May 9


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With the "Ne pas déranger" sign happily hanging on our hotel room door we didn't know about the rest of the world until we woke up just around noon. It was once again reassuring to look out of the window and find the city damp even if not quite as soaked as the day before. As for the rest of the trip, Essan was in charge of picking the places to visit, as long as I got to (repeatedly) veto the Centre Pompidou. For the morning, or what was left of it, we tackled the famous Sacré Coeur church, following the droves of fellow tourists. We successfully fought off all the merchants selling this and that, at this location most notably the colorful strings resembling shoe laces. I was going nuts with my rented TS-E lens, as you can see on the pictures on this page (if you can't figure out what's special about them, then you're probably also not interested in hearing about it). We even got some British and Polish tourists to take remotely decent pictures of us; the trick is to set up the camera not only fully automatic but also VERY wide angle, so that as long as they point it in your general direction chances are you will be in the picture. 11MP does allow for some cropping after all.

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Inside Sacré Coeur we were immediately attacked by a very, very keen Indian French guy (do you see my political correctness, and aren't you amazed? But maybe they call them something else here?) who was in charge of traffic flow inside the church. Our two quite obvious cameras didn't jive with him, but the way in which he grabbed Essan on the arm absolutely didn't jive with me and I made it very clear to him. Once past the guard dog we could do what we wanted and for how long we wanted, which seemed to be much more in the sense of a _church_, people.

We had lunch at the bottom of the hill by the Sacré Coeur. I was very happy with my choice of German sausage and Essan followed the advice of her ex-boss by ordering something whose name I already forgot, but it basically looked like toast with cheese, and thus it could not have been good =)

Jealous of my yesterday's escapades (well not really) Essan directed us to the subway station henceforth known as The Torpedo (Trocadero), from where you can see the Eiffel Tower in its full splendor from a hillside. And what a splendid, muggy view it was! Just barely dry, with visibility just far enough to see to the end of the park, we took the mandatory TS-E pictures of the tower, as well as some pictures of us, to prove that we were here. Two very happy young men offered their photo services and (see section above) managed to cut off both our legs AND the tip of the Eiffel Tower, quite an achievement. My insisting on trying the vertical orientation of the camera finally led to a picture the way it should be, feet and tip and all.

From the Torpedo Essan lead us to the Latin Quarters with their cute narrow streets with cafés and everything you love about Paris, including a little croissanterie where we sat down for some pastries and tea. After some more walking through the quarters we ended up at the Sainte Chapelle church, which may be the most secure religious place in Europe, being guarded by numerous police with metal detectors and X-ray machines and all the good airport stuff we have grown to hate lately. This church is famous for its amazingly tall and big stained glass windows, along with the fact that it's the only double level church I have ever seen. Of course if you want to enjoy such pretty windows it's helpful if there is light outside, preferably a lot of it, but we had no such luck. The wonders of 1D2, ISO 1600, and 17mm wide angle helped at least up to a certain extent.

We once again picked a random restaurant, this time occupied mainly by My People (referring to the Czech). The dessert was the best part, while the beef had a certain similarity with my hiking boot soles. We digested on the metro as we headed to the hotel room, once again to switch to night mode. From the hotel we headed back to the Torpedo for the mandatory pictures of the Eiffel Tower. The fountains were only partially lit and the air was only moderately transparent, so Paris has seen better views, but this was not too shabby either. Plus, my 1Ds celebrated its 35,000th picture of its 14 month life. And what a nice picture it was.

I forgot where we wanted to go from the Eiffel Tower, but because we stayed there for so long, and because it's borderline impossible to find a bathroom in Paris (it's actually harder than finding a metro station, assuming you are looking for an open / functional facility) we headed back to the hotel and got there around one at night, sorted photos, massaged our feet, and finally fell asleep.

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