Walkabout 2009: Paris

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After a long night train (11 hours and very little sleep) we finally made it to Paris. Wanting to stay awake as long as possible and to work off some excess energy I suddenly had, I literally walked from the hotel across the street from Gare de L\’est to the Eiffel Tower and back. According to Google Maps, thats 8.3km one way. Dang!

Unfortunately, I didn\’t have a working camera on the first day. I remedied that on the second day by purchasing a battery grip for a mere €200 and took the shit-ton of pictures you can now see at the top of this post.

I had met a waiter in Antibes — Stefan — who had once worked as a Maitre D in Houston. Due to a green card snafu, he is now \”stuck\” in Antibes — poor guy. But he recommended a night boat ride up the Seine. Well, I\’m not gonna lie to you. It wasn\’t that great. I much preferred just walking up and down the River.

Other Paris disappointments — The Louvre in general and the Mona Lisa in particular. There are just too many people in the Louvre to enjoy it. And the crowd around the surprisingly tiny Mona Lisa forced me to take pictures of it from a long distance and then just gave up any thought of getting close to it.

Also, when you\’re not overcome by car/bus/truck exhausts coming from the street you\’re pulverized by cigarette smoke coming from passers-by and bistro diners.

But despite these minor annoyances, Paris is still Paris and thus is pretty awesome. The food, of course, is awesome. My only complaint being that the options are often overwhelming. Oh, and the waiters can be borderline assholes at times.

And for anyone planning a trip to Paris, beware the Gold Ring Scam. I had this attempted on me 4-5 times. A gypsy will appear to pick up a big gold wedding ring and show it to you. The first time this was tried on me, my spidey sense told me that something was up and just ignored the gypsy. But apparently they will forcefully make you take the ring and expect some kind of reimbursement.

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