Sunday, July 14, 2002

Europe Trip

Bastille Day. Mary Ann, Jane and Elizabeth headed out early to get a place to watch the parade, and I noticed that Mary Ann had left without her umbrella and camera.

I remembered where they had talked about going, so I picked up the stuff and headed over to the Metro station. Unfortunately, the Concorde station was closed off as a security measure, and I had to go on to the Madeline station, hoping that I was anywhere near the correct location.

Crowds were gathering, and all I could do was follow the mob. Many of the streets were closed off, so I couldn't just head in the right direction. Finally I reached the Champs de Ellesay and then it was a matter of moving up and down the street looking for the right head of hair.

After some time, heading towards Concorde, I reached one too many police barricades and gave up. I sat down in the Hugo park and waited. I chose comfort over visibility, so when the parade started, I could see the dignitaries in the car, and the tops of some helmets, and a few flags, but not much more.

Then the planes came roaring in overhead. I snapped pictures like mad.

After that, I watched people watching the parade, and began my trek back to the Madeline station. I bought a carnet and arrived back near the hotel. I checked in with Debra, and then went to eat lunch.

When I returned, the rest of the party had gathered and were ready to go eat lunch, so I stayed behind for a nap while they went out, ate, and purchased sandwiches for the fireworks.

At about 9pm we walked over to Champs de Mars and found a nice spot in the grass among several thousand other people. We watched kids playing soccer, and Elizabeth joined in with several boys smaller than she was. There were toddlers toddling, and one man blew soap bubbles for the children to chase. The gypsies wandered through the throng selling water, and beer, and occasionally fireworks.

About 10:30 it got dark enough and the show began. There was multimedia slide and video projected from inside the balloons. There was laser lights, and fireworks, all synchronized to a voice in french telling the history of france, and several musical pieces, such as 1812 overture, Ode to Joy and others. The most artistic and controlled fireworks display I have ever seen, with selected colors and flames on the ground across the river, and the usual aerial bursts.

When it was done, all our cameras were full and we walked the couple of blocks back to the hotel in a throng of many thousands. We downloaded our cameras and marveled at the event.

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