Today started out horribly early. By which I mean 9 AMish. That's horribly early. We have so many really steep stairs to get from the ground to our fifth floor apartment, so my legs ached too. Great start, right? Well, we had pain au chocolat (chocolate croissants) for breakfast, so it was actually pretty good. Then we left for Notre Dame.
We had fun arguing over what train route was the fastest, but we ended up getting to Île de la Cité without too much trouble. Then we wandered around for a while because it's apparently pretty difficult to locate the big honking church. But we found it, and it was beautiful. We wandered up to the front taking photographs as we went. I, of course, complained because I hate photographs and touristy things, but I posed for a few of them, took a few more. Then we went in.
I've been to Notre Dame before. I'm pretty sure I didn't go on my second France trip, but the first time, with the Chicago Grandparents, then I did go. But that was seventh grade. I'm much older now, and I've taken a course on Roman architecture. Notre Dame was not built during Roman times, but I did learn a bit about churches towards the end, so I could spot all sorts of Roman architectural bits. Like the barrel arches. There are some very nice barrel arches. The windows and paintings were simply gorgeous. Dad saw a baby on a stick or something that he and the sisters were laughing over. "Shishkababy," they called it. I myself did not see it.
Dad, Julia, and I all visited the treasury together to look at all the relics and clothes and shiny golden cups and stuff the church keeps. There was a very sparkly diamond encrusted something that was actually a copy of the real thing. There were also two human bones. I think they belonged to saints, but I didn't ask. It was all together very cool.
My favorite statue was the one of Saint Jeanne D'Arc, or Joan of Arc for those of you who prefer English. I've always loved Joan of Arc, and hearing that this church is where they decided she was a martyr, not a heretic, was very cool. I was feeling pretty spiritual thanks to all the music and stained glass and general beauty of the place, so I paid two euros for a candle, lit it, and put it near her statue with all the other candles. I figured if I was going to honor a saint, it might as well be the awesome warrior woman one.
Then it was lunch time! The original plan was to go to the Samaritaine (a large department store) and eat on the top floor overlooking the city, but that plan broke when the Samaritaine suffered from a bad case of being closed. So we kept walking in search of somewhere else.
The place we ended up eating, Chez Alexandre, was not great. Wasn't bad, but it wasn't really fantastic. They took a while seating us, and our waiter kept flirting with Julia in a slightly creepy way. He took a picture of all of us, then took a few more just of her, though we didn't know it till we got the camera back. One of me and her which was pretty cute, though. Julia threatened to give him mono... but just to us, not to the waiter himself.
Then it was time to wander around Paris for souvenirs and fun. We stopped at an amazing chocolate store to get truffles. I haven't eaten mine yet, but I promise a full report when I do! Then we went to a store called Collettes that was supposed to be very trendy and cute. It was pretty cute, but it was also très chere. I thought about getting a watch because I really need one, but I ended up deciding to wait for one that's cheaper or that I love. There was a water bar in the basement. I'm still not exactly sure what a water bar is, but there were a ton of different types of water on the menu. One was 50€. We didn't purchase that one. I actually had mango juice instead of water. It was delicious.
I split off from the group and headed home on the metro alone. I managed not to get horribly lost! It was fun. I also purchased anti-itch creme and chapstick in French. It was exciting. Then I went home and fell asleep for a while. The parents and sisters rejoined me, and we watched Hunchback of Notre Dame. The Disney version. It bothered me in how it was different from the original. I've seen it before, but I'm more educated now. I should actually read the original so that I can actually defend this annoyance. Also, the PC term for gypsies? Rom. Not gypsies. This is one of those things I pick up. But the architecture was cool, and I recognized things in the movie from Notre Dame. As far as I could tell, they didn't make too many horrible errors there.
Then it was dinner time! We went to another cafe. I had an omelette. It was delicious. Then we had melty chocolate cake thingy, you know, the kind with the molten center. It was amazing. Then followed home time. Tomorrow: Sacré-Cœur and the Louvre!