I don’t go looking for trouble…I swear I don’t…but somehow trouble just seems to find me where ever I go! This time it found me in Paris, France.
I began my Paris sight-seeing at Notre Dame. I’ve heard of this famous cathedral because of the story: The Hunchback of Notre Dame. While the novel is beautifully written and well deserves the title of literary classic, I think I prefer the Disney cartoon. The novel has such a depressing ending…especially when you compare it to dancing fools and singing gargoyles. The gargoyles were always my favorite part of that movie so naturally I was excited to see the real things. I was at the church in the early morning so I found myself climbing the long expanse of stairs alone. I didn’t mind; it was so peaceful & quiet when I got to the top and there was no one around, except the gargoyles of course. There is such a variety of figures up there. You see people, elephants and the classic horned demon…ooo scary! I joke, but I did find myself rather frightened when suddenly one was winking at me! I rationalized it in my mind, figuring it was a trick of the early morning light. But that would have been too lucky to have such an ordinary experience. The next time I glanced back, the horned figure had his tounge sticking out. I could have swore that was not the look he’d had before…and then he was laughing. A Notre Dame gargoyle was laughing at me! And soon there was a chorus of laughter as the other sculptures joined in. They were all alive! I should have been more scared, but I found it was like a dream come true. We talked (luckily most of them knew English) and they told me tales of the city and silly tourists (some even take pictures pretending to be a hunchback…). The gargoyles see everything from up here and were able to speak about centuries of Paris history & hilarity…the church is 800 years old! To top it all off, they let me help with the ringing of the morning bells!
The Louvre is possible the most famous museum in the whole world. I think in my travels I might be seeing a lot of the worlds most famous things. And that is a pretty good reason for traveling in the first place. But back to the Louvre…this place is huge! There is no way I could have seen everything, no matter how hard I tried. So I picked a few major things I knew I had to see. First, Winged Victory. She is an amazingly dynamic angel…who has no head. Then there is Venus de Milo. She is a perfect goddess of flawless white stone…who has no arms. And of course, Mona Lisa. She is a tiny world famous painting of an intriguing dark-haired woman…who has no smile. Ok, maybe I’m not the biggest art fan, but I did love seeing these pieces. And I think everyone should have that opportunity. That is why, when I saw the man trying to pry the Mona Lisa from her post on the gallery wall, I knew I had to stop him. My next move was completely stupid but my brain seemed to have shut off for a few minutes. I charged at the man yelling something about kidnapping. He started and whipped around to face me. He whipped around so fast that he lost his balance and fell over. He fell right over and whacked his head on the floor. He whacked himse hea don that floor so hard, he whacked himself unconscious. It seems my deranged yelling alerted the guards and they soon came charging into the room. They found me standing next to the theif with the Mona Lisa laying on the floor, but completely unharmed. The painting had been saved…although I feel it should be written more as: the painting had been “saved”.
Everyone was so thankful of my “daring” rescue (no matter how many times I told them it was pretty much an accident but they wouldn’t hear it) that they offered to give me a reward. I’m a simple guy, I don’t need much in the way of rewards so I just asked if they would give me a lift & maybe tickets to my next sight. They were happy to get me Versailles passes and a police escort to the palace to boot! I spent a few hours wandering the gardens & house. I could totally live in a place like that! Although all of the gold in the palace made me consider wearing my sunglasses!
I ended my day at the Eiffel Tower. I was feeling a little exhausted but there was no way I was going to miss this iconic sight! As soon as it gets dark the whole steel structure lights up. It turns the famous landmark into a most magical & romantic sight. I took the elevator right to the top and admired the view of Paris. The city looked great as it was also shining with lights. They do a really great job here of making their best buildings very visible at night. On the way down I decided to take the stairs…a little exercise can do a body good. It was getting late but the tower was still bustling with people. A young lady was also decending on the staircase in front of me. She had her camera out and was snapping shots left, right & center. Maybe she was a professional photographer, or maybe she was just a really excited tourist; either way I applauded her enthusiasim. Every hour, on the hour after the tower has been lit up, there is a crazy light show. Bright white lights twinkle all the way up and down the tower. It’s amazing to see from the ground and I was fortunate enough to see it from my position on the tower at 11 o’clock. The shutterbug in front of me went crazy for this! It was incredible, although a little disorienting while trying to decent the staircase. And I can only imagine it was even more so while looking through the lens of a camera. That is why I do not blame the poor young lady for her mis-step that sent her tumbling over the staircase railing. Maybe I have a hero complex…that is the only explanation I have for grabbing the rope that happened to be wrapped around the railing next to me, tying it off to the bar & myself and swan diving over the edge after her. She had managed to catch a grip on one of the steel girders below and I plunged down to her height easily. Luckily my rope held! Once at her girder I crawled along until I could pull her up. A crowd had assembled on the stairs above and there were enough strong men to pull myself and the now rather distressed damsel back up to safety. This time when people thanked and congratulated me, I actually felt like I deserved it 🙂