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Place des Nation

May 10, 2004 Monday

Europe - Day 10 / Paris, France - Day 2

After having breakfast with Kishore, we both left the house at 9am. He went to work in Unesco and since I can't stay home without him (he has the keys), I essentially had to leave the house and start my day-walk all over Paris and be home before 10PM. That is pretty much how things went for me while I was in Paris.

Hotel Les Invalides
I walked toward the Hotel Les Invalides where Napoleon's tomb is located. It's a magnificent complex housing the Dome Church and 3 more museums. Collectively, they are one of the most impressive sights in Paris. With the Euro 7 admission fee, I didn't bother going inside. The outside architecture is plenty enough...and it's free. I proceeded with my walk towards the Rodin museum to view "The Thinker". Unfortunately, it was close.

Champs-Elysees and Arc de Triomphe
I headed north, crossed the Seine River and walked Paris' well-known and popular thoroughfare, Champs-Elysees, towards the Arc de Triomphe. It was drizzling. Again, the E7 admission fee to enter the Arc was discouraging so I just took pictures from a distance. I had a E4 Shawarma sandwich for lunch...I had a better Shawarma (called gyro) in New York for much less. Somehow, walking back at the Champs-Elysees for the second time (the first one was 4 years ago) was not as felt like visiting an outdoor mall in North biggie. I headed east.

Pompidou Center
I came upon the Pompidou Center. This eccentric building looks like it was turned inside out - the escalators, elevators and steel struts are on the outside. I can't say it looked great. The surrounding area is full of the ubiquitous cafes, restaurants and teeming street life, much like St. Germain des Pres. Again, I just wandered on the outside to avoid an admission fee. Museum isn't really my thing anyway so I didn't feel like missing anything. However, I would not want to miss some of the culinary offerings of the city...even if it means spending more than E10 a meal (normally, I'd just spend $4 on crepe, panini or pizza).

A Social Thing
While walking along its narrow streets, I bumped into a couple, Hallie ( and this hip German guy ( We chatted over coffee and exchanged a few laughs. I just realized that since I arrived in Europe, I haven't really been socializing as I otherwise would. People were either in groups and the ones by themselves seem to be walking too fast with too many things on their minds. Come to think of it, I was pretty much like them... walking too fast with too many things on my mind.

Notre Dame Cathedral
Heading south, I crossed the Seine River and came upon the Notre Dame Cathedral, made more famous by the movie, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It's imposing flying buttresses continue to elicit awe. It's probably the world's best example of Gothic architecture.

I continued my walk along the lower bank of the Seine River, hoping I could come upon the section where artists hang out and sell their work. I asked questions but I could not be understood. Although I didn't find them, it was an interesting walk nonetheless. The lower bank provided another spectacular view of the Notre Dame.

Kishore's Dinner Guests
I would have walked back home but I had been continuously walking for nearly 11 hours already and I was beginning to feel fatigued. I took the train home to catch dinner with Kishore and his two guests. The elder woman (I forgot their names) seemed to hold a high position in Indian politics and talked about accepting a congressional position in India should the election swing in favor of the oppsition. The younger lady was a diplomat-in-the-making who has been blueprinting her career path at the UN. It was an interesting dinner conversation.

--- TheLoneRider

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