Sunday, April 15, 2007

Double-decker buses are a dream come true.

I have to say that I was certainly not expecting to be posting to my blog during my trip to France. But it is currently 11:37 p.m. and my whole French family is asleep and I don't have anything to do until tomorrow at 1:30. So I borrowed my French brother's laptop, and here I am, posting. I wonder if the settings will somehow show up in French. Apparently my out of office autoreply at work now has the automatic part showing up in French. I guess somehow when I logged into the account from France, it got set up in French automatically. I find that very strange, but whatever.

Anyway, so I'm in Toulouse at the moment (actually, I'm technically a few kilometers outside of Toulouse in a tiny village on top of a wooded hill, for real, because I used to live in a fairy tale and I am lucky enough to get to visit it again from time to time). Before I came here I spent a few days in Paris. I did a few things I had done before and a few things I hadn't done before, notably a visit to the Père Lachaise cemetery, which is absolutely gorgeous and which houses the graves of Richard Wright, Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Marcel Proust, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas (they share a grave, adorably), Oscar Wilde, Jean de la Fontaine, and Molière (though those last two were moved there posthumously for marketing reasons, apparently), among many other famous people. It's a pretty amazing place. Tragically, I didn't have my camera with me at the time.

I made up for that later, though, because we took an open-top bus tour through Paris and I took hundreds of photos. The funny thing about Paris is that I've seen it all before and I don't even like it that much, but it never stops being photogenic. It was the first time that I had really gotten a chance to use the camera that Torsten gave me for Christmas. The best thing about that camera other than its general high quality photos is its 12x optical zoom. So I took lots of closeups of things. It made a nice change from the traditional photos I have of the Paris landmarks. I was lucky as well that the weather was gorgeous and clear and sunny. I'm paying for it now with cold, damp weather in Toulouse, but at least I had a day of really fun photography.

Anyway, my point here really is that I am now a convert to a huge tourist trap: the open bus tour. Those things cost tons of money (about $40 apiece in Manhattan and about 26€ apiece in Paris - P.S. I find it somewhat strange that to type the dollar sign on the French keyboard I am using I have only to press one key, but to type the Euro sign I have to press three keys). But they are amazing. Seriously, if the weather is good there is very little that is nicer than sitting on the top of a double decker bus in the sun, enjoying the breeze and the view and getting to look at everything well-known about a city. Obviously this isn't the only thing that I would want to do when visiting a city, but I think it is the best possible way to do all the normal touristy things and still enjoy yourself. Also, I especially liked the Paris bus because in order to listen to the guide you had to plug in headphones, which I happily did without.

I love these bus tours so much that I almost peed myself with excitement when Torsten told me that he saw an open-top bus drive by when he was working in Caribou in DC. As soon as I get back, he and I are totally going on one of those. It's going to be awesome.

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