I woke up quite nauseous and unaware of how my journey on the train to Paris would go. I did not sleep well because I had not tested my alarm (I know, stupid) and I was concerned that it wouldn't work. Of course, it worked just fine and I was up at 6:00.
I don't know if I was feeling unwell because of my lack of sleep, my nerves, or something I ate the previous day, but I was focusing really hard on not getting sick. I fixed a beautiful breakfast, but I could not eat it.
Before leaving for the train I went to the bathroom one last time so I wouldn't have to go on the train. As I sat there, I saw something large and black moving out of the corner of my eye. As I looked over I stood up abruptly and screamed. Luckily I was in the bathroom not connected to the apartment, so no one heard me. This beetle-like thing was the length of my thumb and a little wider. Freaking out, I grabbed the nearest object that would have killing power and heard the crunch that ended the life of the bug. I should have picked up the object and the bug under it, but I could not bring myself to do it, so I left it. Sorry to my aunts if they lifted that cup and found it.
After this scariest moment of the trip, I loaded up and walked with my aunts down to the shuttle. It was a windy morning, perhaps even mistral-like. I secured a seat on the shuttle and waited for take-off.
As I waited at the train station I started to get hungry, which was a good sign. I did not need my back up vomit bag. The train ride was kind of long because I was now ready for the last leg of my adventure.
The arrival in Paris caused my adrenaline to kick in. Note to self, don't bring two carry bags, it is too much work. Note to note to self, don't rely on a "pretty" bag because it is probably not durable and the straps will break. I had to make two connections, walk probably two miles, and follow the assistance of a helpful Parisian to get to my hotel. Once there, I dropped off my baggage and with less weight on my shoulders, I was ready to explore.
I have to tell you before I go into the details of this day that this was one of the most amazing days in my travel history. In case it does not come off in my explanation, I need you to know that.
I had created a rough plan of what I wanted to do before the arrival, but I thought it too ambitious, so I just tried to do what I could. The first necessity was lunch. On Rue Cler (the street I stayed on) there was a wonderful smell coming from a boulangerie and I picked up a poulet sandwich to eat as I walked. This was one of my "to-do" items and I was so happy to come across it. I ate half and stowed the other half for later.
I got on the metro and went to Hotel de Ville to see the Doisneau photography exhibition. When I arrived I found the line way too long, so I tried to make my way to Carnavalet. I wandered for awhile, and I finally reached the musee. I walked around a bit in this museum of Paris history. I thought the museum was okay, but it does not rank up there with the Louvre, L'Orangerie, or Rodin.
I thought I'd try to make my way over to the islands, but seemed to lose my sense of direction, so after walking the streets of Paris a bit, I got on the handy metro and took it back to Hotel de Ville. I found the line to be much shorter this time, so I waited. After about a half an hour, I was let into the exhibit. The focus of the photographs was Les Halles (the market). He captured some amazing photographs of the vendors. I really liked how this exhibit focused on the one theme of the market. It inspired me to select a theme for my day of photographing adventure. Although I took pictures of whatever I thought was interesting, I tried to capture more of the people.
After the exhibit I went to Isle de la Cite to see Notre Dame. This is my favorite church in the world (so far). It was so busy and I contemplated not going in. I started to walk away, when I thought I better go in now. I waited in line for a short while. I noticed a sign going in with a picture of the relics from the Passion. I was hoping I would see them, but I figured the sign was for Palm Sunday. There was a mass beginning as I walked in, so I looked around and enjoyed being in the church. As I approached the middle of the church by the rose window, I stopped to take some photographs. A man came up and pushed us all to the side. I thought he just wanted to get us out of the way so that others could walk past, but I did not realize that the others would be the head of the church, nuns, fathers, and THE relics. I began snapping like crazy. As the relics began to pass me, maybe two feet away, I began to feel a tingling sensation. I found myself tearing up and I could not believe that I just happened to be there at that moment. I always wish I felt more when it came to religion and I have to say this is the first time it felt like there was something else.
I continued to walk through the church and listen to some of the mass. As I left the Notre Dame doors, I was in such a good place. What a moment. This moment called for something extraordinary: Berthillion Glace (ice cream). I walked past the side of the church, finishing my sandwich. My next stop was across the bridge to Isle Ste. Louis. I passed the street musicians and walked up to a line full of people with the same thought as me. I devoured my cone of cafe and chocolat. I walked the streets where we stayed the last time in Paris and did a bit of shopping.
There was one more sight to see in this area, so I crossed the bridge to leave the islands and walked up the seine. I looked at the book stalls to see if anything caught my attention. I found a CD for 5 euros with French love songs. The owner of the stall tried to talk to me, but all I could really understand was that he played the drums. He pat me on my shoulder as I walked away.
I found the Shakespere and Company bookstore. The last time I was here I bought "A Moveable Feast." This time I bought Julia Child's cookbook. It was approaching the time to check in, so I got on the metro and headed back to the hotel.
I stayed in a nice little one bed room with a sink. The toilet was next door and the shower was up two flights of stairs. It was a safe hotel that worked perfectly for my needs. I dropped off my bags, refilled my water, and headed back out to the streets.
I could see the Eiffel Tower from my street, so I started to walk in that direction. I walked through beautiful residential neighborhoods. Each time I sneaked a peak of the Eiffel Tower through the side streets, it looked more and more beautiful. The first time I saw it, I was not too impressed, but as I see it from different perspectives, I enjoy it more and more. I came up on it in a different angle this time and there was a lovely little garden and pond next to it. I had never seen it from this side, so I snapped a bunch of pictures.
At this point my stride was slowing, so I had to make a plan. I was originally going to eat on Rue Cler, but the sun was still out, so I took the metro up to Montmartre. I had wanted to do this, but I just couldn't see how I could fit it in with time. Time was on my side, so I walked up by the Place de Tetre and planted myself at a cafe. I ordered wine and escargot. I watched the people walking by and artists trying their best to get some business. I also did a bit of shopping at my favorite store up there: Anoki. I didn't think I had anymore room in my luggage, but I knew I'd find a way.
I walked to Sacre Coeur and found a nice spot on the crowded stairs. I listened to some music as the sun began to set. I couldn't believe that I was so lucky to sit on these steps and take in all of the things that I love about Paris. As I looked over I saw a guy that Valerie and I saw every night when we were in Paris four years ago. It was kind of sad that he is still doing the same thing and trying to pick up ladies on the steps.
It was getting dark, so I took the metro back to my hotel. I found a very busy cafe and decided to have one more glass of wine. I ordered champagne and a cheese plate. I watched the Parisians enjoying their Friday night. I wish I could bring this cafe home with me.