Four Midnights In Paris

Not enough. Four days in Paris is nearly not enough to get a decent grip of the city. Paris was my last stop and like every journey, the end is the hardest. On my way to Paris, I thought I was burning out. I was getting focused, making plans and generating lists of all the errands I need to get at once I go back to Texas. And amidst all that focusing, Paris came alive, and it wasn’t only at midnight.

Like all good movies, the best bit is normally at the end. And the end is sometimes what is least expected. Just when I thought Europe could not get any prettier, Paris trotted in with its sensationalism. Paris is so precisely pretty. The buildings, the roads, the gardens, the picnic spots, the cathedrals, the sky and the river are all so much more defined than the rest of Europe. It’s a combination of contrasts, comprising both grand palaces with massive gardens and small stone-paved streets with cute houses. It has the rich, sophisticated, touristy Eiffel tour, and the more raw escape that is Montmarte. There is so much to see and absorb and experience. Paris was the climax I didn’t expect.

There were two main elements of Paris that I endeared. The first was simply a bridge, the Pont Alexandre III bridge. It was this semi-short bridge with massive statues at its ends, serenely decorated with intricate carvings all around and consistently sprinkled with gold. In my opinion, it kicked Prague’s Charles Bridge’s butt. The second was the Montmarte area. Montmarte is on a slope of a hill, with this raw community of French people, French bars and French restuarants. The best part about Montmarte was that it wasn’t touristy, and had its own local flair with some beautiful escapes. The only un-local aspect of Montmarte was Sacrè Coeur, but Sacrè Coeur had a great view of Paris, so it’s all good. Ooh, and let me add a third – the Gardens of Versailles. They were truly breathtaking. Imagine waking up to two kilometers of the most symmetrically beautiful gardens in the world. It’s one of those must-see things that must be seen and even after all the high expectations, it is a must-see-again. The Eiffel Tower was good. Champs-Elysees is a good street, but way too commercialized.

The biggest downer of Paris was that it is a bloody romantic city. If Europe in general is considered romantic, Paris is a hundred thousand million billion times more romantic. There are no single people in Paris, only couples and umm, children. With every beautiful monument comes a wet kiss, or a solid make-out session. It’s in-your-face romantic. Do not go there if you’re single, but make it your first destination with a new girlfriend, fiance or wife.

Oh man, the women. The women are beautiful, so so beautiful and when they speak, they suddenly become goddesses. It’s a pity that there are no single women in Paris. And the people in general are extremely friendly, and the friendliness seems starkly genuine, in comparison to the States. The Parisians only dislike Americans.

Lone traveling is defined by the wondrous people that you run into. I ran into these two super girls that I had randomly hung out with in Prague. The world is small, and Europe is smaller. I met a long lost Texan friend in Paris and we shared two milestones together – watching the Red Hot Chilli Peppers in Stade de France, and the Euro 2012 final on Champs-Elysees. Both were fantastic. Flea makes the Chilli Peppers an awesome live band, and I have never seen so many honking cars with Spanish flags on a street that is not in Spain. Both were true spectacles. I met these two fantastic Israeli girls who were just fantastic. They burst into songs and accents on call, and had the maturity to laugh at themselves. Refreshing. I also met a close friend’s doppelganger, a couple of delightful Italian girls and another crazy Australian who was only living in a hotel (and not a hostel) because he followed a girl to Paris.

Paris, at the core, is a great city. They have a square named after a dance-pop pioneering French singer, Dalida, who tragically killed herself after all three of her husbands took their own lives. Heavy stuff. But, this was as early as 1987 and it’s telling when a city commemorates a pioneer who did not live 500 years in the past. It was a fitting end to a great holiday.

I did not see the Monalisa. Apparently, it’s small or something.

I have a thing for large statues with horses.


P.S. Local beer = Wine.