Paris: the third full day (Tuesday Jan 5, 2009)

We got off to a late start because my wife had to make some calls for work. I think we reached the Eiffel Tower around 11:00. The line was discouragingly long so we asked a security guy how long it might be. He guessed 1 or 2 hours but recommended the stairs. There was a much shorter line there so we walked. It was cheaper as well (4.50 a person). Plus now I can say I climbed the Eiffel Tower. You’re only allowed to take the stairs to the first or second floor. I’m not sure if the elevators went to the highest floor (the 3rd) but we were happy with the view from the first two. If you were at the very top, everything might look too small (or who knows – maybe we missed the best view in Paris). I remember at the top of Taipei 101 there wasn’t really much to see because everything was so far down.

We ate a packed lunch up there in the cold on a picnic table and then went to the cafe inside for some soup , coffee, and hot chocolate to warm up. And we took lots of pictures.

Then we went on a Seine River cruise. 11 euros each for the 1 hour cruise. It was quite nice but I was wishing I had sat on the left by the end especially for the best views of Notre Dame. But we had some OK views on the right too. Then we walked to Rue Cler, the street Rick Steves recommended. It was a bit hard to find but we managed. We ate at the Asian place he suggested – 8 euros for some tasty fast Asian food seemed like a very good deal. The restaurant, Traiteur Asiatique at 26 Rue Cler, sold already prepared food to take away, but they had a few tables in the back and a microwave so eating their was no problem. They even have a free bathroom (Paris was good compared to Amsterdam in that regard).

We then found a metro station and went to Notre Dame. This place had a very special feeling for me. There was a mass (French of course) going on and the whole thing felt very spirtual – holy in a way that I just didn’t feel going to mass on the Seoul US army base on Christmas Eve for example. That mass on the army base was fine and the people there were great and they had a choir and everything but Notre Dame is just different. The organ, the solo soprano, the priest speaking in French – sure you saw the tourists milling around and heard people saying “No” to the would-be photographers but still the holiness of the place struck a chord with me. My wife felt something too. I was raised Catholic but rarely go to church. My wife is a Buddhist. I think a lot of different people could walk into Notre Dame and feel something special.

That night we ended up walking around in circles on our way back to the hotel from Notre Dame. We passed a pet supply store, which we would visit later. We also passed lots of other beautiful places, stopped at every real estate place to get a feel for prices since we love Paris so much, got directions from friendly strangers, and got cold.

We ended the night with a walk around the Louvre. It was still special and this time the pyramids were lit up kind of blue giving the place a slightly different look. We went to bed happy.

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