Sunday, September 30, 2012

Europe Trip - Days 10 & 11 - Paris and Going Home

The first of our last two days in Paris, we went to breakfast with Linda at a cafe she enjoys and had a lovely breakfast of croissants, jam, bread, and excellent coffee.  We sat and chatted and watched the Parisians move in and out as they ordered, read their papers and chat to their companions.  It was almost as it is in the United States, except that everyone embraces carbohydrates for the morning meal.  Everyone remains slim because they tend to regulate their intake, walk everywhere and smoke.  For a country on centralized health care...I was a bit astounded at how much nicotine consumption there was.

After breakfast, we hugged Linda goodbye, and jumped on a tour bus that was a hop-on, hop-off deal like the one we did in London...except that there were limited stops and a fairly predictable circuit.  Actually, we thought it would be easier to figure out...and for the most part it was.  By being on the bus, we were able to see the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, the Opera, the Eiffel Tower, Napoleon's Tomb and several other stops.  We had time to get out, take a photo or two and then load back up.  

At lunch, we stopped at Notre Dame and had lunch at a cafe right across the street.  We sat outside and just enjoyed our waiter who was bit snooty but funny at the same time.  We just looked at Notre Dame Cathedral and ate our lunch and enjoyed ourselves.  After lunch, we went to a shop and bought a few souvenirs and then waited until the next bus came along.

After Notre Dame, we went to the Champs de Elyees to try to find H & M.  We enjoyed shopping there on our last trip and since Bonnie had heard the store mentioned on various fashion programs, she wanted to see what it was.  She purchased a few items and I found some small things to bring to Jill and Brecksyn.

After shopping, we couldn't find the bus stop and ended up walking up the avenue to the Arc de Triomphe where the buses were picking up passengers.  It was an unplanned walk...but not too awful in the grand scheme of things.  After six days of walking, though, we were pretty much over it.

We went back to where we began and took the metro back to Gare Montparnasse.  We walked a lot through the station, and couldn't seem to find the entrance that would get us back to the apartment.  We ended up stopping in a lounge to use the restroom and encountered a gentleman who walked us through the station to the exit we needed.  I can only assume that he was an angel.  

We went back to the apartment and decided that we would walk down the street and find somewhere to eat.  We did...and hit the jackpot.  Found a lovely brasserie that gave great food with big portions and excellent service.  We liked it so much that we went there for four straight meals.

The last day that we were in Paris was spent resting, packing, and walking around the neighborhood.  It rained, and we were content to just sit inside and watch French game shows and do nothing.  While it would have been nice to have had a gameplan, we were just so tired of walking and figuring out the transportation system, that we were happy to watch a documentary on Grace Kelly and call it a day.

Our return trip was fairly uneventful other than the fact that an unattended bag had to be blown up in the airport and caused us to stand in line for awhile.  Our flight home was nice, but we had gotten pretty tired of all of the French, and were ready to hear English and resume our lives.  When we landed, we ended up walking for miles in the Atlanta International Airport because they were having a "brownout" with some people striking for some reason...and there were only a few agents on duty.  I'm sure that the intent was to punish management...but it was actually the customers who got a raw deal.

We finally got through Customs and then were greeted by Big Dave and Bonnie's family.  She had to go to the main terminal to exchange her money (and she graciously took mine as well).  

What I know about travel is isn't easy.  It is glorious, wonderful, awe-inspiring, educational, fun, exciting, lovely, interesting, hilarious at times, and amazing.  What it is easy.  You have to have decent walking shoes, a lot of patience, adequate funds, good traveling companions, and some semblance of a plan. You have to be open to new experiences, not rattled by hassles, and willing to ask people questions until you figure out where you are if necessary.  But travel changes you.  You pick up new words, thoughts, memories, and impressions.  You begin to love aspects of things that you see and experience and you'll actually miss them years later.  

At least that's been my experience.

Thank you for reading through the trip with me and giving me some kind feedback.  I realize that looking at someone else's travel pictures can sometimes be a little bit cumbersome when you couldn't care less about it or you want to form your own impressions someday...but to those of you who have read along...thank you.

Here are some photos from the last few days of the trip.  Enjoy!  

You haven't been to Paris unless you have a photo of you in front of the Eiffel Tower.  So, there you go, Bonnie.

Yeah, and that's me.

And Mom...

And just the tower by itself...

This was supposed to be a shot of the three of us by the Eiffel Tower that a nice lady took, but I'm missing the tower in this one.  Oh well!

Took this one from the bus because, seriously, can you get enough Eiffel Tower photos while you are there? Answer: No.

Just snapping shots of the Eiffel Tower...because I could

Yeah, I see that this might be getting a little old by now.

Well, at least that shot from a different perspective was nice...

This was beautiful, yes?

Just some street life from the bus...

Notre Dame pieces.  For whatever reason, I couldn't get enough detail in one I took several...

There's Bonnie in front of Notre Dame...

And someone's "before" photo.  Oh, wait...that's me.

I honestly love the gargoyles.  Probably because I have known so many of them in life.  They appear human...but...yeah.

Back on the bus...

I think that this is the Opera...but not entirely sure.  It's pretty, though.

Nice shot of the Arc de Triomphe from the bus...

This marks one of the bridges over the Seine.  Wish I could remember the details...

This carousel is across from the Eiffel Tower.

Happy riders on the bus.  Beats walking...

Oh, please, you knew I wasn't done with the Eiffel Tower, surely!

This photo was taken because I love this color blue.  It was all over Paris.

Notre Dame from the bus window.  They were doing renovations of some kind so just ignore that yellow crane, if you will.

This is where we ate lunch one day...decent food and a funny waiter.

More gargoyles...

A successful shopping outing at H & M...

Here's the final picture in the brasserie that we ate four meals straight in because we were that tired of walking...and the food was that good.  It really was.

Thanks for following along.  Back to writing about whatever later this week...

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