Friday 9/4/09

A peculiar thing that we had not considered when comparing cultural differences was that Europeans do not use washcloths when showering!  This was not a change that I was about to make, so I was forced to make do with a hand towel.  Our first French breakfast consisted of freshly made orange juice, breads and croissants, ham, plain yogurt, and very strong coffee.  We started our day by walking along the Seine to the Isle de Cite to see Notre Dame and Sainte Chapelle.  Notre Dame was beautiful, of course.  Safe for a slight rainstorm while waiting in line to go to the top of the towers, we were able to climb to the very tops of the towers and the belfry to get some amazing views of the city with a blue-sky backdrop.  We had a lunch of crepes from a small café on the Isle, and then went to Sainte Chapelle.  The legendary stained glass lived up to the hype, especially because we caught it in the late afternoon when the sun was low in the sky, illuminating the entire side of the chapel.  We grabbed the Metro from St. Michel and went back to the Eiffel Tower, this time actually taking the elevator up to the very top.  We had some of the most amazing views of the city, which seemed to stretch on forever in all directions.  We were able to time our visit to have a perfect spot to view the sunset from the top of the tower, and then to get more incredible photos of the city and monuments at night with a full moon.  Opting to walk down the 1,665 steps of the tower instead of riding the elevator, we got some more great views of the illuminated bridges below.

Also, dinky souvenirs are sold (illegally) at every single tourist spot, without fail  Cheap keychains and statuettes can be bought from a small army of street vendors  “4 for a Euro!”  If you are lucky, you may get to see a “running of the vendors” when the police show up.

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