Saturday, December 20, 2008

Paris Invasion: Day 2

This morning, we got up around 9:30am and went down the spiral staircase (our rooms are on the 3rd floor) to the basement for breakfast. The hotel had a continental style breakfast for 10 euro per person. It consisted of over boiled eggs, croissants, chocolate bread, yogurt, jambon and fromage.

The first stop of the day was Notre Dame. Upon walking to it, the building didn't look all that big or impressive, however, once we got closer we realized we had judged too soon. There were figurines all over the outside as well as gargoyles hanging over head. There were people all over taking pictures, but the lines were not that long to get into the cathedral.

Inside, it was very dark and gothic looking. Not brightly decorated like the Notre Dames here in Marseille. We walked through, looking at the ornate windows and taking pictures of the alter. To get into the treasury, we had to pay a small entry fee. Inside, we found clothing belonging to previous cardinals and popes, bones from saints and other important Catholic people (ask Chris and he can list off everyone we saw), and other relics such as a piece of the cross and the crown of thorns.

We walked through the cathedral, taking time to look at each room dedicated to one saint or the next, and at the holiday scene and creche they had constructed, which was really amazing. It was lit up and the lights changed making each scene glow and disappear into the darkness. I was able to catch a video of it, so you can watch it here.

We found a cafe near Notre Dame for lunch. I had salmon with veggies and Grand Marinier crepes. We had a lovely view of Notre Dame from the cafe.

We walked from Notre Dame, along the River Seine, over to the Louvre. I have always heard it pronounced like "looov", but here they say "Looo-v-ra". Walking to the entrance, we saw men carrying machine guns, which really gave a new meaning to "police force".

Since we arrived late in the day (it was 4pm and the museum closed at 5:30pm), we had to really rush to see the things we wanted to see. We saw the Mona Lisa first. She's a lot smaller in person than you would think. Plus, she is behind glass and she is roped off so you can't get very close. There was a mob of people flashing her (with cameras of course).

Chris & I would cringe when walking through the museum as people used their flashes on their cameras. They have no idea what they are doing to these old documents and paintings...and only few were told not to do it by the guards.

We saw the Venus de Milo, as well as many other things that are kind of a blur to me at the moment. We were running through trying to see as much as we could in such a short amount of time. We ended up getting lost in the museum, unable to find the exit. We saw sortie (exit) signs all over the place, but each time we went towards one, we got further lost. We ended up in the basement in the medieval section, which was great. Apparently, there use to be a castle built there and you can still see some of the foundation and mote below the Louvre.

We eventually found our way out, and we were so tired, it was time to head back towards to the hotel for dinner.

Would you believe, that we found a restaurant just down the street from our hotel called "Indiana"? It's true! We were so surprised, that we just had to eat there. The cuisine was Tex-Mex, Indian, and American all rolled into one. The place was packed with locals, which was also surprising. I guess they do like burgers and fries after all. I had a chimichanga (something that I have not found anywhere else here in France) and a marguerita (not something you should order in France). We asked the waiter why it was called Indiana, and he just said that the owner had once visited Indiana and liked it so much, that he made a restaurant chain called Cafe Indiana. There are about 8 locations in Paris. Their hamburgers were made from Angus beef, which is a rare find here in France. We enjoyed it, even if it was American food in Paris.

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