27 December 2005

We're going on tour again!

[posted by Amy]

New guests bring more sightseeing fun! Our friends Joe and Kate (and "Beanie," their baby-in-progress) are here for two weeks to see Paris, so I'll get to put up a lot of tourist sight pictures for a bit. Poor Joe, Kate and Beanie had a long and convoluted trip to Paris, thanks to poor service on the part of American Airlines in Indianapolis. But, after three flights (including a stop in London-Heathrow), they arrived safe and sound yesterday afternoon.

Today, Joe, Kate, Beanie and I started out at the Opéra Garnier, which is the very ornate opera house in the middle of Paris. (Colin stayed home to be responsible and do work.) I have to say, I'm a bit surprised that it doesn't make more of the "top 10" lists in Paris and France guidebooks. It's just stunning, both inside and out. We opted to make up our own tour instead of taking a guided one, since we knew what to look for and were feeling independent.

For me, the most interesting thing about this opera house is that it was the inspiration for Phantom of the Opera. This was my obsession-of-choice in high school (everyone had their favorite Andrew Lloyd Weber production in high school, usually Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar, or Phantom). Apparently, there really is a lake under the opera house because the Seine backs up underneath it. You don't get to see that, though, which is probably for the best. (Joe speculated that it's probably not the dreamy, candlelit, foggy scene that we all love, but more likely a rat-infested, stinky mess.) We did, however, see the door to box five, as well as the infamous chandelier. (The chandelier never actually fell and killed anyone, but one of its counterweights did.) Box five wasn't open for viewing (after all, it must remain empty for the phantom, right?), but we were able to look through one of the other boxes to see the main floor. My picture of the chandelier didn't turn out, but I did get the door to box five (pictured at the left).

After thoroughly exploring the opulent opera house, we headed down to the Place de la Concorde to see the Obelisk and the temporary ferris wheel that has been set up in the Tuileries. By this point, it was snowing quite a bit, so we decided that going up in a ferris wheel wasn't the best use of our remaining body heat. Instead, we walked up the Champs-Elysées and had a late lunch in a very Americanized café. Joe, Kate and Beanie had their first croque-monsieurs (after all, nothing says Paris like overpriced hot ham and cheese sandwiches).

We finished up the day at the Arc de Triomphe, where Rachel joined us for the climb. This is still one of my favorite places to view Paris, even though there were a lot more people there today. Also, it started to snow again, so we were slipping and sliding all over the place. The nice part was that the sun was going down, so the lights on the Champs-Elysées were turned on. Between that and the snow and clouds, we had a gorgeous view. The image is still frozen in my mind ... but I think that a little bit more time in front of the heater should fix that. (Seriously, it was COLD up there!!)

I shot a poor video of the Eiffel Tower while we were up there. I posted it on Youtube, where it promptly turned on its side. (Not sure why! If you want to see it the right way, let me know and I can e-mail it to you.) Plus, I decided to check my watch to see what hour it was "sparkling" for, and the picture goes all wacky at that point. I was going to re-film it, but my batteries died. So, despite much adversity, you can see what the tower looks like when the strobe lights go off. (The link to my Youtube sight is in the sidebar on the right.) You can't tell in this picture, but the tower is sparkling behind Joe and Kate.

Anyway, we're headed to the Cameronaise restaurant tonight with Muriel. (Her family is originally from Cameroon, so she's going to give us her opinion on the food.) We've been wanting to go there for a while. I have no idea what to expect, except that when Colin looked up the cuisine on Wikipedia, it mentioned that giant rats are delicacies. Grimace if you want, but if I can eat entrails, I can certainly eat a little bit of rodentia.


At 28/12/05 00:48, Blogger Nando said...

Well, don't forget that in Peru people love to eat Guinea pigs (Tali and I don't). That's on the legal side. On the ilegal (and for some exciting) side, some people eat CATS. How about that? GRIMACE!

Cheers! :)

At 28/12/05 10:14, Blogger croust said...

The food ended up being wonderful! No giant rat, just chicken, shrimp, and a mélange of fish filets. They were supposed to have beef, but didn't have any marinated and ready to go by the time we got there.

Amy had a stew-like dish made out of a vegetable like spinach (Muriel never gave us the camerounais name for it) and topped with shrimp. I had the fish, which was steamed in banana leaves with some vegetables I couldn't identify and which was hot and spicy. Both dishes came with fried plantains (our new favorite side dish). I definitely would recommend this restaurant to anyone coming to Paris!



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