Thursday, November 8, 2012

Paris on my iPhone

La Tour Eiffel
I have just come back from Paris. Well, I haven't just come back, but I have just uploaded the pictures from my iPhone. My Sony digital camera would have taken up too much space in my backpack, so I left it at home. I wish I'd left my cold at home.

I was already ill when I boarded the plane from Munich to Paris. By the time I got to my hotel and checked in (the queue at the hotel reception took longer than the flight from Munich to Paris), I wanted nothing more than to sleep--which I did. For five hours. I would have slept longer, but Ian the Posh English Investment Broker woke me up with the proposal that I should come to dinner with him and his entourage. I slapped his proposal with my counter-proposal to go back to sleep. Which I did.

I woke up two hours later with a raging hankering--if hankerings can rage--for Indian food. One of the benefits of being an obsessed traveler is a well-developed knowledge of cheap Indian restaurants around the corner from the cheap hotel you always stay in. I headed out for my lamb vindaloo, which I was sure would make me feel much better.

La Tour Eiffel from the Trocadero
A funny flashback story: The last time I was at this Indian restaurant I ordered the onion baji as an appetizer and the lamb vindaloo as the main course. Strangely enough "onion baji"--or the way I pronounced it--sounds very much like the French for lamb vindaloo--or at least the way I pronounced it. My French is not very good. Actually my French sucks. Long funny flashback story short: I got two lamb vindaloos and no onion baji. The waiter was as confused as I was. The lamb vindaloo was excellent . . . twice.

Back to the present (trip): I sat alone, eating my curry curds and whey when along came a young couple--a German guy and his French girlfriend. They mostly spoke English with each other, and the German guy mostly tried to impress her with everything he knew about, well, everything. She must have been bored out of her mind. I was. When he started explaining English idioms to her (incorrectly), I almost broke the fourth wall and heckled him. But I didn't. I reminded myself that I wasn't feeling well and that I should shut my mouth when I'm not feeling well. And most other times.

This is literally a Moulin Rouge

The vindaloo was a bit tough, but it did lift my spirits. In fact, it spread like a wildfire through my intestines and killed whatever was making me melancholic. The next day I was fit to tramp around Paris with my friends and family. How many times have you done the Hop On, Hop Off bus tour of Paris? It is the best way to get an overview of the city. I've gotten an overview of the city four times. And yes: I've memorized the stops and can speak along with the tour guide in the headphones. An aside: If the Louvre would install a Hop On, Hop Off bus tour in the museum, I'd like the Louvre.

Sucky picture of a beautiful moment
I should have made space for the digital camera. My iPhone takes terrible pictures at night, which wouldn't matter much except for the fact that on Saturday night Notre Dame became a sort of Stonehenge Parisien. The moon was visible between the two chunky bell towers. Did you know the bells of Notre Dame all have names? The biggest bell is named Emmanuel (if you're ever on Jeopardy).

The four bells in the north tower are being melted down to make eight bells. In 2013 Emmanuel is going to get a girlfriend, Marie, in the south tower. Now that's romantic. It's Paris. Something else romantic? The Love wall where you can find "I love you" in oodles of languages. Lovers come here to point at their language and kiss . . . because they're silly.

"The times I've fallen in love with The City of Love are when I've been alone with her."

(Visiting Paris as a tourist isn't the best way to take in the city. You have to have another mentality. You have to be open for anything. You have to get lost in Paris to really appreciate it. If you don't get lost, you run the risk of making a bee-line from Notre Dame to the Louvre to D'Orsay to the Opera. You should forget all this and just go walking. You should eat what looks good. You should try to speak French even if people laugh at you.  You should drink lots of wine. You should stay away from the tourist restaurants that serve everything with French fries, but most of all you should just get lost. Discover your own Paris. For this you'll need at least a week or more. The times I've fallen in love with The City of Love are when I've been alone with her.)

Here are a few pictures from my iPhone Paris:


On one of the evenings, we headed to the city hall for an event that was supposed to be a 3D history of the city of Paris (as I understood it). Problem was, 50,000 other people did the same. If you're not familiar with my fear of crowds, please familiarize yourself: I'm batshit afeared of crowds. Just as the rather impressive presentation was starting (in French, so I couldn't understand anything anyway), I found myself pressed up against a motorcycle--and no one who tried to push past me in the crowd noticed that I was pinned against a very heavy object that could have fallen on me. So I did what I had to do: I left. And you know what? Five minutes later I was watching the event from a table at an Irish pub, drinking a cider. And my view was better. Go, team fear!

The Event, The Crowd

I must be off,


Christopher Allen is the author of the absurdist satire Conversations with S. Teri O'Type.