Paris 2010

We had rented a two-bedroom flat instead of a hotel room, it was really difficult to find a decent room for three people! So, when a coworker asked me why I didn't look for apartments, I thought that was a good idea. The apartment had tiny rooms, but we had our privacy. I loved it! It was only a few steps to the next metro station, and in downtown Montmartre, which means we only had a couple of minutes to Sacre Coeur. Which we visited right after we arrived on Monday afternoon. We had great weather, blue skies and sunshine except for Wednesday morning, but it was cool and windy. It didn't matter much though. That afternoon we took a tourist tram around Montmartre to get an overview and enjoyed the people sitting on the stairs of Sacre Coeur, enjoying the view of the city. Paris is so big! It has about 4 times as many citizens as Berlin! In the evening we went to a café down the road of the apartment for dinner. I was astonished how expensive eating out is! I knew it was expensive, but *that* expensive… We only had snacks and a bottle of wine and we paid more than for a full meal usually. The next morning we went straight to the Eiffel Tower. Our landlady said that it's better to visit the attractions early to avoid long lines. So, we went early. We still had to stand in line for more than half an hour, but that was okay. The line was moving and we watched to flying merchants who sell Eiffel Towers in any size, "silk" neck scarves with Paris written on them, etc etc. It's hard to ignore them. We did buy souvenirs later on the Tower, in an official boutique though. We went straight up to the top. It was hazy, so we couldn't see far, but it is absolutely breathtaking! The whole construction, these tons and tons of metal, it is a truly impressive building. From the top we went down to the second level with closer views of the city, then another level down. Then we saw the painters leaving. I didn't think much of it, but when we looked down to the ground, we didn't see any lines waiting. So, when we went down again, we dicovered that the Tower was closed due to a national strike. We then walked to the dome Les Invalides, where the tomb of Napoleon is, but we didn't went inside. We did a lot of walking anyway, every night my feet and back hurt like hell! In the afternoon we used a river-boat shuttle service called Batobus to reach Notre Dame. It's a boat that connects a couple of sightseeing points via the river Seine. Very relaxing! So, we went to the the cathedral. Unfortunately we were too late to climb the tower, so we just went inside. It is so huge and so amazing! We had a break in a café nearby and were shocked to see the bill again. They charged almost 10 Euro for a glass of Coke! We took the boat back to the Eiffel Tower to see it illuminated at night. What an impressive sight! When it's dark, it's sparkling for five minutes every full hour – looks great!

Wednesday we went to Arc de Triomphe first, but we couldn't get on top due to the strike. So we just walked down the Champs-Élysées to the Place de la Concorde. We visited a few shops, but not the real expensive ones like Cartier or Louis Vuitton – we weren't appropiately dressed… We went to H&M and now have a white paper bag with H&M, Avenue de Champs-Élysées written on it. From the Place de la Concorde, where an Egyptian obelisk is, we then walked on to the Louvre. We didn't go inside though, that is something I am saving for later, the lines were too long and the weather too good to visit a museum. but we sat outside and enjoyed the sunshine. We strolled through the streets with more shops, visited the huge department store Galerie Lafayette, but were too tired to do anything more. So we went back to the apartment, read and Nicole used my laptop for surfing the net (I chose the apartment also because of the internet connection!) until it was dark and we went to Sacre Coeur again to enjoy the nightly view of Paris and the Eiffel Tower. We had bought baguette and cheese before, and a bottle of wine, so we had a French dinner at "home".

Thursday was our last day already, we went to the old Latin Quarter, where the university La Sorbonne is located. We tried to get on top of the Notre Dame Tower, but the top was closed due to the strike… So we just walked until we had to take the metro back to the apartment again. We had to return the key at 1:30 pm, then we left for the train station. We took the fast train from Cologne to Paris and back, this is a perfect connection, it only takes 3 ¼ hours. Then another half hour from Cologne to Solingen and at last a 10-minute bus ride. Paris definitely is a place I want to visit again.