Sunday, July 22, 2012

Saturday, July 14- Sunday, July 15, 2012

This was quite an eventful weekend. Friday We did not do anything because of the rain, but that did not bother us because Saturday and Sunday were jam-packed.

Saturday July 14, 2012

Bastille Day! Basically the French’s version of our 4th of July. Since I’ve been here, this has been a big topic of discussion amongst my coworkers. People get pretty excited about it, and the way they celebrate shows. In the morning Shawon and I went to the military parade. It was interesting. It wasn’t like the parades we’re used to back in the states when you have candy and promotional materials being chucked at your head as you watch fancy floats pass by. It was just the military marching and all the vehicles they drive. I’ll post pictures, because that’s the only way you will be able to understand the ceremony. It started with a fly-over. The first airplanes to pass left a stream of smoke in the French colors. It was beautiful, and the people were ecstatic to see it. I took a couple elbows to the head from people around me with their arms in the air taping and photographing the ordeal. We were jammed into this little gated area like sardines. Shawon and I started off with personal space, but within an hour of our arrival we quickly lost it. Since we arrived early (about 8:30), we stood for nearly 5 hours waiting for and watching the parade. It was an interesting experience, but I wouldn’t do it again. Leaving was the hardest part. Thousands of people were walking the sidewalks either towards the train, shopping, or eating. Luckily we passed a pizza parlour that was just opening and we ducked in and quickly got a seat. After that, we went back to the hotel to relax until fireworks that night.
The fireworks were absolutely amazing. Mind blowing. I’ve never seen anything like it. It really made me wish I could have my friends and family here to experience all of this with me. We were advised to go early, so we left at about 6:30pm. We were so early that we ended up getting a great spot right near the river in front of the Eiffel Tower. Soon after, the place started getting crowded; and again, we lost our personal space very quickly. Two American girls sat next to us, and it turns out they were from PA as well. Small world! We talked the whole time about home, school, traveling, etc. It was nice to find Americans, let alone fellow Pennsylvanians, in the mess of it all. The fireworks started at about 11 because that’s when it gets dark here. The theme this year was disco, so as the show was going on, music by artists such as Abba and the Village People played. You could hardly hear it over the fireworks; but when we heard the YMCA come on, we all went wild. At that point, we noticed how few Americans there were around us, because, aside from us, there weren’t many other people dancing along to the lyrics with their arms in the air. The show was well worth the hours spent sitting on the grassm and the experience was fun to begin with. People-watching is probably one of my favorite things to do here, and we had plenty of time to do so. Getting back was an adventure in itself. There were thousands of people flooding the streets of Paris around the Eiffel Tower. I heard someone in line say there were over 100,000 people at the parade. Shawon heard 300,000. We decided to walk the 30 minutes back to our hotel instead of taking the heavily packed subway. The walk was a bunch of fun in its own. Shawon nearly got run over by a person on a bike, but he narrowly escaped and just clipped his side. After that, we realized that people on bikes in Paris are ruthless. They WILL run you over, so get out of their way, or suffer the consequences... By the time we got back, it was late so we retired for the night.

Arc de Triomphe

Sunday July 15, 2012

Time to see some art! We headed out at about 1 to the Muse d’Orsay. This museum has works by artists such as Van Gogh and Monet. My personal favorite is Starry Night by Van Gogh. The museum was incredible and massive. Some of the paintings were the size of large walls and the artists must have required ladders to paint them! I don’t know very much about art, but I could still definitely appreciate the countless hours of work put into each piece.
After the museum, we spent the rest of our afternoon in the Tuileries Gardens sipping coffee at a table outside. Shawon and I get along very well and so it was very easy for us to sit there for over an hour people watching, relaxing, and taking in the experience. After our coffee, we went to the same carnival that we had gone to the first week. This time the experience was much different because it wasn’t raining or cold. People were everywhere. It was a fun experience and we ate a cheap (good!) dinner of pork kebabs and French fries. Dessert was freshly made Churros and chocolate sauce (just melted Nutella. They’re nuts about that stuff here!) We ate them near a fountain where there were tons of chairs and people. There were a lot of birds around and we shared our Churros. It was awesome because the birds would hop on your lap if you let them. I let them. This experience is unlike anything else I’ve ever done, and I couldn’t be more happy!

My new pigeon friend.
"Put a lock on the bridge and toss the key into the river. Toss love in the river."

 Outside the Muse d'Orsay

Entrance to the Muse d'Orsay inside


Random goat grazing in the gardens.

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