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An Evening In Paris

Thanks to the reluctant visa officials at the Schengen visa consulate in India our 3 day sojourn in Paris was reduced to one hectic evening.. Some wise guys have remarked that the journey matters more than the destination. Seejo has embraced this philosophy with the same enthusiasm that he might a Aishwarya Rai.

We boarded Lufthansa from Bombay on 10 June 2004 and landed at Frankfurt airport on the morning of 11 June. 2004. After stashing our 4 huge suitcases at the Baggage check in we proceeded to the “HauptBahnhof” or what you or I might call the railway station. With Seejo putting his rusty 10th standard German into practice and me trying to remember dialogues from the books I have read with German characters we booked our train tickets to Paris, France via Köln.

The High Speed ICE Train in Frankfurt Rly Station

Ready to backpack !! Me and Seejo!

Our first train (High speed German train called ICE) would take us to Köln where we changed trains to board the TGV which would zoom us away to Paris . The ICE was a cool train (not being punny). The best feature, according to Seejo, (am referring to Seejo here cos I really don’t have a huge passion for trains…unless of course it is the local trains in Bombay ) was that the front engine of the train was separated from the first coach by just a glass partition. As the engine coach was a small one, a person standing in the front of the first coach would get the same view from the train as that of the driver. And given the fact that we were passing thru a hilly region with tunnels scattered at regular intervals it was a great view. The ICE traveled with a speed of over 300 km/hr and we reached Köln, in about an hour. From Koln we changed trains to board the TGV. The TGV, you might know, has broken a few speed records in train travel. We soon realized why when the train reached speeds over over 400km/hr and reached Paris in 4 hrs. Thanks to our Eurail passes we were in the First class compartment and we enjoyed some good food.

The Louvre in Paris

The Inverse Pyramid at Louvre,Paris

From the main railway station at Paris it was yet another train ride (the metro, this time) to take us to our hotel. We paused only to dump our bags and started right away to “see” Paris . It was almost past 6 pm by this time. The museums were closed but we wandered around near the Louvre museum, admired the glass pyramid, and the Inverse pyramid and admired the sheer grandeur of the museum and pondered over the interesting architecture of the museum where the “modern architecture” of the glass pyramid entrance contrasts with the obviously historic museum building.

The Eiffel Tower

All Roads lead to Paris: The Arc de Triomphe

After having a sandwich at a nearby cafe, we boarded a bus tour to see Paris . Given that we had only the evening it seemed to be the best way to get an overview of the city. Like most bus tours are, our tour pointed out the landmarks like the Arch de Triomphe , Champs de elysses, the Opera ,the Place de la Concorde (the site of the guillotine of the French monarchy) and the Eiffel tower.

The Place De La Concorde

The Place de La Concorde has one of the few original obelisks from Egypt. This was also the site of the infamous guillitoine on the French Revolution, infact the very place where Queen Marie Antoinette and Louis were beheaded.

We got down at the tower and admired the massive structure by circumambulating around the tower craning our neck to see the top of the tower. The sheer size of the tower is what struck us at first. Then we debated a little on the two options we had: going up the tower or a cruise on the river Seine . The cruise won by a margin of 2 to 0 and so we proceeded in a bateaux boat.

Seine is crisscrossed with about 35 attractive and historic bridges with familiar landmarks structures lined on both sides of the river. We had a brief glimpse of the Louvre, the Musee de Orsay, the Notre Dame Cathedral and other famous buildings as the boat gently wound its way below each of the bridges..

The batoux boats which we used to take a cuise down the Seine river

One of the 35 bridges that criss cross Seine

The view of the Notre Dame castle against the setting sun, taken from the river cruise

By the time we reached back to the Eiffel tower , it was almost 11pm. It was then that the magic started. The Eiffel tower standing tall before us had a flashing light rotating at regular intervals. Suddenly the whole structure seemed to be set ablaze by a million fireflies. The tower twinkled and sparkled, leaving us awestruck as we admired the beauty of the Eiffel tower.

Magic at Eiffel Tower

We slowly wound our way back to the Champs Elysees and walked down one of the priciest shopping avenues in the world. From the Arch de Triomphe , the Champs Elysees stretches as a tree lined boulevard with haut couture shops flanking it on both sides. We walked for a while admiring the shops and watching the throng of people gathered to eat and watch the shows at Paris ‘ famous cabarets , the Lido or the Moulin Rouge. Finally, we turned back to our hotel, impressed with Paris but disappointed with the fact that we did not have more time.

It was past 1 pm as we reached our hotel, promising ourselves to return for more than just an evening in Paris .

Posted in Travel.

Copyright Deepa