My Chatterbox and I traveled downtown on the weekend and decided to take the LRT (Light Rail Transit) or Subway for the rest of the world. Edmonton has to have the smallest subway line of any major city ( a million people or more). When I say “subway line” I mean LINE, as in singular not plural. We have ONE LINE starting in South Edmonton, traveling to North Edmonton for a total of 15 stops. Simple to use. All you need to know is the direction you are going, North or South.
As you likely know by now, I am a traveler. When I visit new destinations, I like to use public transit. I first rode the London Underground at age 10, and have used many other systems, including the London Underground, since. For me, the London Underground is the benchmark of efficient well planned out public transportation. It is easy to use, the stations are laided out in a logical manner. I love the London Underground! The Paris Metro was more intimidating for me.
The Muppets stayed quite a ways from central Paris, but incredibly close to Paris Disneyland. This, for various reasons that I will explain in the coming weeks, was a good thing. The Staff at the hotel desk were English speakers, THANK GOODNESS! (I am eternally grateful to every single English speaker in Europe! ) I can speak excellent cereal box and hockey french, but am far from fluent. The kind people at the desk drew a map and explained how to find the Metro station. Excellent! Honey and I took a little visit to see the lay of the land. We looked around, asked a few questions and felt fairly confident we could find our destination in the morning. Besides, my mom was a seasoned pro when it came to the Metro. Just a month earlier, Mom and my sister adventured on it without a hitch.
The next morning we rise with the sun, eat a continental breakfast downstairs, and walk 4 blocks to the Metro station. It was rush hour. At home that means 5 or 6 people must stand on the LRT. In Paris it means THE ENTIRE POPULATION OF PARIS stands right beside you. You get to know what kind of shampoo they use, or don’t and what brand of deodorant they use, or don’t. I have NEVER seen more people smashed into a such a tiny place before and only one teeny tiny window that opens. We thought Mrs. Stadler was going to hurl her breakfast on the lovely fragrant riders of Paris. Luckily, she survived. This was quite the culture shock for the younger Muppet Clan.
We arrived at the station where my mom determined we must vacate. Riding the Red Line, meant we were in the bowels of the Metro. Lower than rats, half way to Canada via a short cut through the center of the Earth. 172 flights of stairs later and we emerged into downtown Paris! I could barely contain my excitement! I was finally old enough to understand what I was seeing. As I grew older and reflected back on what I saw as a child, I always appreciated what I saw. Now, however, I could see it AND appreciate it at the same time! We searched frantically for a sign post to let us know where we were and off we marched towards the Seine. We rounded the corner and this is what I saw:
My first view of the Eiffel Tower since I was 10. I took about 30 pictures from this spot. Not sure why, I was just so incredibly excited! Seeing this amazing structure would have to wait until after lunch. We were too close to Notre Dame to pass it up! For the Muppets it is home to Quasi Motto aka “Hunch’a my back” as they fondly refer to him. We walked along the Seine and found a market where my mom and Mrs. Stadler left the rest of us to fend for ourselves. We weren’t worried, 3 of us had excellent navigational qualities. We turned one more corner, and learned where everyone on the Metro went. They were all in line for Notre Dame. Only about a gazillion people were sitting out front. The rest were in line to go inside, with about 2 million waiting to go UP the bell tower. I live in a city with approximately one million people. 7 million people were here at Notre Dame. Overwhelming much? WOW!
Again, I was so excited I took about 30 pictures of the church itself. Then I got a grip. As I walked closer I noticed the ornate detail, the individual faces of each saint carved into the stone. Each gargoyle was vastly different from the next. Even the plants carved into the stone was exquisite! If you only got to see one church in all of Europe, this would be the one I would choose. The Vatican doesn’t count, it’s a city. As I walked around and through the building I was in awe of the art. It was a truly amazing experience.
As we left and hooked up with mom again, she asked how we got in and out so fast. I must agree, for the amount of people in attendance, we did get in very quickly! I replied we just stood in line and walked in! She figures we hooked up with a tour group and followed them in. So that is my tourist tip for you, walk like you belong and no one will question why you are there.