24 May 2009

The Endlessness of Paris

What's amazing about Paris is its endlessness. No matter how many times you come back to Paris, and this is something like our fourth time here in the past month, Paris is an endless city, a continuous volume of unfolding stories that not only affect one another during your trip, but change with each revisit like Borges' Libro de Arena. The temperature, the white light + the shadows that buildings cast, the choice of café, arrondissement + connecting street, even the art + wine that you consume on that particular day changes this city's appearance, the way it tastes, its texture. Paris is never the same city, too insecure to be anything less than beautiful. In fact she cannot be the same city, she doesn't want to be, afraid of her own silence, insipidness, boredom, she is addicted to nuance + tradition, modernity + timelessness, losing you within the folds of her dress. Paris is protected by her endlessness, she is made more beautiful by her inaccessibility, constrained + breathless by her own design.

Today we:

1. Walked inside Sacré Coeur, before taking fotos from on top of the hill

2. Scaled the vertical streets of Montmartre, both during the day + at night

3. Watched a movie being filmed

4. Ate yet another perfect baguette

5. Drank hot chocolates at the Café de Deux Moulins, the famous café where Amélie was filmed

6. Walked through a Parisian Farmer's Market

7. Spedwalked through Les Halles--I kinda hate that part of Paris

8. Spent some time near the Centre Pompidou, before we went inside the bookstore, where I bought a moleskine + a short book by Roland Barthes (in French)

9. Stared at the Bastille for like three seconds

10. Ate some of the best vegetarian Chinese food I've ever had, and that includes my two favorite Chinese vegetarian restaurants on Pell Street and in the LES in NYC

11. LB + I ate two incredible pains au chocolat

12. We made love while it rained, then managed to salvage the rest of the day exploring another side of Paris neither of us had ever seen, walking from the Jules Joffrin Metro stop all the way down past the 1ere arrondissement

Here are some new pictures from our day:

13 May 2009


I'm not sure what we were trying to prove in the past twenty-four hours, but LB + I covered so much ground it's kinda demented really. The thing is, everything is so compact + so clearly delineated on a map, it's shaded in different color gradations to denote neighborhoods + streets, subways + tourist traps. Everything is so stunningly obvious with a bird's eye point of view. But your legs have a different agenda, and maps don't have to walk their own scales either. Let's just say that when we we finally slept, we collapsed onto the bed, too tired to tango if you know what I mean.

Here are some of the places we hit today:

1. Another Gaudi apartment I'm too lazy to look up, but I assure you it's not the one near Passeig de Grácia, whichever one that is

2. All of Parc Güell, which is one of the prettiest parks I've ever seen. Added bonus: we watched a French teenager throw an empty soda bottle at a performing samurai who got so understandably pissed off, he chased him around in circles until that kid tried to hide behind the field trip chaperones, where the samurai explained in choppy French that the Arab-French fucker had just thrown something at his head. The miscreant got yelled at, we stepped to the side and enjoyed the show as he tried to deny any wrongdoing: --c'est pas moi, he cried. No one believed him

3. The Sagrada Familia. For those of you shaking your head, just google "Barcelona" and you'll see Gaudi's unfinished masterpiece, a sort of architectural paean to Christianity, in all of its mutilated glory. This cathedral is stunning. But it's also really fucking weird. I mean, it looks like a place where space aliens deposited old lightbulbs. Or said another way: imagine a towering giant grabbing a handful of wet sand + then squeezing his hands to squirt the sand into tall piles. That's the Sagrada Familia

4. Torre Agbar, probably the second or third most famous tower in Barcelona's landscape, and without a doubt, the largest red-white-and-blue glass dildo in the whole world

5. The Arc de Triomf, which was like a Gaudian version of the French L'Arc de Triomphe. In a strange sort of way, I like it more than the French one, perhaps because it's less hyped and people get to walk through it because it's part of the city grid, not stranded on some island with the tomb of the unknown soldier where crazy Parisian drivers go in circles until they throw up on themselves. But I dunno, maybe they don't actually throw up on themselves. Maybe I just like imagining French people throwing up on themselves as they drive around in circles to avoid the Champs-Elysée

6. Parc de la Ciutadella: this was a consolation prize for the fact that our hotel forgot to wake us up so we missed our train to Montpellier where we'd scheduled a five-hour layover to explore the city a bit, and our only other choice in Barcelona was to buy ghetto seats for this overpriced, night Train to Paris that left twelve hours later (with the help of another 140 dollars, of course) + spend all day either in this park like a homeless couple (cf. our first night in Barcelona) or inside the Estació de França (#7). By the way, we saw green parrots in the park. And, as an addendum, I don't care how much work it is, I'm gonna get me a couple free nights at hotel heartache, + Whitney Houston, you can help me sing the chorus sister . . .

7. The Estació de França, where LB + I spent at least seven hours, doing absolutely nothing as we waited for time to pass. We tried to stretch our humble dinner of olive bread + vegan curry pâté + cookies as far as we could, but in the end, we were ready to get back to Paris. In Europe, it was the closest thing we had to home.