Parisian Rain, Gluten Free Grains, and Basilica Lanes

Trip To Europe series

Today, I took Karis out for a bit of spontaneity. We decided to go down to Copains, a bakery about 30 minutes away, taking the D train followed by Metro 2. As we walked up the idyllic streets, wet with Paris rain, Copains stood out, bright and cheerful in contrast to the surrounding shops. Its layout was beautiful, reminding me of a minimalist, modern style with plenty of space that could have been used for café tables, but was instead just empty. A mosaic-style ceiling gave the impression of a small cathedral.

The two people sitting at the only available seats saw Karis and me, saw our desire to sit and order something, and gracefully gave up their seats, giving us a wonderful opportunity to sit. As we perused the selection, we found that the apple-based treat and her chocolate croissant were some of the best we’ve ever had. They were delicious, flaky, light, and fluffy, not at all like typical gluten-free food. In fact, if this hadn’t been a dedicated gluten-free bakery, I would have seriously doubted that what I was eating was gluten-free.

We sat and enjoyed our meal, Karis wearing a whipped cream mustache and enjoying a hot chocolate with a shot of coffee. The staff were welcoming and a little enthusiastic in encouraging us to stock up as much as possible. There was great value in the purchases, as we ended up with a whole bag full of items for only 70 euros. In contrast, I think one of the other local gluten-free bakeries would have been almost double the price.

As we exited and started to head back, I decided to look at Atlas Obscura. Atlas Obscura is an app that shows odd and unique places to visit. This appeals to me since I don’t like typical tourist attractions and want to find odd and unique, interesting things in the area. So we started our journey, a bit of improvised exploration, and decided to walk up towards a statue and the Wall of Love. The Wall of Love was closed or blocked off and unable to be visited, from what I could see. Signs about keeping your trash in the right bins to dissuade the Paris rats always caught my attention. As we continued to walk, we decided to go towards a statue where a man half emerges from a wall.

I got a little turned around, and as we looked for any other sites before heading home, I noticed a beautiful church right around the corner. It turns out that the Basilica was only 500 feet away, pretty hard to miss. So I said, “Let’s live a little, explore this Saturday night,” and went with Karis to the Basilica. As we arrived, we saw a huge line, which immediately dissuaded me, until I saw them letting a batch of people in. I believe they had been holding up for a service.

We only needed to wait five minutes and went in, and it was beautiful. At first, I thought it was a recording, but it turns out that the voices I was hearing were actually the priest and some nuns singing a beautiful song that echoed throughout the room. The scale is really hard to visualize, even with the video I’ve taken. You feel dwarfed in that room where the ceiling feels 100 feet high, and once you go to the center of the room and you look up, the dome of the basilica rises so far above you that it’s daunting. The Basilica’s height is over 200 meters above the site Sacré-Cœur Basilica, Sacred Heart of Montmartre, often simply Sacré-Cœur. It’s dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

I’m looking at the facts related to it on Wikipedia

Apparently, the plan to build the church was started on September 4th, 1870. Interestingly enough, in reading Wikipedia, construction costs estimated at 7 million francs were expended before any above-ground structure became visible. Also interesting was that it was not named a historical monument until 2022. The total height of the dome is over 270 feet.

This is pretty amazing, and inside the place, you can hear the murmur of voices and steps, but there is a reverence by all the people sitting. There’s a separation from the people traveling through it on the sides, who are asked to be quiet, from the people in the middle. They ask not to take pictures in the middle section to respect and honor people who are in prayer. As Karis and I went through, we stopped near the side, took a few pictures, and sat and talked about the building as well as lifted up a prayer for her grandparents, or rather great-grandparents, bringing a blessing on them.

One thing I found interesting as I discussed with her was the concept of what pleases God. She asked if God was pleased or impressed by this type of building, and I said to her, ‘While this may be impressive to us, this is but a speck, just dust to God. Instead, what God cares about, if we look at First Corinthians, we can recall that all of this is but a clanging symbol, noise, or dust to God if it is not filled with love.’ So I said, It’s really about the people. If people come here and they aren’t letting God change their life and be a light in the world, and it’s merely a formality of religion. Without the relationship and without action of love towards the people in the community and around them, then this place, as impressive as it seems to us, is just but a noise to God. However, if the people here are using this as a place of worship and then taking that out into the world, then this can be a place that helps us draw closer to God and inspires a sense of reverence."

It’s important to remember that the artistry of the people, the creativity of its builders, is something we should value.

However, as a religious monument, it’s important to understand that God is not impressed by man’s creation. While it may help instill a sense of reverence in us, the love and action towards our fellow man is what our faith is derived from. God could care less whether we are in a park, a tent, a hovel, a ministry full of drug addicts reaching out for Jesus, or the most beautiful basilica in Europe. What matters is the hearts turned in reverence and adoration to Him.

We enjoyed this time as we prayed, and we left. As we left, we took plenty of pictures and video.

Karis got an extra point in the imaginary game we’ve been having since she watched and found a rat just sitting out, brazen in the middle of some grass behind a fence, chowing down on somebody’s thrown away meal.

We continued walking and enjoyed the steps that reminded me of the movie John Wick. The massive amount of steps to get up to this area were beautiful. We did forget to go down the train that goes up and down the hill, so we took the stairs and enjoyed our walk down.

We jumped on the subway and enjoyed the ride home. It was a bit packed and sweltering for a bit due to train issues, even in some cases the train doors not opening, but we finally made it back as Karis collapsed with joy to play a little bit of Minecraft. Overall, I figure that was a successful outing for an unplanned, spontaneous Paris adventure.

  • This was a fun test case of a few technologies.
  • Use Voice Memo to record the experience that evening when I got home.
  • Told ChatGPT to process the audio, failed, which is why I used Google.
  • Uploaded the voice memo to Google’s Speech-To-Text in the Google Cloud developer console.
  • Downloaded transcript and told ChatGPT to preserve my original content, except to remove filler words, improve unclear statements, and grammatical issues, maintaining original content otherwise.
  • Had it generate a title, metadata summary so I didn’t have to think about it.
  • Done!

If I plugged in a custom app that used Google Speech to Text (which also leverages machine learning), then I could see it as a useful way to audio journal and still post. Why didn’t I use the “audio mode in ChatGPT app”? If I could have it wait for a keyword it would be great. I took 15 mins with lots of gaps and I told the story. The way the current app works would essentially only let me pause for 3 seconds before submitting. This can result in using up your throttling limit as you keep going back and forth. I hope the audio-mode can improve to better let pauses for transcript take place, and then I’d just use it directly.


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