Sunday, September 27, 2009

Day 7 - Kenny's First Trip to the Opera and What He Learned There


Well, it's my last full day in Paris, and since I saw just about all I wanted to, I chose to take the day and walk around and not do anything in particular.  To start things off, I decided to go the "pack your own lunch" technique for grub.  I went up and down the street I'm staying on, Rue Cler, and went to 4 different stores: A deli for meat, a boulangerie for bread, a fromagerie for cheese, and a market for some fruit.

Since all of these were right next to each other, I had a full on meal in about 10 minutes with 5 of that being attributed to the fact that I speak French about as well as I properly eat foi gras.  I took my food and walked to the Champs de Mars which basically leads up to the Eiffel Tower.  This is what I ate:  5 different meats (couple of hams, some sausage thing (not good), a salami, and some bacon looking stuff), 3 cheeses (brie (ok), goat cheese (never again), and something that reminded me of Swiss, (best of the bunch)), the best freakin' blackberries I've ever tasted, a huge baguette, and good ol' sink water.  Honestly, I couldn't finish it.  Too rich, but most of it was good, and hanging out in the shade underneath the Eiffel Tower was a great experience.

Here's what I ate. . .

. . .and here was my view.

After that I decided to try and go see the Catacombs I was talking about earlier.  I had missed them because they were closed last time, and by the time I finished relaxing in the grass I had only 30 minutes to get to the ticket office.  I hustled to the Metro and hopped the train.  I made it 3 minutes before the box office was supposed to close only to find the whole thing was shut down due to vandalism.  That's twice this had happened.

The following is a brief overview of what was going through my head in the final 5 minutes before getting to the ticket booth and then the next 60 seconds after finding out it was closed again.

"Shouldn't have cut it so close. . .OK where can I get tickets. . . Only a couple of minutes left. . .There it is!. . .Wait What?!. . .Closed?. . .Dang (different word here), that's twice this has happened. . .Seriously!?. . .I've wasted money and more importantly a lot of time getting down here trying to do this stupid tour. . . I'm ticked off and irritated, and I've lost another hour, and now . . . . .  Hey look, a crepes stand. . .

So anyway, after that I went back to the hotel and then decided to just start walking.  I started toward Invalides and then headed to the Champs Elysees again.  Instead of heading to the Arc de Triomph though, I went the opposite direction toward the Louvre where I crossed another beautiful garden called Tuileries.  Here's some shots of my walk to this point.

This is a shot of the Army Museum and Invalides again.

This is the Alexander III bridge that was built as a sign of friendship between the French and the Russians around 1900 or so.  Like they always say, nothing says sorry we decimated you in the cold Russian winter a hundred years or so ago like a new, fancy bridge.

This is the Tuileries Garden.  You can see the Louvre there on the middle left.

And this is a bad shot of what I was doing for a decent portion of the day.  I don't have to tell all of you how difficult it's been on me this week, especially compared to what you probably have been up to.  In fact, to give you an idea of the hardships I'm enduring, I've contracted a brand spankin' new syndrome:  You've heard of tennis elbow?  Allow me to introduce you to Spiral Staircase Hip.  Nasty stuff.  No, no.  No tears for me.  I'll manage somehow.

After that, the walk took an unexpected turn:  I turned left in front of the Louvre and came across this building, which caught my eye because it looked rather important:

Turns out it's the National Institute of Music.  They hold concerts and operas and stuff like that there.  By coincidence I showed up right at the start of one of these operas.  I've never been to an opera so since I was there I decided to see if I could scalp a ticket.  It worked out, so I slipped into the hall and grabbed my seat on the left balcony with an obstructed view.

This is a shot of the inside of the theater.

As you probably know, they are not singing in English so I had to figure out what was going on via context clues (thank you TAAS test).  Here is the rundown of what I was able to discern about this particular work:

1) The name of it was Mireille.
2) It is a French Opera (a lot of operas are in Italian).
3) It takes place in a field somewhere in France.
4) There's a blond chick, Mireille, who talks (or rather sings) way more than a person should at one time without someone else interjecting a comment.
5) I apparently am only able to listen to what she has to say for about 45 minutes before I have to leave.

I tried to like it, I really did, but in the end, I realized that Mireille and I were not going to work out, so it was better to cut the cord before we got too attached and comfortable with each other.

I think a Broadway show might be the most singing I can handle in any given hour.  This was like the Lion King without the cool costumes, or the action sequences, or anything else that would be considered better than walking on broken glass barefooted.

This is as good a picture as I could get without risking being thrown out.  It was quite a beautiful theater.  Not big on using the AC for some reason, but after the first round of sweating subsided, I felt much more comfortable.

Other note, this is an old building apparently.  I swear if you even think of adjusting your big toe, something creaks.  Believe it or not, people go to this thing on purpose and they just love it when you're right behind them fidgeting during the performance.  Needless to say I made a lot of friends.

I left long before the first intermission and headed back to Rue Cler, where I had one final dessert (something like an apple pie) at the same place I started, Cafe du Marche, before going to bed.  All in all, a wonderful day of just enjoying the city.

Tomorrow is a travel day to Bruges, Belgium.  I should be getting there around 3 PM Belgium time so maybe I'll have some cool pictures for you, plus I'll do a Paris wrapup.

Bruges is also going to be my first hostel (me in a room with a lot of people).  I'm looking forward to the experience and more importantly, I'm looking forward to meeting some folks doing the same thing as me.  I don't know about WiFi at this place, but if I can't post tomorrow, I'll put something up as soon as I can.
Till next time. . .