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Archive for October, 2008

On a recent trip home from Hungary, my husband and I had a 12 hour layover in Paris.  I was beyond excited, never having been there before.  We flew into De Gaul airport…have you been there?  That is the largest airport in the world I think.  Anyway, we were going to stow our carry-on luggage in a locker but they didn’t have lockers at that airport. Hard to believe they don’t but there you have it.

 

So the nice man at the information counter said we needed to hurry if we wanted to see the Eiffel Tower because it was past 10:30 and the lights would go off at midnight but that we would find lockers where the bus was going to let us off.  I felt like Cinderella trying to find my glass shoe before time ran out.  I really wanted to experience the white lights sparkling all over it like I had seen in the movies.  I couldn’t wait.

 

So we got on a bus and it took us to the Champs Elysees and dropped us off.  We looked around and the beautiful Arc de Triomphe was right in front of us and there was a little outside cafe on one side of the street, closing up shop, and a small quaint hotel on the other side.  No Lockers in sight.  Bummer.

 

So we drug all our carry on paraphernalia inside the small hotel to ask if they knew where the lockers were located.  The man behind the counter chuckled and said there weren’t any that he knew of.  I’m sure our faces fell as we realized that we were stuck there for the whole night with only the Arc to look at until we could get on the bus in the morning to go back to the airport.

 

So the Frenchman (who according to legend, hates all Americans) asked us when we planned to be back.  We told him our situation and how we just wanted to walk as far as we could around the city and see as much as we could see in 9 hours.  He said that he got off at 6:30 am and if we promised we would be back by 6:00, he would lock our stuff up for us in his back room.  We were overjoyed.  He wouldn’t even let us tip him, let alone pay him for it.

 

So we were foot loose and fancy free in Paris.  YIPEE!  We knew we only had a short amount of time to get anyplace on the Metro and we didn’t know where it was but my husband heard a small group of people speaking Hungarian (Unbelievable) and they showed us where it was and how to get to the Eiffel Tower.  We were off and running.  

 

When we got above ground we walked past a very large building and as we passed it, the Eiffel Tower came into view in all it’s… glory?  What?  It was Blue?  With big huge stars in a circle on it?  I just couldn’t believe it.  Turns out that the President of France is also the President of the European Union and he did that to the Tower.  And every half hour or so, all the lights start strobing and twinkling and rotating and everyone goes “OUUUUU”.

 

Anyway, enough of that.  I’m sure there are a lot of people that think that is one of the best sights in Paris.  So, on to the next thing I wanted to see…Notre Dame!  No disappointment there.  What a beautiful Cathedral.  I wish we could have gone inside and had a chance to just stare at it for hours.   Also it was amazing to look at it in real life and see how high the tightrope was that Philippe Petiti strung across the two towers before he was arrested for walking it.  

 

Have you seen the movie/documentary “Man On Wire”?  If not…do so as soon as you can.  It is really about him stringing wire across the top of the World Trade Center Buildings in 1974 and walking (or “dancing” as one policeman said) back and forth 8 times before he stepped onto the building and let them arrest him for that caper.  It is one of the most amazing films I have ever seen.

 

Anyway, back to Paris at night.  The other thing that was amazing to us was how many policemen and policewomen we saw strolling around.  It was very comforting.  They were really friendly also.  Where was all of the disgust for Americans we had heard so much about?  Hmmmm

 

The main thing that Istvan wanted to see was the original Statue of Liberty.  He just couldn’t locate it on the map of the city that the sweet man at the hotel had given us so we asked two policewomen that were strolling by.  They spoke just a little bit of English but they sure laughed at Istvan when he asked them where the Statue was located.  They looked at each other, and laughing at the crazy Americans, said “Zee Statue of Libertee eez in New York” hahaha.  We thanked them and walked away letting them enjoy themselves.

 

By the time Istvan did find it on the map (there it was, an actual tiny statue of liberty on the map as an icon) we were too tired to do more than go back to the hotel and wait for it to open up at 5:00.  We drug our selves into the lobby and asked for our stuff and the Frenchman encouraged us to just sit in the lobby until the bus’s started running.  We were so tired that we immediately fell asleep sitting up.

 

An hour later when we felt we had probably overstayed our welcome and hoped that we hadn’t snored to much, we asked for our luggage and he insisted on having us sit at a little cafe table while he brought us espresso and chocolate croissants.  Who was this guy anyway?  Why didn’t he hate Americans?  He was just an angel originally from Tunisia who spoke five different languages and made sure our few hours in Paris were moments to remember for the rest of our lives.  

 

As a matter of fact…his light shines in my memory far stronger than any Eiffel Tower light of any color.

 

Thanks for listening,

Sharon

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