When I flew back almost 20,000 km flight distance from Rio de Janeiro to our Bolehland, out of my curiosity and sheer luck, I purposely broke the journey and stopped over in Paris for 4 days just to taste the original french fries (please do not confuse french fry with french fly). And you know what? They didn't taste any much better than the one we bought from any junk food outlets in our Bolehland. To simply describe it in a single word - edible.
Well actually I have to confess. That was not the original reason and intention why I set my foot on the land of prolific poets, writers, impressionist and... gargoyles. It was actually the quarantine protocol I have to adhere to because it seemed while visiting Brazil I was assumed to get contaminated with a deadly plant pathogen known as Microcyclus ulei. This endemic pathogen, ipso facto if brought over to our Bolehland can wipe out the entire rubber industry and put our rubber tappers in a dire plight for survival. Seriously, I am not joking this time.
And so...by exposing myself to the French temperate weather for a minimum period of three days, this tropical pathogen will either become sterilized or pulverized into thin air or get demoralized by knowing that there is no rubber tree in France to stick their hyphae to.
Unlike Rio de Janeiro, I found Paris and and its inhabitant the Parisians were quite welcoming, romantic and stylish. Even though I don't speak or read French it was quite easy to move around and find my ways around the city without feeling intimidated. I managed to get myself flawlessly blended in with the hustle and bustle of this lovely city.
As that was, as the matter of fact, my first visit to this wonderful city, I planned in advance my syok-sendiri Paris excursion to cover at least the iconic landmarks of Paris and see for myself if the reality matches the stereotype. Apparently I could not cover it all. It turned out three days and four nights simply were not enough to tame this majestic and lively city of Paris.
Paris managed to impress me with it's aesthetic architectural masterpieces, rich cultural diversity and ideas, well preserved beautiful heritage and well illustrated history. I simply love Paris and all its grandeur. I am sure I will be back for more.
Paris welcomed me with a cloudy sky. As it was too early to check in the hotel, I walked slowly toward Île de la Cité , crossed the Seine river from the left bank and waited for the cloud to drift away watching the world go by before proceeding to the Notre Dame.
Once the cloud broke away Notre Dame revealed its architectural glory under the sparkling sunshine. For a moment, I thought I saw beautiful Esmeralda peeking through one of the windows. Entrance to this Gothic cathedral is free, but to climb the top part of the building for a close encounter with the Gargoyles (and a magnificent view of Paris) is not free. I didn't see Quasimodo either.
Situated on Île de la Cité, Hôtel-Dieu de Paris is the first and oldest hospital in Paris. Notre Dame is just a few steps away from this hotel and the only hotel you can find in that small islet ( Île de la Cité) on the Seine River. At first I thought the name itself was quite misleading, but later i was told it is actually a hotel. Suddenly I have goosebumps all over my body. Yes it was getting chiller by then.
Cruising on a boat along the Seine River was very tempting. But I will reserve this particular romantic endeavor with my significant half in the near future. It is a promise.
On both side of The Seine River, rows of antique and collectible shops like this one were a pleasant pit stop whenever my feet become tired of a very long stroll. Interesting Books, magazines, posters and other rare memorabilia of the yesteryear were on sale. I thought the price was quite reasonable too.
Shakespeare and Co. is a bookstore that sell, obviously, books (current and classic) and antique prints. It is situated on the left bank on the Latin Quarter just across the road from the Notre Dame. Very interesting to note that you can actually stay in the premise for free if you are willing to help with the up-keeping of the store AND read one book every day. Another interesting thing about this bookstore is that they will publish any publication that is banned in its original country.
If my memory served me right, there are approximately 200 drinkable fountains in Paris similar to the one in front of Shakespeare and Co bookstore (the green vertical pole). Just fill in an empty bottle and you will never feel thirsty while in Peighes...
This particular tree is however not considered as one of the icons of Paris but i found it very interesting as that tree has stood there for more than 1000 years. I suspected Les Trois Mousquetaires must have passed this tree when chased by the Cardinal guards.
On my way to search for halal restaurante to stuff my grumbling tummy, I passed through this place again and managed to snap a night photo of Notre Dame. The moon was already high and the feet was already aching from extensive walking by this time.
Avoiding deserted alleys or quite dark places, I felt save strolling along the Seine river at night. Police is everywhere. Errr...if you ask me what building is that, coupled with the urge to find the nearest toilet and an empty stomach, i was quite in a dire state to notice anything interesting that moment. Sorry I have no idea. Even my HTC Android Google Goggles didn't offer me much help that night :)
Voila! Finally a savior to end my quest for halal food in Paris. The only small restaurant that displayed the halal logo that boosted my courage to go in and satisfied my hungry palate. This particular shops is a block away from the main street off the Seine River on the left bank (Latin Quarter), along the busy small lane occupied by other lively eateries.
For 9 Euro, this brochette de poulet become my dinner menu for the duration of my stay in Paris. Was it because I was in Paris or the after effect of longing and craving for a plate of nasi lemak while in Rio de Janeiro?....this dish never taste soooo good.
I saw this sign in one of the small alleys. Anybody can share their wisdom with the translation please?
more stories to come...