day 4: paris

Paris Travel Blog

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ah paris! it's true. i had an overly ambitious agenda for our one day in paris, and boy was it a whirlwind.

we were up very early to catch the 'fast train' to paris. and considering we had been to bed late and had been getting very little sleep, it was a challenging morning.

but we made it just in time, and boarded the train. shortly after our departure, the conductor came to check our tickets. we handed them to him and he asked us for our ride passes. our what? our ride passes. apparently, despite asking dominick, or travel centre agent from whom we had purchased the tickets whether or not we had everything we needed, and being assured repeatedly that we did, of course, we didn't. we had paid for 'reservations' on the train, but not actual tickets. so after wading through some of the confusion, the conductor finally just said, okay, 20 euros each.

when we arrived in the crowded paris train station, we went to the travel centre to resolve the issue. according to this agent, dominick didn't know what he was doing and it was going to cost us another 70 euros to get back. after discussing and debating, we decided we were going to risk it and hope we could get the same 'deal' on the way back. deb was a bit uncomfortable, but deb also had a bigger budget.

after leaving the travel centre, it became clear that deb, erin and i had different priorities for the day, so we decided to split off so that everyone could meet their objectives.

deb and i headed for a cab. we lucked out with a great cabbie, who did speak english and was not rude. i expected to be yelled at in french at some point today, but it looked like it would have to wait. our driver showed us the highlights on the way to the eiffel tower or tour d'eiffel (which is how he imediately realized we were american) and gave us a little history lesson.

we hopped out of the cab and headed to one of several lines. it was bitterly cold. painfully cold. but we were in paris. eventually we made it through the ticket line, and headed up to the second level where we had to wait in line again--again in the bitter bitter cold--before getting on another elevator to take us to the top. eventually we made it through that line and headed up. when we arrived, we saw that it was enclosed. i admit it--we were relieved. i don't remember ever being so cold. then we saw the flight of the stairs to the 'open' observation deck. isn't it funny that we were fine with being inside until we had another option. and if it's there, you sort of have to take it.

so we headed up and out. we took in the view, took a view pictures, and headd back to warmth. but it was shortlived. the lines for the elevators down were equally as long, so i brilliantly suggested we take the stairs down. yeah, i'm brilliant. there were lots of stairs, and it was very very cold. but eventually we made it to the bottom, after a stop at the gift store and post office.

we caught a cab and heaed to the musee d'orsay. when we arrived, we saw the line outside and were completely discouraged. it had started to snow, and had not gotten much warmer. we decided we needed a morale booster, so we ducked into a nearby brasserie.

we had a fabulous lunch, which for me included onion soup--the way onion soup is supposed to be done, and a croque. we were waited on by the most darling (yes, i said darling)frenchman--who spoke very little english. but there was still no yelling. i didn't think i had high expectations of paris--i just expected locals to be rude and yell at me, but it kept falling short!

after lunch we had warmed up and mentally prepared for the line. but it was miserable. by this time the snow had turned to sleety rain, and our wait left us soaked and uncomfortable. after making it inside, our suffering was more than rewarded. the museum was amazing. unbelievable. i got to see some of the most wonderful paintings i have ever seen. deb was thrilled with van gogh, but for me, it was the monet that put a permagrin on my face. it was simply amazing. we were able to get everything we wanted out of the experience and more, and still be done in reasonable time.

after spending some time (and money) in the gift store, we decided to head down the senne towards notre dame. but after dealing with more rain, we changed the plans a little bit and decided to hit the louvre next.

the louvre is a fascinating place. it houses less of the type of art i really love, but the collection, and the building itself is a don't miss. the sheer number of work that they ave been able to collect is overwhelming. we, of course, saw the mona lisa, and other well known works. looking at botticelli paintings was completely surreal.

we spent a couple of hours wandering through the hallways and taking it all in--or as much as you can take in in a couple of hours, and decided that it was time for dinner.

we found an amazing little restaurant, where i had onion soup again. hey, when it's good, it's good. we took our time and enjoyed dessert, deb the creme brulee, and me the profiteroles, after which, we grabbed a cab.

at this point, there were two items left on the agenda--notre dame and the arc de triomphe. it was past closing time, but since cathedrals aren't really my thing, i really just wanted to see the exterior of notre dame anyway. our cab driver was a good sport, and with his help, we were able to complete everything we had wanted to do for the day. wit the exception of the yelling. i can't say enough about how nice the french people were. how did i not know that this was possible?! it was completely unexpected!

we arrived at the train station, where erin found us, and shortly afterwards we boarded the train. when the conductor came around, we explained the ticket situation and again, he charged us 20 euro for the ride. we spent the hour and a half hearing about erin's day and chatting with the french man sitting in our quad. shortly before arriving, our train had some technical difficulty, and we were delayed on the tracks for some time. by the time we arrived home, it was extremely late.

we had discussed going to luxembourg tomorrow, but truth be told, it was never a place i was excited about. and having had such a long day, the idea of a three hour train ride to a place i wasn't excited about was a lot to think about. i actually really wanted to go back to amsterdam, but with as tired as we all are, i'm thinking it's more likely that we will sleep in and spend another day in brussels.

i'll have to come back and spend some real time in amsterdam at a later date! all in all, i enjoyed paris. i wish the weather had been better, but i got to see everything i wanted to see. i knew that if i ever got back to paris, it would be far in the future--there are too many other places i want to see for the first time before returning, so i wanted to get all the must sees in on this trip. though the plan was ambitious, it was absolutely successful.
vances says:
I am enjoying the honest opinions of your experiences...and love the term "permagrin"! (might need a hyphen though, lol)
Posted on: Nov 30, 2006
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photo by: Sweetski