France and clean underpants

Tuesday, August 13th

Today I got up and headed over to Saint Michel square where I was meeting my free walking tour. I got there about 20 minutes early and there was no one there – the guides showed up about 15 minutes before the start and all of a sudden there were warms of people!! It was crazy! They ended up having 4 tours – 2 in Spanish and 2 in English.

My guide was Harry from the UK. He confirmed he was not part of the royal blood (he had red hair, so people must believe he is or something). We started our tour learning how much of the city had been demolished in the 19th century by Napoleon III and much of what we know as Parisian architecture is “new.”

The tour used to cross the bridge to the front of Notre Dame, but yesterday the city blocked the bridge to begin lead abatement from the fire. It’s pretty controversial in the city because people who live on the island are allowed home but the schools have been closed and now this specific part of the island.

We continued our walk to Saint Chapell, an old prison, a square, and a finally the Louvre.

It wasn’t a long walk but our guide did a great job of skeaping and teaching me things I hadnt heard on other tours.

After the tour everyone else went to the café he was going to be sitting at – but I paid him and left. I was actually getting chilly so I headed back to the hotel for my rain jacket. The market across the street was open so before I went up to the room I grabbed some rolls, cheese, water, blood orange juice, and of course Nutella.

I decided to lunch in my room and then go back to Notre Dame to get a closer look. On my way to Notre Dame, I decided to check out an original Banksy. He is an anonymous street artist who has been brought to fame through his political and controversial art. I brought my phones and my Kindle and headed out to Notre Dame. My hotel is only like a 15 minute walk over there. The Banksy was on the way, so I snapped a picture and continued on.

On the south side of the cathedral you can get a bit closer, but on the east side you can basically walk within 20 feet of the structure. Construction continues – today they were using cranes to build another crane. They have installed protection over all the windows and wooden support for portions of the structure. I stood in awe for a while – took some pictures and realized my phone’s camera was acting up.

I reached out to Google for assistance and was troubleshooting with them right next to the cathedral. With the amount of lead they say is around there Im sure Ill end up with lead posioning – but I did make sure not to lick my fingers.

After my troubleshooting I went to read in the park behind Note Dame. I spent some time there before my work phone started to ring – and the work didn’t stop so I decided to head back to the hotel to eal with work. I worked until about 8pm and decided to go get food – I actually used Google maps to find some good food and settled on a French place one street over.

I ended up with the most amazing onion soup, some cheesy pasta (duh) and a crème brule. I wanted a 7up but they only had Limonade – which ended up being a more lemony 7up – it was good.

After dinner I headed back to the hotel to do laudnry. I only packed enough clothes for 5 days so it was time to wash some clothes (and by some I mean all).

I headed to the laundry room, fully expecting to pay $5 for a load, but it was free!! They even had soap – but I had brought mine from home – including Bounce sheets!. It took just shy of two hours to get it done, but it is nice to have clean clothes for the middle part of the trip.

PARIS! And France….no underpants

Well I don’t actually know when I left off, so I’ll start with my train trip. Since I was able to change my ticket, I was a little nervous I would be with hoodlums, since I was leaving that night, but instead I was with 2 Koreans, a mom and daughter, the extent of their English was ‘ok’ and ‘thank you’. The mom was so funny, she wanted to be on the top bunk, but that wasn’t her bed number, but she really didn’t care, so she slept on the other top bunk, but at some point she left and went down to the bottom bunk, but in the morning woke up across from me again!! She was funny.

I found my hostel ok, Tara found this one for me, and she did good. Its a 5 minute walk from Notre Dame and the metro is one street over. This hostel has a 2am cuefew and no outside alcohol is allowed. I dropped my stuff off, but check in wasn’t until 4 so I headed out to site see. I walked to Notre Dame, went to the top and had a nice view. The church itself was free, the climb was like 4€. I like Paris because if you are under 25 you get a discount. After Notre Dame I got another bus tour, this one is the most expensive, but you get 4 different routes and it is actually pretty good. I rode one tour, then the classic tour. I got off at the Eiffel Tower and took a nap in the surrounding park. I really enjoyed my nap, and felt like a local!!

I headed back to the hostel to check in and get settled. I got settled, met my roomie from London who is going to school here, and was too early to check into student housing so she was staying at the hostel until Sunday. I went down to the street to get some food, and there are like 500 restaurants within walking distance. I picked one with a ‘full meal menu.’. I got french onion soup (it was so hot, it took 15 minutes before I could even eat it!! But it was very good!! I got salmon for my main course and thought it would be a tiny piece–but NO! This was a beautiful piece of salmon, potatoes, green beans and a tiny bit of pasta!! It was the best salmon I’ve ever had!! For dessert I got black currant sorbet–yummy!! What a great dinner–after my baguette and brie lunch, this was stupendous!!

After dinner I headed to l’tour Eiffel to take night pictures (non of which are very good). The tower sparkles every hour on the hour, and when I got off the metro it was already sparkling, so I only got about 3 minutes of shooting time. But it was a beautiful blue, and on one side has the EU stars, it looks cool!! I decided I wanted to climb the steps. (Apparently 700 some, but that must be all the way to the top, because I didn’t climb that many). I made the climb to the 2nd level, the farthest they let you walk, and wanted to go all the way to the top–but the top was closed. Apparently the top closed 2 hours before the rest of the tower. It was a cool site and worth the climb. I’m going back tonight to take more pictures!!

I got a tour of the D-day beachs for Monday–it goes from 7am to 9pm!! Goodness I’m going to be tired, I have to get up at 615!!

I got back around midnight and took a much needed shower. I had set all my stuff out so I wouldn’t make too much noise for my roomie, and she had left the bathroom light on for me! I passed out hard and slept until 930.

Today I slept through breakfast, so I was going to go to the supermarket right next to the hostel, but its sunday, and they are closed. So I went to a cafe across the steet and got a nutella panini instead 🙂 healthy, I know, but it wa so perfect!!

I grabbed my stuff and headed out for the day. So far I have been to the Louvre (I didn’t go in, because its way expensive and I only wanted to see the Mona Lisa and my roomie said if that’s all I wanted to see its not worth it) and climbed the Arc d’triumph and now I’m going to the Sacre Coeur (sacred heart church) for Heidi.

Haven’t had lunch yet, its 230 and I’m starving! Just can’t figure out what I want!! 

Next day….

Today I got up extra early, 615, to head to Normandy on a tour. We boarded the bus and headed out around 715. The bus ride was about 3 hours long, and our tour guide talked for 10 minutes and then said ‘now go back to bed!’. We were about 30 minutes from Caen and the Peace Museum, and she started talking again, filling us in on the history of the war and what the day was going to be like.We had about an hour in the museum, then a 40 minute video, and then lunch. The museum was neat, lots of artifacts and a tank and a few Jeeps. The videos were cool. One was a split screen, one side was the Allies one side was German. And it was just the video footage of the same things, happening from both sides. The other video wasn’t as good, it was computer graphics and then photos of how the Ally forces took over France.There was a September 11th exhibition in the museum and I wanted to see it, so I ate my lunch (chicken, potato and salad) quickly then headed to the exhibit. It was very neat, they had pieces of the planes, the buildings, personal items, etc. They put it together very well, but unfortunately I ran out of time, so I didn’t get to read everything, so I took pictures of stuff, and their descriptions and booked it to the bus!! I made it there just in time!!We then headed to Omaha beach. That was weird. They left it just like it was, so there are huge bomb craters and huge pieces of cement everywhere (from the German bunkers and stuff). You could tell where a huge piece of cement was thrown like 10 feet!! Crazy!! After Omaha, we went to the American cemetery. Its white crosses and stars of David and green grass forever! The upkeep is stupendous, and its very well respected!! I saw people’s stones from all over the US, North Dakota to Hawaii.We headed to Gold beach next. Gold beach is where the artificial port was set up in the bay. They had tons of cement blocks made to float, then anchored them into the sea bed and were able to drive on them, store oil, and supplies on there as well. Not many left, but it is clear from what’s left, this was a big port!!

We went to the Juno beach, this is where the Canadians landed. Sadly there is like nothing there, Canadian flags is it. Otherwise, it just looks like every other beach!!Now we are heading back to Paris, currently sitting in LOTS of traffic!! Ekkk!! Stopping in 2 hours to get food!! But I’m hungry now :(So I slept a bit on the bus and woke up to freezing air, and my vents were off. Apparently it was time to wake up. We stopped at a little shop off the road and I got a baguette and cheese for dinner! I’m going to have french onion soup when I get back by the hostel, cuz its just soooo yummy!!We are getting close to Paris, and its getting dark which is good. I want to get pictures of the Louvre, Notre Dame and the Eiffel tower tonight before I leave tomorrow!!I head to Brussels tomorrow!! New country! Yeah!! That’s country number 4!

So today I visited the Louvre (not inside, just out), Notre Dame (outside), Moulin Rouge (defiantly outside, its like €150 for the show!!), Sacre Cuoer (all the millions of steps to get the the church, then the 300 to get to the top of the church, Heidi!), Arc de Triumph (all the way to the top) and the laundromat!!

I had a great day, lots of sights and lots of nice people. Moulin Rouge area is scary, well weird. Its like 4 blocks of sex shops and caberneit (sp?) Shows and by 5 pm the tourists start leaving cuz its like the red light district at night. But I had to see it, and its a main street, I didn’t think it was, I thought it was like in a back street the way people talked about it, but its right there in the middle of many buildings.

I climbed to get to the Sacre Cuoer. It was worth it. I couldn’t take pictures inside, as there was service, but its very well kept and lots of fun people outside. The climb to the top was fun, only like 300 steps (I’m going to have to find out how many steps I climbed in all of my towers by the time I’m done with this trip) and worth it. Nice view of the city.

I climbed the Arc de Triumph, cool view and I was going to go back at night, but they don’t all tripods, so it would be difficult to get a good picture. I walked the Champs-Elysses after that and discover ‘Nike Paris!’. Today is ‘The Human Race’ by nike. Cities all over the world are doing big races, but if you just ran or walked today you could register your KM and they will have a grand total soon of how far people ran. Well, they had a shirt that had all the cities and a race number (every shirt is different, up to 1,000,000) so I had to get one, because A) I walked a lot today and B) because I’ve been to 1/3 of the cities!!

I road the tour bus around to get everywhere, its nice, drops you right off in front of everything you need to see, and you get information on the stuff. I got off at the Notre Dame and walked back to my hostel around 7. I needed to do some laundry and there is a laundromat right down the way. So I got back (I have 2 new roomies) grabbed my clothes put them in the wash and went to dinner.

I had again, for the 2nd night in a row, great food. Again, onion soup (sooo good last night, ok tonight), salmon with potatoes and green beans, and a fresh fruit salad!! It was so good. And now I’m in the laundromat waiting for my stuff to dry!

Tomorrow I’m up early and off to the D-day beaches in Normandy, then taking night pictures in the evening!!

Paris has lots to see! I like being busy!! 

My heart is breaking, Notre Dame is on FIRE!

Notre Dame in Paris is on fire. From the looks of the feed the spire is in danger.

UPDATES WILL CONTINUE….

The greatest news that can be received after this terrible fire is that the Bell Tower has been saved and that much artwork was able to be rescued before the destructive fire reached them! Over two thirds of the roof has been destroyed. The cathedral was under a $6+ million dollar renovation – including the twelve apostle copper statues that once lined the roof – and it is believed the fire has started up in the “forest” of the wooden ceiling. The statues from the roof were removed last week – as part of this renovation.

Thankfully the firefighters were able to save the piece of the Holy Crown of Thorns, Saint Louis’ linen fabric and and the treasury of the Cathedral. These priceless pieces of art and history can be removed during the rebuilding period (because they will rebuild) and continue to share the history with generations to come.

23:28: According to Laurent Nunez, secretary to the interior minister, the two towers at the front of the cathedral are safe. At this point that also means the bells are safe. The firefighters are working tirelessly to save the artwork. From the news reports, it sounds as though the fire has been fought internally much of the time to protect as much of the original portions of the cathedral as possible. I am no expert on artwork, but I do know that smoke damage is difficult to clean up in normal circumstances so artwork hundreds of years old would be extremely difficult.

Nunez stated that one firefighter was seriously injured and 2/3 of the roof has been destroyed. As of now, the belief that the iconic front facade of the cathedral has been saved.

The Spire has fallen. At 1955 Paris time the Spire has fallen. Follow the link below for video.

The moment #NotreDame’s spire fell pic.twitter.com/XUcr6Iob0b— Patrick Galey (@patrickgaley) April 15, 2019

More of the roof has caught fire after the Spire fell. The scene is reporting that the fire alarm sounded at 1830 Paris time. At that time the doors were shut without warning. Shortly after the doors shut white smoke began to escape the roof, then quickly darkened. Within moments bright orange flames broke through the roof and spread quickly.

It should be noted that 13-14 million people visit Notre Dame every year, making it the most visited place in Europe. This historic Cathedral was under renovations, scaffolding covered much of the roof area. With Easter this coming weekend – the city was preparing for the massive crowds ready to visit this historic landmark.

Around 1925 Paris time the Paris Police tweeted :

Translated that means : “Notre Dame Fire in progress. Avoid the area and facilitate the passage of emergency vehicles and intervention of the @prefpolice.”

As it currently stands the flames are large and raging. The spire is fully engulfed, it’s just a matter of time before it crumbles honestly. The wooden structure that supports much of the weight of this building is all currently in danger.

Construction of Notre Dame started in 1163, completed around 1250. Additions and remodels have take place since then as well. The spire was renovated in the 19th century, being completed by wood covered in lead. It makes it very heavy, and will do significant damage if/when it falls.