Day 2 – Paris, France
After I took this photo in the Tuileries Garden, I thought to myself: This might be the best picture I take the entire trip.
I was probably right. But that realization was incredibly sobering.
This was my first and only day in Paris, so I decided to take the sampler plate approach to seeing this city. I figured I’ll return soon anyway.
Friends asked me to live tweet my adventures and my mom told me to send her a picture of myself from each city. I tried, but taking a break to tweet about what I’m doing (as opposed to, you know, just doing it) and taking pictures of myself doesn’t come naturally to me. But rather than approaching it with begrudging cynicism, I had fun with it.
First stop, Notre Dame.
I walked the entire route along the Seine and leisurely enjoyed 30-60 minutes at each stop.
I dusted off three semesters of French and tried to get by with as little English as possible—but mostly a lot of je ne sais pas. The conversations were limited but surprisingly effective. I think everyone just went along with it because they appreciated that I was trying.
Curiously, I got mistaken for a local a couple of times. The best was when a thirty-something woman asked for directions, then saw my crinkled face trying to form a sentence, looked down at my camera, immediately put the pieces together, and looked back up at me with resignation in her eyes. We both started laughing.
I started taking pictures of this accordion playing man near the Arc de Triomphe, but he didn’t seem like he was in a good mood. I threw a coin into his tip jar and hoped it would make a loud enough noise that he could hear. He perked up a little and gave me a nod when I got closer to take this shot.
Little did he know, I only gave him five cents. Hahaha. I feel a little bad.
I took the long way to the Eiffel Tower from the Arc de Triomphe because a pedicab driver recommended the view from the Musée du quai Branly. I was getting pretty tired from walking the whole day, so I stopped by a restaurant/bar for a drink. When I asked this gentleman for a beer, he asked what kind. I asked what he had and he suggested 1664 because “it’s French.” The beer was alright, but the conversation was fantastic.
I spent a good 20 minutes talking with Ali. He told me about immigrating to France when he was young, then we talked about how the world perceives the U.S., which then led to him ranting about George Bush. He was pleasant company the whole time, but it was time to go.
Like the title sequence in The 400 Blows, I saw the Eiffel Tower peeking over buildings and between alleyways during the long walk there. It was grand and worthy of every souvenir of it that exists in the world. The view from under it, however, was something else. It felt like looking through a peephole. Like I was seeing a secret of the Eiffel Tower that I wasn’t supposed to be seeing. It’s not a unique view—nor is the photo particularly original—but that feeling was completely exhilarating.
On the metro ride back from Montparnasse near midnight, these two boys across from me were having the time of their lives opening the train doors at every single stop because it would make a loud noise like the airlock releasing when they eject emergency pods in sci-fi movies. The older sister thought they were bothering me and told them to stop. But I thought it was so funny and said it was okay to keep doing it.
The kid put his hand on the handle for about 30 seconds as we were slowing down, to indicate that he would open the door for me at my destination. The train came to a stop, he let me out, and all five of us shared the last big laugh of the night.
Odds and Ends
- I bought over €100 worth of macrons at the world famous Ladurée to ship to my friends. This was the dumbest decision of my travel life. (More on this to come in the Budapest post.)
- Two American tourists got robbed right in front of me BY A DUDE WITH ONE LEG. These two were the stereotypical Americans that get drawn in satirical comic strips—big stomach, fanny packs, and loud as hell. The man was wearing a Mickey Mouse shirt and the woman had a bright red Coca-Cola shirt. (I swear I’m not making this up.) Two minutes before this all went down, they were being rude to the lady in the ticket booth. Anyway—as they were walking into the metro entrance through the turnstile, One Leg Dude jumps over the opposite direction while snatching the woman’s fanny pack. By the time the Americans realized what had happened, dude was already 30 feet away. They made a half-hearted attempt to go after him, but the outgoing turnstiles and gates were all locked from the inside. They resorted to yelling and blaming each other.
- Out of all the serendipitous things that happened in Paris, this might be my favorite:
The Polaroid above was taken at an art and souvenir shop two blocks or so away from the Louvre. It sold replica prints of the Mona Lisa and was painted a really cool, almost sewer-y green, which I photographed for my ongoing series.