We are already 2 countries down and I can’t quite figure out where the time has gone. We have covered a lot of ground this week in Paris… literally. Anywhere from 8 to 12 miles a day. Paris is one massive city and despite my initial feelings of uncertainty since it is known for strange food according to my standards and not so nice people, it has surprised me for the better. One of the best and first surprises was the arrival of this lady!
Stacey is no doubt my kindred teaching spirit from Doha and great friend, so when I heard a giggle followed by one giant hug, I knew Paris was going to be that much better. And it was. I wasn’t too daring with the food, but what we had was delicious. They love all things smoked. Smoked sausage, smoked ham, as well as every other type of smoked pork, smoked salmon, smoking cigarettes, you name it. Since we have been on a bit of a hiatus from pork, there were no complaints here. However, more importantly, these people do cheese right! Melted cheese on everything and not just one type, but at least three! To be honest, I felt quite guilty eating so much delicious cheese without my family. Mom, John, Austin: Italy is next and I hear their cheese is pretty amazing too…It’s not too late. 😉
Speaking of sweet people, the folks we came in to contact with did not live up to the typical French stereotype that we all hear about. They were incredibly friendly and despite most of our waiters knowing little English, they always tried their best. One even pulled out his phone to translate. Having a friend join the trip, eating great food, finding good wine for about $2, and being treated kindly would have been more than enough to change my feelings about Paris, but then we went on a a couple of tours of the city, which is when I realized how awesome this place really is. Oh yea, and to top it off, we found Tennessee! Can’t ask for anymore than that!
Paris is full of so much history! I am no history buff, but it was incredibly interesting and is what has left me intrigued about this city. Everything is so big and intricate, especially the churches and palaces. Notre Dame was my favorite church. The hunchback never did show himself, but he has a pretty sweet home! And it should be as much as they practiced building that bad boy. When they began constructing the cathedral their goal was to make it as tall as possible so they could be closer to heaven. Well, after 5 tries and hundreds of years later, they finally got it right. Someone decided that when you make a structure really high, you have to have support beams somewhere. Thankfully they figured this out because it turned out to be gorgeous!
We were in awe over the grand palaces Napoleon, King Henry IV, and all of the Louis got to live in. The Louvre, which is now a museum and the home of Mona Lisa, is the most visited museum in the world. AND GIGANTIC. Over 23,000 people visit it a day and is 12 kilometers long. That means if you spend 10 seconds at each piece of art/artifact, it will take you 3 months to see everything! Say what??? The Versailles palace doesn’t disappoint either. If you didn’t know, these kings, especially Louis VIX, were a bit full of themselves. Since the Louvre wasn’t quite grand enough anymore and he was loosing face with his people, he decided to build Versailles. Yes, those gates are golden (during the French revolution the gold was melted down), and he had over 100 hectares of gardens. Today they only have 10 of those 100, but as you can see, it is still quite the garden.
Okay, one last fun fact about our trip that we learned from an awesome tour guide. This is the oldest bridge in Paris that was constructed by Henry IV. Henry was a bit tired of the original bridges catching fire or falling down, so he decided to build Pont Neuf. It only took 29 years and a lot of Euros. He didn’t have the money to build it, so he taxed the French on their favorite sport of drinking wine. After 29 years, he had the money, had this built, and also invented the first Facebook! To thank the people, he held a huge party for the nobles where he gave them free food and wine for 3 days. On the 3rd day, he asked the artist to create pictures of the guests who attended and put it on his wall. Sound familiar? 🙂
It is safe to say that our time in Europe has not been disappointing. I would be ok if time decided to slow down though. The next month in Italy is going to be amazing. Jared told me he is prepared to just roll me around everywhere we go as I will have a constant “pasta baby” in my belly. Pasta and cheese…does it get much better???