Louvre, no Paris

Well, once again lines at the Louvre were three hours.  I just couldn’t justify standing in line for three hours.  Instead, I hailed a cab for the Eiffel Tower.  It was a cloudy day with the sun occasionally peaking out.  I was able to get some good photos of the Tower.  I was also able to get a couple of good photos of me in front of the Tower.  I had forgotten how much more special it is when I’m actually in some of my travel photos.

After that, I started walking.  I had no idea where I was going.  I wound up on the Champs Elysees again, right near the Arc d’Triomphe.  I was able to get some great photos up close of the Arc.  After that, I started walking again.

I just decided I wanted to experience Paris.  Life happens at street level.  I was able to revel in architecture, lifestyle, pastry shops, coffee shops and restaurants.  I’m really convinced that the French only eat.  Nothing else, just eat.  The restaurants always seem to be packed.  The pastry shops have a constant stream of patrons.  I have to admit that it was a bit maddening to have such a tiny stomach (NO comment) which prevented me from eating in every restaurant.

Ultimately I did eat at a restaurant called Le Pepiniere.  I had broiled chicken and pomme frittes (French fries).  I also had strawberry crepes for dessert along with a cappuccino.  I got the feeling that ordering a cappuccino at three in the afternoon was low class.  Oh well. So I’m low class.

From there I started walking again.  And don’t tell me how I did it, but I actually found my way back to Vincent’s apartment.  I was having a hard time with the maps, but I did it. Afterward, I signed in online for my boarding pass and then went down and got another kebab, this one from a Turkish hole in the wall which is right outside the apartment building.

This little neighborhood sure is hopping.  I can’t begin to count the number of restaurants that are here.  They range from very nice, sit-down restaurants to the aforementioned “holes in the wall”, many of which are kebab shops from Turkey, India, Pakistan.  There’s movie theaters, pastry shops, a Crowne Plaza hotel, pubs and the ever-present clothing stores.

I’m amazed at the clothing stores.  I get the impression that everyone in Paris must either be rich or have only five articles of clothing.  In looking at the prices, nothing was inexpensive.  Where is their version of Target?  Perhaps the suburbs where there’s room?There’s no room in the city for a big box store.  With land at a premium and expensive as hell, costs are high.  It would be interesting to know what some of the apartments go for.  I did check some real estate offices–an apartment two miles from the Eiffel Tower with a view of the Tower was $3.5 million.  I couldn’t help but wonder how much apartments across the Seine from the Tower go for with their unobstructed view.  Twenty million?

I have to ask:  would someone tell me why I’m speaking Italian to all these Frenchmen?  I think it’s because I’m well aware of the disgust Frenchmen have for other nationalities who visit their nation without knowing the language.  I’ve always heard they are especially disdainful of Americans with our presumptive air and our language, which has taken over the world.  Even Frenchmen here in Paris tell me the same thing.  This includes Vincent.

Now, while I fully understand the frustration, shouldn’t one look at the situation realistically? How many people visit Europe and only hit one nation?  I usually hit at least two.  How can anyone be expected to converse even perfunctorily in the languages of several different nations–Germany, Italy, France, Poland, Portugal?

And while we’re at it, it’s not my fault that the French are too wrapped up in past glories to see the forest for the trees.  If they’re so wonderful, why don’t they do something to make their language more ubiquitous?  Oh well.

Anyway, my hope is that, they will see me as an (illiterate) Italian as opposed to an American.  I have this grand fear that all of Paris will rise up and cause me to miss my flight to Rome on the way back to America!

I have to admit that it is somewhat funny to listen to French.  To my ears it sounds like they aren’t finishing the word.  Like they’ve dropped the last few letters (or syllables!). Nevertheless, it is a lyrical language, much like Italian.  Except for when they growl from the back of their throat like they’re going to hock up a loogie.  That kinda cracks me up.

If I were to ever move to Italy, I think I would have a relatively decent time learning French, too. Many of the words aren’t obvious to me, but I’ve noticed how some of them resemble Italian.  Wouldn’t it be great to be trilingual?

Anyway, I’m all packed and ready to return to America.  I had forgotten that I have a fourteen hour layover in Amsterdam again–this one requiring an overnight hotel stay.  I will not make the same mistake again in booking my flight. I should have done it back in June. Flights were cheaper and I would have gotten better flight options.  Now, not only have I spent more for a flight, but I’ve had to pay for hotels and food.  I’m planning on returning to Italy again in June.  I won’t make the same mistake!

Sure wish the long road ahead of me was over.

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