Sunday, 18 October 2015

Paris in the Summer

I think I must start every post with an apology or excuse for my lack of updates. I suppose that I really can't offer either on this occasion, except for laziness and a lack of photographs to share.

NOW, however, NOW I have ruddy hundreds of the things after I finally sat down and edited the pictures from my trip to Europe in July. I've rooted through them and found some to share, but I'll be posting them chronologically so there'll be a few more to follow.

First, however, I should probably give some context to these pictures. I had umm-ed and ahh-ed about whether to tell the full story, but I think it's the only way that I can get close to expressing the conflicting emotions that I had about this trip, and subsequently about these pictures.

My trip from Manchester > Paris > Rome > Manchester was organised for me by my boyfriend, in one of the kindest gestures I have ever known. I was going to get to see two of the places I most wanted to visit; I would see the Pantheon, which is my favourite building in the world; and I would get to share it with him. What a dream! Until approximately 6 weeks before we were due to go, we broke up.

The decision to go was extraordinarily tough. I couldn't face the idea of taking "our" trip by myself, but I also knew that I would never forgive myself for missing this amazing opportunity to do something I have wanted for such a long time. I tried to find people to come with me, and eventually my nanna agreed to come along, but the cost of changing his name to hers on the tickets farrrr exceeded the price that had been paid for the whole trip!

So I went.

On my own, heartbroken, to the "most romantic city in the world."

I booked myself an air b'n'b for my two nights in Paris. It was cheap & well-located & I figured that I wouldn't be around much anyway. It ended up being on of the most uncomfortable experiences of my life. I had never felt less welcome or more alone. The girl seemed friendly enough, once I got past the fact that she opened the door in her underwear, but it was the fact that she refused to leave the studio when I wanted a shower that nearly pushed me to tipping point. I tried my hardest to stay out of the flat for as long as possible just to avoid having to spend any time in that room. Although, once you've been wandering around Paris all day in the sun, all you want is a nice shower and to feel comfortable.

So I was instantly off to a bad start, which got worse when I realised that the city pass I had booked didn't include many of the things I thought it did, and that I had travelled for 45 minutes to pick it up when I realised I didn't have my passport with me. Luckily, I had taken a photograph of it for work that was still on my phone, so I still walked away with my bus and boat tour tickets.

So, using the hop-on-hop-off bus instead of the metro, I did a whistle-stop tour of the key Paris places. And, being a fan of Gothic architecture, you can guess how glad I was to see Notre Dame.

I couldn't face the snaking queue, in the mid-morning sun, to get inside. Whilst I regret not being able to see the interior, I am also glad that I was spared the experience of being sardine-d up with a bunch of other hot and sweaty tourists.
I resolved to wait in any queue that might exist for the next stop on my Gothic magical mystery tour... the Sainte Chapelle.

I was feeling pretty delicate by this point. Hot, bothered and a little bit lost. I got talking to a lovely woman and her daughter while we were waiting to get in, but unfortunately I can't remember their names. They talked to me for over an hour, sharing stories of their family and their home in Texas, that they were in Paris as a celebration for the little girl getting amazing grades at school, and she was telling me all about how she wanted to become an architect. They really made the wait much more pleasant, and they were equally as excited to get inside this wonderful building as I was.

No photographs I could ever take could do this place justice. It was everything I had imagined and more. Those gigantic stone buttresses that fortress the exterior create this glorious nest of polychromatic light. It is an atmosphere unlike any other I've ever experienced.

Next on the list was the Musée d'Orsay.

These are the only pictures I have from inside the building, this room was so extravagantly overwhelming I couldn't not snap a photo or two. I am sure there are hundreds of things inside the museum that I would like to have seen up close, but I got too frustrated at people standing in front of artworks taking photographs with their iPads. I honestly, truly don't understand the point of that. Yes, maybe one or two of your absolute favourite, but just walking through a display to pause for a second by each painting then snap your low-res Apple souvenir... what's the point? Places like this have so much to share, but it seems to me that people aren't even trying to experience it. It's almost as if people just want to be able to say look, I was there, even if they weren't actually present.

I ended up being so glad that I accidentally booked myself on a bus tour.

It meant that I had the best view of the Champs-Élysées I could have imagined. It was a beautifully sunny day, hundreds of cars circling the Arc de Triomphe, and I got to observe it all from above, watching all the shoppers and tourists go about their business.

My very last stop of the day seemed the most fitting.

The Eiffel Tower, the most recognisable symbol of Paris. When this trip was originally planned, the idea had been to go up it, but on my own I was content to wander around its base with an icecream in one hand and my camera in the other. There must be billions of photographs over the tower in the world, and I wasn't expecting to take anything ground-shatteringly new, but I am happy with those little visual souvenirs I brought home for myself.

The last order of the day was an hour long boat tour.

I took lots of pictures from the boat, but not many of them were worth sharing. It was a beautiful way to end the day as the sun started to set. I very much appreciated the alternative view of the things I'd already seen that day, particularly Notre Dame.

One final look at the Tower before hopping on the Metro.

...& yes, that was just one day.

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