Paris Economy Class International!
On the 24th of June, 2008 at 7:47 and 37 seconds, a Boeing 777-300, capable of blowing apart a family car with one of its engines, landed on the tarmac at Charles De Galle international Airport. At the very same moment, a senile speckled sparrow sitting on the very tip of the Eiffel tower, gently shat out over the edge which landed on a lady in a red hat, who earlier that day scorned a child for laughing too loud in a cafe.
I had finally arrived in Paris. A city that I have wanted to visit for so long, and so much; welcomed me with a warm 25’C summer embrace. Humidity 77%. Atmospheric pressure 999 millibars. Perfect.
The flight over was smooth, and passenger extremely pleasant. I had a little 2 year old french girl have a major crush on me who just wouldn’t stop staring and smiling when i walked past her! o bless! A girl can’t help herself LOL
Our hotel is located in Roissy which is about 45mins out of Paris city centre. As we entered the hotel, we were greeted by an enigmatic reflection pool, with a spectacular inverted bronze mask of the maestro Mozart. The inverted mask of Mozart was designed to create the illusion of following eyes, so that the viewer would not be able to escape his solemn glare.
Well my first trip to Paris was made even more memorable as my dearest Olympic Youth Camp pal happened to be in Paris at the same time. Scott turned up to the hotel with dinner in hand and we hung out like old days. After a good night sleep we caught a bus to the centre of Paris. They say Paris is a beautiful city, but that is the ultimate understatement of history, the drive into the city was breathe-taking. Every corner, crevice and pebble looks as though it was artfully and thoughtfully laid by the hands of an artist. An ordinary flat was an extraordinary flat. Every brick was saturated with handsome character. I mean i had just laid my foot on the land that created my favourite character, Amelie’ and film, ‘Before Sunset.’ Everytime i passed a girl in yellow i thought of Madeleine from the glory days of afternoon cartoons back in primary school. We were finally dropped off near the Paris Opera Theatre, another exquisite spectacle.
Scott and i grabbed a croissant (it was freakishly scrumptious) and then we traipsed up to Gallery Lafayette. Let me just say that this is unlike any fashion department store i have ever seen, and i can officially claim to say that i have seen a few in my lifetime living as an expat in Dubai (the land of malls). The place was swarming with shoppers, who i swear, all had crack with their cornflakes that morning. Watching these ravenous consumers go ape was bizarre. Then again sales had just started that day, and with inflation impacting so harshly on the retail industry this year, the french consumers were letting loose! But once i stepped into the hallowed centre of Lafayette Gallery, all the noise subsided as i was humbled by the awesomeness and grandieur of the dome. I can’t believe i just said that, I know i’m not at the Sacre’ Coeur or having lunch with Audrey Tatou, im in a damn shopping mall!
WOW this mecca of luxury consumer goods quietened my soul, not with the mountains of luxury goods but the beauty of the building. I had to leave, this kid started sniffing my vest. (Anyways here is a picture of the soaring dome before i almost had my vest eaten off)
Once we left Lafayette, we walked up hill to Pigalle in the 9th arrondisement. If you didn’t know, Paris is divided by numbers of areas, kind of like zones. I guess they needed a simple way to chart and locate the abundance of stylish streets.
Pigalle is a somewhat colourful place, as it is at the foot of Montmarte.’ Scott was taking me to the flat he was staying at for a facebook pitstop. But as we walked past some shady bars with panda-eyed ladies off the Moulin Rouge flashing their frou frous, i had to ask Scott if he knew where he was going, as i was about raise this question, we had just arrived at the entrance of his Parisian Pad. Ha!
When i arrive at new city I love to snap up the locals and of real people. I always thought I had a thick skin when it came to invasion of privacy LOL. Parisians love their coffee by the way. The little asian girl was looking into a dressmakers window and she shyly turned around just in time. The old man fell asleep in his framing store as i entered to have a look so i thought i would leave with a souvenir. A shot of his foot. The American boys reminded me that I wasn’t the only tourist.
After a few calls and facebooking we walked up hill towards Sacre’ Coeur cathedral at the top of the hill in Montmarte’.
My fingers were twitching like crazy as i went shutter crazy. I always envisaged Paris as an incredibly photegenic city having worshipped the images captured by Henri-Cartier Bresson, but the scenes of Paris seemed to have a life of its own, inching themselves into my focal lens. I realised this once my battery was running out. Thank god for my Lomo camera!! Always there when i need it. I haven’t developed my 2 rolls of film yet but watch out for them! ok?
Some of the characters of Montmarte!
Well here are the images that I recorded as i unlocked Montmarte. I think i decided earlier on that i wouldn’t take such a touristy approach to Paris but I would venture onto the road less travelled, but when i think about it now every inch of Paris is a landmark. Oh well. As we climbed the hoard for stairs to the top of the hill, I spyed on a group of theatre actors rehearsing in a public amphitheatre, it was a hoot, as the poor dude jumped out of a wooden chest and then got bitch slapped by the female antagonist! I guess the message was don’t ever pop out of wooden chest in front of a french chick. Or meet the backhand!
As Scott and I marched down the sweeping tide of stairs from Sacre’ Coeur hill, we walked past a bunch of 15somethings frolicking in the fountain, 4 gypsies strumming and singing (the parisian version of a mariachi band); then past a gang of African (self-penned) ‘wrist snatchers’ who would pounce onto unexpecting vagabonds, who would hijack peoples wrists and weave and unexpectedly lock them into a dodgy ransom. Hmm colourful!
As i get to the bottom i am entranced by the scene of Amelie at the merry go round! awesomeness!
After Montmarte i had to visit two of the locations that my favourite film of all time was shot (ok i have 2 favourites). ‘Before Sunset’ filmed by Richard Linklater, starring (french) Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke. It is actually a sequel to the film ‘Before Sunrise’ which was filmed 9 years before the latter. In a nutshell a guy and girl meet on a euro rail and they happen to sit next to eachother as Celine (Julie Delpy) avoids a german couple having a domestic and happens to sit next to a just dumped 20something Ethan Hawke. He convinces her to hang out in Vienna for 24hours as he has nothing better to do, she finally agrees and they fall in love. Don’t laugh!!! by the end of the film they promise to meet in 6months and agree not to exchange numbers as they are realistic idealists (ironic hey?). The film ends and Before Sunset is set 9 years down the track! See now i got you all curious! right? Watch it!!!!!
Anyways they meet in Paris in the most dashing book shop across the river from Notre Dame called Shakespeare and Company book shop. I finally get there and wow AWWWWESOMMMMEness! The book shop has a decadent collection of literature and hard to get editions stacked from floor to ceiling. James Joyce, the author of Ulyses (the greatest literature novel ever written) used to come to the original book shop. So did Hemmingway. The shop is handsomely worn down with book-love and the walls and cupboards are seeping with litres of finger grease from generations of literati who have spent a life time reading in the shop. I walk upstairs and in on a boy and his grandad playing chess, by a red chequered table by the wrought iron window. There is a crystal vase holding a bunch of white peonies on the edge of the table. Grandson and Grandad are discussing the sybolism of red. Random but wow it feels like im in a movie, I grab a book off the shelf about Charles De Gaulle. (I will put up the pictures of these soon as i said my batteries ran out so the Lomo camera came out to play).
After I purchased an original edition of Madeleine and a t-shirt we left for Le Pure Cafe, which is where Celine and Ethan go for a smoke an coffee as they debrief on their lives (not saying whether they met in 6months time or not).
Here are the photos, i sit in the exact position that they did, and can you believe they are playing Bjork in the cafe, how perfect. Scott and i decided to write a postcard to our friend Steph. It is such a quaint and charming cafe, you must visit this place when your in Paris. It is perfection! (14 rue Jean Mace – 75011 PAris) I have a sweet conversation with my waitress who is wearing vacuum sucked raw denim jeans and red wedges. She is cute as, and after out conversation about this and that she gives me a coffee glass which is engraved with ‘Le Pure Cafe’. She is my little Amelie!
Hmm after i visited these 2 places I was sooooo ecstatic for some reason, it was my little Mecca . I had wanted to visit these places for so long so Scott and i joked that i had not just unlocked Paris but a bolt in my head! ha ha ha (our ongoing joke from the Emirates ad about unlocking European destinations).
After that I got picked up from the Opera Hall to head to my hotel with suitcases worth of impressions and thoughts. I went to bed as my flight back to Dubai was in a few hours.
It was hard to leave but what the heck im just going to have to bid for Paris now.
It is exactly 10:11pm. At the carousel near the foot of Montmarte a man hears that his daughter has just given birth to a healthy boy. At the Sacre Coeur, the nuns are breaking bread. I learn that there are exactly 285 in economy.
Temperature is 23 degrees. humidity 68% and as I look out the window from my jumpseat for take off I am wishing I was staying longer.