The first afternoon in Paris was enjoyable, but strange. We didn’t dare get on the metro so we stayed in our neighborhood. We WALKED up the stairs to the top of Montmartre to sit on the famous steps of Sacre Coeur, and it about killed us. My dad had told us to take the incline train, but we thought that would be silly...plus, who had a ticket, or even knew how to buy a ticket? For those of you that don’t know, it’s a multitude of stairs to the top. We had no idea! Okay, again, Dad had told us, but the description "many stairs" did not translate to us as "MANY STAIRS." We both had new shoes that we bought purposely for comfort and walking, and within minutes, we were dying. Our shoes were too big! I guess in the cold our feet shrank. These photos don't show the half of it.
More on aching feet later...it was a running theme... You'll also notice the lack of color in my face. It's called complete exhaustion, and jet-lag. I also look less than thrilled. What you can't detect in this photo, is that two seconds before Scott took it, I was gasping for air!
So we basically just walked and walked, most of the time totally lost. There was so much to see all around us. I can’t explain how weird it felt. It did not “feel” like what I expected Paris to “feel” like. This area has it’s own character that I’ve grown to love, but it wasn’t love at first sight. I was rubbing elbows with all sorts. I never heard one spec of English. It was exhilarating, and bizarre at the same time. Describing Montmartre as “eclectic” is an understatement.
We decided to find the closest metro stop to the apartment, so we would know where it was when we needed it. We saw the stairs going down underground, and wondered...will we ever have the nerve to go down there? Being from the south, we had never used public transportation in our lives. I had never even ridden a bus, other than a yellow school bus!
We kept walking and ended up in front of the Moulin Rouge. We snapped a few pictures, and kept going. Not too far down that street, it gets really sleazy for a couple of blocks. Scott wanted to turn around, but there was another metro stop I wanted to find at Pigalle, so I insisted we keep going. Scott was so protective. He said to keep my eyes forward, that he would check it out as we walked and give me a running commentary...SO FUNNY.
There really was no problem. There were two lanes of traffic, separated by a huge median, lined with beautiful trees. Walking along the center were normal looking young adults, old ladies pulling their rolling shopping totes, and even children riding their tiny bicycles. I was beginning to learn that Parisians don’t get worried about a lot of things that we would find appalling in America, (at least in my small town). I didn’t see anything gross, thank goodness.
Around 6:30 we were ready for dinner. We were so tired, and didn’t feel up to going in a restaurant or cafe. We also noticed, no one was eating. Anyone sitting outside was having fancy water or coffee. No one was eating a meal. We read they eat late in Paris...it was true!
We bought some sandwiches somewhere, and took them home. We ate on our balcony. We could see the top of the Eiffel Tower in the distance, behind the building across the street. We even saw it twinkle! It was so nice, but I must admit, I wasn’t in relaxation mode in any way, shape, or form...yet.
We opened the bottle of wine they left for us in the apartment. At home, wine was not a part of our lives...
but hey...when in France...
I will do an entire blogpost on that first sip... you have no idea.
That evening turned out to be more than romantic. Things just unwrinkled and untangled. We began to relax...could it have been the wine? I don't know, and at that point, I didn't care. I slowly felt my mind draining of all its cares. America seemed a million miles away. Even facing Paris, began to seem do-able. On one side of the apartment, the huge church was lit up beautifully, and on the hour, the church bells rang hauntingly. On the other side of the apartment, the view was of thousands of rooftops and apartments lit up with a golden glow. It was incredible.
I felt like I had been dropped into a dream world. This city had so much to discover, and that evening, I felt ready to tackle it.
I went to sleep dreaming of only one thing...
The Eiffel Tower!!!