Tuesday, 9 June 2009
A weekend in Paris
Last month we sailed from Dover to Calais and took another 3 hours, by coach, to reach the city of Paris. It was a long and tiring journey and we were beginning to regret the short holiday even before stepping outside our hotel rooms. After a short freshening up session we headed for the boat ride on river Seine to see Paris by night. I fell in love with the city on the first sight. I gaped and looked in awe as all the monuments and buildings came alive, from my history of architecture text book. Me and S struggled to give some of the buildings a name even if the structure looked familiar enough. River Seine certainly dominated the social scene. With the day being hot and long, people were gathered around the river with friends, drinking and chatting away. I wish I had the luxury to sit around and admire the scene, soak in the ambience and gawk at nothing in particular but we were pressed for time. At the end of the boat ride when we reached the dock near Eiffel tower, it was quite dark and the tower was bathed in golden splendour and just as we thought nothing could top this, there were thousands of tiny light flashing on the tower and it looked like it was studded with diamonds.
An early start on the next day with a sumptuous breakfast saw us heading back to the Eiffel tower. This time we were going to see its naked beauty illuminated under the golden rays of sun. I was quite excited as this was the first time we were going to be in close proximity to the mammoth structure. The enormity of the Eiffel tower hits you only when you stand a few feet away and struggle to take a look at the towering structure, as a whole. Usually anything huge is considered monstorous, however the Eiffel tower humbles you with its elegance and curves even after being so big. The best part though is being on top of the third floor deck. You can see almost up to 40 miles of the city stretch out beneath you, a feeling of being on top of the world. It definitely makes you wonder how Gustav Eiffel and his team put it together 120 years ago. Also the fact is that the Parisians initially hated the structure and did not realize the identity it would give to their city. While most of them had a change in their attitude after seeing the finished project, there were some who continued to loathe it. One among them, a famous french novelist (Guy de Maupassant), was said to eat regularly at a restaurant on the tower’s second floor. His reason being, that is the only place in Paris from where he was sure he wouldn’t see the tower.
After lunch we proceeded to Louvre museum to see the 'ever smiling' Mona Lisa and many others. After going through rooms and rooms of Italian paintings we could see a mob of people gathered around her. We struggled to catch a glimpse of her and after a good 10 minutes got to a chance to do so. There were so many exhibits in the museum but we had just 2 hours to cover the entire place, so we hurried from one to room to another and tried to see the sections that interested us the most. I have always liked the glass prism that stands in front of the museum, since my college days, also it merged in so well with the existing structure. Another land mark that we went to was the palace of Versailles, living quarters of the denounced King Louis XVI. The most remarkable feature of the palace were the gardens that stretched for acres. After two days of hectic sight seeing we could not muster courage to sit through the coach and the ferry journey to get back to London but nevertheless the trip was well worth the tiredness. I would love to go back to Paris and spend some quality time without having to hurry and no we are never taking the ferry again!