On Stranger Tides

Ciao tutti! I'm back. I've been back for a few days now. Arrived here on Wednesday and I've been trying to install myself back to real life, normal routine and such. It hasn't been going great physically though. I'm still feeling so so tired. I'm tired and yet I don't sleep well and I get headaches sometime. Perhaps this is how jetlag feels like. I want to blog about the trip and post pictures and all but with close to 20 GB of pictures, 4700 something of them, I don't know when I will finish sorting and uploading them all. I'll try my best getting them out and writing about the trip, okay. I'm gonna start now but let's just begin with what's been happening with life since I came back first.

Well I never discuss certain things about my life and it will remain so. Let's just take it as I've been living the normal life routine as usual and normal life routine include french class on Saturdays. Yesterday was my first time attending class with Mr. C. Jacq told us that his class is tough and stressful. I didn't expect it to be really really stressful and yet it was, I was at lost for words, literally since I speak only little french. The class is suprisingly so big right now. I don't like it because it feels less personal. Our level is supposed to be advanced but I don't think I'm advanced enough for him :( The rest seems to be keeping up with him, it's crazy. His choice of topic is also very advanced that it's a totally different ball game. Another really stressful thing is his workload. Man! Students days supposed to be way behind me now. I need to really step it up but I just don't have any energy for it now.

After class was lunch at an Italian restorant with La Gioia. I'm still missing Italia so very much, so I'm all into pasta and I finally got my panna cotta. One of the waiter in Rome told me, since it's not summer, they're not serving panna cotta yet. I don't know if he's right. After lunch we went to watch Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. I'm a huge fan of Captain Jack Sparrow so watching this movie is a must. I don't know if it's because I was so tired but I kinda had to force myself to stay awake at the front part of the movie. Well perhaps the movie is not as exhilarating as one always hopes in a Pirates movie but I will still always come back because of Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow. He's still so awesomely cool. As for the story, I think it was so so. It was pretty straight forward. No major twist or turn. I don't feel much for Penelope Cruz's character. There are 2 new characters added in the mix, the clergy man and the mermaid. They seemed to be added to fill the void which was left by Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley. These characters were played by not so famous actors (yet) but I thought they were pretty nice actually. I choose the clergy man over Will Turner any time and I also think the mermaid was prettier than Elizabeth Swan :P As much as perhaps I'm not so impressed with this movie, I will definitely come back for future pirates movie for as long as Captain Jack Sparrow by Johnny Depp is in it :) So that's life, let's talk about the trip.

I'm only gonna write about the time I spent in Paris, simply because those pictures are the only pictures I managed to upload in flickr so far. I arrived in Paris' Charles De Gaulle on 30th April 2011. The flight in was with Air France. I didn't like Air France much, but since KLM and Air France have merged, I have no choice in it. I was so happy that it was KLM that brought me back to Singapore. Anyway, arriving in the airport was rather weird for me because after we landed we actually took the stairs to get off the plane and walked to the ground in which a shuttle bus was waiting for us. It was early morning (6 am something) and it was so cold. Immigration check was a breeze. The officer just asked me to scan my finger in the scanner and no other question was asked. I was very very pleased about it. Then I followed what my research told me and waited at the train departure area until Mau landed. She did land and we found our train, found our hotel and we did discover that the Eiffel Tower was within walking distance from our hotel. We went there and parted ways because she was trying to meet her friend and I wanted to visit Museum D'Orsay.

Since May 1st is a public holiday in France too, it kinda threw off my plan, because many things close on that day and on Monday, many museums are closed :( Anyway, I couldn't find the metro station in Eiffel and I didn't feel like taking the metro as well. The metro and the metro stations are not really nice. The stations sometime smell of pee and it's dingy and the trains are not any better. I don't understand why people need to open the door to the train themselves. We are so pampered here in Singapore. So anyways, I walked all the way to Museum D'Orsay which was a really long walk but I got to see Paris. There was sun but it wasn't so hot. Reaching D'Orsay, I was so disappointed because the queue was crazy long and I didn't have the time to do that because I had a Versailles tour in a few hours :( So that was the first disappointment. I decided to go for lunch instead.

Mau joined me for lunch and then we were off in our Versailles tour. Versailles is one of those things in my life list that I wanted to see in life. I grew up with Japanese comic books and one of the things I read was Rose of Versailles and its spin off, Lady Oscar by Riyoko Ikeda. In fact Rose of Versailles was kinda my source of information for the French revolution which is not really a good source since it was peppered with fiction. Anyway, I'm thrilled that I finally got to go there. The compound is huge and looking at the map, I didn't see all of it. Since it's so big, perhaps one needs a whole day to explore the whole thing. I love the garden. It's huge and a bit like a maze. One can just get lost in it. Imagine if you live in the castle and you need to get away from someone, you can just choose a section of the garden and just enjoy the fountain, the air, and the sun. You can see some pictures here.

The next day was Sunday. We had a Giverny tour. Thank God that as I confirmed the Versailles tour, I enquired about this tour and found out it leaves in the morning on Sundays instead of in the afternoon as written in my print out. I don't know much about Giverny, I just stumbled into it when I was browsing on tours in Paris. Monet the painter spent a lot of time and his remaining days in Giverny. So we were visiting his house and his gardens and I have to tell you, it's the most beautiful garden I've ever seen in my life! He has 2 gardens. The first one is in front of his house which is bursting with colors of flowers, it was amazing! It's not so big but not so small as well, you can find your little corners of peace there. I was told that the flowers are different depending on the seasons and I can imagine so. When I was there, there were many tulips and many other flowers. The colors were just incredible! The second garden was a very short walk away. It's sometime called the water garden or the japanese garden. This is the garden in which he had the pond which inspired his water lilies paintings. Unfortunately when we were there, no water lilies blooming. It's still a nice garden, it's different. It's more green but you get the pond and the small river running around it. It's a different kind of feel and seeing the reflection of the plants on the water is amazing. I still love it but I guess I like the colorful garden more. Too see the pictures I have of them, you can go here. Monet's house itself is rather small but it's not so tiny or anything. I just find some of the bedrooms to be really small, around the size of my room actually. I do like his sitting room though (I think it's called the sitting room). It's kinda spacious. Right now it's filled with replicas of his paintings but I can imagine how nice it is to be sitting in it, in his sofa, reading, having tea, sleeping, again enjoying the nature outside from the windows and the sun and the air. A good relaxing existence, I imagine :P

We were actually joined by Mau's friend and her colleague in this tour. After Giverny, we went for lunch and headed to Basilique du Sacré-Cœur. The way this church is located reminded me of Trinità dei Monti. You have to walk many flights of stairs to reach Sacre Coeur but the feeling I got getting to this church was that of utter strangeness. There were so many people in the areas below the church doing all kinds of different things which is weird considering that it's happening in front of a church. Well some were pretty harmless but people making out and drinking beers in front of a church is just too strange for me. Well to be fair perhaps those grounds don't belong to the church so they cannot say anything about it. Anyways I felt really really bad that I didn't actually try to take any picture inside the church at all. There was a mass going to happen and yet they still let tourists in. It was so weird.

After that, Mau accompanied me to go to the Pantheon. I wanted to go to the Pantheon because the one in Rome captivated me so much so I wonder what the Pantheon in Paris would look like though I know there will not be any hole in the center of its roof. We got lost. When we got there, it was closed. Perhaps because it's Sunday but it could also be because it's May 1st. Then we walked and overcame being lost many times and we reached Notre Dame de Paris. I have to say that I was very very bad. There was a mass going on and again like in Sacre Coeur, tourists could still go in and people were taking pictures all over and I was one of them :$ Yeah I am very very bad! It's so weird. On one side I get that they perhaps want to be nice by letting people come to see the church eventhough there are masses but on the other side I felt it was so distracting to be praying and listening to a sermon when there's so many noises and camera flashing from the tourists. When I was in Rome last Friday (the 13th), I wanted to enter the Pantheon and there was a mass. They actually closed it for the tourists during the duration of the mass and people just had to wait outside by the door. It's inconvenient but I guess it's better that way. I guess it's just 2 different ways of doing things in France and Italy. So anyway, I didn't go up the Notre Dame de Paris. Perhaps one day when I get to go back to Paris, I'll do this and I'll take better pictures of the gargoyles.

After Notre Dame, we went to the Eiffel Tower. The sun was setting and it was getting cold and the queue to go up the tower was crazy. We didn't go all the way to the top because we were tired of queuing. The view was pretty nice though. I think the Eiffel Tower is kinda over rated but yeah I get the draw, it's iconic. I didn't step into Champ de Mars at all though. Again perhaps this is one of the thing I have to do if I ever come back. Anyway, here's a picture of Paris taken from the tower. To see more pictures of Paris, you can go here.

The next day was Louvre day. The museum is so big and we were there before opening time (9 am) and I think I left sometime before 3 pm. There are just so many things to see. I did see the Monalisa. It's a big draw there. The pushing and shoving was crazy, I didn't like it very much. To see some of the things I saw, you can go here.

After Louvre, I actually didn't have anything planned. Initially I thought I would go to the Orangerie to appease my disappointment for not being able to go to Museum D'Orsay. However, after Louvre I just had enough arts for one day, so I decided, okay I'm just gonna walk pass through Jardin des Tuileries and perhaps walk in Champ Elysees and see how far I could go in that straight path. That's when I met a french uncle. He happened to be walking along and I responded when I think he was talking to himself saying it's raining. It was rather drizzling, a light rain. With my limited french we managed to have some conversation. My french is so sucky that I didn't even use the formal form in talking to him, I feel so sorry for that. For him though, I think I'm some kind of this interesting thing. Here you have an Asian girl from Indonesia who's alone, who happened to speak a bit of french. I asked if he knew where Indonesia is. He said yes, it's the first area which was hit by the tsunami. He commented on why I learn french. My answer that it was for interest didn't satisfy him much. I know, who would want to be tortured by french grammars and conjugation just for fun? I guess it's the unexplainable me! The weirdest thing happened when he invited me for a meal. I was stunned and shocked and since he's forward like that, I was also forward in telling him it's weird for an Asian to be asked this considering we just met less than 15 minutes ago. He said it's innocent, anyway it's during daylight, if it's during the evening it is perhaps kinky :P Well we parted ways in the middle of way. He still tried to interact with me, telling me if I don't have anything to do, he could show me the church Madeleine which was very beautiful. I heard of the church but I was thinking that I don't want more stranger things to happen, so I declined. In retrospect I think I did kinda throw caution to the wind when I talked to him. I mean I told him about my trip, that I'll be visiting Avignon, Marseille, Barcelona, etc. In Indonesia and other parts of the world, talking to a stranger could get you hypnotized and you'll end up in a bad place and I perhaps disclosed too much information to him. But thank God, nothing bad happened and he was perhaps really harmless. He told me that I'll eat better in Avignon and things'll get cheaper than Paris and I should be extra careful in Marseille and Barcelona. So he's a nice uncle, I guess :)

Anyways, so I continued walking and I reached Arc de Triomphe. It's a really really really long walk. The fact that I did that under the light rain without umbrella is rather remarkable. I have to say I was so proud of myself but I was even prouder with what I did next. I did plan to visit Arc de Triomphe but it was for the days before and since I was rather tired, I didn't get to do it the days before. So anyway now that I'd reached it, I decided that I shoud really go to the top. I paid the 9.50 € entrance fee. I read in the internet that there was a lift but I couldn't find it and I ended up having to take the 214 stairs up! I realized something about me, I hate circular / spiral staircase especially when it's inside a closed structure. I'll start to get disoriented, claustrophobic, and dizzy. There were thoughts in my head that I wasn't going to be able to do it and I thank God almighty that I made it. As dramatic as this sounds, but I really want to say that I almost died doing it. I was rather out of breathe and mentally it was hard. I couldn't be so proud that I managed to do it considering the many steps I have taken since morning and the view from the top of was just so rewarding for me. It was really really so rewarding. After I was done, I saw that there was a lift and I took it to go down. The staff at the lift was looking at me funny perhaps because he thought that I shouldn't be in it, but he didn't say anything. Upon reaching the bottom I saw that they're preparing some sort of ceremony or something at the Arc De Triomphe. From the taiwanese guy who talked to me, I found out that they do this everyday but I don't know if he's right. I think it's their way to respect all the fallen soldiers. So that was my day that day. My last day in Paris. After writing all that, I have to say that the last day was pretty remarkable. I accomplished something on my own and I got to talk to strangers. I do have to say my most memorable moments in this trip were the moments I spent alone and I feel great about that. Okay that's all for now, I'll try to write the next part and get the pictures out soon.

:) eKa @ 12:22:00 PM •


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