Monday, November 26, 2007
The next photo is me at the Arc de Triomphe. It turns out I chose a really significant day to visit - November 11 is Armistice Day, and marks the ceasefire that ended World War I in 1918. The Arc holds specific significance on this day, because beneath it is buried the Unknown Soldier who gave his life in WWI for France. There is an eternal flame that burns in the memory of all those who lost their lives in WWI and II. So even though it had been built years and year ago in celebration of France's victories, today it has come to symbolize the terrible price of those victories. There had been a service earlier in the day, but an honor guard was stationed for the rest of the day and I got to see them and take a few pictures. I'm really glad that I had the opportunity to visit on such an important day, and it helped me put a lot of my recent World War studies into perspective.
But when that Tower lit up (at 10:00 on the nose!) I literally gasped. Instead of large flashing Theater or Stadium-esque bulbs forming repetitive patterns, the entire structure exploded with millions of tiny white flashes - it literally twinkled. I managed to capture some video of it, which you can see in my photo album. I'm not sure how long it will take to load, but you can try - it's the last picture in the album located at: http://picasaweb.google.com/christine.zani/Paris
I also made the choice not to go up/in/on any of the main sites - the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, the other museums, etc. etc. etc. because there just wasn't enough time! I thought maybe it would mean that I'd have some down time, but it just wasn't true! I kept going the whole time - I can't imagine having spent time standing in line or browsing a gallery when there was so much else to see! It also means, however, that I'll just have to go back again some time!
At 12:00 noon the next day I departed from Paris' main station for London. I hopped on a train back up North and was home in the manor before dinner that night! I had traveled through five different countries and visited six major cities all in six days. The trip definitely had some negative effects on my psyche - the lack of sleep had me a little more than exhausted toward the end. I don't know if I'll ever be able to do it again, but I know that it was definitely worth it!
I'm glad that I had my journal with me. I made the choice to take it a long time ago, and it ended up helping me save my sanity! Instead of trying to remember the countless little bits of information and history I was gathering along the way, I would just jot them down for further reference. That included a running tally of all the pictures I was taking, the buildings I visited, restaurants I stopped at, etc. By the time I was done I had 20 pages of scribbled notes (I usually wrote while I was walking) to decipher that have helped me sort through all the photos and stories I have published in my blog. That little book helped me out a lot - trip details, travel times, hotel names - it's all in there. I highly recommend it for any trips you might take in the future! Doesn't have to be anything special, just a little memo pad to jot down some notes.
But with that, I'm back in the Manor and prepared for the rest of the semester. My Euro-Trip was a success (made possible because of so many great birthday gifts from tons of different people -- thanks everyone!), and an experience I will not soon forget!
As always, you can see all my photos at: http://picasaweb.google.com/christine.zani/
Posted by Christine Zani at 9:07 AM