s a n d y f e e t . e x p o . e u r o p a . 9 8

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24 hours in Paris

We spent a good two hours messing around in Besancon trying to get the spare fixed - were referred to two places that didn't fix tires at all and a third that was too busy to deal with us for another two hours and a fourth that we never did manage to find - so we pumped up the not-quite-flat spare, crossed our fingers and hightailed it for Paris.

Didn't have a clue as to what we were going to do when we got there which is the Oakley way to travel and miracle of miracles we did not have a flat. Furthermore, we drove into the middle of the city without too much traffic, found a FREE parking spot and a nearby cheap hotel (Hotel Ajille, about $35, WC down the hall and no visable signs of a shower but a receptionist who spoke English, was willing to change a 50 pound note and gave us a room with a great window and spectacular view of the city below as you will see when I get my photos developed)

We still had a few hours of daylight once we got squared away so we strolled over to the Eiffel tower and did the tourist gawp, got to walk along the Seine for a ways too and then picked a deceptively empty cafe for dinner. Service was fashionably slow and the place was way full by the time we left. We ordered a full 3-course meal and the waiter earnestly attempted to talk me out of my entree choice but I wouldn't listen and was presented with a plate of what appeared to be sausage but that was in fact a thinly disguised disgusting mess of entrails and other pork parts - probably the same stuff you would get in any hotdog but not as finely ground and so completely inedible as far as I was concerned. But the salad, dessert and wine was lovely and I left fully sated.

Above: Don't know why it didn't flash but that really is me at the Eiffel Tower

Left: I was going to shoot a picture of the disgusting stuff I was served here - but Russell had just shaved and he looked a lot better than my dinner

Tossed and turned all night on a bed with the consistency of a partially-toasted marshmellow. Walked to a nearby cafe for a cafe au lait and a croissant but couldn't seem to comunicate with the waiter and ended up with a disappointingly American-like baguette instead.

We packed up early and - keeping Hermit safely tucked away in his free berth- took the metro to Notre Dame. On the train we were entertained by a traveling minstral who bore more than a passing resemblence to Amazin' (I keep running into those kind of guys) and it seemed very Parisian and romantic...

Notre Dame was really interesting if overun with tourists but I was impressed with the fact that it didn't cost anything to wander around in there. Couldn't bear to use the flash so I can only hope that the pictures I shot of all the beautiful rose windows and stuff turn out.

The Louvre was also very near by so we walked there and spent about a half hour trying to figure out where the entrance was. I'm really glad we found it though I think the glass pyramid is a bit tacky and doesn't fit in with the surrounding architecture.

Our goal was to see the paintings of the old masters but I found the sculpture even more intriguing. Winged Victory! Venus de Milo! Draped cloth carved from marble so fine we couldn't stop ourselves from touching and got our hands (figuratively) slapped by the guards.

Right: sandy feet likes sculpture

We got to come within a few feet of Mona but the crowds were a bit appalling. Is she really worth it? Apparently so - we got as close as we could and shot a few pictures.

Russell and I both were eager to see the 19th century French painters wing but except for a few Monets we never got the chance. For some reason that section was closed to the public. The Louvre is really great but everything in it is so... old.

Treated ourselves to another cafe au lait and a real croissant (it helps to be able to point) at the museum cafe.

Left: See that glare behind my head? That's Mona.

On our way back to Hermit I found my Paris dress - at a sidewalk market booth for a mere 50 francs. Never tried it on but it fit anyway and will be a favorite once I get back to someplace warm enough to wear it.

We got to the outskirts of town at 3 pm - exactly 24 hours after we had come into town. I would like to come back again when I have more time and money to spend but for now it is enough.

Right: Winged Victory

Winged victory

next: Amsterdam!

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