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Saturday, August 14, 2010

9 Days in Paris (Part 1)

Now that Dreamweek is over and I've had a chance to get a bit settled, I've got a bit of time to reflect and share some thoughts about my Paris vacation. It's going to be a multi-part "series" so that I can recall things better. Frosty will probably pipe up at some point in the comments to dispute my recollection of some events. There are two sides to every story, unfortunately his side of the story doesn't have a blog. :-P

Spending 9 days in Paris for vacation is a bit overkill. Especially if it's your first trip, especially if you're trying to fit in most of the major attractions in the city. I don't know how people manage to see all that crap in one weekend (or crazier still, an under 48 hours trip). We spent an average of 8-10 hours walking around each day, I feel like I've only seen about 5% of what the city has to offer. I basically crashed into bed at the end of each day. That said, overall, it was a pleasant experience. I took a lot of pictures and I'll be sprinkling them throughout and then there will be a slideshow at the end, boys and girls.

So, what's Paris like? This is what you're probably just dying to ask me. Well, I have an exercise that you can do to simulate the Parisian experience. First, find a building with many floors (like, say, 80 floors at the minimum. Next, find/rent/acquire a seeing-eye-dog (this will be essential later on, trust me). Then, give the dog plenty of water to drink so that it has a nice full bladder. Now, take the dog and find the stairwell to your very tall building. Then, put a blindfold over your eyes so that you can't see anything.

Once you've reached the first steps of the stairwell, imagine what you think Paris should look like. Go ahead and use some imagery from Disney's The Aristocats. Keeping your eyes closed, have the seeing-eye-dog lead you up the stairs. Just keep going up and up and up until you reach the top then go back down and repeat for a few hours. Every so often have the dog take a piss somewhere in the stairwell.

And that's basically what you're first impression of Paris is going to be. Now don't get me wrong, I don't mean this in an insulting way. It's kind of like when you're walking around Eppendorf on a hot summer day and you say to yourself, "Hm, fancy cafés and it kind of smells like dog shit" or if you're in Friedrichshain in Berlin and you're like, "Look at all these hipster parents with their babies and all of this dog shit" or if you hit up Cologne at just the right time in the summer and you're like "Dear God this city smells like raw sewage."

There are simply uncomfortable truths about the cities that we love. You'll arrive in Paris and think (probably in this order) "Wow, this is exactly what I imagined Paris would look like" / "Ugh, this place as a lot of stairs" / "I smell pee every time the wind blows".

That's what I did, at least. After exiting Gare de l'Est (East Train Station), the first thought that struck me was that Paris looked exactly what I thought it would look like -- purely from an optical, ground-level standpoint. And, aside from, say Arizona, that's never happened before.

The other two observations, while admittedly very superficial, feel just as true to me.

It's also an expensive city. But, as you'll be seeing, you can do a lot without paying a lot (or too much).

But I'll get to that in a bit.


Pickles said...

Does this mean that none of the buildings in Paris have an elevator? Or was I to focus on the dog pee portion of your analogy? I'm confused ;)

lebrookski said...

It's like really low-tech virtually real reality. The building is just a place for things to happen, not necessarily an actual building. I'll put it in nerd terms so that you can understand, nerd.

Think of it like the Holodeck. Except the pictures are being generated by your imagination of what you personally think Paris should look like...

The dog is there to lead you around because your freakin blindfolded. Also to provide the pee smell, because it's an important part of the experience.

There are definitely buildings in Paris with elevators, but there aren't really elevators outdoors...just a lot of freaking stairs...and pee smell.

Pickles said...

So what you're saying is that Paris is like a pee smell filled Holodeck of your imagination? I think I'll stick to my naive & romanticized view a la Ratatouille. Less pee smell, more wine & croissants.

lebrookski said...

Hey...I said that you can only really smell the pee when the wind blows...

Pickles said...

Oh...well that makes all the difference ;-)

Katie said...

yeah! AZ call out.

lebrookski said...

It helped that you always referred to AZ as "The Land of Brown". And then I got there and I was like "Yep, this is pretty much how I imagined it".