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Chasing The American Dream

July 03, 2006


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I’ve only been to New York City once back in 1988 for a friend’s wedding. One day is a lot to cover and, of course, impossible. I remember taking my map and walking all the way from Central Park to Wall Street. I don’t know many miles that is, but my feet could tell you it was a few too many. Well, here I was in Paris and I didn’t really realize it, but I was about to do Famous City Walk, Part Deux.

My plans for an early start were squashed thanks to my exhausting route to Paris the previous night. I slept in and didn’t leave the hotel until around 10:15 a.m. Armed with my camera and my map and some sort of heat rash from all that sweating yesterday, I was ready to tackle Paris head on. Or maybe foot on. The first thing I noticed was the weather. It was a beautiful day but surprisingly hot once again. I’m guessing it was easily 28. That’s Celsius, and if I do the math, 9/5C +32, it’s around 82. I was already starting to perspire.

I got a hot tip from my blogging amie that I should stick to the Seine river and walk along the bank rather than trying to navigate the confusing Paris side streets. Mission number one was to find the Musee D’Orsay. Olivia told me the Louvre would be too much for one day and that D’Orsay might be better anyway. I knew how to get to Eiffel; after that, it would be uncharted waters. On the map, it didn’t look too far. But neither did Wall Street from Central Park.

Before I got to Eiffel, I was already in trouble. I’m not gonna gross you out, but let’s just say I had trouble walking with this rash. Oh my aching legs. I think I now know what babies feel like when they have a diaper rash. I came across a hypthecarie, a French drug store. I looked for some diaper rash cream or something in that vein. Yes, I already know I’m nuts; don’t rub it in. I found cream with a baby picture on it and the word toilette but had no clue what it was. The last thing in the world I needed was to rub it on and have it burn like hell. So I passed on the cream and traversed on.

Eiffel in the daytime. I was trying to figure out it’s color. The souvenirs you see around town are either gold or pewter color, but its hue to me has a slight reddish metal tint to it. I don’t know what it is that makes us stare at it but it’s almost uncontrollable. Wow, I’ve actually seen the Eiffel Tower in person. Cool.

Speaking of cool, I sought and ice cold Coke Light which I was learning was darn near impossible. Ice was out of the question. No one had any. And I’d see the Diet Cokes, err, Coke Lights sold in those refrigerator/cooler thingies, but they just weren’t cold. Barely above room temperature is all France could muster for me. I took a glance at my map since I was now in virgin territory. My goal was to get to D’Orsay quickly before the long lines formed. That meant no stopping for picture taking and gawking.

Ooh, but the architecture was spectacular, just as it had been in Gent. I gazed across the Seine and saw the Musee D’Art Moderne. I was about to take out my camera but stuck to my game plan. No pictures. I could always take some on my return walk. The Seine had a ton of tour boats today. I wish I had the time to take a nice cool sun-splashed ride. Perhaps next visit. I continued to drink to keep hydrated. Some lukewarm bottled water this time around.

The first landmark on my side of the Seine was the American Church. Aw hell, it was on my side so how could I not take a picture? I got my picture and carried on. I looked at my watch and it was already 11:15 a.m. It took me around 45 minutes to get to that church and it looked like it would take mere minutes on the map. I took a look at where D’Orsay was on the map and shook my head. I was in for a long day and that damn rash was not helping any. Luckily it was only on my right side so I adjusted my stride and walked in very wide, waddling steps. Can you imagine such a thing?

I put on the brakes once again when I glanced across the Left Bank and saw some amazing monuments. I consulted my map; The Grand Palais which contained the Palais De La Decourverte and the quote unquote Petite Palais. The Palaces were lined with these huge pillars topped with golden statues lining a bridge across the Seine. It’s hard to describe in words, but majestic comes to mind. I couldn’t pass up picture taking. In fact, my whole plan for picture taking went out the window at that point because there would be so much to see along the way. To my immediate right was the Hotel Des Invalides, a huge golden-domed structure that looked like a State Capitol building. Snap, snap, snap. Pictures were flying like there was no tomorrow. And there really wasn’t. I had to get all of this in today.

More history and architecture awaited me. On the Left Bank was something called Place De La Concorde which looked like a mini Washington Monument. On the Right Bank were these huge structures called the Ministere Des Affairs Etrangeres and the Assemblee Nationale Palais Bourbon. So huge that I had to walk across Pont De La Concorde bridge to get a good picture of the entire thing. I gazed at my watch and it was noon and getting hotter. I looked at the map and D’Orsay was next in line. So I waddled on wondering when I’d ever get there. I finally saw a sign with a right arrow and the words Musee D”Orsay. Thank god, I said out loud. About 10 minutes later, I saw tons of people and tour buses. I’d made it, and I was really excited in anticipation of seeing the Impressionism exhibits.

Ahhhh, cool air. What a relief to my face and aching legs and feet. It was fairly cheap to enter. 7 Euros or something like that. $9 or so maybe? I got a map, and I remember my Belgium reader telling me to go right to the Impressionism exhibits on the fifth floor. Oh my, heaven. Renoir, Degas, Manet, Cezanne, Monet, and my favorite Van Gogh. I was amazed at how well-preserved these paintings. Works of art over 100 years old. I wondered what these artists were thinking as they painted. They were all so young as most died early. Van Gogh, I know, was tortured. I don’t know the history of some of the others. I wished I had more time to explore and learn. I snapped a ton of pictures finally figuring out how to turn off my flash. The pastel rooms were eerily dark, further preserving the precious masterpieces that hung on the museum walls.

I took a break from the art and stepped outside the fifth floor balcony which offered a marvelous view of the Right Bank. I came back in to take a peek at post-impressionism and some Paul Gaugin. So much more to see. I needed more time but didn’t have any. D’ Orsay was magnifique. It was time to move on. There was much more of Paris I needed to see before the day was done…


  • It's been so nice reading all abour your trip overseas. I'm glad you went and I think everyone should experience Europe or some other foreign country. I was lucky to have European parents who have taken us "back home" several times to visit, and while reading your stories, I recalled the hot weather, the smells, the sights and colors and of course the people. Thank you for sharing!


    By Blogger Mari, at 9:36 PM, July 03, 2006  

  • Glad you enjoyed the Musée D'Orsay. Stunning place, isn't it?

    As mari said, your stories remind me of the first time I was in Paris. The memories of that trip are wonderful, and that experience is nearly directly the reason I am an expat now. So thank you for reminding me of that time I saw Paris for the first time.

    Coincidently, I've just returned from Paris, having spent yesterday and this morning there on business. I had to think of you as I was passing through Gare du Nord.

    Anyway, I'm glad you had a good time - other than the rash - and I hope you have the opportunity to return to Europe sometime soon.

    (Oh, and if you do come back, the best way to get an ice cold coke is to go to a McDonalds. It's almost like the US. But don't bother with the fries or the burgers. They're crap.)

    By Anonymous EAO, at 11:50 AM, July 04, 2006  

  • Hi Todd,
    Lovely to have 'stumbled' upon your blog.
    Happy 4th -

    By Blogger Amy, at 9:35 PM, July 04, 2006  

  • Ah Paris! Perhaps my favourite weekend ever!! Thank you for letting me share my life with you, and learning about you. All the best in the future PT :) xox

    By Blogger Sarah, at 6:11 AM, July 05, 2006  

  • Sounds like quite a fun adventure!

    By Anonymous Christa, at 10:52 AM, July 05, 2006  

  • I did Paris on a day years and years ago but we relied on taxis mainly. Glad you're having a fun time!

    By Blogger Amy, at 10:59 AM, July 05, 2006  

  • Paris in one day, I can't believe you did it! You did have me laughing about the heat rash. I got a very similar one walking around Key West, years & years ago, and also adopted the waddling stance. Lovely.

    I'm still waiting for you to talk about the Parisian food!

    By Blogger girl from florida, at 10:49 PM, July 05, 2006  

  • The Musee D’Orsay sounds fantastic. Paris in one day sounds crazy! When I was there (years ago) I didn't get to do the Musee D’Orsay, but was able to go to the Louvre. No matter where they hang, I'm sure Gaugin and Van Gogh are just as amazing.

    I'm glad you were able to share your trip with us, it was fun "travelling" with you.

    By Blogger catsteevens, at 11:27 AM, July 06, 2006  

  • What an awesome time! I've always wanted to go to Paris. Can't wait to see more photos!

    The rash could have been worse. i went to Bali some years ago and fell in love with their exotic fruits. Sadly, those fruits gave me a rash. From head to foot. And everything in between.

    By Blogger Elizabeth, at 1:48 AM, July 07, 2006  

  • Forza Italia! Forza Azzuri! Fuck Zidane!

    By Blogger Bubbles, Ink., at 6:51 AM, July 10, 2006  

  • le congratulazioni. bene fatto Italia.

    By Blogger Plantation, at 7:42 PM, July 10, 2006  

  • I love your montages!

    By Anonymous Through a Glass Darkly, at 10:32 AM, July 11, 2006  

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