Paris, France and the end of my adventure

Saturday and Sunday, September 17-18, 2011:

(something was going on with Blogger yesterday so it did NOT save my original post, bummer)

Good morning Nice!  Isn’t this sunrise glorious?


Waiting for our train to Paris

So the train ride was dreadful…for me.  I was on my period (TMI, I know, but it’s true) and the bathrooms on the train were pretty bad.  Some of them worked…but no water came out of the faucet to wash your hands…SO….it was a very uncomfortable 5 hours.  And that’s where I end THAT story.  Also, since I wasn’t in the mood, our seats on the train were facing another couple on the tour that tended to be like the overbearing, nosy aunt or mother…and I wasn’t having it on the train.  So I went to the bar/food area and a french guy, young and um, so not wearing deodorant (but it wasn’t killing me) moved his back and offered me a seat next to him.  I used my “merci” and sat down and read a book on my ipad.  Later on an older woman sat between us to eat her lunch and I listened as they conversed in French.

I stayed there for awhile and then I went back into the cabin and asked Josh if he wanted to get some lunch.  So we stood in the line at the bar area and an American man began talking to me.  He was the second gay man/couple I met during this trip.  This man was really nice and we kicked up a conversation about traveling and he and his partner were from Florida.  He was the one who let me know there were stowaways on the train and to be careful.  He was really nice and when we eventually arrived in Paris, he saw me in the crowd and waved bye to me πŸ™‚  Ahh travels, I love seeing, hearing, observing and meeting people.
When we landed in Paris, it was dreary and gloomy…and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  But then an incident occurred.  A couple in our tour group, who was sitting in the bottom floor of the train had a brief miscommunication about who was carrying one of their carry on bags out.  The wife thought her husband got it, and the husband thought SHE got it…hence they walked off the train without it.  Paris was the last stop for the train so it didn’t go anywhere but when they went back to the seat, the bag was gone.  It happened in the span of 5 minutes and the people who have been to Paris before said Paris is where the pick pockets have the fastest hands.  Thing is, everything was in THAT bag, passports, credit cards and cash….what a bummer.  So our drive into Paris was delayed by another hour as Elzo went to tell the authorities.
But we had to move on, because there was a dinner to go to that we all signed up for and Paris was waiting.  Since it was the weekend though, the couple had to wait until Monday to go to the U.S. Embassy…but Monday, all of us were boarding a plane to fly back home.  If that happened to Josh and I, I’d bug out but then having an extra day in Paris, would have been really nice.  
We drove to Paris and once we reached the city I could see why people oooh and aaah over the city.  It’s beautiful in a soft way.  If that even makes sense.  The light, which there was barely any of since the sky was so gray, cast a soft light on the beautiful buildings.  It’s just everything put together, the cafes, the Seine, the Eiffel tower and the french language.

There she is!

Across the Eiffel

Look, the leaves are turning in France πŸ™‚

Monument Historique bridge

Les Invalides, a very large military museum

Luxor Obelisk, this was originally in front of the Luxor Temple in Egypt and now is at the center of the Place de la Concorde

Parisian streets πŸ™‚
We made it to our LAST hotel of the tour and how perfect, it was one block from the Eiffel Tower itself!    We didn’t have much time to get ready though because we were all having our last dinner together at a Parisian Restaurant/Cafe.  It was a drastic change in weather.  We went from 90 degrees to 60 degrees.  Brrr…so we refreshed ourselves really quick and then headed out to dinner.
My one regret throughout this tour was that I didn’t take picture of every meal.  πŸ˜›  I’m not one of those people, though I have tried to be!  We sat outside and our cafe was right across the Seine and Notre Dame.  We didn’t have a very good view of the Cathedral because the Seine is lined with lots of trees, but we didn’t care…tonight, it was about enjoying the company of our tour mates.
We could pick our selection of appetizer, entree and dessert.  I chose the Goat Cheese Salad, Beef Bourguignon, and Crepes.  Josh chose Escargot, Duck and Ice Cream.  Don’t they sound all amazing…they tasted divine.  I should have gotten the Creme Brulee but I didn’t know we could order that even though it wasn’t on the menu.  
We had an assortment of drinks as always: red wine, white wine and water.  They also gave us a welcome drink, a very sweet, almost dessert wine that I could have drank more of.  I think it was like the Schnapps in Amsterdam, the alcohol warms your tummy for some delicious food!
We had a grand time and then it started to rain!  And rain and rain and even in the rain, Paris is gorgeous.  The lights along the street, the people walking in the rain with their umbrellas.  A few tour members were sitting under a cafe umbrella which didn’t hold up to the rain.  So some of the men in our group helped the waiters figure out a way to put more umbrellas up so that our friends wouldn’t get soaked.  But even THAT was part of the “experience”…I see it in my head, us laughing in the rain, some of us getting wet but it’s Paris, it’s almost our last night and the food was amazing…
A guy sitting in front of me got sick on the tour, full on flu or cold or something, poor guy kept coughing and sneezing and the rain didn’t help but he got the French Onion Soup…and it looked delicious.  My Beef Bourguignon was PERFECT on a rainy night in Paris.  And not because it warmed me up but because the meat was so tender it melted in my mouth and the vegetables were fresh.  Someone at the table said…”They always put the right portions on a plate.  Never too much and never too little, but always right that you are satisfied.”  That’s how I felt, it happened when we ate in Monaco too, perfect proportions of food!  The salad was just enough, the Beef I could have asked for seconds but it’s enough….then everyone had a plate of Fromage (cheese…in this case, Brie) which is customary to have after your meal.  Some people didn’t like it, but I love Brie and it was pretty heady.  Then dessert came and by then we were just watching the rain drench other people in the restaurant, an Australian tour group who was staying at our hotel also, was getting the brunt of it!  Everyone was laughing and enjoying the flow of alcohol I think….it was a party indeed!
 I had the crepes which were delicious and Josh had ice cream which was just ice cream.  I was sated and so far Paris was living up to the hype…and all throughout the tour, I overheard on buses and on trains that Paris is the most amazing city…everyone’s favorite it seems and I wanted to know all the reasons why.
We made it back to the bus, most of us dry and Elzo took us on a little night tour of the city.  Our tour group leader from Hawaii had planned a nice goodbye for Elzo at the hotel.  First though we were told to wait to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle.  And from our hotel we looked up and saw it…I told Josh I want to be at the Eiffel Tower at night one day as it sparkles.
It lights up every hour, on the hour

We assembled into the lobby and mind you it’s almost midnight and it was a long day…but some people in our group rewrote the words to Arriverderci Roma to Arriverderci Elzo, and of course I said, I don’t know this song and one of the ladies laughed and said,”oh, it’s way before you were born!”  Here’s a clip…

So I didn’t really sing it because I didn’t know it…but I did sing Pearly Shells πŸ™‚  Elzo was touched and we gave him a lei full of treats, since we had no flowers.  It was very sweet and sad knowing our lovely adventure with Elzo was over.  Why Arriverderci Roma?  Because I think Elzo’s favorite city is Rome.  Now that I know the song…I can see why they love it…it’s so classic!  I think Dean Martin sang the popular one but I love this Nat King Cole version.

We went to sleep knowing we had one last day in Paris and then it would be over.

Sunday πŸ™‚

Elzo says he loves Paris on Sundays because the crowds are less.  He says Parisians try to leave Paris on the weekends because they don’t want to be in Paris, they want to be in the countryside…hmmm…sounds like true city folk, but I get it.

To top it off, the SUN came out, oh you glorious sun, to come out and shine down on this magnificent city!  Thank you God!  On the bus, a song kept playing in my head…the only french song I know…lol…the one from 500 Days of Summer by Carla Bruni…

We leave Elzo at the hotel and a local french guide, Mark hops on board the bus instead.  His english is quite nasal so we have to pay very good attention to him.  As the day went on though, it was my opinion that he was quite dull…

Morning light at Les Invalides…Napolean Bonaparte is buried here

She’s brown!  Josh and I for some reason thought Eiffel was black

Assemblee Nationale, part of Parliament
Notre Dame from the bus…we had no time to step off and check it out 😦

Love locks on Le Pont de Arts, lovers lock their love on the bridge πŸ™‚

Across the bridge is the Louvre…didn’t get to go there either 😦

The beautiful Seine River

17th century lamp post

The Opera

Driving on the Champs Elysees

Place de Concorde

me TOO!

Arch de Triomphe…Napolean saw the arch in front of the Roman Colosseum and built this humungous replica

  After our little driving tour and trying to stay warm we head back to the Eiffel Tower to go up to the 2nd floor observation deck.  Warning signs are everywhere around the Eiffel Tower about pick pockets.

From up above πŸ™‚ Beautiful Paris day!

Montmarte, the old stomping grounds of Salvador Dali, Claude Monet,  Picasso, van Gogh, etc…

Above the Seine

Les Invalides

Back down again, it was cold up there!

yup, it’s about a little over a 1000 ft tall

 Sure enough there were many sketchy people around the Eiffel and gypsy girls asking us to sign petitions for the mute and to donate 20 euros.  20 euros?  That’s pretty steep!  The police came around to remind us to watch out for them.

We make a stop for lunch near the Louvre and some tour members decide to do that option but we chose Versailles.  Well I chose Versailles because I the Louvre I would need more time to go through than just three hours!  So one day I will come back to Paris to do just that!  During lunch I finish my souvenir shopping and Sharon our hawaii tour guide bought Macarons (macaroons) and shared them with us.  Delicious as always, but it’s not Josh’s favorite thing to eat…it’s too light for him.  LOL…

Most of us head on to the palace of Versailles, with Mark our short, nasally tour guide.  It was so easy to lose him at Versailles, I couldn’t find him and maybe because I’m short too!

The opulence of Versailles 

Was this the view of the commoners?  Outside peeking in, wondering why they were dirt poor while royalty lavished in this?

Ceilings

Busts and statues

Chandeliers

Louis the 14th..eww, what’s with the huge wig and high heels?  Well, he was short too.

I love how Mark in his commentary said “They built a hallway of mirrors and what for?  For nothing but for Louis XIV to look at himself.”  That made me laugh…the conceit of having a hallway of mirrors to check yourself out and it was for the King, not even the Queen.  The King’s bedchamber  is adjacent to these mirrors so I guess it was pretty nice to put on your clothes and then go out and check your outfit out in a hallway of mirrors.  Mirrors were VERY expensive back in the day.

I told Josh I wanted to get married in the hallway of mirrors.  He told me I was already married.  I said, TO HIM…AGAIN. LOL…

The view of the “back yard” from the Hall of Mirrors

The kings bedchamber

 An interesting thing about their sleeping habits that Mark told us was that people used to sleep sitting up against pillows back then because sleeping on your back was the position of the dead.  He also said it was probably from respiratory problems as well.  Another thing he added about back then was that some of the kings, like King Louis XIV, bathed only 2-3 a year….GOOD GRIEF.  King Henry IV of France would change his shirt daily but didn’t bathe and a funny story is that his 2nd wife fainted when she met him and she had to douse herself with perfume when they had sex on their wedding night.  LOL…hilarious and disgusting!  Thank god for bath tubs and shower stalls…

Opulent and seriously picturesque, this is one beautiful Palace

Part of the gardens

The bedchamber of Marie Antoinette

Original bed covers…you know, I would have thought her room would be bigger!

Another tidbit from Mark was that the Queen’s births were public.  Can you imagine?!  Ugh….he said anyone could come in to watch.  Also when the Queen gave birth to a girl, they raised a black flag…”whatever”.  How dare they?!

Marie and her children

Marble fireplace

And then there was a room dedicated to Napolean Bonaparte 

 We left the inside of the palace and went outside but we only had one hour to explore the gardens.  Um after seeing the gardens…it would take me a few days to explore them….

How ignorant of me…I thought THIS was the garden

See if you walk down this stretch it leads to stairs going down to ANOTHER garden

Here’s the gardens down below…

Once more I told Josh I’d like to get remarried here…LOL…can you IMAGINE the photos?

Well forget renewing our vows, can I wear my dress, Josh in his suit and fly Frank Amodo to photograph us in Versailles?

Dunno what Josh is doing, he’s trying to take candids of me

Gray clouds overhead meant it started to drizzle…

And THIS was the gardens on the OTHER side…what the heck?

Do you see why the French Revolution took place? 

I’d love to just walk through the gardens of Versailles but we had to get back to the hotel because…some of us, Josh and I included signed up to go to the Moulin Rouge that night. πŸ™‚

France gifted us our statue…and this is our gift to them, a miniature one

At our hotel, we hurried and got ready for our night at the Moulin Rouge.  We’re leaving Paris with a bang!

Look what we found πŸ™‚

 The tickets for Moulin Rouge were expensive BUT Josh and I figured, we’d probably never see it again anyhow.  They have 2 shows every night, and they are sold out 365 days of the year.  WOW.

No photos were allowed inside, but we were pretty tightly packed inside and had our dinner which included drinks: wine, champagne, sodas.  And dinner was salad, steak and dessert.  The food was okay…it was just too cramped in there.  If there was a fire…I would NOT want to be in there!

The show started after dinner and I loved the costumes and the music!  Love the music!  And yes there were boobs…not huge fake ones, but nice natural pert ones…the ones that belong on a dancers body.  Since the songs were in French we tried to follow with the emotions and costumes and energy of the show.  They had great acts in between costume changes, a juggler, contortionist and a ventriloquist. It was lots of fun.  One part of the show a girl swam with snakes…like, FOR REAL!

If you want to see a clip of it, go to youtube and put in Feerie (which is the name of the show)..I don’t want to post it here because it does have breasts…innocent breasts, but still…I don’t want kids to see that on my blog (especially if it’s my nephews hanging around a computer :-P).  I wish I bought the soundtrack at the Moulin Rouge, but the place was madness when the show ended, it was hard to just get to the exit door!  I’ll get it online.  Plus, another show was about to start and we had to meet our group across the street where the bus was located.

What a way to end our last night in Paris…by the time we got out, there was a line for the Moulin Rouge that snaked all the way down the street.  Madness!  And it was already 11:00pm!  The dancers and singers work hard!

okay i look like the phantom of the opera in this photo! lol

What a night, what a city, what a trip, what an adventure.

We were sad to leave the next day but happy to get home to our bed and our house and our dogs.  It was the best trip either of us had ever taken and to see the other side of the world with someone you love…well, it’s memories made and memories that tie you together.

I don’t think we’ll be taking a huge trip like that any time soon, we’ll wait until we are older…next business?  To start a family….that’s the next adventure for us and we can’t wait!

Thanks for following and reading everyone!

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