Extra Pluses and Minuses in Paris and some Extra Fun Photos.
For the first time in my life I have travelled overseas, and lived for nearly a month in foreign countries without familiar friends or family. Paris was the first of part of this endeavour, and I jumped in head first, without more than 3 phrases of French. Paris was exciting, stressful, tiering and more than I ever could have imagined in every direction. I wrote in my journal the night of day 2 in Paris, about my excitement:
"Paris: May 14, 2002 Arriving in Paris was indeed a daunting experience. The lack of sleep, and excitement at the weeks to come, created an emotion I had not yet experienced. I was indeed a bit anxious, for there were so many things that I wanted to do in each country, and I wanted to get started right away."
"So far Paris has been an adventure. The language barrier is certainly a problem and has created frustration, but fortunately had not prevented us from exploring, as a group and on our own. Our first day here, yesterday, we went to the Metro down the street and took it into town towards the Eiffel Tower then we took a boar tour down and up the Seine. WE passed the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, The Notre Dame Cathedral, state buildings, the Musee D'Orsay, St. Chapelle and the Palace of Justice. It was a beautiful, sunny day perfect for the tour. At the end of the tour I bought beautiful ink and watercolor painting that a man was selling by the river. It cost me $10, after some bargaining, and it is of the Seine with the Eiffel Tower in the background."
|The Eiffel Tower at dusk one evening, stood beautifully against the water. When we climbed it at night with the entire city lit up below us, the view was breathtaking. (Above center, I am standing against the fence at the top of the Tower.)||Here me and my roomies on the trip pose in front of the Tower before we make the climb.|
Walking around Paris was something that made the experience complete, the touristy days in which we took boat tours, climbed the Eiffel Tower and just walked around shopping and nibbling in the Brasseries along the way, were delightful. What stands out in my mind, was how amazingly easy it was to get around, with or without company, as an English speaking American. I will say that this ease was because of the Metro and not because of any immense french assistance. The public transit system in Paris is remarkable, and I found is amazingly easy (as I did in London) to get from place to place. Key words and phrases to use: "Merci and pardon" (I figured to use both as much as possible, so as to make up for my Americanism in politeness.) "Parle Vou Anglais" is always a good back-up, especially in situations of complete confusion. When I went to The Pompidou Center and waited in a line with 50 others Parisians and tourists, while the museum went under a security check, I was utterly lost as to why we were standing about and not entering the museum. Thankfully, I asked a nice Madam and she informed me that she did not know why either, I was just pleased that she said so in English. Thanks to the Metro, and the Euro (which made money management marginally simpler) I was able to get around and enjoy myself, without too much trouble. There were; however, some upsetting minuses to Paris, and they may have taken our Energy levels down with them.
|Above, the group enjoyed a fill french dinner on the left bank, the evening after my visit to the Picasso museum.||The view from the Balcony of my hotel room in Paris. The french architecture was delightful, and although the colors were not as present as I was happy to see in Ireland, the architecture made up for it.|
Thankfully, the Metro was easy and we had access to a stop only blocks away from our Hotel; however, it was the walking once we got off the metro that created the exhaustion. I have a feeling that there were many of us on the trip, that never fully recovered from our Jet Lag while in Paris. It may not have been severe, but the combination of time zone change, food, water, the excitement and exertion of the first week away from home created some discomfort for busy days.
One problem I faced while in Paris was the change in food and food prices. It is not so much that the type of food got me, but the portions and the timetable they were eaten in. The eating schedule in Paris was set a few hours later than my "do everything" schedule would permit. A bread and cheese breakfast did not sustain me till the 2 or 3 or 4 o'clock lunch, or the 9 o'clock dinner. I found myself jumping from carbohydrate to carbohydrate, without enough water to sustain me. The water in Paris is processed with a different combination of chemicals and minerals than I was used to, and it through me off. After a few days I started to drink flavored water without carbonation (no gas), which was a good alternative to the bottled bubbly water. After the first 3 or 4 days, I was better adjusted to the food and the schedule, and found that buying my lunch at the nearby grocery store was the best option for days on the go.
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