Here’s the last of the Europe trip travelogue. I’ve been thinking of writing this since long but got caught up with a lot of things.
The worst of weather awaited us in Paris. Wet and cold throughout. Still ‘The city of romantics’ had a lot to offer for the 3 days that we were there. Not a very original line but couldn’t think of any other to describe Paris. A walk along the river Seine can leave you with only one impression of the city with couples sitting and enjoying each others company or doing a tango along the river or partying in one of their boats.
Day1 we went to The Eiffel Tower. Eiffel Tower had been a dream ever since I saw a picture of it in one of the school library books. In fact I used to think that Eiffel Tower should be visible from everywhere in Paris. But the narrow lanes and tall buildings restrict the view and you see it only when you are fairly close to the tower. The top of the tower was a bit of a disappointment though. You do get great views of the city, but the place is very small and always packed. There are always people behind you wanting to take your place at the edge, so you can’t stay till long to enjoy the view. Click and move. I don’t know why someone would want to propose or get proposed on top of Eiffel Tower. The surrounding gardens on the other hand are perfect for that. The Eiffel Tower in the background makes it picture perfect. Get your own bottle of wine or buy one from the small snack kiosk there and enjoy the sight of Eiffel Tower against changing colour palette of the sky. As the sun sets, the sky goes from blue to golden to orange to red and as it gets darker the Eiffel lights up. Every hour the tower sparkles for five minutes, which is absolutely breathtaking. The Eiffel Tower is such an amazing sight; I wonder how unbelievable it must have seemed back in 1889. During the day we also took a boat trip on river Seine, taking in many of city views and passing through 29 bridges on the river. Every bridge has a history to it, just like every building in the city.
Day 2 I toured the Louvre alone as Sikander had work in office. I was amongst the earliest visitors and one of the last ones to leave. But even then couldn’t see the whole of it.
The audio tour was very helpful. All the exhibits have descriptions in French and if you want to know about the exhibits more than just looking at them, the audio is sort of an essential companion. Louvre is not just about Mona Lisa, though that is where everyone heads to first. They even have directions for Mona Lisa right from the entrance.
Louvre is something to be enjoyed at leisure, going through one gallery at a time. I found the Egyptian gallery most interesting. The book of death, the decorated coffins, the inscriptions on the tomb walls describing each day of the deceased’s life after death; his meals, his duties during the day, the secret passage to the living world (if he chose to come back for some unfinished business??). They had no concept of going alone from the world. The tombs were furnished with their furniture, clothes, jewellery, pots and pans, even statues representing servants! It looked more like moving homes ☺
The vivid, lifelike sculptures of the Greek heroes! I wanted to touch and feel the lines and curves on so many of them.. ☺ As Hellen Keller said “ Sometimes I wonder if the hand is not more sensitive to the beauties of sculpture than the eye. I know that I an feel the heartthrobs of the ancient Greks in their marble gods and goddesses.”
It’s fascinating how sculptures can freeze the scene in time. Louvre also has a two-sided painting depicting the biblical scene, “The battle between David and Goliath ” showing the front and backside of a scene giving it a 3-D effect, much like a sculpture. But the unique thing in the painting was that it had a time dimension to it as well. As you move around the painting the scene has moved ahead in time. Quite interesting.
Apart from the exhibits, Louvre itself is a big exhibit. The big halls, now converted into galleries have their own stories. They were auditoriums, courts, stables, training rooms, store houses etc etc. Then there were Napoleon’s quarters that are kept as they were.
Louvre transforms you to a world that existed centuries ago.
Day 3 the weather caught up. Bad cold, headache, fever. Spent the entire day in bed to let the medicines do their magic ☺ Went to Notre Dame in the evening and then Champs-Élysées for the rest of the night.
There was so much to see, 3 days were surely not doing justice to the city. But again beggars can’t be choosers. We wanted to see as much of Europe in the little time left. Wish we had woken up earlier while we were in UK and made individual trips to each of these places without worrying about catching trains every two days ☺.
Anyway, we left for Interlaken next day, 1 and ½ day there and then 2 days in Munich before heading back to Edinburgh.
That was the end of our first Euro trip!