Sunday, July 19, 2015

More Paris and travel to Toulouse

Paris, though undeniably one of the most beautiful cities I've ever seen, was not my favorite. It's more expensive and crowded (particularly in June and July)

If the first day was veritable sleepwalk through Paris, the second day was a reality TV show in which the contestants must SEE. ALL. THE. THINGS.


Notre Dame Cathedral

"SANCTUARY!" ...It's unfortunate that The Hunchback of Notre Dame was not a better Disney movie.

Incredible detail
The Notre Dame Cathedral is definitely a "don't miss." The intricacy of the stained glass windows, chiseled stone facade, carved wooden accents and altars throughout the cathedral could absorb a full day of attention to detail. The exhibit which tracks the building and development of the cathedral beginning when the first structure was built on the "Île de la Cité" in the 12th Century was also a favorite.

I was perfectly happy exploring the main level of the cathedral on my own sans tour (hello, free) and skipping the hour-plus line to go into the towers.

Eiffel Tower

It's pretty cool to stand at the base and let the sloping iron lines draw your gaze up to the sky. It's iconic.
It's also teeming with tourists (hi) and tourist traps.
I did not get pickpocketed (great success!)
I resisted the sellers of Eiffel Tower keychains ("5 for 1 euro!") and selfie sticks ("Selfie, selfie, selfie!")
Everybody's gotta make a living.

Arc de Triomph

"There it is!"
"Wait, there are like 6 busy lanes of traffic around it..."
"Le Frogger?"
Don't worry, there's an underground passageway.


This thing is huge.

Pont des Artes

The love locks are all gone now, but it was pretty special to see them just two days before their official expulsion. Even so, there were still couples placing their locks. It's amazing they found somewhere to hook them onto; there are locks locked to locks so much that there is hardly any space left. It's a really lovely thought, but I can see how this would be an issue for centuries-old bridges.

Proceeded to pick up cheese, baguette and wine; and called it a night.

Place de la Bastille, July Column

The handy Metro map had a Bastille stop, so we figured we'd hop off and take some pictures before hopping back on and making our way to catch the train to Toulouse.


For the full Eurotrip experience we nabbed tickets for a sleeper car, with the idea that we'd just nap all the way south to Toulouse. 
Apparently that is not the way it is done. The bottom 2 bunks on either side of the cabin were folded down into benches for six adults and one talkative toddler.
The tickets were an incredible deal, so I regret nothing.
Capitole de Toulouse

Well-deserved gelato
Hotel check-in, followed by dinner on the capitol square, made for a perfect relaxing first night in Toulouse.

Pro Tips and Rookie Mistakes

  1. Rookie Mistake: The July Column is a spectacular and beautiful landmark, especially against a cloudy backdrop, but we walked around the Bastille plaza for a good 10 minutes trying to figure out where to see the actual Bastille... Guys, the Bastille is no longer standing. When did that happen, and why was I not informed? Oh, during the French Revolution? In the 18th Century? Never mind.
  2. Pro Tip: A good international data plan is essential for, among other things, Wikipedia-ing your destination to ensure it hasn't been destroyed for 300 years. Aside from my shameful gaps in history knowledge, I pitied my traveling companions who were tied to WiFi. Every crappy signal I've endured on T-Mobile in the States is worth it for having data rolled right into my plan, for no extra work or money.

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