Pedram's stream of consciousness

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Vive la France

I just got back from Paris France last night, here is the 2-word executive summary.

Eiffel tower: great view
Notre Dame: no hunchback
The Louvre: didn't go
Palace of Versailles: big house
Moulin Rouge: bouncing boobs
Paris metro: freaking crowded
Parisian drivers: fast lunatics
French food: very rich
French clothing: second mortgage
Paris: awesome city!
The French: not rude

Now for some details. We stayed with Rah's friends from college who live in Paris and they showed us a great time. It was my first visit to France and I was really impressed by the amazing architectural detail in nearly all of the buildings. While walking down the streets of Paris I would have felt like I was transported back in time if it wasn't for all the dam cars everywhere. The streets of Paris are very narrow which gives the cars very little room to do the 100kmh stunts that we got to witness. Along with all the cars are scores of motor scooters driven by people who I am convinced have a death wish. But the city is so much fun to navigate and you can't travel more than 20 feet before you run into a cool neighborhood bar or coffee shop or craft store. While we saw a lot of the city we also spent a lot of great time chatting in bars while we drank wine and ate cheese while watching people walk by.

I have heard over and over again that the French are rude but this is 100% not true. Not a single person in France was rude to me except for a few American tourists in the airport who cut in line. If you recognize that you are a visitor in their country and make an attempt to learn enough French then people are more than willing go out of their way to help you out.

We had an interesting experience at the Eiffel tower that is worth sharing. The Eiffel tower has three levels or platforms where visitors can stand and take in the view. There are stairs and elevators to the first two levels so we decided that it would be fun exercise to take the stairs. This proved to be a little to much for some in our party but we all made it to the second level in one piece. Then we took the elevator to the top level because they have closed off the stairs to the top. This isn't the most interesting part, neither was the amazing view from the top, the most amazing part of this journey was how we got down from the tower. We took the elevator from the top to the second level and then the stairs from the second level to the first level but here is where our problems started :-) While we were walking down to the first level they closed off the stairs from the first level to the ground floor because it was closing time. So now we are stuck on the first floor but figure we can just take the elevator.. right? wrong! The way the elevators work for the first two levels is that there is a single track that takes people from the ground and the first and second level. First the elevator loads up with people on the ground floor and then deposits them on the second floor, at which point it loads up with people on the second floor and then goes the the first floor but almost no one gets off on the first floor so the doors open for 5 seconds, there is no room, they close, and the elevator goes to the ground for another batch of people. The worst part of this is that the elevator operator is facing the crowd of people who want to get on but he doesn't even think to himself that "hmmmm.... This seems unfair that I never pick people up from the first floor, maybe I should only take a half load on the second floor so everyone can get off.." He just looks at you with a blank expression as he closes the door. After 30 minutes half of the people waiting with us revolted and we went to the stair well that was closed off and jumped over the gate only to find that 20 feet down another gate was closed and the only way to get around that one would mean to climb around the outside of the hand rails. While we were doing that another woman went to a manager and told him/her the situation and got things taken care of so that when we went back to the elevator they brought down a half load and we all happily got on.

All in all our first visit to France was full of new experiences, cheese, and wine. I think our next trip will be either Turkey or Greece.


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