This is the picture of Prague from every postcard and stamp, and it just happened to be across the street from our hotel: the Charles Bridge over the Vltava River, with Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral rising above. The dramatic clouds made an effective backdrop for the horde of gulls winging above it all.
Paris is a city where relics of many eras coexist together: Notre Dame from 1345 above the Pont au Double from 1883 and the futuristic light streaks of a twentieth-century riverboat. Perhaps that’s why the city makes such an excellent setting for cyberpunk fiction like William Gibson’s Neuromancer.
So many people have a connection to Notre Dame, and in the hours after the fire was announced, it seemed like everyone had their personal Notre Dame picture to show. The number of visitors explains the ubiquity: 30,000 people per day, 13,000,000 per year. That explains why the crowds in this picture, even on a rainy night in late November.
Of the people standing in the dusky light and the long line to enter Notre Dame, it was actually those at the end of the line who were luckiest: they were still outside a few moments later when the lights illuminating the outside of the cathedral activated.
Though the symmetry of Notre Dame de Paris stands out from the mere mortal constructs around it, I enjoy playing the game of identifying the breaks in its symmetry. Some of those are small, like the different statues around the building. Others are more significant, like the triangle in place or an arch above the left-most set of doors.
The bridge in the distance is the Pont au Double, and it is one of several that connect the Rive Gauche to Île de la Cité. That central island fascinates me because it is the site of the medieval refounding of the city. The island used to be packed with residences alongside government and religious buildings. Today it is almost entirely dominated by the latter buildings (like Notre Dame on the right), yet I heard that census information still lists a few hundred people living on the island. Where are those last homes hiding?