Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Paris, France - Day 7

Well, a lot has happened since last nights' blog post. Immediately after I hit the 'Publish Post' button I went outside to get some fresh air and just enjoy the quiet Parisian street. While out there I got to talking with a lady and we had a VERY hard time communicating. She was Russian and knew a little bit of French. We did a lot of hand gestures and claiming to understand each other, when in reality we probably only understood about 25% of each other's story. She was clearly drunk and we just had a great time.

Eventually two of her Russian friends came outside too. One of them spoke fluent English and she was so excited to actually use her English. It was so nice to now have a translator. We talked for a while longer and then I eventually told them good night and I was ready to get some sleep so that Dariush and I could have a productive day tomorrow. As I was heading back in the door, they asked me if I would like to have a quick drink with them at the bar... I stopped for a minute to think about it and was ready to say no, but quickly realized that I don't always get the chance to drink free liquor at in a lobby at 3am with a bunch of Russian chicks in Paris. I assertively said: "Yes... Yes I would!" They got very excited and I asked if I could invite my friend to come with us. They said "YES, OF COURSE!!". So I grab Dariush and there we were sitting at the hotel lobby table at 3am in the morning drinking Sambuca with 3 Russian women. We had a great time and I told them all about my 3 week trip to Novosibirsk, Russia last year (blog links: Day 0 through Day 21). We had a great time and drank quite a lot of Sambuca actually. Dariush and I got pretty drunk and we finally came back into our room around 4 or 4:30. Even after we came back in the room, we heard them partying in the lobby until maybe 5 am.

Needless to say, we both slept in pretty late. Dariush woke up and got breakfast, and then went back to sleep. I (on the other hand) slept right through the morning. We didn't wake up until a little after 12pm before we headed out the door to start our day.

First stop was Les Invalides. We basically just walked in front of it and took some pictures. It was pretty overcast today and it made for a perfect Parisian morning... actually, afternoon I guess. After snapping a few photo's, I was ready for some coffee. I was still yawning and I actually had a pretty bad headache after our very late night of Sambuca with the Russian chicks. Immediately in front of us, was a cobble stoned street that was scattered with various bakeries and cafe's. This road led to La Tour Eiffel. Half way up this road, we ran across a coffee shop called the Columbus Cafe (kind of like a Starbucks). I ordered a "cafe noir" to go, but when I got it, it was NOT a black coffee at all. It tasted like watered down hot water, but was actually pretty frothy. Oh well, c'est Paris, et j'aime bien.

When we got to the end of this street, we were looking directly at la Tour Eiffel and it is just as amazing as I remember bing 15 years ago. Dariush and I decided that we were going to walk up the stairs to the second deck instead of taking the elevator. Tickets for the elevator were 10 euros (~ $15), and tickets to walk up the stairs was only 4 euros (~ $7). Our legs were still fresh since this was our first major attraction, so we hoofed it... Wow, it was pretty intense after the first 6 flights, and we had about 40 to go. :) We just went real slow and talked and laughed the whole way. It was so much better than taking the elevator. When we got to the top, we took lots of pictures and then decided where we were going to go next.

Here are some pictures that we took on our hike up to the second deck:

Getting ready to make the climb...

This is looking directly across one of the sections of the north stair well.

This is looking up from inside the stair well.

This guy was painting the beam (~200 ft in the air). Wow!
These are pictures overlooking Paris

After descending down the steps, we walked down by the water on the Seine to the metro. Our next stop was le Notre Dame de Paris. We visited this place last night, and I was very impressed by it. Dariush wanted to bring me back in the daytime so that he could show me around inside during the day time. Remember (from yesterday's post), he is very knowledgeable about old catholic cathedrals. It was simply beautiful and I remembered taking pictures of the stained glass windows once I got inside and saw the light shining through... Simply amazing. It was just as impressive as the night before. However, it was a different kind of impressive with the light shining in the windows. I really felt the history of the place while walking around the inside as Dariush told me about why things were placed in certain places, and how the Priests did certain things, and why, etc... Simply amazing!

After visiting le Notre Dame, we were going to go the post office to get some stamps and then try to get some money out of an ATM since I had spent all of my euros. This turned into a nightmare actually. My bank card apparently was different from other bank cards and it wasn't being accepted at any ATM for cash withdrawals. I was able to use it as a credit card most everywhere, but the "debit" portion of it was not working at all. I contacted Jennifer to see if she could contact our bank and see what was going on. I also suggested that she call my sister, Tammy to see how she got money while she was over here. She had actually spent her Junior year in college here in Paris. I was sure that she used the same bank back then... Sure, I could have gotten money out of an exchange place, but the fee's were very excessive, and the exchange rates would have been horrible. After about 3 hours, I was able to get my problem solved. Let's just say that I have an awesome boss. Thanks Bob!! :)

While we were looking for money, Dariush and I walked around Les Halles and saw lots of very old buildings. It was a very neat place and the traffic was CRAZY. We actually spotted a Google Streetview car. So in about 3 months, go to Google Maps and zoom in to "street view" near Les Halles to look for me and Dariush waving at the car. We followed it down the road for a while, because it was stuck in traffic. Pretty cool!!

From Les Halles, we strolled in le Galleries Lafayette. This is a HUGE, 3 story shopping mall that sells jeans for 170 euros (~$250!!) It's like shopping in Beverly Hills. I told Dariush that I felt like a hillbilly in here and I'm sure I looked like one too. Which brings me to my next point: I've not seen ONE gotee over here in Paris; I'm the only man in France with a gotee I think. What is a gotee you ask?? I did a search on Google to help me explain it in words and here is was the top result: "hair on your face that's sexy" :D

From la Galleries Lafayette, we came back to the room to get a few things and then we headed to dinner. Every time Dariush visits Paris, he says he has to eat at this one restaurant called le Relais de l'Entrecote. He was dying to take me to it. The place didn't open until 7pm, so I knew it had to be a good one. When we got in, we immediately ordered a small bottle of wine. When the waitress came back, she had brought us a full bottle of wine. Um... it was pretty expensive and I got pretty upset at our waitress because she was rather rude to us when I tried to tell her that is NOT what we ordered. She said "too late" and then tried to explain to me that after it's opened we must pay for it. In our defense, she never gave us the chance to see it and confirm that it was what we wanted. I know for a fact that Dariush asked for a "petite bouteille de vin"... Whatever, we're in Paris and we weren't going to let it ruin our dinner. :) Which by the way was fantasic!

We each got two small plates of amazing beef drizzled in some amazing sauce that was served with French bread and freedom fries. :) Oh yeah, Dariush and I finished the bottle of wine with no problem. He says that he rarely ever drinks and in two nights with me, he's gotten drunk both nights... I LOVE IT!! The restaurant was very good and I'll be anxious to bring Jennifer here when we come over sometime in the future. It was right on the corner of a pretty busy intersection and our table looked out onto the street. It was the perfect setting for a perfect dinner.

After dinner, Dariush and I headed back to le Champs Elysees and got some more Haagen Dazs ice cream and I got a cup of "American Coffee" (finally!!). Our next stop was to go visit the Pere Lachaise so that I could show him where Jim Morrison's grave site is. It was pretty late and we weren't sure we were going to be able to get in, but we went anyway just to make sure. I mean, neither of us have a schedule here in Paris, and we're just killing time anyway. Why not... Sure enough, when we got there, the gate was closed. C'est bon.

We hopped back onto the metro and got off at the exit by our hotel and decided to walk up to the top of the Sacre Couere. It was already night time and this place is simply stunning at night. We can actually see it from the metro entrance by our hotel, and it looks breathtaking any time of the day, but especially at night time. We walked up to the top and I was able to snap a lot of pictures of Paris. There were a lot of people sitting on the steps enjoying the view and drinking beer, just hanging out. How cool is that; drinking beer on a beautiful staircase overlooking the city lights of Paris. Dariush and I actually walked into the cathedral and there was a service being held. We sat down and listened for a while and it was very cool. The acoustics in these cathedrals are amazing. When the preist would talk, his voice would echo from all angles and it was very easy to hear him. Clearly this was taken into consideration when it was constructed hundreds of years ago, before the microphone was invented. :P

From the Sacre Couere, we walked back down towards our hotel and who did we run into??? The drunk Russian chicks!! We stopped and talked for a minute and then Dariush and I decided to sit at a little corner pub to relax for a while. I ordered an authentic French Cognac and Dariush pulled the smart card, and ordered a Coke. :) We, of course, sat outside on the sidewalk and enjoyed each others company while watching the Parisians scurry about dodging the cars and motorbikes as they crossed the streets before us. I love Paris!!

Dariush leaves very early tomorrow morning, and I'm not sure when I'll see him again. He states that he may be coming to the US sometime next year, but not sure if he'll be able to make it to Newark, Ohio or not. I must say that my time with him in Paris has been simply perfect. I couldn't have asked to spend my time with a better person. We laughed and talked and just had a blast navigating our way through the most beautiful city in the world. I will remember these last two days for the rest of my life, and look forward to reading these posts after many years to reflect on the fun times we had.

Dariush, thank you so much for an amazing time. We both have very busy schedules and it was great to just put everything a side, including our watches, and walk around this beautiful city with a few euros and a metro card that took us anywhere we wanted. I look forward to seeing you again soon, my friend.

1 comment:

Anonymous said... the Pearl Jam on Tuesday!!