Monday, May 08, 2006

Paris review


I’m just back from a 3-day Paris get-away weekend with MadamE.

Weather conditions were fine, fluctuating between 18C to 24C but on Saturday evening, our moods were heavily dampened as we were met with what every tourist on a short holiday would fear: The Parisian weather turned its back on us and poured its lack of sympathy the whole night. Ugh, the terrible rain never stopped, worse it killed my blow-dry hair day! GGRRR...

Our plans of taking a long walk along the famous and grand Champs-Elysées avenue, all the way to the Arc de Triomphe, and a detour stop at the Eiffel Tower, was dumped mercilessly down the drain. Under the weather circumstances, there is no way we can enjoy the stroll, plus it was freezing cold and we only had a petite umbrella --- a lifesaver I decided to pack on the last minute, thinking that perhaps we may need it, and eventually we did.


We did a lot of things though; we went with the guided Paris tour, took many pictures here there and just everywhere, ate crepes while we walked, shopped – went practically agog and crazy at all the gorgeous-looking bag offerings (waah, we want to buy them all!), sat in parks and watched lovers making out in public, drank wine for lunch, enjoyed our café au lait in the cafés while people-fashion watching, and even though this isn’t my first time in Paris and it rained pretty bad, I still enjoyed the weekend very much.

Since the Dutchman took our camera and camera cable with him to his business trip, I had to borrow my sister-in-law’s. Today, I just realized that I cannot upload pictures because there is no cable, so I guess it will take me a few days before I can post pictures of Paris here.

An installment, I got these pictures from MadamE (the rest will come later):

The first picture was taken in the restaurant where we had dinner in Montmartre. The next is a candid shot in Pont Neuf bridge by the river Seine (that's the Saint Chapelle I think). The photographer was photographed, ha-ha

Our reviews of Paris and the Parisians:

(1) It seems that everyone is eating a baguette for breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner in Paris. Yeah, all throughout the day.

(2) Fact is, we saw many Parisians walking in the street with a baguette in their hands. A very charming everyday scene actually: old women, young handsome guy, business man, lovers hand in hand, all of them with a baguette... and get this, the oversized phallus looking bread isn’t wrapped or packed in a paper or plastic bag. They are bare for the dust to bite, but then again, Paris isn’t like Manila where public exposure would mean a gratis soot foundation coated liberally on your face.


(3) Everywhere in Paris is THE CENTER (says our tour guide). So everywhere we went in the city, we were supposed to be in the center.

(4) We were shocked at how unsafe biking is in Paris. Perhaps due to the years of living in Holland, we became a bit spoiled; bikers in Holland indulge in having their own special bike lane, special bike traffic lights and special bike priority rules. Thus we made a conclusion that Paris was a crazy unsafe city, unfit for biking.

(5) Additionally, we took turns in pointing out that the cars in Paris were deformed, taking note of their somewhat ramshackle front and back bumpers and their accompanying dents on the sides. It seems that parking an inch away from the next car is normal and that brushing its bumper when getting away isn’t an insurance case. If this happens in the Philippines, be prepared to be screamed at... at gunpoint. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but it did happen.

(6) MadamE thinks the French elite are the ultimate unfeigned narcissists... as everything in Paris seemed to be pompous, aristocratic, grandiose, exalting, extravagant and monumental as represented in their buildings, art and decorations.

(7) Of course, we all know that the French always prefers to speak French, but we did encounter quite a number of Parisians who tried to speak English with us. There was this particular charming young lady in the gift shop who chatted away her Paris experience with me. She lived in the outskirts of Paris and confessed that she has never visited any of the famous Parisian tourist spots, not until recently when a friend dragged her to the Louvre. Incidentally, the Louvre is just a 15 minute walk from where the shop is.

(8) As compared to Amsterdam, we thought Paris was dirtier. Luckily we didn’t step on any dog poop.

(9) Parisian ladies have style. It seemed to me that no matter what and how they dress up, they always exude a certain aura of class. I guess MadamE and I had too much of the Dutch grunge and layer upon layer of clothing fashion in Amsterdam. It was a breath of fresh air indeed.

(10) Nightlife in Paris is quite boring. I do not know if the French are missing a lot in life but there are not many pubs and bars open to hang out in the city. Notwithstanding the theatrical and cabaret shows, the bistro-café and dining out in restaurants are the city’s main culture of hanging out in the evening. Such a contrast to the upbeat and sleepless Amsterdam.

(11) We were quite used to the Dutch style of eating early too, so by 10PM, we were done and walking aimlessly in the streets looking for some action. Quite interesting, but apart from finding a bar with the adage of a needle in a haystack hunt, it seemed that everyone is yet to order their dinner. The restaurants were still brimming with hungry patrons at 11PM.


(12) Since everywhere in Paris is supposed to be the center, we encountered many signature shops [read: Max Mara and Salvatore Ferragamo] scattered in different areas. Unlike in Amsterdam, these signature shops can only be found in PC Hooftstraat, the expensive street that houses the elite names, and in Manila, in the high-end malls.

(13) Gourmet everywhere so we feasted, especially the dried and cured sausages. We bought a lot of them (well me actually) since we cannot find them in Holland.

(14) Being a realist, I can sometimes become too impervious in my perspective of things but I really do not understand why Paris is the love and romance capital of the world? I saw more musicians serenading here in the streets of Utrecht. I thought this is more romantic? Or perhaps the idea of love and romance has something to do with design & architecture, opera, the savvy French language and fine dining? Or is it just marketing and psychology?

(15) And just like the patriotic Americans, the French too love displaying their flag.

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