17 May 2011

Paris, France (video)

Paris seems to be one of the classical European cities, with its many well-known monuments. We managed to visit the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe Etoile, and Notre Dame in the short time that we booked to visit.

The Eiffel Tower was perhaps the most spectacular, inciting a sense of awe even from very far away. At 300 metres tall, it's hard to imagine the larger monuments such as the Burj in Dubai, which scrapes the sky at 800 metres. We took the opportunity to climb the 669 stairs to the 2nd level of the Eiffel tower (only about 1/3 of the way up),  and looking down from that height was already a vertigo inducing experience. Seeing the construction of the tower was also nearly unbelievable - the amount of metal weight that the structure bears is truly an engineering feat.

On our third day we decided to pay a visit to the masterpieces at the Louvre. We stumbled upon timeless works such as the Mona Lisa, the Raft of the Medusa, and Liberty Leading the People. We only had enough time to view one floor before the security guards ushered everyone out for the day, but we managed to cover most of the famous Italian paintings that the gallery houses.

Food in Paris was great, although we didn't find any traditional Parisian or French cuisine. We instead sampled more diverse dishes, from Italy (restaurant-style pizza with a thicker crust than in real Italy), Canada (burgers at The Great Canadian Pub), and India (a three-course meal with samosas and lamb). We didn't see nearly as many fast-food restaurants in Paris, which contributed to its old-world flavour.

Navigating Paris was fairly easy via its rapid subway system. We caught many a train down in the tunnels beneath the city, and never had to wait more than 5 minutes for the next train.

We didn't manage to see nearly all of the landmarks on our map, nor all the smaller cultural wonders not marked on the map. I think travelers can easily spend a week in Paris without running out of interesting activities, and much more if they are art afficionados or have a good guide that knows the city well. But it was a great unplanned stopover before our Spanish adventure. When we return to Paris next time we will know to stay a bit longer.