Thursday, May 8, 2008

Notre Dame and the Latin Quarter

Today has been quite busy, but we saw a lot and got TONS of exercise. We got up and out the door by 10am, which was a huge feat for us considering neither of us slept well last night. We took the train and metro to the bike place that was recommended in one of our travel books. Turns out the place doesn't exist anymore. Nice. So we stare blankly at each other for a while and then decide to ask if there's a different bike rental place nearby. Paris has these bike kiosk things where you pay this little machine that's connected to a bunch of bikes and they have these kiosks all over the place. So after asking 3 different people were one of these things was, we finally found it... but it was out of bikes. I take that back. There was one bike left and it had 2 flat tires. So we decided to grab some lunch at this AWESOME panini place. They have them all premade on this long bagettes and then they smash it so it's like 3/4 of an inch thick. But they're SOOO good. So then we took the metro up to Notre Dame and decided to forget the bike idea. Notre Dame is beautiful. It's so ornate and it's huge. I wish I knew more of the history of it, but again, most things were in French. We got a lot of decent pictures though. Then I had some sort of brain fart and decided it would be "fun" to go to the top of the towers for the view. Ha! I'm not sure why I ever thought that would be "fun". The view was amazing and again, we got lots of great pictures, so it was 100%... well okay, maybe 90% worth it, but hiking up 400 stairs is NOT my idea of a good time. Plus it's all a narrow spiral staircase, which poses more of a problem going down than up. Going up sucks no matter which direction the steps are going, but I got dizzy going down like 30 flights of stairs that was one big spiral down.

So after we were done touring Notre Dame and after my calves stopped shaking, we wandered around some and noticed other one of those bike kiosks that was full! Except the people infront of us took FOREVER and it wasn't printing receipts so we decided not to rent from that one. Mark, genius that he is, looked on the map and realized they have those little kiosks ALL over the place and that they're on the map. So we walked 2 blocks and rented our bikes and then rode them around the Latin Quarter and up to Luxembourg Gardens and the Pantheon. Riding bikes in Paris is kind of scary. The cars know that bikes have the right of way, but a lot of these streets are really narrow anyway, especially when they have their little cars parked along side the streets. Cars will past you so you have about 6 inches or less from the side mirrors of the parked cars AND the moving cars from your handle bars. There were quite a few times where I just stopped because they were cramping my style. =) But I didn't crash into anything (almost doesn't count), or get hit, so I'd call it a success.

For supper, we at at this little place in the Latin Quarter, which was pretty good. We had (french) onion soup and Mark had lamb and I had beef in a red wine sauce. It was fairly good. We walked back to the metro and came home after we ate. We're both pretty tired and my legs and feet had had enough for today.

I've noticed a few things here. 9/10 of Parisians smoke. That's one not so nice thing about this city. You can almost always smell cigarette smoke. At dinner tonight, the waiter was even smoking... And it seems like most married women here don't wear engagement rings - they usually just have on very plain, thin bands. Seems to be quite the opposite of the States. Life here in general seems to be quite a bit more laid back than in the US, except for when they're driving. =)

So we're both exhausted and heading to bed. Tomorrow we're going to see Montmarte and Moulin Rouge and then drive up to the airport about an hour north of Paris to fly out to Madrid around 7pm (European time). Hopefully my next blog will be from Madrid!

1 comment:

Tanya McNally said...

Sounds like you guys are having so much fun! Can't wait to see the pictures!!!

And, I got the birthday card today, thank you so much! You are an awesome friend! :)