Paris, the Tourist Edition

What's a girl to do with only a day to spend in Paris?
Make like a total tourist, of course.

Yes, complete with a tour bus (free tickets courtesy of the Eurail pass yay). I really like this hop-on, hop-off bus concept - it's a happy medium between doing things on your own and booking a tour with fixed schedule. You don't waste time figuring out where the tourists spots are, you don't get lost as long as you remember where the bus stop is, yet you're in complete control of your own schedule. As a minor plus, you also get to listen to audio commentaries as you go about.

First stop: Well, duh.

On the one hand, it's surreal, finally seeing something I've only ever seen (and oggled at) in pictures and movies. But it's also strangely underwhelming - on a cloudy morning, without a picturesque sky in the backdrop or dramatic light installations shining upon it, La Tour Eiffel looks very much like, well, a steel tower, and nothing more. It also doesn't help that there are a billion people in line to go to the top of the tower. Goodness. Do I really want to spend my first morning in Paris in a mile-long queue? Non, merci.

Next stop: The Louvre

Okay no, that's not the Louvre. Got a bit sidetracked by this bridge covered almost entirely by lovelocks. It's a romantic thought, no, closing a padlock with your names on it and throwing the key into the river, never to be opened again.

Look, no crazy crowd! It only took us a minute to enter. I guess everyone was still stuck in the Eiffel Tower (hah!).

Art schmart, my inner geek was most thrilled with the audio guide, which came in the form of a Nintendo 3DS. Apart from providing commentary on majority of the artwork, it also tracks your location, so you also get location-based information, as well as precise directions to any particular piece you would like to see. Like, say, La Joconde.

Now a lot of people have been telling me it's overrated. I think it's not so much the painting as the experience of seeing the painting - you elbow your way into the crowd, only to find yourself a good meter away from the very thick glass from which the painting is another good distance away from. And it's a very small canvas! For all I know, all they have is a framed high-quality photo of the Mona Lisa and no one would be the wiser because no one gets close enough to inspect it anyway.

In contrast, Venus de Milo and The Wedding Feast at Cana can be viewed at arm's length.

I read somewhere that if you looked at each painting in the Louve for 30 seconds, it would take you 100 days to see everything. Well after two hours of wandering about I was already suffering from museum overdose and very very disoriented. Luckily the nifty little audio guide is also adept at finding the nearest exit.

Trois: Notre Dame, and everything else

I lit a candle, whispered a prayer for my lola, because I couldn't come home and visit her for All Saint's Day and I miss her.

While I did pass by Galeries Lafayette and Champs Elysees, there was no time to do any shopping. The horror. But at least it gives me a reason to come back (and I shall!).

Okay, this I have to mention. I have been of the opinion that streetside toilets are an abomination, no thanks to the horrid pink MMDA urinals *cringe*. But the French, well, they make it work.

Last stop: Eiffel Tower, take two
So much better at night, yes?

Except for the part when they had this really crazy light show. It's tacky and unecessary, and just... no.

I only made it to the second floor because it was a particularly cold and windy night, and my teeth were chattering. And even then, majority of the time I spent inside the gift shop in an attempt to defrost. I did manage to take this shot with miraculously steady hands.

At this point I'm completely exhausted (not to mention frozen) so the only thing left to do was to call it a day.

While it's not exactly my ideal way of visiting Paris, I'm quite glad I got most of the tourist-y things done and over with. That way, when I come back, I can wake up later, walk slower, and just take it everything in, Ella-style :)

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