After a glorious afternoon wandering along the Seine, my hosts Carmen and Nico told me: "you have two options, either we get the bus home from here, or you come on the train for a surprise ..." Obviously, I chose the surprise.
Walking down a bustling little street I was looking around to spot the 'surprise', but could only see tourist shops. The sun was setting, we reached the end of the alley, I looked up and saw this: the Sacre Coeur, one of the most beautiful churches in the world and my only goal for Paris.
I am a lazy traveller, and don't tend to do much 'sight seeing' in the traditional sense. I usually just go to a lot of food related shops and wander streets. In Paris though, I had promised myself I would go to see the Sacre Coeur. Only that one thing. Knowing myself well, cynicism had already set in; usually if I say "I will do this one thing" then that is precisely the one thing I won't do. I had already set myself up to disappoint myself, so it was truly glorious that Carmen and Nico took control and simply took me there. While the sun was setting on the first Spring day no less.
Pierre and I being sacrilegious. I often act the fool, giggle or behave otherwise inappropriately in Christian places of worship, and think nothing much of it. I come from a Catholic background, I feel just fine taking the mickey out of it. Interestingly, I would never dream of behaving in this way in a wat, mosque or synagogue. And I think that makes perfect ethical sense- ownership and context yadayada.
What also makes sense is that my Mom will frequently critique the Catholic church, especially their latest choice of Pope, but gets annoyed with me when I rip into it too harshly. I get to say my family are insane, but you don't.
My favourite example of this, which I may have already ranted about because it is the best thing ever, is when an Iranian newspaper had a Holocaust depiction cartoon competition and some artists in Tel Aviv countered with the "Israeli antisemitic cartoons competition" only open to Israelis, saying: "We'll show the world we can do the best, sharpest, most offensive Jew hating cartoons ever published! No Iranian will beat us on our home turf!"
Night streets near the Sacre Coeur: