Tuesday, September 21, 2010

i see london, i see france

Dave woke up on the last full day of our stay in Paris and announced "this is the day of the French Pastry". I liked that idea. It's not like we had been limiting our intake up to that point, but apparently we hadn't been focusing on the pastry concept quite enough. The previous day we enjoyed macaroons from Laduree's . We searched the town for this bakery/restaurant. (Thank you for the info, Hailey ) We couldn't afford to eat a meal there, but we enjoyed a little box of macaroons. I got scolded by the management for taking this picture. Hailey also told us we had to get some hot chocolate from Angelina's. Hailey and Craig visited Paris in the winter. We were there in the hot muggy summer. We weren't sure Hot Chocolate was the ticket. However, the chocolate gods were looking down on us and when we got caught in an unexpected downpour, caught without umbrellas, got soaking wet, standing under the covering of a little street vendor, we spotted Angelina's. Shivering cold and soaking wet, we went in and drank the absolutely most divine cup of hot chocolate on earth. I seriously think they melted chocolate bars right into the cup. And if that wasn't enough sugar, we also ordered a dessert to go with the chocolate. That's a complete meal, right?
Speaking of food, our favorite meal of our whole trip was sitting on the steps of Notre Dame eating crepes from a street vendor. Dave had his with ham and cheese, but I am not ashamed to admit I had Nutella and bananas on mine. It was divine.
Our worst food related purchase was this big mug of soda. We were thirsty for the whole 3 weeks we were traveling. We asked for water and got either A) a teeny tiny expensive bottle of water or B) a small cup of lukewarm water - even if we asked for ice or C) carbonated water - yuck. We finally gave in and Dave ordered "the biggest soda you have!" Although soda isn't quite as thirst quenching as water, it sort of did the trick, but Dave laughed and said "This will probably cost me $8 - haha!" Then we got the bill - 15 euros (about $19.00!!!)
However, on this announced "Day of the French Pastry", we actually forgot to look for pastries until near the end of the day. We saw a little bakery at about 4:30 in the afternoon and went in an we each picked out the most delectable treat. As we were making our selection, they were filling up another bag with several other pastries and treats. There were no other customers in the shop so we tried to tell them we only wanted one each. We don't speak French, and they spoke very little English, and I was worried that we were telling them something that we weren't really telling them. They charged us the $ for 2 pastries and handed us the extra bag for free. They were closing up shop and getting rid of the extras. So it truly was "the Day of the French Pastry". We were near Notre Dame and were contemplating walking or riding the bus back to the Louvre. While eating a bag of pastries, we thought it best to walk. Lest anyone think we don't understand the calorie in/calorie out concept, we do realize that walking a mile and a half on city streets does not equal a bag of baked goods, I will let you know that we did some additional walking in Paris.
These are the stairs up the Arc de Triumph. There are a lot of them. 284 of them to be exact. There are spectacular views from the top. This round-about is around the Arc de Triumph. I think I've seen it in a lot of movies. There is a crazy traffic pattern. There seem to be multiple lanes, but not any lane lines. I would guess there is a driving pattern, but as I watched it for a while, I couldn't quite figure it out. All I know is that I would never drive in it. Luckily there was an underground tunnel for pedestrians to cross under rather than cross through the traffic.
Then we walked up the 674 steps of the Eiffel Tower, which by the way only takes you to the second platform which is not even half way up, but that is as far as the public can take the stairs. You have to buy a lift ticket for the rest of the way. We saved 4 euros each by taking the 674 steps and then getting on the lift instead of taking the lift from the ground. That $4 savings really seemed to motivate us. It was a fun evening though. We stayed up at the top and watched the sun go down.
We also walked up the 225 steps to the Basilica of Sacre-Coeur, we walked about 2 or 3 miles from the Louve to the Eiffel Tower and walked the 3 miles from the Eiffel tower to our bed and breakfast. It was really only about 2 miles, but the batteries on the GPS ran out half way there and we immediately got lost and wandered for a bit. We were walking at midnight to our host's home without a GPS, without a phone, and without any good common sense apparently.
One of our favorite stops was the Paris Opera House. Rachel was anxious for us to go there and tell her all about it. It was fun to hear all the myths and stories about the Phantom of the Opera. This is lobby where you could go to buy popcorn during intermission, I guess. It's a little fancier than the AMC movie theater we usually frequent on a Friday night.
We were there on July 14th which is Bastille Day. We hoped to get to the center of downtown and watch the parade, however the bus system was altered because of the parade and they dumped us off the bus at an unfamiliar part of town and we had to hike the rest of the way. We came to the river and all pedestrian crossings across the river to the parade route were closed. And when I say closed, I mean closed! They were guarded by armed military. And they didn't want to chit chat with Americans about how to get to the parade, they just told us to back off the bridge. (well, alrighty then!) We tried walking down a half mile and trying the next bridge, then the next. We missed most of the parade until we found a place to cross the river. There seemed to be a whole section of town that was secured for dignitaries and a place secured for parachuters to land at one point in the parade. So this is mostly what we enjoyed of the parade, just the overhead show. Which was kind of cool - about 20 minutes of different airplane formations.

Then we tried to go see the Louvre. It was raining. RAINING!!!! We had to buy umbrellas, but the rain was coming down hard and at an angle. We couldn't stay dry. We got in line in the rain, but then calculated how slow the line was moving and how far back in line we were and finally when we were totally soaked and after waiting probably too long in the rain, we gave up and never saw the inside of the Louvre Museum.
It was sad to see our vacation come to an end. I hope we will see Europe again someday. There are lots of places we would like to go back and visit, but many other new countries and places we would like to visit. On the other hand, I'd like to see more of the U.S. Will there ever be enough time or money to see everything we want to see or go where we want to go? I suppose not.


Lauri said...

My favorite vacation post yet! maybe because you were talking about french pastries. And about walking and walking and walking and walking....

I'm so glad you had this experience!

Bandanamom said...

I so want to go to Paris. And I really want to see Versailles.

Anonymous said...

You all sure had the vacation of a lifetime!

Suzanne Barker said...

So wonderful! Lezlee we can go to Paris together!