Existing Member?

World Tour

July 21st

FRANCE | Wednesday, 23 August 2006 | Views [698] | Comments [1]

July 21 Friday Paris We were up early so I could catch a train to Waterloo to meet my older sister at the Waterloo train station where we would catch the Eurostar to Paris for the weekend. Jon walked me all the way to the platform while Pam waited in the car. She was kind enough to drive me there. It's funny because even though Jon and I have spent nearly every waking (and nonwaking for that matter) moment together since June 2nd, I was already missing him. The trip from Gerrard's Cross was uneventful and by now I was a whiz at the Tube system. Before long I was at Waterloo and stopped at Mark's and Spencer's for a snack before meeting Mary. I was was an hour early for the train and just standing around with the other 300,000 people milling about - I should have told Mary to wear a red rose in her lapel or something. It's strange because I'm scanning the crowds trying to find her and suddenly she's right in front of me talking to Jon and I can hear that she pretty much saw me at the same time. We quickly said our hellos and made our through check in and security, got our passports stamped (there's another to add to the passport) and then waited like cattle with everyone else at our boarding gate. We were both glad we got there early and were the first to get in our coach because Mary had a large suitcase that weighed a ton. We were able to stow it at the tend of the coach and not have to worry about it for the rest of the train ride. We both had window seats which was fine and waited to see who would be sitting next to us. Time went by and we thought that maybe we would be lucky enough not to have anyone sitting next to us - no such luck. A spanish couple came in late. The husband sat next to Mary and the wife next to me. Between us she wedged her metallic gold colored purse that stuck to my leg immediately upon contact with my skin (I was wearing shorts). We were trapped in our window seats. The husband instantly took up the napping position and the wife did the same. I'm not sure how much sleeping they did because Mary and I talked the entire way to Paris. At one point I had to get up, stretch my legs and pee (in that order). Mary was still trapped so she had me pick up some lunch for her in the cafeteria car. When I came back the husband had his ipod out and you could hear the techno music blaring from his earbuds which struck us as funny since this seemingly mild mannered man was bobbin' his head to techno. When we arrived it was as hot in Paris as it had been in London. For some reason this made Mary's luggage even heavier. She phoned the hotel and asked how long it would take to arrive there by taxi (10 minutes) so we went outside to get a taxi. The line was miles long and there was no shade in sight. Everyone looked wilted, tired, and on the verge of ripping someone's head off if they didn't get a taxi asap. We were told that given the length of the line it would be a good hour before we could get a taxi. Forget that. We walked around the building certain that we could catch a taxi without having to wait. We were approached by a man who offered to drive us for €60! He didn't have a taxi sign above his minivan and good old Rick Steves says never to pay for a ride in a taxi without a taxi sign. So we didn't. We decided to brave the subway. We got the suitcase and bags downstairs and apparently half of Paris had the same idea as the lines for a ticket were also long. We found the shortest line at a ticket kiosk and watched everyone ahead of us before buying our own tickets. Now the challenge was getting through the the ticket stalls. First, Mary went through and had my bags and I was trying to get her suitcase through and managed to get the suitcase through with a little force and a big shove with my foot but didn't make it in time to get myself through the stall doors at the same time. Once the suitcase was through, the doors slammed shut and Mary and I were left looking at each other from opposite sides of the ticket stall. Geez. I walked up to the ticket window which thankfully wasn't busy and explained what had happened. Judging by the look on the woman's face behind the ticket window, I wasn't the first person to do this. We had to carry the suitcase down the stairs and to the platform. Good god, it was hot - we were sweating like mad. It was rush hour by now and the tube was getting pretty full. We were able to wedge ourselves into a car. I contemplated waiting for the next one but knew there would be no point as things would only get busier at this time of the day (around 4pm). The subway car was absolutely packed. It was hot. Everyone looked miserable. This is what I imagine the trip to hell would be like: on a subway traveling down a dark tunnel with a group of people who represented countries from all over the world, talking in their native language, looking and feeling miserabley hot. The ride wouldn't be over soon enough. Happy to arrive we still had to get the ten ton suitcase to the surface which meant more stairs. By this time there was no lifting of the case or making sure it was pulled up on its rollers. That suitcase was dragged up the stairs to the light of day and flat ground. We knew we were in the right neighborhood and went to the intersection in hopes of seeing the sign to our hotel from the street corner. That, of course,would be too easy. I took the street address from Mary and put on my meekest face before asking the man selling newspapers if he knew how to get to our hotel. I've spoken more french in the last few months than I've ever spoken in my life - and I seem to be getting along just fine. With a direction to head towards we began walking. We were close, you could just tell, don't ask me how, maybe it was some intuition that Mary picked up with studying for her hotel and restaurant management degree. We came to a intersection and Mary asked a man if we were going in the right direction. Coincidentally, we were very near a area map posted on the other side of the sidewalk. Just as she suspected we were a couple blocks away but we had to go down one of those tricky streets that just kind of angles off another road and isn't very obvious to someone who doesn't live in the area. FYI: it was still hot. We came to another, and last, intersection before our hotel. It opened onto a narrow road which was mostly taken over by pedestrians. There were a variety of small shops, eateries and even a gelato shop a couple doors down from our hotel - Hotel Eugenie. I could see the sign! Just a hundred yards more and we were through the sliding glass doors and felt the cool rush of an air conditioned breeze. We made it! We checked in and had a room on the first floor which was one floor up from where we were on the ground floor. Luckily the place had an elevator. We were done with lugging the suitcase up any more stairs. We got to the elevator and pushed the 'up' button and the doors opened. This must have been the world's smallest elevator. There was barely enough room to get the suitcase in. I threw my two bike bags in, pushed the button to the first floor and we turned around and ran up the stairs to meet the elevator - there wasn't enough room for bags and people together. The first thing we did upon entering our room was turn on the air conditioning and then admire the size of the bathroom. Mary had a little sardine can of a bathroom while she was visiting Bath and most of my bathroom experiences in hotels had been similar to hers. This place was great! The bathroom was about a third the size of the entire hotel room with a full tub and not just a closet to shower in - luxury. I could actually shave my legs without having to contort into various yoga moves to ge the job done. Once we got a little more settled in Mary brought out the gift she had told me about earlier that she had for me. It was her cellphone. She had taken video clips and pictures of our kitties. I think Luna has gotten a little more rotund. We sure do miss our kitties - I was happy to see the pix and video but missed them all the more at the same time! After a little freshening up we went in search of dinner. It was evening by now and the sun was only just beginning to think about going down behind the buildings. We walked back out the way we came in stopping into a few shops along the way before hitting a main road. It looked like we were staying in a art district, there were many galleries. Out on the main road we spotted the usual cafes, a Starbuck's and a great looking food counter. It was bright and colorful from across the street and looked promising for something delicious. When we got to the counter there was a huge selection of sandwiches and baked goods -the perfect food combination as far as I'm concerned. We didn't feel like going to a dine in restaurant - we were too beat to deal with decifering a menu and ordering in french. Besides, this place looked great! It took us a while to choose. Multigrain baguette with pork for me and I think Mary went with a tuna sandwich both were on some kind of flat bread that was thicker than a tortilla but thinner than naan. For dessert I had a chocolate chip cookie and Mary had a delicious strawberry tart - very french. Yum. We sat and people watched as we ate our dinner. People were starting to come out for the evening and it was finally starting to cool off for the day. We had spotted a dramatic domed building on the way to dinner and went back to walk down the road leading to it in order to find out just what it was. Walking round to the front of the building we came upon the Seine. I hadn't realized we were staying so close! The building was the French Institute. After a picture or two we walked to the nearest bridge. Turns out it was a pedestrian only bridge and it had turned into a giant picnic area spanning the entire bridge. Sitting above the water you were a few degrees cooler than just standing out on the road -it was very nice. There were groups of people sittinging on blankets, sheets, paper bags, and benches. There were picnics that were very proper with the basket, wine glasses, cheese and meats, checkered cloth and baguette while others were eating prepackaged sandwiches they bought at the local grocery store and drinking their wine straght from the bottle. Some people had music quietly playing so as not to disturb other picnic-ers while others brought their own instruments. It was mostly middle aged and college aged people just out enjoying the evening on a Friday night. After a little more people watching, picture-taking and general taking-it-all-in, we crossed the bridge and to a massive building with a gilded fence. There were no obvious signs indicating what the building was so we followed the few people walking into it courtyard to check things out. The courtyard was the largest I had ever seen. Pictures don't do it justice to explain the size and magnitude of the place. There was a modest fountain in the middle that a blond lab was making use of as the humans looked on with envy wishing they could jump in and splash around too. The people we did see were walking out a side exit so we followed and heard the sounds of a cello soloist playing in the archway and hall. On the other side was the triangle of theh Louvre! We were both taken aback and just stopped in our tracks for a second before forging ahead and checking out the large and small triangles. There were two or four fountains that were like a magnet for people. There were also armed guards patrolling the areas. We continued on and saw another famous site. The arc du Carousel (not sure if that's how you spell it) which is beautiful. They were setting up for the finale of the Tour de France so there were all sorts of barricades and white tents set up. There was a garden beyond the arc with a variety of statues of women, a ferris wheel lit up as it was dusk by this time was to the right of the garden. As we were about to descend a short group of steps I looked to my left and gasped, "Look!" - S There was the top half of the Eiffel Tower in the distance! That was pretty exciting and there had to be a brief pause while we took it all in and I had to remind myself that yes, indeed, we were in Paris. It was unreal. We kept walking, past another fountain and ending at what we're assuming is a monument of some sort that strongly resembles one of those pencils made to look like a twig. Upon closer inspection it did appear to have heiroglyphics carved into it but that's about all I know off hand. Beyond that was the Champs se Elysses and to our left we were able to once again spot the Eiffel Tower, closer now than before. It was also at this point that we both realized how tired we were and how badly our 'dogs were barkin'/feet hurt. We began trudging back to the hotel. With a quick stop at the gelato stand and one more peek into the window of the jewelry shop at a necklace that had caught my eye earlier we walked backed to our air conditioned haven. Once in our room I called Jon to let him know we were ok and to ask him what his plans were for going to The Open (aka The British Open for those back in the States). He had secured accomodations for the weekend which we both agreed was amazingly lucky on such short notice and tickets to the event itself were pretty cheap. After a shower I fell asleep in air conditioned bliss.

Tags: Adventures



uggghh. I was melting into a sticky, gooey mess while reading your discriptions of the heat in Paris. Ick. I think I'll go take a shower now.

What a wonderful place to visit and to see the Eiffel Tower, walk around the Louvre and mingle with the picnik'ers sounds like a dream come true!

  Robyn Aug 24, 2006 3:28 PM

Add your comments

(If you have a travel question, get your Answers here)

In order to avoid spam on these blogs, please enter the code you see in the image. Comments identified as spam will be deleted.

About the_nomads

Follow Me

Where I've been


Photo Galleries

My trip journals

See all my tags 



Travel Answers about France

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.