Monday, November 28, 2011

Bonjour


Since moving to The Netherlands a few months ago, my bucket list has dramatically changed. Going to Paris was at the top. During our first long break from school, we made the four hour car drive to the city of lights. I had many things that I wanted to see there for my first visit, so we got started right away.


We arrived just in time for lunch at a little corner café then we took off to the Père Lachaise Cemetery  to see where Jim Morrison was buried. A short walk to the Metro train and a few confused minutes later we were surrounded by real down to earth Parisians. My favorite part about riding the Metro besides the easiness of gliding all over town underground was when a Parisian who was looking for some money would get on board to entertain us. Men would play their accordions or guitars while singing for a few euro coins. I found this wonderfully entertaining and quite beautiful! I always made sure I had money for them.

It may sound weird to want to visit a cemetery but I’ve always found them peaceful and interesting. I love looking at the dates and the names and the type of headstone or monument. The Pere Lachaise Cemetery was so different from the cemeteries I’ve visited before. Most families have a family tomb that is big enough to leave a message or some flowers after a prayer. I love this! The cemetery twists and turns and goes on forever. I ran out of time looking for Jim Morrison’s grave. They shut it down and they’re very serious about getting out. Next time!
That night, it was onto the Eiffel Tower. My daughter wanted to see it at night and her wish came true. We got there just around dusk. The lights were just beginning to come on. To stand under this massive tower was truly amazing. Its beauty calls to you from miles away. I loved seeing so many people that had come from around the world to have a look. But the look on my daughter’s face made me smile.   
Throughout the next few days we did many things. We saw the show Moulin Rouge, shopped till we dropped, sat at little cafes drinking wine and enjoying a meal and walked the streets looking at the beautiful buildings. But, I had two more things on my bucket list that I wanted to see. We had been told that the Louvre was an enormous museum and was meant to be seen in several different days. We decided to conquer this task with a section at a time. This time we headed straight for the Mona Lisa. Hundreds of people were swarming to see this beautiful painting. It was then, that I realized my training at the grocery stores in Holland was finally going to pay off. I pushed and shoved my way to the front. (Ok, maybe I said “Excuse me, pardon me” and gently waited my turn). And there she was… wonderful! And yes, she smiled at me.

 Then we walked along the Seine River buying art from street vendors on our way to my favorite bucket list item of the week. We walked around a corner and there it was... Our Lady of Paris, the Notre Dame Cathedral. This magnificent church, with the gargoyles hanging out of the sides, stood tall and glorious. I stepped inside, dipped my fingers into the holy water, made the sign of the cross on my forehead and then went to light two candles. I lit one for my parents and one for all the unborn children in the world. I do this at most of the churches I visit. Now my heart was at peace and I could move on to whatever lay in front of me.

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