Paris … Camping Du Tremblay
Woke up dizzily, but this might be the only chance for me to be in Paris. Craig dropped us at the Louver. “Forget about entering the museum from the pyramid glass, the queue will take all of your day!” Kristy said. So we entered the area from the parking lots. We arrived at the upside down pyramid glass, but I had only enough time to took a shot before move again, because Kristy wanted to walk us along the river Seine to Notre Dame. Only 8 people walked with her while the rest decided to explore them selves. I thought Kristy would say something along the way, but she didn’t. She only took us at the main entrance of Notre Dame, said something about how to buy a one-day museum pass, and let us went by our selves.
Notre Dame was not as huge as I thought, maybe because I saw St. Peter cathedral before. But it was a good comparison. It looked so gloomy and dull. I remembered my architecture history teacher said something about the Gothic style tried to make people afraid of hell … it worked quite well. Gillian said she felt depressed inside. So either too glamour or too dull, she wouldn’t be able to concentrated on her praying. There’s 2 huge rose windows at both wings, not at the main axis that heading to the altar though. What I like the most are these windows, the flying buttresses and the small creature that accompany Quasimodo (Hunchback of Notre Dame), the drainage. Speaking about Quasimodo, there’re lots of shops using his name nearby the cathedral, Quasimodo coffee shops, Quasimodo Crepes … just like there’re Sherlock Holmes Coffee shops along Baker Street in London.
While we walked to Notre Dame, I noticed an information arrow that pointed the opposite direction, which said George Pampidou Canter. I almost forget it was here! But from Notre Dame, it’s closer to Arabian Institute than to Pampidou, so I decided to walk to the institute, and took the subway to Pampidou. Gillian was agree with me, so we walked there, meanwhile I told her why I was dying to go to the institute … because of its window blinds. It took the concept from Arabian motif for the main façade. That’s not great at all … but the fact that the blinds can move, be opened and closed, change shapes and create different reflection and shadow on the floor. I wonder how much money do they spend for this one … well, oil country … don’t think that they have problem for that. They even don’t need nay ticket entrance, which gave me the chance to go to the top floor to enjoy Noter Dame and Pampidou Center that were on the opposite bank of the Seine River, far away.
Satisfied with the institute, we went to the subway nearby. The lady behind the ticket boot was so nice to tell us that the 8 Euro ticket was for tourist (one day ticket plus a museum ticket), while what we needed was only the transportation ticket, which was 5 Euro. It’s a very small ticket with a big mantle; and I realize that in the cities I’d been, only London provides lots of subway’s map that you can take and throw and take again anytime you want!
Pampidou Center … another dream came true! It’s not difficult to find due to the bright red and blue that it used. We were there, finally, but we didn’t have time to join the queue to enter the center if we still wanted to explore another spots. So I only explore the entrance floor, which has Philip Stark’s souvenir shops and bookshop. There’s also a small exhibition about architecture that didn’t look at all like a building. The article was written in France unfortunately. And one thing quote interesting me was that many people was reading those articles … that meant they were France, which also meant that they were aware about their architecture development. It could be said, the whole citizens were architects … then might we, the academically architects, be out of jobs? ^.^ There’s a shallow pond outside, which after I got into the other building and saw the architecture model, underneath it was rooms for recording and practicing musical instruments … WOW!
After ate some chocolate crepes and took a rest, we took subway back to Louver. We entered the whole area from the shopping center. Gillian did some whopping for her friends, while I did some photos. I was amazed by how the prism caught the sunlight and turned it either to shadows or to rainbows. The reflection against the wall looked so various because of that, especially because of the plain material that I.M. Pei, the architect, had chose … he is a genius ^.^ It’s pity that we didn’t have enough time to enter from the main entrance, the big pyramid, because the queue was very too long, and I felt tired again.
After giving our feet two breaks, we went along Rue Rivoli, a shopping center cheaper than Champ Elysees. Gillian did the shopping wile I sat down watching people shopping, almost fell asleep. It’s not because the shopping center was boring, just my feet screaming again. Thanks Gillian that I could sit down listening to my feet.
To the La Defence … at 3:30! We supposed to meet the bus at 4:30 at Place de La Concorde, 11 stations away from where we were, if we wanted to go back to the campsite and dressed up for the last dinner. But since none of us join this excursion that cost 32 Euro, Gillian didn’t want to be at La Defence for 15 minutes pictures and rushing back to meet the bus. So we took our time there. Gillian sat down at one of the huge steps, I was taking pictures. La Defence is an expansion of Paris to the West, a very big area with new high-rise buildings soared into the sky. You can find any shape you want here, curved, ball, blocks, cubism … not enough for a day! The Arche Grande is so big that it was said the Notre Dame could fit into the void in the center where the capsule elevator and the clouds were hang … quite possible.
Famished … new vocabulary learned form Gillian because of this trip ^.^ We saw a Mac Donald’s plastic bags in the trash bin nearby the tube station … without second thought we decided to solve our famished problem. It’s impossible for poor traveler like us to have a lunch at the restaurant in Grande Arche. I brought the good new to Gillian that I saw that big yellow M from the platform of Grande Arche. It was nearby the big ball cinema. So we walked straight there. I couldn’t order another happy meal, because they toys they offered were ugly *.* But they offered lots of dessert, not just flurry or cone, but muffin, brownies … anything you can imagine. But Mac Donald is still Mac Donald; We went there only because we were desperate. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t taste good, it’s our fault that we don’t have the culture to eat kind of junk food ^.^ But we were very glad about its existence. We could sit down at any sits we want, because in Paris, they charge more if you sat in the place where you could be seen by public. In other way, the cheapest seats are the one near the WC ^.^ We sat there almost for an hour, seeing people coming and going outside the window, happy to see real Parisian … well, I couldn’t tell, It’s true that they didn’t wear the tourist name tag, cameras that hanging in your breast, like the way we did ^.^ But Gillian said that they looked like the real Parisian. And this place was not tourist resort. It’s more office district than shopping area. I saw families walking with plastic bags that looked like from a big supermarket, so I told Gillian whether she wanted to buy some not-for-tourist food there. I myself need to eat some fruits for I had a serious problem with my skin because of this trip … my body didn’t have any second to adapt at any places since I was forced to move here and there very quickly. So we tracked down where the people with plastic bags come from, underneath the cinema. It’s quite a big shopping center, with lots of lunch choices … if only we knew ^.^
After a little shopping, I pursued Gillian not to take the same subway station, but the next one, “We are in between now, and we can see more!” Poor her … she shouldn’t listen to me, because it was not closed to us at all. My feet!! But we did see funny things. Gillian saw her prince frog, a 150 cm green frog statue opened its big mouth with little frog inside that spit out a fountain; pity that it had no water at the time we arrived. She kissed it, I took the pictures, and the frog stood still ^.^
Finally we found the nest station, Esplanade. 5 stops away, there’s Arc de Triomph. But we didn’t go any closer that 20 m from the monument. Our feet protested to do that. So we took a seat opposite the block, took pictures and sat for the next hour, telling stories and enjoying the sunset and the people. I told Gillian to notice me anytime she felt like moving again, because I still have one more spot to explore.
Then we walked back to the subway station, this time was the same one. We took 2 different lines, 16 stops before we arrived at the Eastern part of Paris where Bernard Tsumi played his red toys, Parc de La Vilette. 55 hectares park, only 20 minutes left … ahi … I was not sure at first where it was, but it was very easy to spot … there’s a red structure just at the entrance of the park. I was so excited that even my feet not protesting me for running closer. It’s too huge, and already closed by the time we arrived, which was 8 already. Lucky that it was still bright, and I wore a red T-shirt ^.^
We rushed back to the subway station because we had to be at Moulin Rouge to meet the coach by 9:30. We arrived at Moulin Rouge 20 minutes earlier. Standing in that area was really not a comfortable feeling … too many men. It was not like Red District, but still pictures all around us made us feel like naked. This Moulin Rouge was not as grandeur as the one on the film. And it was not the original one either - rebuilt; I remembered I read an article that said it caught in fire once, forge the exact story about it. But it still had the symbol, the Holland windmill … “Aren’t we in Paris now?” Gillian was asking.
We walked back and forth tried to see any sign of the Contiki bus. If we missed the bus, than we had to spend 40 Euro back to the campsite, while we were ahead the schedule! And we saw the bus coming! We running to welcome Craig, so glad to be able to sit on the coach again ^.^ We waited for the rest of the group who went to dinner at another meeting point. 6 girls didn’t went back with the coach because they wanted to see the cabaret can-can show. Craig drove us through the ‘dangerous Zone’, Arch de Triomph, for the last time. He made it! Everybody was clapping hands. He turned around the next corner, turned again and another turned, and we were back to the dangerous Zone?! Craig loves to play ^.^ He got another applause. Kristy said that that night his parents flight back to Australia. His parents met us, Craig actually, while we were in Vienna and had a crazy dinner with the team. Kristy called them, we all shouted, “have a nice trip” and on with our own trip.
On the way back to the campsite, we saw another Contiki bus in front of us. Kristy ordered us to give a flash at them. We did, didn’t really get a response. 10 minutes later, there’s another Contiki bus. Gees … how many group were in Paris now? Craig speed up and we were ahead and gave them a flash. But in a traffic light, they manage to cut in. Craig was not a person who easy to be defeated, he managed to takeover again. So 2 buses were on a row. Then we entered a small road with the width only fit for one bus. We were in front of the other bus, with 3 small cars in between. Red lights. We wait. Green light, Craig still didn’t move, until the light turned into yellow before Craig drove away. He was naughty, wasn’t he? But that was not enough. As soon as we arrived at the gate of our campsite, Kristy ordered all of us off the coach; girls hands in hands to made a barrier, and boys, only 10 of them, on the front line, pulled off their pants and showed their butt towards the others coming buses. Even Craig did it! Pity that we couldn’t take any pictures for the sake of ‘privacy’ ^.^ But they were still on their underwear … luckily! ^.^
What a night to end a trip … !!