When we first entered the train station in Paris, we were greeted by loads and loads of graffiti. It’s kind of all over here, and at first Paris seemed really dirty and sketchy. I’ve been on subways in three cities in my life–Washington, D.C., London, and now Paris. Paris was scary at first compared to the other two… and to make it worse, on our first ride on it (with all our luggage) someone threw up and everyone had to get off the subway and get onto the next one. And of course, since the announcement was in French we didn’t really know what was going on, so it seemed even scarier. Everyone smokes here as well, and even fresh air seems to have a hint of cigarette smoke in it. In other words, it definitely didn’t strike me as “the City of Love.”
After getting to our hotel and figuring out our odd toilet (you have to press a stop button to make it stop flushing and the toilet lid is really flimsy) and our first experience in the city, I wanted to head back to London. I even told Mickey that I hated Paris. One advantage of our room is that we have a nice view of a street outside, and can open the windows, so I have a cool night breeze on my back as write this. So Mickey pointed that out and told me it wouldn’t be so bad.
My opinion of Paris started to change as we rode the subway to the Trocadero. Paris is a lot prettier at night, with the old buildings illumined by the golden glow of the streetlights, colorful neon signs advertising different establishments, and the graffiti and litter far less visible. The Eiffel Tower was as impressive as it always looks in pictures, only somehow larger in life, and lit up beautifully. The Trocadero is just kind of a square that makes a good viewing area of the Eiffel Tower, and there are a lot of people taking pictures and hawkers selling Eiffel Tower figurines and keychains. The hawkers are very persistent and a little scary… but other than that the Trocadero was great. Mickey got this hot dog in a baguette and a crepe for dinner, and I finished the crepe for her. It contained Nutella and bananas, two things I don’t really care for, but it was actually really good. On the hour and for five minutes afterwards, the Eiffel Tower sparkles, which was really pretty, but hard to photograph. There was also a street performer playing “Moon River” on his clarinet, which seems really random, but somehow completely worked with the scene.
I experimented with my camera there. I don’t have a ‘real’ tripod with, but I do have my GorillaPod, which I wrapped around the gates on the Trocadero for some of my long exposures. Unfortunately, in a few of these people bumped the gate and it did some crazy things with my pictures. I actually kind of liked the look, so I experimented with it a little and have included some pictures. On the walk back from the subway station, we walked by several cafes with people out front, sitting at tables drinking wine, smoking, and speaking French. I’d thought it was a cliche, but apparently it really happens here. I’d also heard scarves were a big deal here, and they really are. And not the keep-warm kind, but the ‘cute’ breezy kind, and not just girls wear them!
Overall, I think I’ve realized that, between the Eiffel Tower, the neon signs, and the people outside cafes, Paris is just a city best viewed at night. That’s probably how it got the nickname the City of Light. Tomorrow, we get to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower! We will also be visiting Notre Dame and some of the stores along the Champs-Elysees. Busy day, so I should probably go to bed! Sweet dreams everyone!