The final days of August marks the end of peak tourist season and a relative return to normalcy, or so we have been told. Indeed, as the month has waned in this final week, we’ve noticed a marked decrease in the amount of ambient English and a return of the business and professional crowds, both to the Metro in particular and to the La Défense area in general. That said, with approximately 15 million foreign tourists to the city per year, it’s not particularly reasonable for one to expect anything to be empty. Thus our surprise(s) this weekend.
I have an admittedly unexpected affinity for boats. Yachts and pleasure craft rank as a meh, tugboats in the 200t+ bollard pull range start to get interesting, cruise ships are abominations, oil tankers typically merit a “neat,” and the Maersk Triple-E class alaways merits an audible “wow.” Old boats are great as well; standing there and wondering how, exactly one constructs them, what the naval architect’s education was like, and exactly how terrible it would be to have been stuck on one of the damn things is an endless font of amusement as well. The explanation for the “unexpected” part of that like: a) I’m not a naval architect, b) I grew up in a desert and c) unless I have a steady supply of scopolamine patches, my time on boats is largely spent looking down the side of the hull, wondering why I’m even on this godforsaken boat in the first place in between bouts of vomiting.
Boats: great. Being on boats: not so great.
Enter the concept of the maritime museum, which we first discovered in Amsterdam (otherwise known as the place that the blog forgot): old boats, new boats, and lots of not-so-random crap related to boats. Awesome.
As we made our way across the Champ de Mars, we encountered a sparsely-attended Japanese cultural festival, the theme of which appeared to be related to (continuing, I suppose) relief efforts for Fukushima. Proceeding to under the actual tower, we noted that the swarm of people that had, to this point, characterized the location was significantly reduced, and even Trocadero, which had been overrun the prior couple3 of times we wandered by, was now at least passable.
Several flights of stairs and a couple of oddly placed signs later, and we were at the entrance to the museum. We halted as we approached as we weren’t sure if the museum was even open; the lights in the entrance and the hallway were off. Proceeding further, we looked confusedly at the bag-check rent-a-cop, who waved us over and pointed us at the largely empty foyer. There, we went immediately up to the counter, bought out tickets, grabbed our free audioguides, and proceeded into the actual museum, where we would see all of approximately a dozen other people in the almost three hours we would spend in the museum. This was a highly atypical experience, and the museum itself was awesome as well.t my
Unfortunately, the photos that I took don’t seem to be showing up in my cloud storage; I’ll have to post them later.