Monday, August 13, 2007

Pie Jesu Domine, Dona eis requiem.

Today I woke up late, around 11, and was actually the first one awake. The girls woke up late because they’ve been having trouble sleeping. I’ve been falling asleep early most nights; around 10 or so. Not a whole lot happened today. We got up and ready for the day and set out to visit some of the churches in Paris. Our first stop was Basilique du Sacré-Cœur.

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart is located on a hill in Montmarte. The church stands on the highest point of Paris and overlooks the most of the city. This place was actually about 2 blocks up the street from our hostel so we didn’t have to travel far to reach it. The metro stop “Anvers” was the stop to visit the Sacred Heart and that was our nearest metro stop so we followed the flood of people that would climb out of the ground and head to the hill. You can see its white domes peeking between the alleyways of Montmarte a few blocks away from the church property. It was on this path up we found our first actual coffee shop. Surprisingly in Paris a coffee shop was hard to find for us. We found plenty of restaurants and cafes that sold coffee for an enormous price but no genuine coffee shops until now. We decided to visit on our way back and continued on towards the church.

As we approached the first set of stairs a group of black guys came up to us trying to sell us a ring made out of red, black, and green cloth. They slipped it on each of our fingers and started telling us in English why we should pay them for this. I tried responding in Italian that I don’t speak English and that I wasn’t interested but they spoke pretty good Italian too so my plan was foiled. I kept saying no thanks in Italian and after about 50 “no thanks!” later they left us alone and moved on to the next customer. We began climbing the church steps and working our way towards the top taking a moment at each break in the steps to look behind us and check out the view of the city. It must look great at night when the lights are starting to come on and the sun is dipping but sadly that view will have to wait for next time. When we finally reached the top of the stairs and had our last look at the city we headed inside the church to see the elaborate artwork inside.
Unfortunately they don’t allow any photographs inside so I have nothing to show you but the inside is pretty impressive. It seemed a tad gaudy but it was impressive nonetheless. Look it up on Google Image Search to see photos of the inside and you’ll see it’s definitely very fancy. We poked around inside for a little while and then headed out to the metro to hit up Notre Dame.

When we arrived at Notre Dame the first thing I noticed when I climbed out of the metro station was the fountain of St. Michel. It’s a pretty awesome looking fountain with the angel Michael about to cut off some guy or demon’s head. It’s pretty big too which makes it even more impressive. After taking a few shots of the fountain we headed across the street to see Notre Dame. As we approached I started humming “The Bells of Notre Dame” from Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” without even realizing it. Then I heard Debra start humming along with me and neither of us could remember how the verses go; just the chorus and the ending. The city was doing something at the church so they had a bunch of it gated off and the church itself was closed so we took a few pictures of the outside and walked around back to the little park there. We walked through the French Deportation memorial but nobody really understood what was going on in the memorial (we know what the back story was and why the memorial was there, but it isn’t a very good memorial) so we left and went back out to sit along the Siene and enjoy the scenery. After getting a good amount of rest we wandered over to an English bookstore and perused the selections. Debra picked up a copy of Angela’s Ashes and we headed out to St. Sulpice.

Even though St. Sulpice isn’t as popular as Notre Dame or as beautiful as St. Chapelle, I had heard about it from The Da Vinci Code and Rick Steves said that its organ was one of the most famous in the world so we decided to check it out. The exterior was under heavy renovation which was too bad because it looked beautiful under the ugly green tarps and scaffolds. Inside was also very pretty. St. Sulpice is the second biggest church in the city after Notre Dame so it was definitely a sight to behold. Vanessa and I bought candles for 50 eurocents each and put them in front of different depictions of religious figures as a way to give money to upkeep on the church. We hung around inside until we had seen everything and headed back to the hostel.

At this point I went next door to the internet café to get some online time and post updates, check email, all the regular stuff I take for granted. Finding internet everywhere I go is like some sort of sacred quest. I’m never truly happy until I can plug back into the matrix and get the flow of information going again. The email part is ok but what I really miss is talking to some of my friends who are abroad to see how life is going for them since they’re going through similar experiences, and the readily available information I have at my fingertips ready to be read and analyzed. I especially miss having easy access to Wikipedia because I want to read up on all these sights I’ve been visiting but my time online is already so short due to having to pay for internet access and it bugs the crap out of me.

After the joys of being on the internet ended when my time at the café was up I headed back upstairs and fell asleep while laying on my bed reading. It was barely 9 PM and I just dozed off. Oh well, I got plenty of sleep for the next day.


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