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Getting Acclimated All Over Again

A lot tougher this time around...

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View Post-College Eurotrip on atbrady's travel map.

We had walked by the Ecole Militare (Military School) on our way to the hotel and saw on the map that the Hotel des Invalides was also close by. This was their military museum which also contained the tomb of Napoleon under an enormous dome that was covered with 12 kilograms of gold! We quickly noticed a statue that had graffiti on it, which we had not seen anywhere in London (maybe their CCTV is working after all). London also seems to be much cleaner than Paris, which is littered with more cigarette butts than you could imagine. I’m not as familiar with French History as with British, so it was cool to learn about Charles de Gaulle (namesake of Paris’ airport), their General that lead the Free France movement after occupation by Germany. We also went into the wing of earlier military history which contained an endless series of rooms containing uniforms and weapons from the Napoleonic era. This was interesting but also started to get monotonous. I enjoy reading about the famous storylines in history to get a big picture more than seeing centuries worth of military attire. Perhaps that’s why I enjoyed the WWI and WWII section of the museum so much. It told the story from the French perspective, which varied from the story told in American schools, mostly because we entered the war late but tend to skip over the events that beforehand. We ended our visit with Napoleon’s tomb which was pretty impressively presented.

It was starting to get late and we had had a long day, so Hunter suggested the Champ de Mars, a nearby square recommended in his guidebook that we stopped at for dinner. The first thing I noticed was a couple nearby that was making out the entire time we were at the restaurant. I know Paris is supposed to be a romantic city, but only time will tell if this is common practice. I had a steamed salmon and veggies dish with a glass of wine that wasn’t too bad. Hunter luckily saved me from ordering the raw salmon with the help of his French-English dictionary. Afterward, we decided to walk along the river to get our bearings in the city in search of some cool finds. Walking by the Eiffel tower was pretty impressive, although we were disappointed to see that the park leading up to it was littered with millions of beer caps and cigarette butts. It seems as if everyone around here is smoking, not unlike London. Our final destination was at the other end of the city where we hoped to take a night bus tour to see “The City of Lights.” So far, reactions from Parisians have been mixed: while some have stopped to help virtually every time we open a map looking lost, you do catch an occasional dirty look. On the other hand, the Brits seemed somewhat indifferent to our existence. We also noticed a small gathering of homeless people that we realized we had never seen in London.

Passing through the Latin Quarter, so named because it was the area where schools are located in Paris and students would speak Latin, we saw a variety of restaurants from French to Greek to Chinese as well as some nightspots that looked to be a good time. Nonetheless, we continued to the tour bus office. We ended up getting there only a few minutes after it had closed and realized just how long our stroll had taken. In three hours, we had traversed less about a quarter of the length of the river as it passed through the city and quickly realized just how sprawling a city Paris is. So far, I would have to say that I like London better than Paris, partially because everything in Paris is so spread out, but also because it is not as well kempt, with graffiti on a few monuments and a larger homeless problem. However, it’s still early. Tomorrow we’ll be buying another hop-on-hop-off tour bus ticket, this time good for two days as well as a museum pass good for just about all of the sights in Paris excluding the Eiffel Tower.

Posted by atbrady 12:52 Archived in France Tagged tourist_sites

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