Giddy Up Europe

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Paris and Nancy, July 4 - 7

I'm in Athens, Greece, now with Allison and there is finally good, cheap internet, so I will try to get you up to date even though it's 1:00 AM. We left Amsterdam Centraal with relative ease and after running into Christine and Nick, which was kind of nuts. Small world, eh? Well, we changed trains in Antwerpen, Belgium, before making our way to Paris just in time for July 4. Paris is really one of those old world European cities that happen to have cafes with al fresco seating at every turn. But food is pricey, so be prepared if you want to go to France just to eat. It might sound strange, but I think more so than in other European cities, Paris' culture is centered around quality dining as there are few low-cost or low quality, fastfood places. Save McDonald's.

Even though Paris is fairly spread out and our hostel was near the Gare du Nord, where we came in, we only took the metro once. Walking around on foot has proven to be one of the best ways to get around and you get a much better feel of the city. Of course, we hit the major sites and had picnics a lot. In fact, I don't believe we ever ate at a restaurant or cafe because of steep prices everywhere. Sorry folks, but we're on a budget. We did stock up on bread, meat, and cheese, though. Prepare your computer for a heart attack uploading the following.

Check out the view of the French countryside as we zipped along on one of Europe's fastest trains, the TGV.

Here's a look at the actual TGV we took after we pulled into the Gare du Nord.

We went onto one of the bridges that traverse the Seine and there were some fire breathers entertaining the picnicgoers. They were probably amateur, though, because they completely set part of the wooden bridge on fire. Kids.

The Eiffel Tower at night was awesome because they had flashing bulbs everywhere in anticipation of the 2012 Olympics. Unfortunately for Parisians, they announced London on our last night there, so there was no craziness that night. We did meet Bob, though. But I'll talk about that later. We found out about the bombings when we were in Zürich. Remember 9.11.

This was an ad for an upcoming movie. I mean, seriously.

Here's the Sacre Coeur Cathedral that sits atop a hill that can be seen from any other high point in Paris. Beware for pushy peddlars, though.

We passed by Le Chat Noir Cafe walking around and since we've seen the image of it so many times, we took a picture of it. Is that pretty sweet?

Only a couple minutes later, after walking past many sex shops, we hit Moulin Rouge. Kitchy.

Check out the prices for the cabaret, though. Two drinks for 72 euro (about $90), I don't think so.

We dropped five euro to get up to the top of the Arc de Triomphe and take a gander at the view. Well worth it, I'd say.

Here's a clearer shot of the Eiffel Tower.

You could also get a spectacular view of the Champs-Élysées.

If you stand between traffic on the Champs-Élysées, you get a great shot of the Arc de Triomphe. But do NOT cross the roundabout at the Place de l'Étoile! You will die. That intersection is pure pandamonium.

Jon's first ever appearance in a jump picture was at the Louvre. We got some other museumgoers, who happened to be taking their own jump pictures, to take ours.

Of course there's possibly one of the most famous paintings ever. Da Vinci's La Gioconda, better known as the Mona Lisa. You get herded into the room and flash photography is everywhere, but it's behind some crazy glass. You seriously feel like an animal trying to get close.

But here it is, front and center, about two feet away.

Obviously I had to check out some Greek art to see what Bos' family was up to. Here's the Venus de Milo.


There were also other exhibits, obviously, but none quite as crowded as in the Denon Wing. Here's the Code of Hammurabi.

Well, this is French, but I'm sure that crazy Bos kid had something to do with this.

If you get to the Seine, the river over which Paris is built, you'll find L'île de la Cité. It's an island that houses Notre Dame Cathedral.

On L'île de la Cité you'll also find the Pont Neuf, which is definitely in at least a few movies. Grab some bread, cheese, meat, wine, and a blanket to watch the sun set. It gets chilly when the breeze comes over the river, though, but you can sit right on the river.

Here's a close up from the Pont Neuf. It's also where we met Bob, a freelance photographer who apparantly knows Tom Hanks. He was there to cover the story if Paris won 2012 and also to check in with Tom who's in Paris filming the Da Vinci Code. Bob was kind of off his rocker.

But it is true that they are filming for the Da Vinci Code at the Louvre, so we decided to see if we could get a peek at Tom. No such luck, but the Louvre is tight at night.

Tom! We spent way too much time looking for him.

So on the 7th, we left Paris and went to Nancy, France, to check out the Tour de France. The cyclists were riding through the rain and we were standing for a while in the storm. We didn't get to stay long enough to watch Lance ride into town because we had to catch our train to Zürich. But being there in the town was pretty cool. A sausage company was giving out free hats. And we confirmed that the pokadot jersey is for the best mountain climbing cyclist and the green one is for the best sprinter. I guess the yellow jersey is just for Lance. Rock on.


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