Saturday, August 25, 2007

Tour de France

You may view pictures from My Multiply .

First Day
The tourist information center of France is very helpful. I was very glad because people in London were not as nice. I mean they had no maps in the airport, there was no tourist information there (I did not see one anyway). The maps were in the tourist information centers in the Underground and the people there can be sometimes snobbish. They are helpful but they're cold. It's hard to describe but you will know as soon as you get to talk to them.

The very day our plane landed in France we started going around already. Thanks to the maps that we were able to obtain. I decided to take unlimited passes for five days for the Metro so we can ride the Metro as many times as we want (just in case we get lost). We ate at a French restaurant first. They do not serve the food right away. They serve it one at a time, the appetizer first then the main course and then the dessert. Most of the orders have "plat du jour" or plate of the day which comprises of three courses. :) Evian is just a normal mineral water there so every other bottled water is priced the same. They are all expensive in peso, around 1 to 2 Euros. (1 Euro to 60 to 70 Php)

We first visited the L'arc De Triomphe (I hope I spelled this right, I am too lazy to check). We took a lot of pictures there. You can see the pictures at My Multiply . After that we took the Metro again and after a few transfers, we were able to see the Eiffel tower. We were planning to wait until it gets dark so we can see it lit up but then I had a girly emergency so we had to go home much to the annoyance of my siblings. I could have gone home alone but I was also their navigator so grudgingly, they went home along with mois.

Upon arrival at the hotel, everybody was just ready to sleep. My mom has been craving for rice since London. We found a Chinese resto in London before we left and my mom was happy that there was a Chinese resto again near our place. We had to learn the French words for fish, chicken and pork since they did not speak much English there. They are nice people, not at all snobbish but most of them do not speak English.

I do not understand you.Je's nes pas comprendre pas. (Or something like that!
I'm sorry. Pardones mois.
Excuse me.Excusez mois

These are all that I can remember. It also helped me familiarize myself in reading some of their dipthongs (or whatever they call it in French). :)

2nd Day
On the second day we went to see the Notre Dame. I have seen Hunchback of Notre Dame and I know how nice the work of the animators was and how grand the church is but nothing could have prepared me for the grandeur of it. The stained glass was spectacular. I have never seen such intricate things. A tour guide of a group (I overheard this. It's a bad habit hehe) said that beautiful artwork in churches were provided so as to keep people entertained during the mass. The Disney animated film did a good job creating a version of the Notre Dame because it was pretty close to the actual thing. Underneath the church is a lair which they turned into a museum.

After the visit to Notre Dame we went to another building but I have forgotten the name of it hehe... Apparently it did not make any impact on me. Sorry.

I wanted to walk around Paris to feel the romance of the city so we did. My family hated me for making them walk (I am in charge of navigation). They basically follow me around and curse me when they are tired or if they feel we are lost. Many times, we were not lost but they curse me anyway because they think we are lost. *sigh* Such is the fate of a tour guide and a clueless one at that. :)

During our walk along the River Sienne, we passed by several bridges (pont). Pont Neuf is the bridge made famous by Bourne Supremacy. I also got to see the Louis Vuitton building and finally we were able to see the Louvre. By this time they were too tired, while I was too amused by the paintings on the sidewalks and the old books they sell (which are all in French). We also dropped by gift shops. I did not buy anything because everything was way too expensive! I just bought several Eiffel Tower key chains while we were in Notre Dame.

We decided not to go to Louvre yet because we wanted to reserve one whole day to explore the spacious, jam packed French museum. We failed to go to D'Orseille and Versailles. We ran out of time and my siblings were no longer interested. After Louvre, we walked some more and this made them even more tired. After that, we proceeded to go to the Royal Garnier Opera house from which the novel Phantom of the Opera was based. When they made the movie musical, they used this as basis as well. We could not go in either because it was already closed. I have not mentioned in my blogs that the daylight there lasts until 9 to 10 pm. Yup it only gets dark at around 10pm! But everything closes at around 5pm so imagine how bored we get after 5pm!

While eating fresh cherries at our hotel, we realized, we could go to Lourdes. And so, off we went.We took first class seats, thinking there would be bunk beds! There were no bunk beds, just really comfortable seats! We got to Lourdes (after eight hours of travel) at 4 in the morning and it was freezing cold! At first we thought it was just because it was early in the morning but as the clock struck 9am, there was no sign of the environment getting warmer. In Paris, it was already pretty warm. We did not know Lourdes was a mountainous region and that it was cold there all year round! It was also raining that day so it was as cold as it could get and we only had shirts on! Thinking about it makes me shiver!

We rode a taxi to town and we bought very thick fat jackets that made us look like Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters or for those of the younger generation, we looked like Kenny from South Park! It felt nice to have a warm jacket but our feet were wet and cold too from the rain. Still we trekked on. We got on the bus going to Our Lady of Lourdes.

There were so many people in Lourdes when we got there. A lot of them were in wheelchairs. There was a big church built for Our Lady of Lourdes and there were other chapels named after different saints. We fell in line so we can touch the grotto where Our Lady made an apparition. The rocks were already very smooth from so many people who touched the rocks!

The water from the grotto flowing down from the hill where the church for Our Lady was built can now be conveniently accessed at the same time by people through a series of faucets. I got three bottles of water. I bought Our Lady of Lourdes containers where I put water when I got back to the Philippines.

St. Joan of Arc's shrine was also nearby but my mom's legs that are cold and wet can no longer bear the rain so we decided to pass up. We stayed at the station for most of the day until our train going back to Paris arrived. We got back to Paris at around 11 pm and we had our pictures taken by the Eiffel tower. We looked wasted but the Eiffel tower looked great!

It was a very tiring day, the following day was supposedly a rest day so we decided to just go to the Louvre! Haha!

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