Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sarina's Parisian Adventure Day 1 continued

Not sure to count this as the first day or not because the flight during the night kind of screwed everything up. Anywho here is what we did next!

After about an hour of nap time I woke up. Tim kept right on snoozing but I couldn't help it.. I was thrilled to be where I was! So I looked up something that we could do. I came across these walking tours that were free. Discover Walks Paris provides free tours of several Parisian neighborhoods and your guide is native! So I poked Tim awake and told him that we could make one of the evening tours on Île de la Cité. So we got our butts in gear and set out for the metro.

We lucked out with our apartment because it was right in front of a Metro station,
Montparnasse – Bienvenüe, which proved to be centrally located. Paris metro system is super easy to figure out and navigate. The MTA can take a lesson from them.. I've lived in New York all of my life and have taken frequent trips into the city and I still do not understand the NYC subway system, but after a week in Paris we were pros at on the Metro. Also my guide book featured a subway map so we were able to plan out our day while out and on the go. We learned a lot from the Metro so here are some tips:

You will save money if you buy ten tickets at once. We did this and we only had to buy tickets a few times. The tickets are teenie tiny, so make sure you have a safe place to put them so they won't get lost. I used my little headphone pouch and it worked perfectly. Enough about the metro onto the rest of our day!

We took the Metro to Île de la Cité. There is small island in the middle of Paris and this was originally the city which obviously expanded. The tiny island also houses one of the most famous landmarks ever... the Notre Dame Cathedral. After getting off the Metro I knew the tour met in front of the Cathedral so we were trying to find it. We turned one corner and there was no missing it. The pictures do not do it justice, it is amazing, massive and beautiful. I've spent my life going to theme parks like Disney and Universal and all of the landmarks there are fake and strive to give the illusion of something big and massive and they use optical tricks to achieve it. It was amazing to see the Notre Dame and know that this was real! 

Separating the island from the rest of the city is the River Siene. It was beautiful seeing the river bank and river boats making their way through. We noticed a lot of locals we some drinks sitting on the river bank just hanging out. Turns out this is pretty common and legal as long as you are sitting and drinking. 

On the other side of the river Siene is the Latin Quarter. We had read and heard that this is a pretty neat place known for being a college hang out and ethnic neighborhood. There is a giant epic fountain of st. Michel as well as tons of cafes and interesting side streets. However we also noticed it be very touristy, but whatever we were tourists! 

We headed back to the Notre Dame for the start of our tour! It met infront of a giant statue of Chalemange. While waiting we again just marveled at the massive beauty of the Notre Dame when we noticed a guy wearing a pink vest, it was our tour guide. His name was Phillipe and he was great. He was funny, sassy and quite the snazzy dresser, but what else would you expect from a hip gay frenchman. He was very against the Latin Quarter, he said it was full of bo-bos. When Phillipe noticed a tour of confused people he explained that a bo-bo is a bohemian bourgeoisie, rich people who dress poor (a.k.a. hipsters) Phillipe explained that he identifies as a sub-bo, subversive bourgeoise. 

As the tour went on he explained some history of the Notre Dame (because it was right in front of us) and he took us right in front of us and showed us how the foot print of the medieval village is outlined in stone. Some small narrow streets back then I must say. He then showed us around the island some more which included the Palace of Justice, more of the River Sienne and Pont Neuf. The last one is a bridge, the New bridge which is ironic because it is actually the oldest bridge in France. There is a big statue of Henry IV who stopped religious persecution in France. There is a small island at the bottom of the bridge which provides some excellent views of the city. It was there that our tour ended. 

Which was good because we were starving. So we ran back to the Latin Quarter and had a nice meal of Mussels and frites! After dinner it was getting late so we went back to the apartment and passed out at around 11. I make it a point to mention that it was 11 because it meant to beat the jet lag, allow me to explain. 

Jet lag can ruin your trip. Especially when you have to adjust going eight hours into the future. I read a bunch of different articles on how to best avoid jet lag and I developed my own routine. First off, no alcohol on the plane, you'll just feel like crap later. Then sleep as much as you can on the plane. We did technically loose a night of sleep, so catch up as much as you can. Then when you get to your destination if you feel that you need sleep, set an alarm and force yourself to get up after an hour! Otherwise you will wake up to find out you've lost three days! Don't let that happen to you so get up and do something and just say up till 11. That's what time I usually go to bed at home so I wanted to get my body to adjust to this time zone. It worked pretty well and were were refreshed the next day to explore more of the city!

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