Monday, October 12, 2009

Silly little stories

I had a stupid little adventure yesterday after the Louvre visit. I was walking around looking at the area, as the entire area around the Louvre is quite impressive, and caught my absolute first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. It didn't seem very far away, so I figured I would walk towards it, rather than trying to figure out the metro route to get there. Three hours later... still walking.

Anyway, I notice all of the buildings look very old, and interesting, and have a lot of character. It is hard to tell what they are, but it seems for the most part they were what I assume are very expensive apartments. I try a few doors and cannot get in anywhere. Then I see through some windows on the street that the basement of a church is having some sort of class. I beleive it was an English class, based on what I could make out of a sign in french. I wanted to crash the class, which I surely would have aced, but the door even to that building was closed.

Finally I am walking past a building and some man is just coming out, so I caught the door before it closed and went it. It had one of those creaky little elevators with a iron gate door (an ornate one, afterall, this IS Paris) and I get in. I have some pictures of it, but since I am not online right now, I will have to post them another time. Anyway, I press buttons for all the floors and nothing happens. Then I thought maybe the iron gate door that I had left open -- it's tiny, and was a tight squeeze into this creaky elevator-- needed to be closed. I open the swinging salon-style wooden half doors open and close the metal gate. I press a button for the top floor (6 -- which is 7 by the guidelines of the American Floor Numbering Commission) and the elevator starts going up

As I pass each floor, which I can see through the bars of the gate, I see just 2-3 doors on each floor, and nothing else. I get to the top floor and exit the elevator. Same scene -- Two doors, each with a doorbell beside them. I try one door, and it is locked. I am now convinced that these are apartments, so go back down, slightly disappointed that the venture did not prove more interesting. I get to the first floor, or the zeroth floor as the French number, and find that the first of two enterence doors that I came in through, is locked. I look around for a latch and cannot find one. I giggle to myself at the fact that I may be locked in this vestibule (how is that spelled??). Finally I notice a tiny little lever near the protruding part of the door handle, and pull it, which allows the door to be opened. With a sigh of relief, I start feeling around the second door for such a latch, and cannot find it. I look all around the doors, feel all around, move anything that appears to be in any way moveable, shake the doors, try the handles over and over again (because that often works) and then realize I actually am locked in this building.

So now I feel like an idiot. Whenever someone walks by, I pretend to be doing something, to look like I belong there so I don't seem like the complete idiot I am. After about 5 minutes, I conclude I am locked in, and will have to knock on doors until I find (or wake) someone to help me get out. I go over to my left, to the first of doors that are on this floor, and press the doorbell. I hear a buzz and a click, and realize it opened the door!!! Only then did I notice that that door had a doorbell on both sides of it, whereas the others only had one doorbell. Very clever at hiding things, the French. So I walk out and continue my trek towards the Eiffle Tower. Again, I feel like this boring story was a waste of your time. If so, stop reading now, because I have one more.

I noticed that the French, in addition to being quite rude, are also not the brightest. In French, like many other languages, they say things backwards from the way we do. For example, the Louvre Museum would be Museum Louvre (but wth the french words), and the Eiffle Tower is Tower Eiffle. When asking directions to one of the famous attractions, if I ask someone who speaks no English, and say "Eiffle Tower?" while pointing towards the direction I think it is, they do not understand. If I say, in the exact same accent, and in my very Americanized way "Tower Eiffle?" they are like "Oooooohhhhhh!" and nodding their heads and all that. That strikes me as odd. If we were to have someone who speaks no English approach, and say "Station bus?" we would know they were asking where the bus station was.

Oh, lastly... one more boring story. (Are any of you loyal enough readers that you've made it this far?) As I've mentioned several times, the people here are basically quite rude. I think that sometimes they pretend not to speak English just because they are jerks. I came up with a method that I think will catch those who may be lying (so far I've not found anyone lying, or they are good actors.) When someone says to me they do not speak English and I think they may be fibbing, I say to them "Are you not intelligent enough to learn English?" I am convinced that I will catch the dishonest people that way, though, as of yet, all seem to be being truthful.

Wow I've written a lot today! I am off to bed now. Goodnight all.

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