Okay, on to the Notre Dame. Even at 9, there was a long line. Thankfully, during the summer it doesn't close until 11pm (probably so people actually have a chance to see Paris in the dark, as opposed to in perpetual sun). The line moved pretty quickly and, before we knew it, we were climbing the never-ending, slowly-tightening staircase. When you thought it was over, nope! There was more. Stairs that went forever and ever and ever. How did the monks ever get up there? I thought my legs were going to fall off.
Finally, we get to the top. We can see basically all of Paris, as well as the famed Notre Dame gargoyles and several beautiful parts of the Notre Dame that we could not see from the bottom. Huge arches and columns and overall amazing architecture.
A few pictures follow:
Of course, we thought that was it. But when we tried to go down, there was a huge crowd in front of us. Confused, Joy conjectured that it was a tour group. We pushed through and, at the top of the stairs, a man demanded if we were going up or down. Up? I thought. And then sad. Il y a plus en haut? So Joy and I turned around and got in line to go up more flights of stairs. Even tighter this time. I swear, this stairs were made to kill.
But so so worth it. The view at the top is just incredible. Its a tight squeeze, with the wire framing and all those people. Very small viewing deck. But very very nice. The wind, the sunset, th view. Picturesque at its utmost.
We also saw the famous Notre Dame bell. Not very interesting. But very large. Very old.
Unfortunately, we had to leave. The stairs down: much faster, much easier. I was supremely gross from the long day of walking so I took a quick shower and that was it for the day!!
6 Euros for a bottle of water??
Really quick entry about Versailles, because now I'm getting behind on my posts.
Took the metro to a mutual meeting point where I finally met up with a fellow rising sophomore at Princeton. We had made no plans about how we would found each other but, using some fabulous Princeton logic and common sense, managed to find each other in the crowd and board the train de grand vitesse to Versailles Rive Gauche.
Got there and there was already a huge line for tickets. Tourists, I swear. Waited an hour and a half in the heat. (Thankfully, only until 1pm; we got there early enough so our flesh didn't melt off our faces) Finally got tickets and went inside. I swear this place is made of gold. HUGE.
We saw a bunch of unimportant rooms, tons of galleries of art, a chapel and a few ridiculously ornate bedrooms. One thing of note in Versailles: the ceilings. Every single ceiling is ridiculously lavish, decorated with paintings and gilded carvings and the like. Examples:
My favorite room in the Chateau: Galeries des Glace. Hallway of mirrors.
After exiting the Chateau, we went straight to the gardens. The gardens are enormous. They stretch forever. And have a fountain about every 10m.
We found a little cafe in a maze (there are lots) and all I bought was a perrier because a) I thought I was about to die of thirst and b) I was too excited to be hungry. Also had a big breakfast.
Onwards: after walking around a bit more, we saw the Grandes Eaux Spectacle, which sounds really great, but is really only them turning the fountains on. Woopee. So Rebecca (the girl with me) left to go meet up with her friends and I left the gardens to go see the rest of Versailles (like I said, it stretches FOREVER). I realized that I would pass out if I tried to walk through the rest of the land so I found a bike rental stand! BEST IDEA EVER. Biking through Versailles: beautiful, carefree, inexprimable. It was so nice to be in the shade, zipping through the trees, passing along the picnicers, stopping only where I wanted. The people even gave me a kids bike after I very shamefacedly asked for one. (What?? I'm small...)
Saw Le Grille de Neptune. More fountains. Realized that all you need to do is speak French or English to ask some random passerby to take your picture. If they speak neither, motioning with a camera in your hand and a big smile on your face will usually do the trick. Tourists are quick to catch on. And they will demand the same favor in return. It's only fair.
Next: Le Petit Trianon, part of Marie Antoinette's estate. Also saw the jardin anglais. More fancy stuff. Nothing extraordinary (except for the fact that she had a whole space in Versailles all to herself, complete with several large castle-like structures. Unjust). Sadly, I didn't get to see the main attraction of her estate because I had to return the bike. Somehow, I managed to get back to the rental stand at exactly the time I was due. I am just amazing sometimes. Fabulous.
The rest of the night was pretty crazy. Took the metro to Trocadero, where they had a huge screen set up, and hundreds of soccer fans had filled the park and the space in front of the screen to watch the match, donning yellow and red all around. I was so mad for forgetting my jersey. Crazy, loud, intense atmosphere. Thankfully, I left after halftime. Leaving after Spain had just won the World Cup would have been impossible and probably dangerous. But it was a crazy fun experience, being surrounded by all that Espana pride. Would have forgotten that I was in Paris and not Spain, had it not been for the bulwark of the Eiffel Tower in my plain sight.