Monday, August 25, 2008

Paris from the top and bottom

Day 167
The plan was to wake up early and spend the day checking off sites from my list. I was up a bit early though and talking to Eliane was more interesting than taking an early train. I didn´t get into Paris until about noon.

My first stop was the Andre Citroen Park. As this is my second time really seeing Paris (I did it 6 years ago), I had seen the city from the Eiffel Tower and from the Arc de Triomphe, now it was time to see it from a balloon! Luckily there is a company that does ten minute hot air balloon rides. After waiting for some school group to go up, they all screamed as the balloon tipped on its accent, it was finally my turn.

I shouldn´t have made fun of the kids though, the balloon did tip quite a bit as we went up. I held on to the railing tightly but I didn´t scream. The view really isn´t as good as the other two I´ve had in Paris. I could only see part of the Eiffel Tower and non of the Arc de Triomph e. Still, I was in a hot air balloon and it was freaking cool! I had thought that everyone would move around to get a panoramic view, but they didn´t. In fact when I tried to move around I was given rather dirty looks. I asked a woman standing next to me to take my picture. The whole time she had my camera in her hands I was afraid that she would drop it, she was really off balance. She also seemed to have no concept that I wanted to be in the picture and not my feet, or just the top of my head, or the guy behind me. Instead I made a video myself of the experience, you can check it out on You Tube.

Once I was back down on the ground I decided to get a better view of the Eiffel Tower and walked about 20 minutes to get there. On the way I gave the guys selling cheap replicas my best don´t even bother look. It seemed to work. I must be improving. When I got to the base I took a couple of pictures. I didn´t go up though, the line reached all the way to Berlin and I didn´t want to wait in it.

My stomach was growling at this point and I stopped for a sandwich and a break. My feet were happy about this.

After lunch I stumbled on a monument that is a replica of the flame from the Statue of Liberty. This is very close to 0where Princess Diana was in a car accident and people seem to think that the monument is for her. There were flowers and letters scattered around it.

It took me a bit of searching to find my next stop, the sign wasn´t in English and I=2 0don´t speak French. Eventually I just went to what I thought might be the right place and it turned out to be it. I was visiting the Paris Sewer Museum. Why a sewer you might ask , well its different and unlike anything I have seen before.

The tour brings you through different tunnels with various gross smell levels. There are several displays on the machines used to clean out the sewers. Pretty gross. In several places the floor had a metal grate, I passed by these quickly, I didn´t want the grates to give in and me to plummet into I don´t want to know.

Until the middle ages drinking water was taken right out of the Seine. The larger the population grew though, the grosser this became. In 1370 the first sewers were constructed, well, it was really more like a drainage system without filtration. Over the next few hundred years different systems were tired. In 1850 the current sewer and water supply system was designed. The Paris sewer had 2,100 km of tunnels.

At the end of the museum I practically took a bath in the sink. I had been very careful not to touch anything, but still wanted to be sure. Overall, it was really sorta interesting.

When I came up the stairs the sunlight made me blink. I took a bit of a walk to the Arc de Triomphe. I didn´t go up this one either, I´d done it before and really just wanted the picture. Along the way I walked along the Champes - Elysees.

I still had time to make it too one more place. Had I realized how far away it was I might have given in and taken the metro, but I walked anyway. I was attempting to visit the Museum of Counterfeit Goods. Unfortunately even though I was there when it said it would be open the door was shut and no one answered when I rang the bell. I guess it was a counterfeit museum.

There wasn´t any time at this point to see anything else so I simply got on the metro and then on a train back home. After an accidental nap and dinner I chatted happily away with Eliane before bed.

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