Saturday, March 13, 2010

Paris, City of Light

{{Vuelve a sonreír, a recordar París}}

Last weekend I went with Guillem and his parents on a whirlwind tour--my first--of Paris, which was amazing and absolutely beautiful. It's a city absolutely full of history, of grand and impressive buildings, fashionably dressed people roaming the streets, years of culture and art--in its written form, with paintings, statues, architecture, theater--, and excellent food. We saw a little bit of everything in a full day and a half, plus a night, and I left with a great first taste of one of the most talked-about and referenced cities in the world. I can't wait to be able to return someday and wander its streets even longer, get to know it in greater depth, experience the full magic of Paris.

We walked under the amazing creation that is the Eiffel Tower, wandered along the banks of the Seine, over the Alexander III golden bridge, past the Mona Lisa, a statue of Nike, Napoleon's coronation, and innumerable priceless works of art, the heritage of the world, in the Louvre, marveled at the spectacular detail work of the stained glass in Saint-Chappele, stood under the gargoyles of Notre Dame, looked over all of Paris from Montmartre, saw the lights of Moulin Rouge at night, and wandered the artistic, creative, student-filled Quartier Latin, imagining how it would be to study at the Sorbonne. We also took a tourist bus to escape the freezing wind and passed along the Champs-Elysees, around the Arc de Triomf, by Napoleon's École Militaire, next to the gilded Opera, all of this giving us even more of a taste of Paris than what we could experience only by walking.

As beautiful as Paris was, and as much history as there is there, I have to say that I prefer Barcelona. The architecture of Paris was all so cold, built only to impress, strong, straight-edged, hard, grand, classical. Barcelona's feels, to me, more beautiful simply for beauty's sake, lighter, more relaxed, impressive because of its ingenuity and creativity, colorful, timeless in its ability to balance modernity with classical styles. Barcelona, to me, feels like an architecturally more welcoming city, with grand pedestrian avenues, small little alleys winding through old houses with the wrought iron balconies, fanciful, curving buildings, bright colors. I simply love walking through Barcelona, losing myself in the little streets, sitting and people-watching in Plaça Catalunya. But Paris is one of Europe's centers, and I loved every moment there. I'm just a bit Barcelona-biased! ;)

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