Monday, September 7, 2009

wie kleines Zinn spielt

[ ... like little tin toys ]

I fell asleep on the bus for what felt like a few minutes, but looking out the window when I woke up, the sprawling French hills of farmland and vineyards [we drove through Champagne, France!] had now become industrial city. As a matter of fact, if you were just dropped there, from the highway entering the city, you wouldn’t realize that you were in Paris. A bit more driving, and the industrial and business centers transformed into the intricate bridges over the Seine that one would expect. Two left turns, and unexpectedly there was Notre Dame, right there to my left – wow, I am in Paris… that was Notre Dame.

There was so much to see, obviously, and very short time. We arrived in Paris at 1 pm on Saturday, and essentially we had until 1 pm the following day before we departed back to Saarbrücken.

We actually didn’t drive too much further, since we were all dropped off in front of a very tall building for an opportunity to go to the observation area on the roof. We all took advantage of the opportunity, and for €11 we took an elevator up to the top floor of the building.

Out the elevator and up more steps, we arrived on the silent concrete roof of the skyscraper where a lot of wind was blowing and a bit of a drizzle began. That didn’t faze me at all however, because, there it was – The Eiffel Tower, proudly dominating the huge 360 view I had of all of Paris. I was probably squealing like a little kid – wow! That is it.

To have your first view of the Tower be from an aerial view requires you to take a moment and realize what you are seeing. It is the entire city of Paris beneath you criss-crossed in shades of white and grey and dotted with green trees and parks and there, like a small little tin toy, the Eiffel Tower darts the skyline as if I was staring at Google Earth – You are here; in Paris!

[ Paris is the city of love... ]

[ Don't worry - I am loved too ! ]

With our guides out, we circled the rest of the roof pointing and searching – like where is waldo –

Notre Dame!

Sacré-Cœur!

Where is the Arc de Triumph?

One landmark that didn’t need any direction to point out was the Louvre. Seeing the entire fortress-of-a-museum that it is, especially from above, it cannot be argued that it is as big and long as some of the streets surrounding it.

The scene was beautiful. Realizing that it was grey and rainy was something I only noticed later. I was too excited on the roof. Overwhelmed actually too. With the Louvre as an example, which requires days or weeks to really appreciate, we had less than a day to cover everything that we were staring down at as if it were all dollhouses.


Schnell, Schnell!

[ Quickly, quickly! ]

Saturday morning, I woke up early and got into the shower with the anxious feeling of excitement that one gets in the early hours before a vacation. My bag was packed, and I was ready for Paris!

2 weekends ago, Adriane and I found this bus tour package in the back of the newspaper that had a special for Paris. One phone call later, and we had our tour and hotel booked for Adriane, Eva, Lutz, Olli and myself. The package was actually really nice – Round trip bus travel, a tour of Paris, a hotel room and breakfast Sunday morning, all included for €95.

I was completely ready [ I think I woke up too early out of excitement…] but it wasn’t so for the others. The last minutes before pulling out from the house, there seemed to be a mad dash grabbing shoes, zipping bags, putting memory cards into cameras, and, of course, giving hugs and kisses to Angelika and Stefan who were still in their pajamas.

From the house, we would have pulled up just in time for the bus, but we had one more stop before our 5+ hour bus ride – Croissants! We stopped at a local Bäckerei [Schnell, Chris, schnell! – Quick, quick!] and picked up some Frühstück for the road, and what was more appropriate for France than some buttery, flakey croissants?

Arriving at the parking lot for the trip [which ended up being the parking lot of Klara’s school, [Ludwigsgymnasium] Eva comically gave us an entrance gracefully waving to the people on the bus with a cupped hand, ala Miss America, addressing our tardiness. We arrived just in time, and were the last people on the bus, but our bags were on and we were ready to go.

I did not realize when booking the trip that the round trip bus was actually already the tour bus. The commentary was all in German, but I was able to pick up facts here and there. The bus driver actually talked for about half of the trip there about France and some history – yes… that is about 2.5 hours of commentary, wow.

The passengers on the bus were very diverse, ranging from Turkey, Russia, the Philippines, and a shout out for me as the token American. A group of Middle aged ladies seemed to be having a great time embarking on a ladies weekend, already giggling away, blushed in the face, and popping open more bottles of Crémant into their festive plastic stemware, already at 7:30 in the morning.

At one of the stops where we took a break, I was surprised, because on the second tour bus that departed, a large group of the Chinese students that attend my language school were on the same trip. Many of them are very fun to talk to, and we all shared our excitement together – of course in our great mix of poor German, and choppy English – and then a bunch of pictures which the Chinese say with their heavily accented German – Fotos Zusammen! Photos together!

The bus trip went rather quickly as I anxiously looked out the window and watched the endless French farmland pass by as we neared our destination in The City of Lights.