First things first: I have uploaded all of my photos, and gone back and updated all of my previous posts with pictures. I’ve even slapped a different layout on the blog (which will change again, sometime soon). So go look!
Paris was, as expected, a lot like an older New York. The people are curt and preoccupied, not overly interested in talking with tourists. Trying to respect their language, I stumbled through things in my terrible French, which actually got me into some problems. I ordered a burger at one place, and they asked if I wanted two. I assumed this was asking if I wanted a double, to which I said yes. They charged me 10 euros, which I thought was a bit steep, and I went upstairs to eat. Ten minutes later, the cashier followed me up, gave me five euros, and asked why in the world I agreed to two, if me and the guy standing behind me werent together. I apologized profusely, and he started going back downstairs, when the people at other tables asked him what had happened — he responded, “That stupid American ordered two and only took one!”
I was embarrassed.
Highlights of the trip:
1) The Moulin Rouge
I didn’t go in, or anything. I actually stumbled upon it randomly, by wandering aimlessly down a series of back alleys. The building is suitably impressive, with a large crowd outside at all times. However, what people don’t tell you about the Moulin Rouge is that, to get to it, you must walk for 10 minutes past a bewildering array of sex shops, strip clubs, and hardcore pornography.
On a Saturday night, you cannot walk 5 feet without getting accosted by some hustler. A prostitute actually blocked my way and grabbed my arm when I tried to go past, as she spat out “20 euro for a good time” in every language she could think of.
2) The Catacombs
Imagine Daedalus had built the mythical Grecian Labyrinth underneath the city of Paris, and his only building material was human bones, and you’d have a pretty good idea of what the catacombs are like.
The entire thing started when all the graveyards in Paris ran out of space, and they were having serious disease issues because of it. So they started digging up bones and interring them in the catacombs. They did so in an extremely artistic way, although they kept no records whatsoever of who each person was.
This went on for almost 100 years. God love the French.
3) The Louvre
This museum is bigger than most airports.
It defines the word ‘excess.’ There are no words.
Versailles was bitterly cold, remote, and, best of all, closed (as is, apparently, everything else on Mondays).
The main experience I had at Versailles was that of getting violently ill as soon as I set foot on the return train, whereupon I exited the train station and spent 2 hours in a neighboring McDonald’s bathroom. After stumbling back to my hostel, I spent the rest of the day in bed, occasionally arising to throw up.
The culprit? Food poisoning, from the previous day’s seafood gratin.
This cut my experience with Paris even shorter than I’d planned (2 days suddenly became 1). Because of that, I didn’t get a great feel for the city, but it seems nice enough, if a bit unwelcoming.
Paris’s reputation for hating America, though, seems a bit undeserved. People were generally quite nice to me, a certain frustrated shopkeeper notwithstanding. I attribute this to the inexplicable French love of Obama.
Yeah, I can’t explain it.