The weather in Paris is ATROCIOUS. All day it's been blasted by freezing winds. With the wind chill, it's been dipping below freezing. We went out early anyway, and were surprised to see lots of kids around our couchsurfing hostess' flat. It made us feel a little more safe about where we're staying. Until we noticed that each one of them was accompanied by their parents and an armored car and the military.
We took the metro to the Eiffel Tower first. We stood there for 2+ hours as ticket booths remained close with the message "Monument experienceing delays." I finally went up to a French police woman (who was striking, along with the rest of the Parisian police) and asked what the deal was. She told me the Eiffel Tower workers were striking, they didn't know when it would open, or if it would open at all today or tomorrow.
This is where the tale of two Parises begins. One: of Virginia and Marie-Jeanne - friendly, open, soft-spoken, fore-orange hair, generous, kind. Of beautiful architecture and parents walking their kids to school. Of amazing croissants and frequent, helpful metro stops. And two: Of self-righteous, uptight, overserious, sanctimonious, sycophantic, pompous French bastards who never smile, never work, are always in a hurry, and treat everyone like s*** - pushing, shoving, grimacing, jeering, rolling their eyes, and faking like they are interested in art and fine/luxurious things. It smells like piss and crap everywhere (except the Louvre metro station, which strangely enough smells like chocolate). There's more graffitti than I've ever seen in my life. And it's everywhere. And trash. Lots and lots of trash in the streets, in the monuments, just everywhere.
But back to the Eiffel Tower. They were never going to tell anyone about the striking workers. In fact, I don't think they did tell anyone, because there were 100s of people in line throughout the day every time we walked past the Tower. Plus there were police and ambulance sirens going all day. Non-stop. We walked around the Eiffel Tower, but it was too cold so we ducked into one Corona Cafe across the Seine. Our waiter hated us and we had delicious jam and toast and disgusting scrambled eggs.
We walked down to the covered boat tour, the Bateaux Mouches, and saw Paris from a warm and windless position. After the boat ride, we went to the Musee d' Orsay. Neither of us really appreciate that kind of art, but neither did any of the other people there. I'm convinced when you only spend 5 seconds or less in front of "art," you don't really appreciate it. And almost everyone was blazing through that place. Plus, Paris has so much of that kind of art I think the people are desensitized. Marie-Jeanne and Virginia told us they never went to look at that stuff and neither did any of the Parisians they knew. The architecture of the place was incredible, though. I didn't post a picture of it because you can't take pictures in there, but check it out.
We passed through the inside of Notre Dame pretty quick. It was packed. We waited in line for the towers for an hour and a half. Freezing. But worth it. We waited with two lesbians from Germany who thought it was funny every time I yelled some of my very limited German (i.e. "Schnell bitte!") and a couple from Chicago. After the awesome towers, we went to Cafe Panis (which is the space between . . . nevermind) and then Subway for some good American cookies. Delicious. We made it back to MJ's without any scratches or bruises, watched Sherlock Holmes on the ipod, and now to bed.
quintessential france shot