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We wait in a long line to tour the Notre Dame Cathedral. It is full of annoying and rude people, 95% of whom are tourists. A boy about 9 taking off his sweatshirt behind me actually punches me at a good velocity. He doesn’t even apologize. Manners are missing from the majority of tourists I run into.

The line moves very quickly, at least. That is because there’s no limit to how many people can be in the cathedral; it’s just a matter of narrowing down the line to file in. Notre Dame is still an active place of worship, so people touring the building are asked to be silent. This is a request that most of the tourists ignore, though some speak more quietly. People are praying and in confession, but most of the tourists are disrespectful. If I were inclined to ignore the many issues with the Catholic Church, I still doubt that I would want this to be my permanent church. It is lovely, but who wants to be constantly on display during such private moments as worship?

Setting the white balance on my camera here is tricky. Nothing seems to give me accurate color. I even try Automatic; no dice. So I switch back to daylight. No tripods or flashes are allowed. A tripod would make all the difference, but I can get behind the church not wanting the distraction in a place of worship of having photographers taking long exposures. Not to mention the scratching of the floors and extra potential for banging into stuff.  I snap a quick picture of the confessional, then feel guilty and move on. People have no problem stepping directly in front of you taking a picture to take their own pictures. Rude. I should add that I move quickly; it’s not like I’ve been blocking the space for several minutes.

Hate to say it, but if you’ve been in a big old European cathedral before, Notre Dame pretty much looks like all of them inside. The stained glass windows are amazing. There is beautiful statuary, crypts, light fixtures, artwork and elaborate decorative painting. The ceilings are way tall, and the ambiance is dark.  The part of Notre Dame that is unusual and stunning for me is the soaring and darkly gothic exterior. Feels to me like a vampire could live here. I wouldn’t be surprised if bats circle it at night. I also think it might be wonderful to attend a choir mass here. I will look into attending in my grandmother’s honor.

A mass begins, and we observe the ceremonial pomp and circumstance for a couple minutes. It’s weird to see the frankincense smoke drift so high up into the air. Most of the sound does the same; I really can’t hear much audio. We decide to split. We think we’re taking a back alley across the cathedral, but to my dismay, we wind up in the back row of worshipers instead. Other tourists are there, gawking and snapping photos. At least they are not talking. I ask myself what my photography instructor would do, and I take a quick shot of the mass, getting the worshippers from behind so they have some privacy. Then we leave. We ask about touring the towers, but the line is really long. The guide tells us if we come back later, the line will be much shorter. Think the tower tours are open until 10, but verify of course. The tour is cheap; 4.50 Euro, as I recall.

We head outside to the grounds of the Cathedral to give my feet a rest. It is a pretty little park with trees and a lovely fountain.  There are a bunch of young Aussies taking pictures of themselves and being rowdy. Not sure why the grounds of a church are considered a good place to be shouting and boisterous, but it goes on for the whole 45 minutes or so we are there. We head over to St. Louis Isle for dinner and some of the famous Berthillon ice cream. We never make it back for the tower tour of Notre Dame.