Paris, France-- The five days that we have had here in Paris have really taken their toll on us. We are pooped. We've managed to carve out a good chunk of the city and get acquainted with its inner workings-- mainly the Arrondisments and the Metro lines. It's only Thursday, but we have seen the Seine, Eiffel Tower, Place de la Concorde, Grand Palais, Place de la Victoire, the Arab World Institute , the Latin Quarter, Notre-Dame (from across the Siene), Place Vendome , Montmartre, the Champs Elysee, the Arc de Triomphe, Pont Neuf , Boulevard St. Germain, and the Musee d'Orsay...Oh yeah, and we took a day trip to Chartres . We've already probably seen as much as most tourists get to see in their entire vacation here and we've had to cook and clean our apartment as well. I've been drawing voraciously in my sketchbook to boot. We're pleased with our visit here thus far, but it seems that we are running on fumes; I'm not sure how long we can keep up this pace.
Today, we may finally have hit our breaking point. We headed out for a full day at the Musee d'Orsay, which commands far more attention than we had originally estimated. We were there for over four hours which wouldn't have been so bad, but we skipped lunch and my contact lenses were giving me a lot of trouble. I struggled through the headache my poor vision gave me to enjoy countless (several hundred) famous Degas, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Manet etc. masterpieces. It was really incredible. Blind and hungry, we trudged our way home via a crowded metro, which required us to navigate new, confusing stations. After we climbed the hundred and twenty stairs up to our apartment I crashed for a two hour nap as Betsy read.
Perhaps it is just the difference between urban and rural places, but so far, Paris feels more like New York or Washington D.C. than the other places we've been in France--including bigger cities like Marseilles, Toulouse, and Bordeaux. The diversity, the density, the pace of life--the thing that make Paris a world city-- all separate it from our other experiences in France. That's not to say that there isn't a distinct French flavor. It's also been cold here (in the 50s), all the colder because we mailed home our heavy coats from Israel.
Overall, the past few days have been an exciting whirl, and every day we learn a little bit more about the city. It's amazing that one day we see the purest example of Gothic architecture ever built and the next say we see the most famous impressionist paintings ever painted. It brings me back to my Rome summer semester, where we'd have to crash in the middle of the day just to recharge our batteries for the evening ahead. Looking back, we've done a ton and it's good to realize how much we've accomplished.