So although I really can’t stand the French and although I was here a year ago (and not bowled over), I find myself in Paris again. I knew I wanted to come back for a short stay to do the things I didn’t have time to do last year. I had only anticipated it being a two-day thing, until I realized that I wouldn’t get in until mid-day Sunday and Versailles was closed on Monday. So I had to extend and will be here all day tomorrow (well, I need to be at the airport at 5pm), as well.
I got in yesterday and checked into my hostel. Surprised to find that the guy checking me in was from Robbinsdale. Small world! I had already checked in online, but he needed to see my DL to make sure he was giving the key to the right person. Otherwise we never would’ve made that connection. He was very nice and it was, in a weird way, comforting to talk to someone from MN.
I then set out for the Catacombs of Paris. I had really wanted to see these, but we just didn’t have much time last year. These are also closed on Mondays, so it was Sunday or bust. Which explains why I stood in line for 2 hours and 15 minutes in the cold, windy, rainy weather in order to get in. They did not disappoint! I know I’m not a haunted house kind of girl (shut up, Emilie), but something like was very intriguing. To think that there are millions of dead people’s bones there. There’s just nothing like it. And it didn’t creep me out, I think because I knew they were dead and no one was going to jump out at me. So Paris had a cemetery problem in the late 18th and 19th centuries, so they created this ossuary. They disinterred the bones that had been fully decomposed and started placing them in Paris’ underground tunnels. There was information on the geological history of Paris, but for the most part, I couldn’t care less.
I can’t imagine being the person who had to do that. Not just dig up the bones, but then to stack them in such meticulous, and in some cases, artistic manners. It wasn’t a perfect science because amongst the rows of femur, there would be rows of skulls, but some of the skulls in the rows were missing. There were rocks or pebbles on the ground and I kept wondering if we were walking on any pieces of bone that had fallen off. Gross. Some of these people died (or were disinterred, I couldn’t tell, as I don’t speak French!) as early at the early 1780’s (that I saw, anyway). Like I said, some of the bones were artistically displayed: one set was a large circular shaped thing… it looked kind of like a keg. There were also altars and lots of plaques of quotes. I wish I did speak French, as I would love to know what they said. Apparently the quote at the beginning is: “Stop! Here lies the Empire of Death!”. Fitting.
I then came back to my hostel and ate the bar downstairs. I have to say, I am impressed with this place. It is the same chain I stayed at in Bruges and this one wins hands down. The food was good, they had Magnet’s on tap, AND… the Vikings game on the TVs. Perfect! I also did some quick laundry and Facetimed Zeke for his golden birthday. It was times like that that make me miss home… hearing about all my relatives over to celebrate his birthday… but at least I got to sort of be a part of it!
This morning was my sleep in day… unfortunately my roommates didn’t get the memo. Two of them decided that 6:30am was a good time to get up and make lots of noise. Awesome. But I went back to sleep (these beds have curtains on them, which definitely helped as far as the light is concerned, and woke up to my third roommate getting up. But that was around 8:30-45, so I couldn’t really complain. I got up and was very excited for this day. It was the day of doing whatever I wanted. The good thing about being back in Paris is that I know how it works. I know how to get around, I know where things are, I know what to expect.
So I started at Notre Dame…I wanted to see how long the line was to get in to the Bell Tower. Kind of long. But to my surprise, the entire front was completely different than when we were here last year. Last year there was a large white bleacher thing sitting directly in front of it. It made it difficult to get good pictures of the whole Cathedral from the front. Not so today! The line was still quite long for the Bell Tower, so I had my breakfast of nutella and banana crepe across the street (as we did last year!). Then I went to Montmartre, probably my favorite part of Paris. I inadvertently got off the Metro at the Paris’ deepest Metro station. Jaime and I did that last year because I wanted to say I did it. I didn’t need to do it today. Phew… lots of stairs! And then lots of hills and more and more stairs in Montmartre! I definitely walked off that crepe!
So last year I bought some great paintings at a shop in the neighborhood and some chocolates and other treats at a biscuiterie. And then left the package at a Metro stop on our way to take the train to London. Wah wah. But, due to me being a directions savant, I found both of them again! (The art one was the harder of the two to find, as the biscuiterie is in the main tourist area.). After admiring the view outside Sacre Coeur, I walked around the neighborhood, had some Starbucks, and ate lunch at a cute square-side café. It was lovely, if a bit windy.
Then I went to the Champs-Elysees, as I wanted to splurge on something for myself this trip, so a stop at Tiffany was a must! This store was still under construction last year, so I was excited to go see it! Now, I probably wouldn’t even have considered doing this, BUT…I lost one of my other earrings in Munich. Jamie, one of the assistants in my office, warned me about bringing them. They are the large, silver ball earrings and when I talk on the phone, they almost (or sometimes have) come out of my ears. But I thought, that’s when I talk on the phone! I won’t be talking on the phone here. Well, one day I got back to my room in Munich and after a bit, I saw the back of my earring sitting on my bed. What the H? So I looked everywhere for the earring and it was nowhere to be found. I looked throughout the building, nothing. I retraced my steps about two blocks, nothing. What I still don’t get is how I could’ve lost an earring, but the back stayed on my ear all the way until I got into my room??? So bizarre. So I thought about getting a new pair here and was still on the fence today. But I know back home, at least I have before, I can pay for one earring (so half the price), give them my one earring, and they ship me a new pair. I told the lady that today at Tiffany and she was shocked. But I was on the fence because part of me wants to just buy a new pair and have a back-up earring! But I decided on a new pair. So that it’s actually a new gift to myself. I haven’t bought any Tiffany or Coach bags for myself in almost 3 years in order to save for traveling. It’s time!
Then I went to the Eiffel Tower. I saw it twice last year, but never during the day! We always went at night. Which was gorgeous, but I also wanted to see it during the day. And I wanted to go up in it. It really wasn’t that big of a deal and I know that’s what people say who’ve been to the top, but I still wanted to do it. It was pretty incredible the different in the view from the 2d floor to the top, though. At the 2d floor Sacre Coeur stood out beautifully, but from the top you could barely find it. It was amazing to see how vast the city is. It was quite beautiful, but a long, tiring experience. The wait was an hour to get into the elevator to start the journey up. Then another 30+ minutes wait to get to the elevator from the 2d floor to the top. I walked all the way around and then started making my way down. More lines and more waiting. I’m really over waiting in lines right now. But like I said, I’m glad I did it!
I came back to my hostel and had dinner here again. The food is really good, actually. I didn’t do French food, but still. I was going to go somewhere to get Escargot again, but then thought, I did it once and it was good, let’s let that stand! Packing things up tonight so I can leave for Versailles first thing, to give myself as much time there as possible. I will be a little OCD about getting to the airport early enough, as I’ve never flown from one foreign country to another before! I want to make sure I have plenty of time!