Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Paris, Second Visit
What a difference 6 months make! Last time I froze and this time I baked. But if one must bake, better to bake in Paris, right?
For Ryan’s birthday his parents sent us money to visit his brother, Max, in Paris. Max is on a one-month course with our former university to absorb the culture and language. Max admits varying degrees of success in these pursuits.
The students are staying on the left bank, between the Seine and the Luxembourg Gardens. Our first sight-see was the nearby Paris Crypt, which was sadly closed last time we were there. It was fascinating in the same way the Tower of London delights with its grizzly history. Bones were artfully arranged and some of the more poetic tombstones remained with the departed. Ancient carvings warned us that we were entering the Kingdom of the Dead, and it was decorated with the same black-and-white stripe pattern that adorned the Death Societies in Italy. Toward the end of our underground stroll, I was shocked to see a man actually pick up one of the leg bones! I nudged Ryan and Max, who didn’t believe me, until we got to the end where our bags were searched and we saw a pile of confiscated bones. How rude!
Max took us to Montmarte next, which was fairly disappointing. Being an avid Moulin Rouge fan, I hoped the neighborhood retained some of the starving artist appeal, but nothing we saw fit that description. It was fairly homogenous with the rest of the city, minus the trashy Pigalle, which has more in common with Las Vegas (or Munich’s own “Sex World”) than my Moulin Rouge mental picture. But we walked up the hill to the stunning Sacre Coeur, and enjoyed a nice view of Paris. (We skipped the funiculaire, although recommended by a local lady. It cost a metro ticket to ascend the equivalent of 50’ elevation gain, AND was super crowded.)
We returned to Maxie’s neighborhood for a leisurely stroll through the Luxembourg Gardens, the immaculate (and heavily guarded) backyard of France’s Parliament building. There are plenty of lounging chairs around the beautiful fountains, which is nice since the vast majority of Paris’ parks FORBID touching the grass. The second night we saw a little girl repeatedly make a break for the grass as her parents helplessly watched from the railing. She ran across the forbidden grass, laughing at all the adults.
In the evening we had a leisurely French dinner, complete with cheese course. Then we kept Max out way past his bedtime, barhopping and watching the Turkey-Croatia quarterfinal Euro game. It was kind of dull at first. They were 0-0 until the very end; Croatia scored in the last minute or so of overtime, everyone paid their bar tabs and were leaving when Turkey scored, tying it up again! The game ended in a shoot-out, the Turkish back-up goalie (the regular having been red-carded) deftly stopping the Croatian attempts. If Germany loses to Turkey in the semi-finals, I won’t be so sad. Turkey is just so sneaky!