Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Big City in a Small World

Tuesday, June 1

With professor Sobelman still attending ISCAS, Adam Pagel arranged a trip to the top of Tour Montparnasse, the tallest skyscraper in France.
Tuesday, June 1

With professor Sobelman still attending ISCAS, Adam Pagel arranged a trip to the top of Tour Montparnasse, the tallest skyscraper in France. The tower is in the Montparnasse area of Paris and claims to have the best view of Paris. We were all given tickets to the roof of the building where we had a far-reaching panoramic view of the city.

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Looking up at Tour Montparnasse

The excellent view of Paris from atop Montparnasse can be attributed to the fact that it is the only skyscraper in the vicinity. Most of the other skyscrapers are clustered in the business district La Défense. Tour Montparnasse has the privilege of being alone because, soon after it was built, a ban on skyscrapers in the area was put in place due to a widely affirmed opinion of it being ugly and out of place.

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Zach near Tour Montparnasse

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On the elevator

The view from atop Montparnasse put the size of Paris in perspective. The view from atop was certainly the most comprehensive in Paris, but the prominent Parisian landmarks were difficult to make out from such a distance. Most of the famous tourist attractions are concentrated in the center of the city, making the city seem small, but the view from the Montparnasse illustrated its true size.

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The view from Montparnasse

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The roof of Tour Montparnasse

In contrast, I was puzzled by the unexpected encounters in Paris that made the world seem small. For instance, Maggie came across a friend at Notre Dame Cathedral who recently graduated from the University of Minnesota and was traveling Europe. Adam Pagel was greeted by another University of Minnesota graduate at the Arc de Triomphe who had participated in a previous global seminar. None knew about each other's travel plans until they met. It amazes me how acquaintances can unexpectedly be at the same site in the same city at the same time while traveling. These were without mentioning the less coincidental meetings such as that of Matt and fellow Long Islanders at the bottom of Tour Montparnasse. It's perplexing how the city of Paris can fit in such a small world.

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