Monday, October 22, 2007

9/24 - 10/3 Paris With Anthony

I returned to Paris for the last week of September and was really looking forward to my friend Anthony joining me. I met Anthony on my first new years in California and while we've been friends since, we'd never gotten a chance to spend one-on-one time. This was his first time in Paris and I was sure he'd love it as much as I do.

The end of September brought rain and I was afraid the whole week would be overcast. I had saved visiting the Louvre and the Picasso Museum for after Anthony arrived. I found the Louvre completely overwhelming. The line to see the Mona Lisa wasn't as bad as I had been warned and the experience was better than I thought it would be. I suppose I had lowered my expectation after being told over and over again how disappointing the display is. The Picasso Museum was perfect. The size of the space, an old school, and the flow of the exhibitions made it a very enjoyable experience.

I don't know how the French aren't fat. There are an endless number of great restaurants and a typical French meal ends with cheese and dessert. Anthony and I ate our way through the city, enjoying amazing wine and going back to our favorite mussels joint. For Saturday night, we went to Alcazar, a trendy restaurant in Saint Germaine des Pres. The guidebook said a good night club was next door so we thought it would be a fun night out. Alcazar could be in San Francisco or New York. The interior was designed by Terence Conran and the food reminded me of New American cuisine that San Francisco does so well. As we exited the restaurant to go to the club, we noticed that the line to get into Alcazar's upstairs bar was a lot longer (or, existed) than the line for the club. Uh oh. But we forged ahead. DK Eyewitness Travel is my preferred travel guide series. As their slogan goes, they show you what others only tell you. Apparently, everyone likes their Paris guidebook because the club was packed with international folks and no French people could be found. Bad music and bad dancing led us back to Alcazar and Anthony and I danced the night away there.

Not everyone would choose to spend his birthday away from home but Anthony is special. He hopped on a plane and said what the hell, why not join Jackie in Paris. On his birthday, we took a bus and boat tour that ended with a lunch at Altitude 95 in the Eiffel Tower. It was another rainy day and they closed access to the top but it was still a lot of fun to see the details of the iron work. France hosted the Rugby World Cup and they had a clever display at the tower. When we stopped for a snack near the Tuileries, Anthony got a close up of one of his favorite things about Paris: Parisian men in pin striped suits. Parisians definitely know how to dress.

Anthony left the next day so I spent my last day trying one more time to visit the Opera House. Marc Chagall was commissioned to paint the ceiling of the auditorium in 1964. The Opera House is itself a magnificent building and the interior is gorgeous. But the ceiling of the auditorium is a special treat for anyone who likes Chagall.

New York will always be home, San Francisco will always have a special place in my heart and Seoul will always be my playground but there is something truly magical about Paris. The entire city is so aesthetically pleasing and charming. It's accessible and the Metro system is a tourist's best friend. Even though I spent so much time here, I know there's more to find out about this city. And I look forward to visiting again.

Anthony's and my photos can be found here.

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