Saturday, February 25, 2012

Jardin des Plantes and Hammam

This is my first solo vacation.  It took me a bit to realize that when you are on vacation by yourself, you get to do whatever you want.  There is no time that I'm required to be up.  No groups activities to wander through.  Nothing but me, my map, and my sturdiest shoes.  Today I woke up early with the intention of being at the Grande Gallerie de Evolution at opening time (9:30 AM) to beat the crazy crowds of Parisian families.  Well, I got a little lost and checked out the churches of St. Sulpice and St. Genevieve first.  They were almost completely empty, and so still, holy, and peaceful.

I didn't make it to the Jardin des Plantes until about 10:30.  At first I wandered around the garden (kinda rainy and dead at this time of year):

After a little wander around the Jardin, I went into the Natural History Museum.  It was HUGE and filled with fantastic displays.  The highlight was a real-life "Noah's Ark:"

They also have an exhibit on the Dodo!  Such funny little birds they are.

Then I went back to the Jardin to see the Dodo Carousel -a carousel populated entirely by extinct species -from Triceratops to tortoises.

 Afterwards, I went to the Hammam (a Turkish bathhouse) attached to the Grande Mosque.  The Mosque is right across from the Jardin des Plantes so it was a pretty easy walk.  The entrance to the Hammam is awkwardly situated inside a restaurant, so it was pretty hard to find.  Once I got inside, things were no less complicated.  I managed to find my way around, though, and enjoyed an hour and a half of steam rooms and pools with about a hundred Parisian women.  Definitely an experience to remember.

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