Traveling in Paris was far easier than I had anticipated. The metro system, like many of the masterpieces you’ll see in the Louvre or the Orsay Museum, is a work of art with its color-coded tunnels and maps posted every ten meters so that even an illiterate user can figure out where to go. Lauren and I, as noted earlier, were about as articulate as a couple of mimes, so we reveled in the sense of power that the metro bestowed as we made plans and executed them with zero input from the natives. We Americans are great that way. So we burrowed our way across that city like a couple of groundhogs, popping out of the ground at intervals to swivel our heads in several directions before finally taking off on another sight-seeing mission. Our first triumph came with the discovery of the Eiffel Tower.
I’m pretty sure most of you just rolled your eyes thinking, “The Eiffel Tower? Isn’t that about 3 miles high and visible from space? How could you possibly miss that landmark?” But the beauty wasn’t in tracking something that even a legally blind person could spot; the beauty was in taking the subway and emerging victorious at the closest stop. We ascended from the cement bowels of the city, rounded a corner, and lo and behold! There she was! We pointed and exclaimed and even did a little bunny hop or two as if we’d just spotted a long-sought button under a dresser that would finally make our favorite pair of capris complete. There was no stopping us now.
We decided to tackle the Louvre on our last full day in the city. We had read all the books to know the least crowded time to visit, but let me just say that if that was the least busy time to pop in, then on the crazy days the visitor stats must rival the population of India. Lauren and I took on a Siamese twin mentality, because we knew that if we got separated, there’d be nothing left to do except double back to the hotel to regroup, and we couldn’t stand the thought of wasting time in a city with so much to offer. And so much to eat. If I missed even one Nutella banana crepe, I’d be nursing hurt feelings for months.
We tethered ourselves with a set of ear buds and used the audio commentary as both a guide and a barrier to drown out the forty different languages around us. We hobbled along listening to lectures on the Venus de Milo and 15th century art while gazing skyward at ceilings that should have been in frames.
The highlight of the Louvre is the Mona Lisa, but after battling our way through a mass of humanity and stopping every ten paces to let our eyes adjust from momentary blindness inflicted by the paparazzi, we finally made it within 25 feet of the great lady. She carried such clout that she commanded her own private property, and from where I stood, it looked as if someone had licked and stuck a postage stamp to the wall. Arms swayed through the air like a rock concert as people jockeyed for the best snapshot, and I’m pretty sure all 37 languages were exclaiming simultaneously, “Who knew she’d be the size of a Saltine cracker?” Lauren and I elbowed our way back out and finished the rest of the tour.
We capped off the end of a lovely day with a cafe supper, and then we pulled out our handy map, located the nearest metro hole to our current location, and left the last vestiges of light behind as we burrowed into the ground.
© 2013 – Traci Carver