Saturday, May 28, 2005

Paris—Day 4 (Finally!)

I know—it's about time I wrapped this up, eh? So Day 4 was actually not in Paris, but about 30 minutes north at a theme park. D.D. was good and patient at the grown-up, touristy places for 2 days, so we thought she deserved a little fun.

You know how Disneyland—which we did *not* go to—is based on the Disney characters? Well, Parc Asterix is based on a series of comic books about Asterix the Gaul, set in France (Gaul, actually) during the Roman Empire, in 50 B.C. The books are fairly popular here in Europe and have been translated into many languages. So 15 or 20 years ago, they opened an amusement park, and we all enjoyed ourselves, even though everything was in French.

There were lots of rides, including 2 big roller coasters. D.D. is such a brave child and wanted to ride both, until we rode the first one. I would say it compares with the Judge Roy Scream (if they still have it) at Six Flags in Arlington, but without so many tall drops. D.D. shrieked like she was in mortal danger, but when she got off she declared she could scream even louder, but would give the roller coaster with the loops a miss. It didn't help that we had ridden the Spider en route and were all pretty queasy.

Later, D.D. and L.H. left me on the ground while they rode the carousel of hanging chairs that uses centripetal force to swing them out. I was taking zoom photos, and D.D. didn't scream once. This from my daughter who claims to be afraid of heights and cowers on escalators.

We were able to go on a couple of water rides, one right at the beginning, so of course I had a wet ass and L.H. had a wet lap right off. "Hi! Nice to meet you! We're the Incontinent Family!"

D.D. wanted to check out one of the theatrical events, which was funny if unintelligible to us. Caesar wore a blond, rubber Elvis wig and had a band of incompetent legionnaires for slapstick comedy routines. Later, the soldiers performed an interesting, Cirque du Soleil-esque aerial gymnastics-on-a-bungee-cord-dance thing, which would have been quite beautiful if they weren't wearing satin mix-n-match costumes in fuchsia, purple, and fluorescent green and yellow. And satin wrestling masks with plumage on top. But otherwise not too gay. (We neglected to take photos of the spectacle.)

Paris might be the City of Love, but Parc Asterix is the amusement park of *small children*, so I didn't expect to see so many people mackin' on the rides and benches.

There was way more to do and see than we had time for, but we rode some rides, at some hot dogs and ice cream, and got to check out Asterix's world, so all in all it was a success.

On the drive back to Germany, we stopped in Reims to see the Cathedral. It's every bit as beautiful as the Notre Dame in Paris, but way less crowded (about 20 people at 5 pm on Sunday). Then we were all ready to be home. When we finally crossed the border, L.H. said he was ready to get out and kiss the ground.

I have to admit that after struggling to make ourselves understood in France, I vowed to double my efforts in mastering German, 1. because I already have a good start, and 2. because I was afraid I might still be speaking tourist-ese.


Here are a few notes I jotted while traveling, which may or may not be of interest to anyone but me:

Paris was fairly expensive. Our hotel was surprisingly reasonable, but ice cream and cold drinks were more expensive at the stands at the tourist sites than at the amusement park. Could you imagine paying more for a coke at the Alamo than at Fiesta Texas?!

Still in comparison mode, a Happy Meal was 4 euros in Paris, but 3.25 at home.

Seeing Scooby Doo in French was a mind-altering experience.

On the drive home, there was a stretch where the stench of onions permeated the car, so I assumed we were driving past an onion farm. But then a couple of days later I smelled onions on the bus. At first I wondered if I was having olfactory hallucinations brought on by brain trauma from the roller coaster. Then I wondered if I was in line for sainthood—you know, incorruptible (i.e., when the saintly person died, his or her body didn't decay, and also gave off the scent of flowers). It occurred to me that smelling like onions might not make me too popular with the other saints. But then I finally noticed that the girl behind me was eating a pita. Damn reality.

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