Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Paris, Day 1 :: From Above

If nothing else, Paris has got to be the most beautiful city on the face of the earth.  (It just is, and you shouldn't doubt me until you've been there yourself.)  But its also much more than that.  It's the birthplace of modern civilization.  For centuries it has been the hub of science, art, literature, food, culture, and all that is good in this world.  In fact, if it wasn't for France and all it's influence on England, London would still be barbaric in comparison.  The modern world as you know it would not be where it is today without Paris.

It's the most visited city in the entire world, and also one of the most expensive (for good reason).  You can forget about all the stupid negative stereotypes.  Even if these people were as arrogant as they're falsely portrayed to be, they'd have a damn good reason.  They have some of the best French Fries on the planet.  

When we arrived there was a light rain falling and it was actually pretty cold.  It would only get colder during the week, and this was something neither of us were prepared for.  It was a nice break from the Louisiana heat, but I ended up not touching most of my clothes.  Anyway, we were pretty tired, and having lost 7 hours on the flight over, we were going on 30+ hours without sleep.  We got there around 10 in the morning and couldn't check into our hotel room until 3 that afternoon, so we wandered around the neighborhood and ended up at the beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral.

Here are some of the pics from the first day:

The one and only.

The Seine.

This never gets old.  

Notre Dame...one of the most famous cathedrals in all the world, obviously.  Contruction started on this beast in 1163 and lasted for more than 200 years.  When you see it, you just ask yourself, how?  How did they design this?  How did they build this?  How did they lift those massive stones that high?  It is a testiment to mankind and what we are were capable of.  It's sad that a structure like this will never be built again.  It simply cannot be done.  There are no more stone masons that can carve these intricate details, and there would be no budget to pay for them if there were.  Sad, really.  The world has lost an art form.

Many riots and wars and revolutions during its 800 year history left this beauty in such disrepair that they actually thought about tearing it down.  At one point it was housing livestock.  Thankfully they started a restoration project in 1845, which lasted more than 25 years.

They just don't build 'em like they used to.

What knockers!

I love these guys.  

This would be very similar to the view a few hundred years ago.  

One of the 5 massive bells that Quasimodo would have rung back in his day.  And by "massive", I mean 13 tons.  Do the math.  Once again, how the hell did they lift this thing up here?

Crazy, crooked streets add to the charm of the place.

Traffic jam caused by a roit down the street.  Apparently these are quite common in France.

Typical postcards from Paris.  

Smoke from said riot.

We were finally able to check into the hotel.  This is Skype, and he was actually pretty cool...for a cat.

After a quick nap, we decided to knock the Eiffel Tower out of the way.

Finished in 1889 for the World Exposition held in Paris that year, the Eiffel Tower remained the tallest structure in the world until 1930 and the Chrysler Building.  It measures in at 108 stories.  Obviously it was the first structure of its kind, and most Parisians absolutely hated it.  It was supposed to be demolished sometime after the fair, but obviously they knew they had something good, or at the very least, the world's best tourist trap.  It's said more than a quarter of a billion people have been on the Eiffel Tower.  

A cool fact:  A restaurant on this deck of the Eiffel was actually dismantled in the 1980's and shipped over to New Orleans (in 11,000 pieces) and put back together.  It's now the Eiffel Society on St. Charles.  
Now you know.

Can't tell you how many tourists I saw taking pictures with their iPads...there has got to be a smaller alternative.

Arc de Triomphe in the center.  

The line we skipped by climbing 600+ steps.  Not recommended for those with a heart condition.

Gorgeous sunset over the Seine.

Our neighborhood for the next 10 days.

Time for some French food!

This was his hotel.

All in all it was a great first day.  I wouldn't necessarily recommend climbing 1,000+ steps on your first day...this would be like doing squats right before you run a marathon...but it worked out, and it set the tone for the rest of the trip.  More to come...

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