Sunday, November 16, 2014

Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris

Continuing our foot journey on our second day in Paris, we challenged again our sense of direction in getting from Jardin du Luxembourg to Notre Dame Cathedral. From the garden, we farther walked along the narrow streets and amused ourselves by taking photos along the way while hoping to reach the Cathedral without a hitch. It seems not to be a famous option for the tourists because we only saw mostly locals during our mini adventure. In hindsight, for me that was more enjoyable than squeezing ourselves to find a nice spot to actually see a certain renowned structure, for example. Staying out from the commotion in the touristy places and be able to take in what Paris is really all about, the quintessential architecture of its buildings, the random finds tucked away in its corners and the inexplicable charms that whisked away many people to stay in Paris for a long term or even for good.

While it is impossible for me to remain in Paris for a long time, battling with the crowds is the only choice I have. But no matter how the famous landmarks get swarmed by hordes of tourists, it is always worth it in the end. And the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris bears no exception.

This was when we know that we were heading to the right direction because of the beckoning church spires. And see how almost empty the streets are? Just the way I like it. hehe Yes, I am a big introvert! :p

The Cathedral is situated on an islet (if you can call it as such), conveniently connected by a number of bridges to the rest of Paris. The surrounding water is the River Seine that divides Paris into North and South. Many landmarks, like the Eiffel Tower of course, can be seen from the river and that's why boat tours are popular. It must be relaxing to do as you preview Paris while on a boat (sure boats have maximum passengers, right?) and not to mention, saving your feet from blisters.

Someone was giving out free hugs that day! With the mercury dropping, it was an aptly nice gesture.

There were temporary bleachers setup in front of the church for some event and since the line in going to the church was too long, we settled in first and watched the crowds dissipate albeit very slowly. The crowds were constantly pouring in! But to while away our time, we were entertained by a man who was picking on random people, following their gestures and doing something silly. It was like watching a gag show live. lol The man I am talking about is the man wearing khaki pants and with yellow sunglasses on his head. Just look at how goofy he is.

And that's Paris, my friends. I know that the city is one of the most visited cities in the world and of course, the chances of finding myself among crowds are very likely. It's just that you know you have this almost dreamlike expectation of Paris beforehand. I think we have the beautiful pictures of Paris to blame for that. But when I got there, my daydream bubbles seem to burst into thin air. It's not that I didn't like Paris but I was just taken aback by the amount of people. And it was even autumn that time! Summer must be chaos!

That's why, if ever I'm given a chance again to go back to Paris, I wouldn't go back to the touristy places unless it's really early in the morning. It's enough that I did it once. :p

After some time when the line shortened, my cousin and I decided to go inside the church. Once we were inside, we knew then that the Cathedral was worth the wait. The church interior was beyond fascinating, the high ceiling, the stained glass, the hanging candelabras made everything surreal. Good thing, photography is allowed but with no flash. There was an ongoing mass but only my cousin went near the altar because after a while, nature called! Bad timing. The cold really shrinks one's bladder. :( One thing I find it cumbersome in Paris is that public toilets are not very common. I had to spend €0.50 to use the toilet in the nearby Subway shop. I ignored how awful it had been.

Because it was already late, I was able to go back to the church without having to line up again. Aside from my bladder's concern, the mass was also in French so, my mind was off somewhere. But sitting there, listening to the liturgy inside one of the most beautiful churches I have seen, was a great experience nonetheless.

It was already dark when the mass ended. The crowds had already left. Just when we had the Cathedral all to ourselves, the night became really cold. I was shivering to the bones especially when the wind blew. See that out of focus night shot? My hand was experiencing magnitude 5.0.

So, this concludes our second day in Paris. A weekend worth of visiting the notable sites in Paris although very touristy but if we had skipped them, it's like not visiting Paris at all. hehe Anyway in between, we were able to insert non-touristy things like walking the entire distance from Tour Montparnasse, Jardin du Luxembourg, Pantheon (no post yet) and then to Notre Dame Cathedral.

As the day ended, we were dead tired but our energy was still high. So high that we were in Barcelona the day after.

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