** This post has been imported from Raga’s old travel blog.
I took the 7:30 AM Eurostar train to Gare du Nord, one of the international train stations in Paris. This train actually tunnels across the ocean between UK and rest of Europe. Out of the 2:30 hrs journey, you will be under the sea for half the time. You will feel the air pressure playing with your ears. Once the train entered France, I was so in love with the French landscapes. France has its own mesmerizing landscapes and no wonder the world’s very famous artists are from France. Lush green farms, small hills along the way, and picture perfect countryside with cows will make you breathless. I enjoyed the rest of the journey and arrived at Paris around 11 am. Subways (Call it Metro here) at Paris are pretty old. The connections between various metro stations were not very easy since the lovely river Seine divided the city.
I took a metro to my hostel (St. Christopher’s Inn, near Lumiere metro station, a very decent hostel, however, with more luggage, the walk from the station could be strenuous), checked in and my craving for Indian food was partially satisfied by an Indian restaurant near my hostel. Food was not that great but at least something is better than nothing. I got a map from the hostel, planned my trip for the next 2 days, made a list of places to visit and I was on my way to the very famous Eiffel tower. I got down at the Eiffel tower station and looked around to see if I can get a glimpse of the tower with much excitement. There are clear signs in English that direct you to the famous landmark that you wish to see. My first look at the Eiffel tower was breath taking. Such a marvel, in the beautiful city of Paris was above and beyond my expectation. I went close to the tower, took some lovely pictures and sipped the velvety espresso from the café close by, watching the striking tower amidst the busy city.
My next stop was Arc du triumphe, a huge monument built by Napoleon to commemorate his victory in a battle. The beauty of this monument is that, eight to nine major Paris streets converge here and it’s really worth it to watch the city converge from the top of this monument. The main street is Champs Elysees, where you have Paris’s flourishing fashion stores. Talking about fashion, people here dress really well. I could see that all the tourists were under dressed when you compare the fashion sense of the locals. Girls looked stunning and their clothing style spoke for itself. Almost everyone wears an expensive brand here. The view of Eiffel tower in twilight from the Arc was amazing. No other place has beat my expectation like the Eiffel. I walked along Champs elysees, sipped more espresso and headed back to Eiffel for the night view. I waited until it was completely dark and I am seriously running out of words to describe the Eiffel tower at night. I sat there for a while, admired the view, took more pictures and decided to head back in the super cold weather with just a fleece jacket. This eventually marked the start of me falling sick.
Next day was dedicated to Museums and cathedrals. My first stop was Notre Dame Cathedral built during 1500s. The cathedral’s front looked kind of scary but the 300 steps climb to the top was well worth it. The ariel view of windy river Seine, with so many canals and arc bridges connecting either side of the river looked wonderful. This reminded me of the beautiful Paris they show in the movies. I saw scary gargoyles in the cathedral which reminded me of the da vinci code movie. My next stop was at Saint Chapel where they have 20 feet painted glass from 1400s explaining various chapters in the Holy Bible. The sunlight through the painted glass into the Chapel was a pleasure to watch. I headed directly towards a sandwich shop and Paris has one of the tastier breads and croissants. So crisp, yet soft and tasty, the best bread I have ever had in my life. I grabbed a veggie sandwich and munched on it sitting by the river, watching the old yet fresh city. The architecture here is very different from London. In London they have square windows but in Paris, they have a door sized window with patios. This looked very unique and interesting. I visited Parthenon and Pompidou (Modern art) in the next few hours. By this time, I was getting sicker and was not able to carry on with the same enthusiasm. However, I decided to make one last stop at Louvre museum (the glass triangle they show in Da Vinci Code) and watch it by the night.
The temperature outside was freezing and the cold wind made things worse. I carried myself to the museum and I would say, it was really worth taking the effort. I shot many pictures in all angles and the glossy triangle shined brilliantly at night. I never imagined this would look so impressive but yes it did. I went back to the hostel, with cold and cough and high temperature. I could not sleep well and had a tough time with dry cough. I woke up next morning, totally tired, unable to proceed anywhere. My friendly roommate gave me ibuprofen and it worked like magic. I slept few hours and I was ready to start my morning, well afternoon. However, the cold and cough prevailed.
I visited Louvre museum and I guess I am not much into sculptures and portraits; I did not like Louvre that much except for the famous Monalisa painting. I proceeded to Musee D’orsay where they have impressionism and neo-impressionism painting which I loved. All high profile artists like Monet, Manet, Pissaro, Sisley and enjoyed every painting. I always wanted to create such lovely work of art! Looking at these, I wondered how talented and gifted these artists were. I proceeded to Picasso museum and found it closed for 2 years due to renovation. Then I stopped at the Opera metro station to visit some French theater and ended up buying a sweater for myself.
I kept taking medicines and went back to the hostel, retiring for the day. I did not do much, blame it on my health but it was a well spent day. With all the beautiful memories of Paris, I got ready to visit the Medieval town of Bruges, in Belgium.
Au revoir Paris!