Learn from yesterday's mistake, I walk for about 1 km to reach the neraest zone-3 RER train station, so then I could use the tickets I've already bought. The walk is long and steep, much longer than it seemed on the map (I walked crossing zones! can you believe that?) Fortunately Paris is pedestrian-friendly, with its wide trottoires (yes, the Indonesian word trotoar is French in origin!) and neat old buildings along the way.
|cute parks like this are just around the corners|
|lots of public space, even in the middle of the city|
|une maison like this must cost a fortune|
|love the flowers|
|cars are parked paralelly, which must be troublesome for slacky drivers like me|
My first destination was... guess what. Eiffel again! I wanted to see the day-version of the tower as well as the evening one. Hey, I came from half-the-globe away, why not savor everything while I'm here? :D This time I came nearer than last night, so that I am practically under it. And eventhough I just sat there, enjoying the air, people-watching, it seemed to be a dream comes true! No matter however I look at it, Eiffel is still too grand to be taken for granted. I took a lot of pictures, while being on guard since lots of scammers were roaming the place.
Then I continue to walk along the river Seine. It reminded me of Ciliwung near my kost; the water is the same gray, although the river is wider and the banks much more cleaner. People were sitting on the river banks, playing musical instruments, having tea, or just chatting to pass time. If only the Jakarta Governor has taken Ciliwung matters seriously, i'm pretty sure someday we can enjoy it -nearly- as much as I enjoy Seine. But something about Paris sure contributes to the tranquility of Seine, maybe the air, maybe the people, I don't know.
I spent like 5 hours alone around the Eiffel and Seine! How time flies when you are in Paris. I could not afford to miss my bus, so I canceled the original plan to Louvre. It is a must, of course, but I'll come again before my flight back to Indonesia! A solid reason to come back :)
So instead I boarded a metro to another part of the city, which is Quartier Latin. My plan was to pray in the Grande Mosquee de Paris. I got off at Censier Daubenton station, and then.... I was lost! The area map in the station did not include the mosque, and eventhough I was holding a map in my hand, I must agree with whoisit that said women suck at map-reading! I turned at wrong alleys, and the street names is nowhere to be seen in my map. So I approached a random young monsieur in the street, time to put my francais to the test!
Me: Excusez-moi monsieur, ou est Grande Mosque de Paris?
Monsieur: Oooh, ^&!^@!$ *point )(&&$#& *wave hands !@^%%#
Me: Oui, oui, merci monsieur!
I did not understand a word! Real French were much more throaty than in my practice. Well, I know that Parisien were not very good at english, and they did not bother to learn. And they dislike tourists approaching them in the middle of their business, out of the blue asking "do you speak english?" because they do not. It may not look so, but manners are very important to Parisien, and they hold the principle "where in Paris, do as the Parisien do" which is parlez francais! Put manners aside, this is great time to practice my french with a native, and altho I pretty much embarassed myself, at the very least I could hear the original French tongues and that is priceless :))
I tried my luck turning here and there, till I saw the familiar-looking door. Voila, the mosque was there! Not very grande, but I did not expect much from a city where muslim is not a majority. The mosque is decent, with a secluded garden inside where I can hear another young monsieur reciting Quran in a way I never heard before. The wudhu place is much more complicated to find, it was in the basement level, the ways are winding, and there were staircase at the most unexpected place. Fortunately, a kind madame greeted me and showed me the way. The prayer room is nearly empty, only me, Dina, and another madame. This is the first time I prayed in a mosque where muslim is rare. The atmosphere is somewhat different, but I liked how it is more peaceful than outside.
|the corner door of Grande Mosque du Paris|
|The garden inside the mosque|
|The Prayer Room|
After prayer, we walked a bit to the Jardin des Plantes which is just around the corner from the mosque. It was a the main botanical garden in Paris, inside it was Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle. (I currently am reading a book about it, "All The Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr"). Unfortunately it was closed, but the buildings is just as photogenic from the outside. So I strolled along the cypress-lined path, sat at a bench and breathed the afternoon air. The sun was still high, like 3pm in Indonesia. People, couples and children, all walking peacefully among the bushes. Behind my bench was a pretty rose garden filled with roses in any color you can name! It's It felt so good just to be there. I lied on my back on top of the green green grass and stared at the bright blue sky. My thoughts wandered of home. So strange, I was million miles away but I felt as peaceful as if I'm home :)
|a lady in waiting (?) this is one of the museum of natural history's building|
|a picture of me|
|yet another picture of me|
|the main building of the museum|
|so green and fluffy i wanna lie down|
|last picture of me, grinning, remembering home|
And before I knew it, my hour is up! I need to move fast to collect my things in my friend's place and back again to board the bus to Amsterdam. So many things I have not seen yet, but Paris, I'll come back!
A weird story as I pace along the metro platforms: there was this weird creepy guy who seemed to be following me from Chatelet station up until the last station before Gallieni (my destination). He was tall, dark skinned, wearing a hoodie covering his head, and followed every step of mine. Even when I changed metro at Republique. I stood as far away as I could from him inside the metro, throwing a side glance from time to time. He definitely stared with somewhat greedy eyes! How scary! But then he got off at Porte de Bagnolet, which was just a station away from Gallieni. Huftness.....