Paris: Day Three

Notes from dinner at the Eiffel Tower and day three of our trip to Paris.

1. Probably not the best idea to pair a five course dinner that is complimented by five glasses of wine, including champagne, with a wine and cheese tasting lunch that was made of five different wines, including champagne, and six different types of cheese. Both meals were outstanding but they combined to make for a restless night’s sleep.

2. After minimal sleep we had an early alarm to catch the C train to Versailles. The C runs direct to Versailles, except when the route is closed due to track maintenance. Time to be flexible and become acquainted with the trains of Paris.

3. A friendly, Parisians are so rude, ticket agent helped reroute us. After a connection and a 15 minute walk, we found our way to the palace of Versailles. The palace and the accompanying gardens are amazing, wildly decadent, and reflect a wee bit of madness. The fact that not one but two additional, slightly smaller palaces were built to allow the family to get away from the palace that was originally conceived to help the family escape the trappings of Paris says it all. Each of the rooms are adorned with marble, gold, tapestries and / or paintings. There were no spaces left unadorned.

4. Think today’s celebrities are over the top? Do they have a hall of mirrors that is over two football fields long and is decorated with statues from the era of Roman rule? Louis the 14th loved him some Louis the 14th, and he loved marble statues because Greek and Roman era statues are everywhere at the Versailles Estate. They’re inside, with one in nearly every room open to the public. They’re along the outside of every wall of the palace. They line the walkways of the gardens and the fountains. One of the statues was of a lion biting the helpless rump of a soldier.

5. We left the palace earlier than planned because we were both really tired and didn’t think we’d make it out of the maze of gardens alive if we tried to see everything. On the way back to Paris we were old pros with the trains and didn’t need to stop and ask for directions once.

6. Originally we were going to enjoy the tour of the River Seine this evening but we decided to go early. Our tickets were for any tour during the day and we managed to find our way onto the 3:00 PM tour just in time. We both almost fell asleep as the gentle rocking of the boat combined with the soft, cool breeze lulled us into a couple of head bobbing, weary travelers. Fortunately we were awake to take in the site of Notre Dame as it rose up before us.

6. After a side trip to the Boulanger and patissier (bakery and sandwhich shop) across the street for a light, late lunch we headed back to the flat for some downtime before dinner.

7. Yes, we are staying in a flat instead of a traditional hotel. It’s a furnished one bedroom apartment with a small, but full, kitchen and bath. Plus it has a washer/dryer. It’s actually cheaper than a hotel room and we can do laundry, which means we don’t need to pack as much. But the real plus is we are living in a real apartment in a real neighborhood. We’re actually getting a taste of the day to day life along our little section of Rue de Saint Dominique. We’re planning on using a similar strategy for our next European vacation.

20131019-193451.jpg

20131019-193459.jpg

20131019-193507.jpg

Paris: the first two days

We are two days into our tour of Paris and here are a few observations.

1. My wife is absolutely wonderful in many ways but I want to focus on her vacation planning skills right now. The first two days have been a good combination of sight seeing and down time. As soon as we seem to be getting tired our next stop is a little cafe for a little cafe creme or hot chocolate.

2. "The French are rude, especially to Americans" is a myth. Perhaps if one acts like the quintessential, ugly American, the experience is different. However, Kelly and I have encountered nothing but gracious, courteous, and patient Parisians who are proud of their city, and what it has to offer, and want visitors to feel the same way. This has been true at the major attractions as well as the out of the way caf├ęs.

3. Example of #2. Yesterday we encountered a group of young people in the park near the Eiffel Tower running a con claiming to be working on behalf of a handicap charity. A local woman approached us after the group moved on and, speaking perfect English, told us to make sure we hadn't been pick-pocketed. She confirmed the group were con artists and that they work all the major tourist areas, and then she apologized for them and seemed genuinely relieved to hear all they got from us were a few euro. The fact that she was walking a dog that was the spitting image of our beloved Kady, complete with blue racquetball in her mouth, was just a pleasant bonus.

4. Earlier today we saw a similar group running the same con on a young American couple. As we walked by I told the man it was a con. He looked up and asked "it is?" I nodded and he took his wife by the arm and quickly walked away. My good deed for the day.

5. Paris is the second major European city we've visited dominated by scooters and motorcycles. They seem to be able to go anywhere with complete disregard for the traffic laws we're used too. However, they are very mindful of pedestrians, at least so far. I'm seriously thinking of replacing the truck with one.

6. Highly recommend the Rick Steves walking tours of the Orsay Museum and the Left Bank.

I'll add some more notes in the next day or so. Off to dinner on the first observation of the Eiffel Tower. My wife is so awesome!

20131018-195646.jpg