Paris, Paris, Paris…

I have been to Paris.
The dream of childhood became true when I’m 22 🙂 Notre-Dam, Eifel tower, Seine, streets, cafes, Triumph Arch – now they are not only pictures, but my memories.
When I was on my way to Paris (by the way, in a very nice and modern european train – it is 3 hr distance between Rotterdam and Paris), I was thinking how it’s going to be – my first time in Paris. I was going only for a day, for business meeting (with one alumni – he was PAI in 1950! THE History…) And I had 4 hours before the meeting and 3 hours after to go around. I thought what and how should I do, and then I decided not to expect anything (as many people were disappointed by Paris, they saw it differently – when they didn’t see it). As one my friend says (Charikov, it’s you :), you shouldn’t expect anything, just go. So did I.
When I went out of metro and breathed air of Parisian streets for the first time, immediately a smile appeared on my face – here it was, Paris of my dreams. With small and big streets, old buildings, people talking French and music somewhere far away…

After a must postcard to my mom and dad was sent, I took my way in Paris. Passing Bastilia, crossing Seine towards Notre Dam… Here it goes, written and spoken million times. Was it a place of Gugo’s thoughts?

Probably already not, with dozens tourists surfing around. But I guess if to have enough time, you can easily picture what you want. History is history, no matter how many toursits see it with you.
Standing at the bridge on Seine, I have realized that Paris reminds me Moscow. Wide streets, huge but not high buldings, lots of people, high speed, energy of a big city beating in traffic… And cold 🙂

I reached Louvre, nut didn’t go inside – 1 hour is nothing for this place. I must admit I didn’t get feeling of art breathing there – probbaly because I was outside 🙂 And a group of russian tourists caused a smile on my face, so familiar expressions and behaviours! Felt at home at that Louvre square.

When passing by Mars fields (I think they were Mars fields), I was stopped by a painter – you know those that draw your funny portraits. Was persuaded to model to him, “You are not obliged to buy” etc. He knew “privet” in Russian – we are everywhere, victory!
Of course he asked me to buy my portrait afterwards. But I wasn’t looking familiar even to myself, so I refused, refused 2 more times and left.
I think Parisians themselves spend spare time in nice places, even though they can be filled with toursists: for example this maman is sitting here and enjoying

Then another big square appeared, Champ D’Elyses (or at least I pronounce it like this) and… Triumph Arch in the fog far away. I couldn’t believe I stand at the same place that I saw on TV lightened with Millenium lights on trees! Ah, Paris, Paris… you exist indeed 🙂

But the time was running away, my meeting was approaching, and I neaded towards metro to go to the place (by the way the place of the meeting – private yacht, which is a headquarter of Navy club in Paris, and it’s standing on Seine just below Eifel tower – I could see the tower from the place I was sitting at).
If you are familiar with Moscow subway, you will feel yourself comfortable in Paris metro system as well. But if you experienced only small metros as Rotterdam or Minsk – be careful, you might be lost in all those french names and changing stations 🙂

On my way to Eifel tower I stopped at some cafe to have lunch. I was lucky as it was not super tourist=expensive place, as it is usually in such area. It was fun to sit, listen to french people speaking around and music playing, seeing them making coffee (capuccino was so good), on one side 3 friends having meal, on the other side an old lady, and barman carefully helping her to sit and to move a chair… Some more of small moments to enjoy and remeber 🙂

I left and then… I saw IT. The Tower. Eifel tower. Don’t know why some people are disappointed with it – I liked from the first glance, when I saw it standing and hiding its top in the fog. It’s real, REAL! And gorgeous.

I went to my meeting – it was an interesting feeling to see in the face which is older than my grandmother, the same believe in better world as we have. It’s challenging our understanding what is AIESEC – it is much more than we think, and it’s surely life-long. If you feel it right for yourself.
Small detail I can’t but share: when I was leaving the meeting, Jean (alumni I met), instead of european business hand-shaking – kissed my hand, and so did another gentleman who was at the meeting. Oh french men and romance! You do exist even if sometimes we don’t hope for this 🙂

It was evening when I left the meeting, and it was Seine, caruselle (you know how in movies, that french caruselle with horses, music and lioghts?), mothers with children walking around the tower. I had 3 more hours left before my train back to Rotterdam – so I went on a boat tour around the river in historical senter of Paris. It was really cool: first – I always enjoy travelling on the water, and second – well, it was evening in Paris 🙂
The only thing it was quite cold, definitely below zero. Even my russian nature was frozen. May be I used to no-season Dutch weather, or I just don’t like cold time – don’t know 🙂
And when the boat returned to the place when we started – I saw this:

Awesome, isn’t it?

And thank you AIESEC – my work, that gave me a chance to see and experience all those places I was only dreaming about! I did the best choice I could do 5 years ago when i joined this organization 🙂

I surely liked Paris, and I surely be back.
One day I’ll be here again for at least several days longer – to really discover the city. Wait for me, Paris!! 🙂

p.s. more photos of my Paris travel are in flickr –