2005-02-04 - 4:53 p.m.
Jan. 29, 2005
I got off at the St. Michel metro stop, where supposedly the cobblestones were paved over so that the students could never again riot using the street itself as a weapon. I photographed the monument to St. Michel and then crossed the bridge so that I could explore the famous Notre Dame.
We all know what Notre Dame looks like, so I'll minimize the photo over-kill but it was an impressive site. I spent a long time exploring the cathedral and then emerged to discover that the cafe next door charges 14 euro for petit dejeuner. That's coffee, juice, and croissant, ya'll. Peachfront did not fall off the boat yesterday, so I poked around on some back streets where I found the same thing for 7 euro, which is still extortionate, but at least it doesn't commit grievous bodily harm on top of the armed robbery.
I'm a little bemused that everywhere I ate in Paris the bread and croissants were actually served cold. D. would be a little peeved. But maybe we're the oddballs, who knows.
On the Ile-St.-Louis I happened upon a high end rock shop complete with a spectacular collection of meteorites. The fist-sized piece of Libya glass in the window reminded me of the tiny $1 piece of Libya glass that I bought at Baldwin-Taylor that I misplaced some time ago. It wanted to be with my tectite, and now they're both missing. Perhaps they're merrily making little glass meteorites together somewhere. Hmm.
What knocked my socks off in another sense was a piece of nicely shaped and colored Elmwood calcite almost exactly like mine priced at 200 euro. Holey moley. I think I paid all of $10. If that!
On the Left Bank of the Seine River, I found a medieval area complete with a 12th century church and a half-timbered house. Further down the street, I wandered into the so-called flamboyant ("flamelike") Gothic church of St. Severin, where I sat and listened to the pipe organ for awhile. At least I think it was the pipe organ, although I didn't know where to look to see if someone was playing it. I suppose it could be a pipe organ tape! Anyway, St. Severin had some great stained glass crying out to be photographed, not to mention some interesting skinny gargoyles and nice long Gothic bones.
As I bumbled along looking for the English bookstore, I found the Ring-Necked Parakeet instead. Well, almost.
Back in front of Notre Dame, I watched a man teach a young girl how to feed Rock Doves, House Sparrows, and even a Starling from the hand. I strolled through the flower market. And I sipped a glass of red wine outside the Palace of Justice. Then it was back to Montmartre for a hot shower and some Indian food. I swear I'd been smelling curry all day, and finally I had to have some washed down with a bottle of a rather undistinguished Kingfisher beer.
Jan. 30, 2005
I followed the song of canaries out of the Cite Metro stop and tried to photograph a very wet Bird Market. Then I followed the tolling of the bells toward Notre Dame, although I didn't stick around because I could see that mass was about to start and the whole thing of tourists wandering around while other people are trying to worship just seems too weird for me. I took a quick stop into the Monument to the Deported behind the cathedral and then headed over to Saint Chapelle, a true marvel of stained glass with 1,100 scenes supposedly telling the history of the world from the creation to the apocalypse. The kings of France and the days of knights and chivalry apparently played a much more prominent role in the story of the Christian world than you might have otherwise suspected from your own reading of the Bible, heh. Here's a funny thing. I tried over and over again to photograph the rose window with the panes of glass telling of the final judgment -- but even when I set my camera speed to 1/60 of a second the picture still came out blurry. Make of that what you will.
Strolling toward Pont Neuf, I passed the oldest working public clock in Paris, which dates to the 13th century. By my $6.68 cheapie WalMart travel watch, it was 7 minutes slow. However, I later learned at the airport that it was my watch that was a little off, so there's probably a moral of some kind in there somewhere. On the other side of the river, I discovered a number of pet and bird stores, including a huge bird mega-store selling the big stuff -- parrots, toucans, mynahs, and really a variety of softbills in addition to canaries, finches, and the small hookbills like lovebirds and rosellas. Among the softbills were Northern Cardinal, American Robin, and one very peeved-off looking Northern Mockingbird.
At some point I wandered past a huge stone head into the Gothic cathedral of St. Eustache, which is in the process of being repaired. Services were over, and the touristic hordes had not yet arrived, so I spent quite a bit of time exploring this classic Gothic structure. Afterward I wandered hither and yon until I somehow found myself back at the Louvre. I went into the antique mall across the street and had a blast window-shopping the antiques that were way too wildly expensive for any sane person to purchase. Tucked away in a back corner, I even discovered a free exhibition of ancient icons to Mary.
Jan. 31, 2005
My last day was a lot cheaper than I'd budgeted. My receipt from the online reservation service said that the tourist tax was approximately 5 euro a day. Actually it was 4,68 euro for the entire stay. And then to get back to the airport was only 7,85 euro on the Metro which connected easily to the train. The only challenging thing was that I didn't know whether to get off at Terminal 1 or Terminal 2. Well, you know where this is going. I got off at Terminal 2, where the Northwest lady told me that I needed to take a (free) shuttle bus back to Terminal 1. Believe me, I wasn't the only bozo on that bus. I could tell from the (lack of) signage that Northwest doesn't always use the same gate. In fact, I watched as they took down the signs for Lithuanian Airways and put up the signs for Northwest! But I still had plenty of time to visit the lounge and grab some free breakfast. I gave a pass on the croissants -- think I've had enough of them for awhile -- but I thoroughly enjoyed the restorative can of Evian water. Looking out the window of the club, I saw a Magpie, which I hoped would be my last as well as my first bird of Paris. But it was not to be, because on the way to my gate, I glanced out another window and saw a Rock Dove.
There was hardly anyone on the plane. Why can't this happen on a night flight? I stretched out on 3 seats to myself but it was too early in the day to sleep. I watched Cellular, which was OK for a plane movie after a Jack Daniel's before lunch and wine with it, and then The Village, which was soooo s-l-o-w I thought I would shoot myself. Then I did manage to nap at least a little before we landed in Detroit, where I was again upgraded to First Class.
Funny thing. As we took our seats in Detroit, a man asked me if I was Peachfront and then he said that he was from flyertalk and traveling on the same deal. Unfortunately, his trip was not as pleasant as mine, since he got pickpocketed in the Metro. He was a pretty big guy, so I'm surprised a criminal took a chance on him. Anyway, it all turned out well in the end, since he and his friends got hold of one of the thieves, forcing his accomplice to come back and cough up the wallet in order to save his friend from an undefined fate at the hands of infuriated tourists.
I wonder if mileage runs are like blackjack. On the real deals, you run into the other professionals!
Next time you're in Paris, if you have a few thousand euro to spend, don't forget to pick up a little gift for Peachfront
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