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Hannah’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Location: France

I'm going to have a go at typing on this funny french keyboard, but if my a's are q's and my m's are commas.....I tried.
So when I arrived here on Sunday I couldn't check into my hotel straight away as it was still too early so I wandered down to the Islands in the middle of the city and had a look around. I went into this church that used to be the official royal church. It was bizarre, in that at the bottom there was a whole chapel, mosaic and stain glass and all, which was just for the servants. Then, go upstairs to the proper church and it's basically an entire huge room with stain glass covering every wall, if you can imagine that. It must have taken a couple of years to build back then. Apparantly there are something like a thousand little pictures, each in a set telling a story.
So after that I was tired so when back to the hotel and checked in and had a nap. I think I mostly had a nap because I haven't had the opportunity to just do that staying in hostels..... so nice.
Sunday evening I went to the Eiffel tower. It probably took me about at least two hours by the time I started lining up til I got to the very top. It's actually two elevators, one to the second level, then another to the very top. I thought I was done lining up but when I got to the second level and went to take the next elevator..... another half an hour line-up. The lift was a little nerve wrecking. It creaks and some guy was making stupid comments like what's that noise and going ooooohhhh.
Aaaaaanyway, it is a pretty awesome feeling looking down from the very top. Being so high up and all.....You can see all over Paris. The one thing though, it was freeeeezing!
So, Monday I went and took a cruise on the seine, and got to check out everything from the water, which was pretty nice. It was still miserable weather though, so I tried to find places to go inside. I went to the Notre Dame and checked that out too.
On Tuesday I went to Versailles, which took up the whooooole day. It was freezing again, so all my photos I have my brolly and rain hood on, but it wasn't going to stop me. I have thought about it though. I think Schonnbrunn was better in terms of presentation and conservation, but Verseilles is so famous you have to se it anyway. Tha gardens were very nice in versailles though. Some highly manicured bits with hedges and trees and then out the back in what they call Marie Antoinettes Domain it's a bit wild as that is how she wanted it, but it just makes it all the nicer, with different flowers and trees growing all amuck. The whole place though, was massively crowded, so I bet it would have been a whole lot more interesting if you could have had the opportunity to check everything out a bit more??
I did like like all the clocks though. There was this one from the original furniture that was a planet revolving thing at the top, then a clock face, then the date and year and day displayed, then a phases of the moon thing, all ornately displayed of course. The incredible thing is that it was entirely accurate, including the revolving solar system planets (minus a couple of planets) back 200 years ago!
Yesterday I put my walking shoes on and went to the Louvre. This is some undertaking, for those who have been there. 300,000 items displayed!! I took about 5 hours I think. Partly because I wanted to see alot, and partly because I couldn't find what I wanted to see!!!!
I saw Mona Lisa as well, and you know what? Right outside the very busy room that she is in, are a bunch more portraits by Da Vinci, I think just as nice, but that for some reason havn't become as famous??? I liked the Egypt and ancient history displays though. I saw a mummy laid out, and a whole bunch of different animals mummified as well. Everything from cats and birds to an entire alligator!! The crypts were pretty interesting too, with all the paintings and designs all over them.
Then yesterday afternoon I went to the Arc Di Triomphe. AND I managed to climb the 250 stairs to the top! And that was an undertaking, let me tell you!
I guess it prepared me for today when I climbed to the top of the Notre Dame, which is over 400 stairs to the very top!! You can't stop either as the whole thing is a very narrow winding staircase, and there are people behind you as well. My legs won't be thanking me tomorrow I don't think!
This afternoon I went to see the catacombs. I don't know if it's because they want to amp people up, but firstly you have to walk along about 500 metres of dimly lit quarries before you get to just corridors and corridors lined with bones. Some of the stacks even have patterns made with the skulls! Some of the skulls were all shiny too, and you could tell it's from all the people touching them.....gross. There must be half a million skeletons down there, at a conservative guess, from them exhuming cemetaries full and relocating the corpses all there about 150 years ago. At the start, before going in, there is a big sign saying that people caught removing bones would be handed to the police, and by the number of gaps where skulls used to be I guess it must have happened alot. At the exit there was a guy checking bags and he actually had a little pile of bones behind him on a bench so I guess they cought a few people today?? Who would want to take a skull home is beyond me. I like to see the gruesome stuff, but not even touch it let alone souvenir it! I was not pleased though at the end when it was yet another winding staircase to get back above ground..... :(
And now? I'm off to get something for dinner.