Travel Journal

Paris - May 23-24

(Saturday 28 June 2008) by Karin
Discovery: It only takes one and a half hours to get to Paris from Brussels
Pam and Laurie, whom I met on Vashon Island, are in France with their eldest daughters Melissa and Kathryn. Seems like a good idea to meet up in Paris so on Friday morning I get up early, pack my backpack and get on the train. We meet at the metro stop near the hostel, drop off my belongings and get ready to discover.

As the line at Sainte Chapelle is long and the Chapelle is closed at lunch time we decide to visit the Holocaust memorial. Getting into the museum is worse then passport security at the airport. Pocket knife got confiscated but I did get it back at the end of the visit. The museum commemorates the lives of thousands of Jews deported in World War 2, displays the original deportation records and takes you through the history of Jews in Europe. The stories are horrible and some of the pictures make me sick. How can any decent person do this to another human being?

Next stop, the Sainte Chapelle. This, jam-packed with stunning stained-glass windows, bathed in colorful light Chapelle quickly makes you forget the horrors just seen in the Museum. In the sanctuary you’ll find more than 1100 bible scenes illustrated by light and glass. Awesome, beautiful. No words to describe this stunning place. You will have to see it.

Then we stand in line for what seems to me like hours to go up the Eiffel Tower only to discover that we can only get up to the second platform where we have to stand in line again to go to the top. Only Pam and I wait. We’ve come so far and waited so long so we really want to go all the way up. While being on the windy top is a thrill I won’t forget, the views are actually better from the second level since the moments are more recognizable. Built a hundred years after the French Revolution, the tower served no function but to impress expansive views on the top. We take the stairs down from the second platform and enjoy the different views from every imaginable angle. We meet the others at the Louvre before heading to the hostel exhausted. A busy day.

But an early wake-up the next morning to go see the 700-year old, packed with history, Notre-Dame Cathedral. With a pair of 200-foot tall bell towers, a facade studded with ornate statues, beautiful stained-glass windows, famous gargoyles, a picture perfect Seine-side location, there is a good reason that this is France’s most famous church. It is beautiful. Later in the day I stand in line to climb the stairs to the top to get some more amazing Paris views. But first it is time to say good bye as the others get ready to take the train to Avignon.

I then walk the streets of Paris and stand in line to climb up the 387 steps to the top of one of the towers of the Notre Dame Cathedral. The cathedral Towers give breathtaking views of Paris, plus detailed looks at the roof, the spire, and the cathedral’s largest bell, the Emmanuel Bell.

The Champs Elysies is next on the list. This impressive promenade stretches from the Place de Concorde to the Place de Charles de Gaulle, the site of the Arch de Triomphe, the world’s largest triumphal arch. At its western end, the Champs Elysies is bordered by cinemas, theatres, cafi’s and luxury shops. Getting tired I walk around the Tuileries, the largest and oldest park in Paris, sit down for a rest and head for the train station for the return trip.

Au Revoir Paris. Je reviendrai.

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