Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Winter shaking strategies: a view on Paris from above
"Il pleut!" (It's raining) says Milo every morning, even though in the last few days the sunshine has finally conceded itself, after an eternity of cloudy and grey skies. It is still freezing cold, I guess that's what Milo means. We are all bummed and smitten by this everlasting winter. Running noses, frozen thoughts, contracted muscles...
Today I was determined to shake the winter off! When I used to live in Rome, there were many spots I loved to climb to from which one could enjoy a mesmerizing view of the Eternal city. Paris is quite flat and, apart from the Eiffel Tower, the Tour de Montparnasse and Montmartre, there aren't many places offering a view. I found a special one right by my office: at lunch time I went on a balloon trip, raising at 150 mt high (the Eiffel tower is 324 mt or 1058 ft tall). I enjoyed a breathtaking 360° aerial view of Paris from the south west. The air was still uncozily cold, but the view gave it all another dimension. Seeing the earth from up above should be mandatory for everyone, at least once in a lifetime. It is such a humbling and inebriating experience. We are concretely reminded of how infinitesimally small we are, and in a place like this, that we are surrounded by so much life and diversity.
I spotted a typically French protest in front of the France Television headquarters, the national broadcaster; I admired the green muddy Seine waters, lulling a few commercial boats used to transport building material along the quais; the cupola of Les Invalides (Napoleon's burying site) was shining at a distance; La Defense, the modern high-rises financial district, emerged behind the Bois de Boulogne, amistd a hazinesss probably due to the pollution. I felt like being back in Paris again, even though I've been here for the last few months non-stop (...stranded in the office or at the apartment).
The balloon ride was short and smooth; the ascension proceeds at 1 meter per second and it feels in reality much slower, as the panorama unveils beneath our eyes.
I asked the "pilot" if there was a minimal age for kids, and there isn't. He said that often the small ones are disappointed because the balloon ascends and descends vertically and does not move around enough! I will have to take Milo on a warmer and sunny day later this spring, and see if it is true...