Friday, March 25, 2011

Out & About in Paris

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After a week in France, my daughter developed a fascination for the Eiffel Tower, Tour Eiffel. How she even knows about it, is beyond me. We had not been anywhere near it. My husband suggested visiting it on Sunday. Just so you know, bus drivers as the Big Guy up above, rest on Sundays. Unfortunately, I didn't know this when I agreed to the outing. Therefore, we trekked to our RER station (commuter train) which took a considerable amount of time. I began turning sour somewhere during the way.

Two things surprised me. One, we technically don't live in Paris. Two, we live three stops away from what is considered Paris. It was like going from 46th Street on the R in Astoria Queens, to 59th Street in Manhattan. However, the Parisian underground is far more complicated, running deeper than New York's... with far more stairs. Not desirable when traveling with tot and stroller. We get off at Les Halles. Again my lovely husband suggests this station as it is more central...but farther from the freakin' Eiffel tower as I later learned. I'll admit this day was filled with negativity from me. Everything I saw was through a dark veil. I had awoken that morning having to remind myself where I was, and felt there was nowhere I wanted to be but home, New York. Paris was the most unappealing place in the world at that moment.

We walked along the Seine with enthused tourists. We passed the Louvre, book venders along the river. sightseeing boats on the water, and it looked like we made no gains on territory when looking up at the Eiffel tower in the distance. And when hunger struck, the streets are labyrinth leading you in circles of a place to eat especially when all you want is slice of pizza. By the way, it was the best freakin' pizza I've had. Well worth the extra steps, only in hindsight though.

After the resto, short for restaurant in France, we resume our foot journey. One thing that I can appreciate about New York is anywhere you might stand, you can see a landmark- the Chrysler building, the Empire State building and what was the World Trade Center. You can have a sense of where you are & where you are going. The Eiffel tower, our destination and the only somewhat visible edifice, hides behind beige ornate facades, that aren't even that tall. In fact nothing here is that tall, except the Monteparnasse Tower. New York soars up. Paris spreads out. And it takes a really effing long time to get anywhere a pied. A good pair of sneaks is what you need. I cursed the day I left them at my mom's before leaving.

Arriving at the Eiffel, I am zapped of energy and my lack of enthusiasm takes new lows. This place is a circus, a tourist trap. Street sellers step in your path, get in your face trying to sell you bogus souvenirs - a tower on a keychain, a tower that lights up, a pink one, a blue one, even a battery operated puppy and monkey that flips in the air. The last one is definitely out of sorts. As I lag behind my husband & daughter who are dashing to get on the ticket line, a vendor comes up to me. He says something that sounds English. With a fleeting thought that I must look American, I shoo him away with my hand and try to step around him. He then says “Ni-hao”. For those of you who don't me or know what I look like. I am not Asian nor anything remotely close...unless someone in my family is keeping secrets. However, my entire life I have been mistaken for some kind of Asian, usually Filipino, then Chinese, Japanese and lastly Hawaiian. As I walk away, I can't help but laugh out loud. There are some things that just never change no matter where you are. At last something familiar.

I find my husband on the ticket line, with my daughter trying to break free of her stroller straps and jet over to the flipping monkeys. We wait, and wait, and wait. The line gets longer but we don't seem to move much. I get us some snacks, as the pizza we ate is already long gone. Note: never buy anything at the Eiffel. It will be cold, tasteless, and expensive. Instead go across the street by the carousel. They have a snack truck with awesome crepes, and hot dogs. However, the carousel is 3 Euros a ride (about $4.50) and it ain't long... at all! We gave up on the Eiffel and went there instead to please my daughter, who was still asking for the flippin' monkeys. I think she saw a Panda too. Weird.

At the end of the day, all we walked in Paris had to be walked back. The train ride home was too short, to get any type of rest. Then we had to trek back to our residence. By the time I sat on my Ikea Pong chair, my feet were so sore... they were numb with blisters, a cherry on top. I sulked and drank Leffe Ruby (beer with  sweet drops of berry syrup). I looked out onto my balcony, into the darkness trying to make out shapes in the distances, but couldn't see clearly. Instead, I went inside, closed the door, and went to bed.