Saturday, September 24, 2011

Day 8: Paris (Sept. 24)

Today's photo set is here on Flickr.

Because of my schedule, I only had Saturday and Sunday to use the museum pass. Monday many of them are closed, and I leave Wednesday. I tried to figure out which of the museums I wanted to see and tried to cram as many into those 2 days as time and location allowed. Yes, it was going to make for a long day. The original plan was to do Rick Steves' historic Paris walk around the Ile de Cite area, followed by the Louvre, the Orsay, and the Orangerie, all by 6pm when the last of them closed for the day. After that, a walk down the Champs Elysees from Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe to catch the view from the top at night. Somewhere in there I'd catch dinner.

Front-loaded with museums and after a full schedule in London, it finally hit me sometime during this day that I could not keep up that pace for the duration of my stay in Europe. My feet hurt and I was tired already, only on day 7 of 70. So my epiphany was that I'll see what I can but not kill myself to see it all. It sounds so simple in theory but it required a change in mind-set on how I travel from here on out. My "flight plan" is now a starting point, not something that has to be rigidly followed like "I only have 2 hours here". I came here with flexibility in my travel scehdule, now I had to apply that to my daily schedule as well.

I got a late start due to the late night, and traveled to the Cite stop for the historic walk tour. Over the next 3 hours, I saw Notre Dame, the Ile St Louis, the Latin Quarter, and passed by St Chappelle, the Palais de Justice, the Concergerie, and the Pont de Neuf. I passed on going in St Chappelle because the line was too long (even with the museum pass), and I didn't want to take the hour to climb to the top of Notre Dame's cathedral. Linda told me later that night that I should make a point to see St Chappelle and its amazing stained glass windows if I could. By the time I hit the Louvre I was over an hour behind my original schedule. But - it was OK, I get to prioritize my stops however I want. I did the Rick Steves audio guide tour at the Louvre, which hits all of the highlights (Venus de Milo, Winged Victory, Mona Lisa, Michelangelo paintings and sculptures, etc.). Last time I was in Paris in 1988, they were just building the glass pyramid at the Louvre. This is an amazing place and I could spend days here given the opportunity. But alas, I didn't have that. I could have spent a little more time at the Louvre but I wanted to see the Orsay, the museum of the 19th century art (but no photos allowed). Turns out they don't allow anyone in after 5pm, so I headed over to the Place de Concorde to start my Champs Elysees walk.

Took about an hour to stroll down to the George V area. I thought about going to Foquet's but I didn't want to spend 100 euros on dinner, so I ate across the street at the Cafe George V, where I had onion soup and boeuf bourginon for dinner. Popped into the nearby McDonald's afterwards to check out the menu - it appears that contrary to popular belief, you cannot go into a McDonald's (at least on the Champs Elysees) and buy a glass of beer. Also, the Quarter Pounder with Cheese is not a Royale with Cheese, it's a Royal Deluxe. I was disappointed.

The climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe - a little over 200 steps - is worth the view from the top. I got there after sunset and took pictures from all views. You can see Invalides, the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame, the Exposition Center, and more. I finished around 10 and made my way back (early for me), but I still stayed up late checking email and the internet.

Had a Facetime chat with Linda on the iphone, we plan to meet tomorrow for dinner (their last night in Paris). She also recommended that I go to St Chappelle because of the unique stained glass windows, it's not just another church.

I also had to replan the next day's activities. In order to do St Chappelle and the Orsay, I had to drop some stuff out, which was the Cluny Museum of medieval history and the stuff in the Marais like the Pompidou Center and the Jewish Art & History Museum.

Today's photo set is here on Flickr.

(Originally posted on 10/2/11 at 2:27am, Copenhagen)

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