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Saturday, August 14, 2010

9 Days in Paris (Part 3) - Tourism

I hate tourists.

I hate being a tourist.

It's a stupid thing to say if you're visiting a place on vacation, especially for the first time, but I'm serious. Tourists do and say the most fucking ridiculous shit. They don't know where they're going and they don't know how to get out of the way of people who do know where they're going. I hate it, but it's a necessary evil sometimes. You have to stumble around and get out all the oohs and ahs and lookie-over-theres(!) -- just to get it all out of your system, so that you can act like a normal human being in a new environment. Take a picture, it lasts longer...and all that other b.s.

Paris is full of tourists. Duh. I was one. I said and did some dumb shit and took pictures like a maniac. In all, I took almost 300 pictures. Too many of them were of the Eiffel Tower. From far away, from close up, different angles, etc and so forth. So, I can't knock tourists so much. But I do try to do some things out of common courtesy, which I have learned from my travels:

1.) When exiting public transportation, do not just step outside of the train/bus and stop. You don't know where you're going? Fine. Move away from the crowd, gather your thoughts. But don't just stand there like an idiot in the place where other people are trying to get out or get in.

2.) Maps. Same principle. Don't open them while you're standing at a crosswalk waiting for the light to change. Move aside and generally away from the flow of foot traffic.

Nothing makes me feel stabbier than these two things.

Before our trip (last Christmas), in addition to the commitment of footing our hotel bill, C.Dub gave us a map of Paris and a guide to Paris. These were on us at all times. Or, rather, on Frosty at all times. It's common knowledge -- or at least it should be -- that I can't read a map worth shit. Cardinal directions are a concept that I have failed to grasp in my 29 years on the planet. To compensate, I use the technique of picking a direction and committing to it until I figure out if it is correct or not. Granted, this is not the most efficient tactic...but it's commitment dammit!

And Frosty...well...he just whipped out that map everywhere. Including the aforementioned no-no places.

The guide book was cool though. It was divided up into different walking tours of the city. At first it seemed rather nonsensical, but I would actually recommend this type of book over the type that is divided into the sections of the city and just lists things to do there. The structure of a walking tour helped me get my bearings and learn a bit about the sites (though in less detail than I would have preferred). At each stopping point we'd take a break and read out loud to each other. It didn't help me feel like less of a tourist, but I learned things. Which is good, right?

Paris has a ton of museums. Moreover, Paris has a ton of free museums. And I loved this, because (say it with me now) I love free stuff. There are 15 museums, in which entry to their permanent collections is absolutely free.

Okay, sure it sucks if you're not into museums -- but here's the thing: If you're European and over 25 (or non-European and over 18) then the entry prices to everything in the city (museums or not) are going to make you go insane. Maybe it was more noticeable to me because I'm over 25 and Frosty is under 25. But it sucked balls.

I only made it to one free museum that I had on my list, which was the Musée Carnavalet, a museum about the history of France. I still want to visit the Marie Curie museum at some point, because she was one of my heroes back in my science nerd days.

The Louvre was basically a bust. I didn't really want to go anyway. I'm much more intrigued by contemporary/modern art than the "old masters". Plus, when you're at the Louvre, you get the feeling that almost everyone is there just to get a glimpse of the Da Vinci Code...whoops I mean that one painting...what's it called again?

Still, we went there and got through security. It was packed and there was no place to sit, so Frosty decided to find an out of the way spot to sit on the ground. Apparently this was against the rules, as security personnel told him that sitting on the ground wasn't allowed. Mind you, this wasn't any where near any art. This attitude basically killed any boners/lady-boners that we might have had about seeing the Mona Lisa, so we high-tailed it out of there.

But not before taking this picture for posterity:

Sheep, you're all sheep! Baaaa!

Go, if you must, but if you have to pay for a museum, then I'd suggest the Centre Pompidou, which is a contemporary/modern art museum. If you can make it by February 2011, then I highly recommend the elles@centrepompidou exhibit, which looks at the history of modern art and the influence of female artists. I thought it was really amazing and well worth the price of entry. Below is a picture of a small portion of a large tapestry/mural by an artist whose name I don't recall. From far away it looks like a large abstract painting, but when you move closer you can see that it's a lot of thread work with images of women in sexual positions. Indeed.

Speaking of porn-art, we also went to the Erotic Museum. Why? Well, because you can print a coupon for a 3€ discount from their website (thrifty!), which means that entry only costs 6€ instead of 9€. I had mixed feelings about the museum itself. Not because of the subject matter, but mostly concerning the overall presentation of material, which Frosty and I both agreed was less than stellar. There are seven floors of exhibits and most of it oriented more towards novelty of boner & vagina power statues. However, the second floor is dedicated to a fascinating exhibit on the history of prostitution in Paris. Is it worth the 6€ just to see that? You'll have to decide for yourself. At any rate, the Erotic Museum was also much less crowded than the Louvre and, although I can't make a comparison, the nudes were probably infinitely more interesting.

Another thing to do that doesn't cost a thing is to take a stroll along the Promenade Plantée. It's basically an elevated park in the middle of the city. Frosty had told me about it a long time ago, way before we had even thought about going to Paris. It's like you walk up a flight of stairs and you're somehow out of the city. Not completely, but it's quiet and peaceful and not completely overrun by tourists (at least not on the day that we went).

In general, I would like to experience Paris again outside of the high tourist season. But it's like I said, you gotta get the basics out of the way first, knock out all (or most) of the big name stuff on the first visit and then come back and see the stuff that's more interesting.

That's my plan anyway.


Pickles said...

What is up with Frosty's hair?

lebrookski said...

That's his style.
I'll let him explain it to you one day. Maybe even on my blog.

Anyway, they help me find him in a crowd and they're also convenient handlebars during sexy times ;-)

I'm kidding about some of the stuff above. I'll leave it up for you to decide what.

Pickles said...

I know you're not kidding about any of that stuff ;-p

Our lil bro will never let you hear the end of it....and you know it.

Bet you can't wait to intro Frosty to the family now, huh?

lebrookski said...

I'm aware of this...

but really the list of things that people can say about a 6'2" guy with pigtails is really short and incredibly unoriginal.

He's been wearing rocking the pigtails for over a year now and he's heard just about everything. So, I'm pretty sure Remy isn't going to suddenly come up with something new.

I'm also fairly certain that Frosty meeting the family is going to be ... a test of mental strength (?) for many many different reasons. His hairstyle is one of the least of my worries.

Katie said...

Centre Pompidou is one of my favorite museums ever. Right up there with the American Museum of Natural History and, of course, the New York Transit Museum. See subways from olden times! Become a pretend bus driver! Good times.

lebrookski said...

I really liked Centre Pompidou. The had another exhibit there, but it would have cost an extra 9€, it was about the architecture and design of all the different World Fairs. I'd definitely go back.

There's also the Paris Museum of Modern Art -- we didn't make it there though.

cherry garcia said...

haha, i like this post.

*thumbs up*