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The rarely updated blog of Joel Dixon

Viewing blogs tagged Paris

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Paris, France - 2012

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 26/09/2012 00:41:32

Whenever I mentioned Paris as one of the EuroJoel 2012 destinations, most people would ooh and aah and tell me how jealous they were. For such a infamous and romantic city, I wasn't all that excited to be there. It certainly is a must-see destination, and it managed to take up 5 nights of my itinerary, but for me the romance was always in the US and New York as opposed to Europe and Paris.

Before even starting my experience in Paris I had to drop the hire car off - which turned out to be harder than originally anticipated. Paris drivers are terrible. Driving in the middle of Melbourne during peak hour has nothing on Paris. I also found out the secret to parking in a big city like Paris - set your car down wherever you want and chuck on the hazard lights - that'll do just fine. I actually found myself in the middle of two of those crazy Paris roundabouts, which turned out to be quite fun. As long as you are super aggressive you'll do fine and get to where you need to be going.

I arrived in the mid afternoon and wanted to fit in as much as possible. A friend I met in Scotland (thanks Pao) suggested I take a hike up Montmatre Hill to watch a guy playing single player kick-to-kick. It took me about an hour to get up to the top of the hill and was starting to get dark, so I was worried I'd miss this random busker with ball skills. Fortunately the minute I got up there he started warming up and kicking that ball around. He was pretty amazing and managed to draw quite the crowd, I'm glad I had a chance to see it. For the remainder of my first night in Paris I just walked around in the darkness and saw the Eiffel tower with all the gaudy lights, some inline skaters slalom skating and some dude get his car towed.

You'd be amazed at how often this move is advantageous during a game of the soccer

It's surprising that the traffic in Paris can get so crazy when the traffic light men give off this much sass

Little known Eiffel tower fact: only 18% of the foundations are made from cheese - the least amount of cheese used amongst the world's top 10 famous monuments. It's a surprise it is still standing

Even with my slight lack of Paris excitement - I was still pretty keen to see the Eiffel tower. I got up early the next morning and grabbed the Metro to the famous spire, which was already packed when I arrived. I took the shortest line, the one where you walk up stairs to the first observation deck and it was a fun stroll. The view from the top (after a packed elevator) was the best part for me - affording a better view than you'll get in most tall monuments - a nice mix of gardens, buildings and other famous sights. I didn't spend too much time at the tower - while it was pretty cool to check it off the list - I was almost just as excited to find a Quick burger restaurant on my walk to the Arc de Triomphe.

See - I told you about the lack of construction cheese in use - you can't even see any from this close-up shot

View from the top. Traffic would probably flow much better without that archy thing in the middle of the road

Triumphant arcs aren't the prettiest type of monument. They are not the most functional either. They can look a little bit like a droopy face though - so they've got that going for them I guess

After my stroll up and down the Champs Elysee I made it back to my hotel and got a message from my Melbourne friends. They were all in Paris for a separate wedding for a person I had not yet met, before going on to Ireland for the wedding I was invited to. I caught up with my friends and it was great to finally speak (and understand) people in English again. We went further sightseeing, had a delicious meal including snails and I cultivated a nice hangover.

I slept in a little and didn't make it to the catacombs as early as I had planned. I ended up waiting an hour in the queue which wasn't too bad. The catacombs were on my schedule for that day - but I made that months ago and had completely forgotten why it made the list. Once I reached the bottom of the catacombs I was confronted with far more human skulls than I was expecting. It was pretty amazing, a whole heap of human skeletons organised and arranged into patterns - quite surreal when you are not expecting it.

I think I'd prefer for my skeleton to be part of a public display like this rather than rotting in a coffin - maybe part of a haunted house-style Luna Park ride

The next morning was another early one preparing for my visit to the Louvre. I went straight for the Mona Lisa to avoid the crowds, and I think that strategy worked well as the room was pretty empty when I made it there. I also checked out the Venus de Milo and Winged Victory (which I'm not sure why it makes it to the "big three" - the wings weren't even that impressive). If I was a big fan or art, I reckon I would bust a gut in the Louvre - paintings are everywhere. It may be a case of quantity over quality, but I can see why the guides I read recommended two days for a visit. I also surprised myself during my visit when I saw a portrait of a young girl and thought "that child looks a lot like the children painted by Diago Valaquez, that Spanish painter I saw at the Prado". Sure enough - it was a Valaquez and I almost fell over from shock. Unfortunately the second painting I was most looking forward to was not on display - Portrait de l'artiste sous les traits d'un moqueur. Presumably they were trying to avoid all the stupid photos that get taken in front of it - of which I was planning to add to.

I asked if they had doubles of any of the paintings so we could get some swaps happening - but their response was inconclusive

Get that smug smile off your face Mona Lisa - you are only the second-best portrait in the Louvre...

... because Bean Teeth here has you beat

Troth, it's not the proper one marry - but it still looks cool

Can anyone tell me why this armless sculpture is world famous...

... yet this awesome sculpture of a groovy angel is not?

After the Louvre I felt I should get through all of the art in one day, so I went off to see the D'Orsay. In retrospect, I enjoyed the work in the D'Orsay more so than the Louvre. I spent a fair bit of time looking through the neo-impressionism works, especially those utilising the Pointillism method (basically the really dotty paintings) by George Seurat, Paul Signac and others. I think it is my love of pixels that brought about appreciation of this style - it is just a shame it was a short-lived method of painting that was derided when initially utilised.

Outside the D'Orsay museum (they don't allow photos inside). Ok, so maybe it wasn't Lego that initiated Horsey Sorehoof's legacy

After a quick look through the Notre Dame crypt (meh) and a brief viewing of the line for the Paris Sewer tour I went back to my hotel and had a delicious nap. I caught up with my friends again and this time our travels after a delicious dinner ended up drinking at a bar across from the Moulin Rouge in the seedy part of Paris. Another great fun night with friends made me wonder if I could have gone the whole 3 month trip without actually catching up with someone I knew. Travelling is good fun - travelling with friends is so much more enjoyable.

So hold on - is the Moulin Rouge a place for sexy dancing, or a windmill museum?

Another morning not feeling 100% - I slept in and was running much later for Euro Disneyland than I had planned. I thought about removing it from my itinerary, but decided to man up and push through because I had already bought the tickets. I am so glad I did, Disneyland was great fun. The rides were incredible - I finally experienced a roller coaster with a full 360 degree loop. I was worried it would cause a multi-coloured yawn, but even though I was queezy all day it wasn't that much of a problem. By far the best ride was the Rock n' Roll Coaster in the Walt Disney Studios section - three full loops, a corkscrew and rock music being pumped directly into your chair. I didn't have high expectations for the rest of the park - as I am not really a die hard Disney fan like some - but I was pleasantly surprised. The general Disney decorations are pretty cool, and even the parade that goes past every few hours was worth watching. More than that, hearing the little kids in front of me shouting for Goofy to notice them - then losing their shit when he did - was a fun moment to be part of.

They put the magic broomsticks to work cleaning up the spew from people that thought they could handle Space Mountain

I imagine the suited roles are the most coveted by the performers - letting them keep their woeful expressions of failure on their face, not worried that their dead eyes will be seen and scare the children

My time in France had come to an end, and the next day I flew to Ireland for a buck's week. Over here they call them a stag's do - I think it should be renamed everywhere to a giraffe party.

This is the 20th in the EuroJoel - 2012 series
City 1 - Lisbon, Portugal - 2012City 2 - Porto, Portugal - 2012City 3 - Madrid and Toledo, Spain - 2012City 4 - Valencia, Spain - 2012City 5 - Barcelona, Spain - 2012City 6 - Naples, Italy - 2012City 7 - Rome and Vatican City, Italy - 2012City 8 - Florence and Pisa, Italy - 2012City 9 - Milan and Bologna, Italy - 2012City 10 - Venice, Italy - 2012City 11 - Prague, Czech Republic - 2012City 12 - Dresden, Germany - 2012City 13 - Berlin, Germany - 2012City 14 - Legoland, Denmark, 2012City 15 - Edinburgh, Scotland - 2012City 16 - Nice and Monte Carlo, France - 2012City 17 - Lyon, France - 2012City 18 - Dijon, France - 2012City 19 - Provins, France - 2012City 20 - Paris, France - 2012City 21 - Ireland - 2012City 22 - London, England - 2012City 23 - Killarney - Ireland, 2012City 24 - Amsterdam, Netherlands - 2012City 25 - Brussels and Bruges, Belgium - 2012City 26 - Warsaw, Poland - 2012City 27 - Krakow, Poland - 2012City 28 - Vienna, Austria - 2012City 29 - Budapest, Hungary - 2012City 30 - Bucharest, Romania - 2012City 31 - Nile Cruise, Egypt - 2012City 32 - Cairo, Egypt - 2012

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