That Trip… Quatorzième Jour: Midnight in Paris

On our last day in Paris, I wanted to shop. We started with Rue Montorgueil, which was interesting enough, with its cafés and food supply shops. Onward to Galleries Lafayette, with a detour to l’Opera first. Very very grand everything, from the grand staircase to the halls, and the main auditorium. Elaborate details everywhere you looked – the chandeliers, the set designs, the floor, the clock. Beautiful Chagall on the ceiling. Morning well spent.

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Galleries Lafayette was my worst nightmare come true. Because of the sales in all shops, there is a flood of people, and Galleries Lafayette was full of Asians looking for bargains on their favourite brands. We hadn’t even venture into the Louis Vuitton store because of the long queue there! We ran out in record time, had a big lunch of soup/ sandwich/ burger, and headed off to look for Berthillon ice cream on Île de la Cité. Had our scoops, and started to walk home, zigzagging through every connecting street between Rue de Temple and Rue des Archives.

Completely dissatisfied with the (non) shopping, I searched for the Merci shop, one of the last items on the recommendations list, and finally found the spot. This concept store had some fun, quirky stuff that I was so happy to buy.

We had a little rest after that, and post dinner of à emporter neighbourhood pizza, we set out with the camera and tripod for some night photography of our favourite tower.

All the way to Trocadéro just before 11 pm in time to set up the camera and get some shots of the sparkling Eiffel Tower:

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Our final stop was at the Louvre, for some pictures if the illuminated pyramids. Not as grand as the Eiffel Tower, but a quiet dignity nevertheless.

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And just as we were being shooed out of the Louvre, we had our final glimpse of the sparkling tower. What a way to end an exciting holiday!

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Oh-O

O is easily for the Old Quarters of Hanoi – the truly Vietnamese part of the city, making almost no compromises for modern times. In its myriad lanes with traditional ‘tube’ design of buildings, shops spilling their wares on the streets, and undoubtedly the most interesting sights, sounds and smells, you can lose yourselves for hours, days or weeks, and still want to come back for more. There are different lanes dedicated to different products, like the lantern street, paper goods, boutiques and souvenir shops, and some choice tailoring shops on Hang Gai street that took millions of my dongs :-). When you need a break from this assault on your senses, head off to Hoan Kiem Lake, that oasis of calm amidst all the chaos.
It is impossible to capture the spirit of the old quarters, and this is just a feeble attempt.

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O is also for the Opera, or Nhà Hát Lớn. Our friends, Amrita & Nitish, are regulars, and they introduced us to the joys of live concert. The ballet shows can be hit or miss, but the music program is always nice. Of course, going to the opera has all those implications of glitz and glamour, but the great part of the one at Hanoi is that you can do as you please, and no one stops you for not wearing an evening gown!

A feast for the soul

We caught a concert at the Opera House on Friday with some friends. Souvik was indifferent about the program until he saw the ‘contents’ – a first half of classical music and a ballet in the second. He’s a big fan of western classical, and can even identify some compositions. I can only nod along with the music.

The Opera House is a landmark building in the city, and makes a great backdrop for bridal photo shoots, but getting inside was a new and exciting experience for me. There’s so much glamour associated with operas! (Think – scene from Pretty Woman, etc.)

We loved the musical performances. I guess they were not perfect, but very enjoyable, with the acoustics in the hall. I don’t know the correct terminology for this genre, so purists, please forgive me!

The ballet was quite bad, and we were relieved when it was over. I shan’t waste e-space writing about it.

A great evening, though, and it was nicer because it was Reva’s (my sister) birthday, and we were able to do something special that did NOT include baking and eating cake.