When the Big ET, the Eiffel Tower, finally came into view that first night in Paris—after emerging from the labyrinthine subway and an exhilarating first ride on the Metro (dirty, smelly, crowded, but fun!)—I thought to myself, "I guess you're not in Kansas anymore, Bobing!". Holy cow! What a sight! Although I've seen it like a billion times in pictures and movies, man, there's nothing like the real thing. There it was, the icon of Paris, all lit up by a million yellow lights.
(Click on any image to enlarge.)
It was drizzling and a huge crowd was gathered at the Trocadero plaza to marvel and of course take snapshots of the famous landmark. I was amused to overhear snatches of Tagalog mixed with many other languages as tourists posed, jostled and pointed. Oohs and ahhs all around. Hawkers of all kinds of trinkets and miniature Eiffel souvenirs bugged us incessantly but we didn't mind. We were wide-eyed innocents in Paris and they could push their wares on our faces all they wanted.
We noticed how there were parts of the tower that were not lit up and surmised that there may be some restoration going on. Suddenly, like a giant Christmas tree, the tower burst into glittering, flashing lights as if a thousand paparazzi perched on the tower started taking pictures of some famous celebrity emerging from a limo. The crowd goes Wow! as a hundred flashes go off. It was cute, I mean the disco lights on the Eiffel, very sweet eye candy.
And it was like that for this fresh-off-the-banca tourist for the most part of the trip: like a little kid in a candy store, everywhere I turned, PERFECTION. Paris is a visual delight, so many artful details in even the most unexpected places. I was lost in the details. Is it like this for all first-timers?, I wondered.
Often I would get left behind by the group because I was too engrossed in some detail on a building or a statue. No art education would be complete without a grand tour of France and Italy, I think. If only I'd had this experience back in college, I wouldn't have ended up even for a short stint, in advertising.
Paris is a work of art. No wonder the fame and glory. I took tons of pictures, which I am now at the time of writing still editing and "enhancing". (Lesson #1: Do not bring a cheap camera (even if it's just a back-up one) on your first trip to Europe, to save you heartache after when you review your photos. Lesson #2: bring your own laptop to transfer your digital pics to at the end of each day. It's such a hassle for the other person to do this for you. Thanks loads to Warren and Michelle, my nephew and niece.)
I loved all the places we went to and I didn't really even bother to ask about the significance or historical value of each one. I was just soaking it all in visually. From the imposing L'Arc de Triomphe, on elegant Champs Elysées with its swanky shops and fashionistas on parade, to the Grand Palais...
...the Alexandre Bridge (the most beautiful bridge in Paris) with its golden horses charioteers and black cherubs and naked women, and those iconic street lamps...
...on to Paris' largest square Place de la Concorde with its oldest monument, the Egyptian obelisk, and fountain of black green and gold...
...the city's oldest garden, Jardin de Tuileries (which Van Gogh had painted)...
and the Louvre! Holy mother of pearl! (I should've trained for a marathon before I did the museum, what a "hike" that was.)
The French have finesse, I observed, from the photographic coverings on the buildings that were being renovated, to the manhole covers and door knockers, everything was done in good taste and elegance. As Nikki would often interject with glee, "Ooh la la!"
(Hubby will be writing in this series again. Thanks, Michelle, for the photos above.)
Next, Lost in the Louvre
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