack" section, bottle of red wine and a baguette from a bakery on the street; that was lunch.    Is it wrong to eat almost a whole baguette?  The cheeses were so good; I needed a carrier.

Dinner: Mussels (at least 50) , frites, champagne (under 20 Euros)at "La Vrai Paris".

Lessons Learned
-France Customs asks you nothing, there is no customs card; they look at your picture and then stamp your passport without uttering one syllable.   Good thing that contraband fruit I was carrying didn't come into question.

-Street crossings have a man that turns to green meaning you can walk and it turns red when you can't walk; problem is this happens in the middle of your stroll across the street , at which point cars come charging down and you need to run for it. There is no flashing hand , or countdown timer; that must be a Canadian thing.

- Subways:   if no one is coming in, you have to manually flip a lever to open the door if you want to get off the subway. Problem is if you try this while the subway is still moving, the door opens and you'd better not fall out.  I guess we're a little more anal about safety interlocks in Canada.

-Do not take the subway with a 40lb suitcase, 15+ lb knapsack and 5lb purse.  OMG.  My trip to the hotel was a complete workout with all the lifting up and down stairs. The final metro, I missed the elevator sign and carried this 60+lbs up 115stairs! Sheer force of will got me up the last 60 steps.

-Have a light lunch and splurge on dinner. Totally worth it and you're hungry enough.

-Do not ever walk from the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame after doing the airport gamut and subway stair endurance test. My feet are extremely unhappy considering the 1000+ stairs I must have done today.

-Change shoes multiple times. This is the only thing that saved my feet.

-If going to buy snack cheeses from the local grocery store, buy a knife. Plucking out the cheese with your fingers from the rind is...well...messy and wasteful.

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