Tag Archives: Paris

December 27, to Bayeux!

I went on a search for breakfast while Mary woke up and got dressed, but apparently Paris belongs to the Crack O’Nooner club on Sunday. So I came back and we packed up in preparation to leave for Bayeux. I was madly searching for the train ticket that Mary left on the counter for me. And after I got all packed up, looked through my stuff two or three times, Mary found it on the shelf where she kept her stuff. Who knows how it got there, but apparently the travel angel is looking after me. And after all that, no one even checked our train tickets!

Oops, I think I published this post long before it was finished!

Here are today’s photos: https://goo.gl/photos/58fXdG7ezpTSoU1n9

We had oodles of time before we had to vacate our room, so I went off to the Jardin des Plantes, a huge botanical garden and zoo just a short walk from the hotel. It’s the wrong time of year to visit a garden, most everything is dormant and leafless. There were a few violas flowering-they’d obviously been planted maybe a couple of weeks ago, and there were poppies flowering too. A couple of gardens were closed due to the season, which was disappointing. I was particularly looking forward to the alpine garden and it seems odd to me that it was closed. Alpine means cold and snowy to me, but cie la vie! There were several plants sheltered with a transparent cover, so apparently not all alpine plants are cold hardy. The grape vine area and a small wild looking wooded area were also closed. That seemed obvious to me, since grapes are dormant and there’s nothing to see, beyond trellised sticks. 

 

French botanical garden

Jardin des Plantes map

 
 
Alpine garden at Jardin des Plantes

Alpine garden, perhaps high desert?

 I walked up to the small labyrinth, with a tiny pergola at the top, hoping to get a view of the gardens, but there were too many trees. This is one of the few hills I’ve seen in Paris, just a short little stroll up to the top. I’m not sure what the hedge was; it was an evergreen of some sort. It looked like spruce needles but the needles are very soft and pliable. The gardens are laid out very formally. One area had small water gardens surrounded by several loops of paths. The center area is a large lawn, with long rows of the poppies and violas down the center of the lawns and paths down each side and in between the lawns. Huge chestnut (I think that’s what they are) trees line the lawns on either side, trimmed so that when the leaves are out, they make a boxed roof. My photos turned out kind of dark; it is earlyish, but I need to change some settings so the photos come out better. 

 

Jardin des Plantes

The lawns with flower beds in the center of the garden

 
There is also a zoo, but I didn’t visit that. I would have loved to go through the buildings, but I knew I didn’t have time to do even one of them justice. There were two huge greenhouses too, but you needed a ticket to go through them. I really could have have spent all day there, and the hour and a half I did spend was just long enough to get a taste of the gardens. Each of the buildings-the Grand Gallery & Children’s Museum, the Gallery of Geology & Mineralogy , the Botanical Gallery and Gallery of Comparative Anatomy and Paleoentology are each easily a U.S. city block long. And the history of the place… I passed a commemorative stone on the way up to the labyrinth, for the premier director, Jean-Marie ne a Montbard, 1716-1799. I am guessing that’s the first director, so the botanical garden has possibly been in existence for something like 300 years. 

We had to check out of the room by noon (12:00 a.m., according to the brochure; we had a laugh over that), so I went back around 11:30 to do a last check and finish zipping up my suitcase. I felt a bit like a bag lady, since I had a camera and my purse strapped over my shoulders, my day pack under my jacket, and carrying a shopping bag with my suitcase. And I was the one that cautioned Mary not to bring too much stuff! She had just her purse and her one suitcase. I justified my bag lady-ness by claiming it was all my Christmas shopping. Which was mostly kinda true. 

We went down and checked out of the room, and I had the hotel call us a cab to take us to the train station. Mary & I got in a small snit because I did that, and she flagged down a cab just as the one the hotel had called pulled up. She was angry because for the hotel to call a cab costs an extra 4 euros (& she’d just spent almost 800 euros on the room, so why was 4 euros such a big deal?), so I said I’d pay for the cab ride. I just didn’t see that 4 euros was anything to quibble over; just to get in the cab is 3 euros (so we started off by owing the cabbie 7 euros). Anyway, we got to Gare St. Lazare in one piece. 

This is certainly a different experience than I had in ’78! Holeee cow! Clean, bright, well-lit, and none of that hole in the floor, garbage-encrusted-toilet business. The middle and bottom floors had upscale shops and nice restaurants of various types. The top floor, where we caught the train, had a Burger King and a Starbucks, as well as some small grab-and-go restaurants, plus an information office and the ticket office. I wish I could remember exactly what station I was at in ’78; I’d love to see what it looks like now. 

Mary was ready for some breakfast so she did that while I checked out the station. Turned out that we wouldn’t find out what track we were leaving from until 15-20 minutes before we leave. And this really showed up our different traveling styles. I was okay with that, mostly. It would have been nice to have a little bit more advance knowledge, but 15 minutes is plently of time to get from the message board to the train. Mary, on the other hand, wanted to wait and see what the board would look like after the track was announced; she is much more of a planner than I am.

 

Gare St. Lazare

What a beautiful train station!

 
So, I left her to watch the board, and went to look for some lunch. I spied an easy exit from the station, and on my way out saw a train store! I couldn’t believe my luck! Unfortunately it was closed on Sundays, so I hope I have time to come back on my way home. I found a nice quiet place across the street and had the most excellent salad. Thin, thin smoked salmon over lettuce with baby shrimp, a quartered tomato, and small slices of a proscuitto-like ham, with a light dressing. It was so delicious!

I still had about an hour before the train left, so wandered around the second level in search of dessert. I didn’t find that, but I did find Pylones, a gift shop with all this fun stuff. I bought a pair of glasses (12 euros, about $13.20 , much cheaper than the $20 I usually spend in the U.S.) and a hard eyeglass case that I can use for my embroidery scissors and needles. I have this really boring dark green one, that works great but it’s sooo boring.

  
I found Mary up by the train tracks, as I expected. People started surging towards a track, so I asked a group of three police officers for help and they kindly told me which track to go to. We found our car and piled on; not easy to do with the suitcases. I had hoped we would be able to leave them in a baggage area, but I misunderstood the ticket seller. We had to heave them over our heads on a rack above the seats. This was the same as in Poland, so I wasn’t surprised. Next time I am not going to be a bag lady!

It was about a two hour ride to Bayeux, and we got there after dark, about 6 p.m. A young Spanish woman we met on the train walked to the hotel with us; so nice of her to be our guide. It was about a half mile, so by the tiime we got there, Mary was just exhausted. She went straight to bed, and I went off to get her some onion soup. I found some right away, so brought it back and then went off to find my own dinner. I also hoped to stop at an internet cafe, but it was closed for the holidays. I’ll try the other one tomorrow and if that’s closed, then maybe there will be one in St. Malo. 

I walked past the Bayeux tapestry museum, so that will be easy to find tomorrow. I also walked by this small water mill; I couldn’t find any signage, so I am hoping that tomorrow will shed more light on that. And there are some cute giftshops to explore tomorrow too.

Joyeux Noel!

Lazy, lazy day! I woke up at 6 and tried to listen to KQED in San Francisco, but it kept cutting out, so I gave up, and just listened to the street noises. Very quiet today. Mary and I planned to go to lunch with her daughter Cece and boyfriend JJ, and we would meet them at noon at the Hotel Saint James Albany. I was trying to keep an ear open for bus sounds, but promptly fell back asleep until 9 a.m. Lots of time before we needed to leave, so I started reading. 

Really, I did mean to take a shower… But all of a sudden it was 11:15 and we needed to get moving. So I found my nicest tee shirt and got dressed, while Mary rested after her ablutions. We tried to call the hotel, but got some recording in French which of course neither of us could make heads or tails of. Being late was not an option. Downstairs we managed to flag down a taxi and were on our way. 

Miracle of miracles, it was only 11 euros, thanks to the taxi meter. And we stopped right at the belted-off stop in front of the hotel. After stepping through this fantastic arctic entry, circular doors that open, let you in, then the doors on the other side open and you’re in the hotel lobby. Beautiful hotel, tastefully decorated for Christmas. The staff was very helpful and Cece was down shortly to meet us. Mary was full of questions for Cece, one of which was “Where are we eating?”. Cece guided us over to the concierge, and he suggested a nice place about 5 minutes from the hotel. Since Cece & JJ still needed shower and dress, I volunteered to scout out restaurants. I really didn’t want to sit still in the lobby, so it was a great excuse to get up and wander around. 

The building just down the street was where the German general in charge of Paris surrendered to the allies, saving Paris. Apparently bombs had planted throughout Paris and if he had not surrendered, the plan was to destroy Paris. I am thoroughly grateful that Paris was not destroyed! What a beautiful city! Mary really wanted to eat at the Hotel Meurice, where this happened, so we passed by a couple different places before stopping there. It was pretty pricey, but still under 40 euros, which I was okay with. Hey it’s Christmas! Splurge a little!

And I was so glad we did! What an experience… We ate in the small hotel bar as the Dali lunchroom was fully seated. The waiters are all attired in coats and ties, super dressy. Our coats were whisked off to a coatroom out of our sight. Chairs were pulled out to seat Mary and me, while Cece & JJ sat at the couch. Menus were produced, and we had to laugh at Cece and JJ, because they selected the Pop Art Hamburger, while Mary & I had french fare. I chose scallops with smoked cauliflower and Mary had Chicken Rivoli, chicken with artichokes. 

My dinner arrived first, well before everyone else’s, and at first we wondered if it was some sort of appetizer. About 8 small scallop circles over a skimpy pile of cauliflower. I didn’t really recognize it as my dinner for a good 10 minutes. And I was the only one willing to taste it, so luckily it was my dinner! 

The hamburgers were actually steak sandwiches with french fries and very good, according to Cece & JJ. Mary’s chicken had a delicious sauce… Wish I’d gotten the recipe. After the plates were taken away, we got two dishes of chocolates, most of which I got to eat because no one else liked chocolate that much. Of course that was just a lovely treat. Cece & JJ had cappuchinos while I had a chocolate souffle. The cappuchinos came with more chocolates, and I wanted so badly to get a little doggy bag, but oh so tacky to ask for one! So I left them on the table. 

 

skimpy, delicious dinner

why, when you pay more, you get less??

 
  
Before we left, I had to make a trip to the toilet after hearing Mary & Cece’s glowing reports. Oh my! An electronic toilet that I would LOVE to have in my outhouse in Fairbanks! Or at least the heated seat part I would love to have. Had to try out the bidet too, of course. Quite pleasant! Not sure if I would use it very often if I had one, but it was an interesting experience. The hand washing part was pretty normal, except for the cloth towels that really do dry your hands. 

While we ate, I, of course, was gawking around, staring at everyone and seeing what they were eating. I glanced back at the gentleman behind us, dressed in a suit complete with vest and tie, and he said Merry Christmas, to which I responded with Joyeux Noel. I think he was enjoying eavesdropping on our conversation. I meant to say goodbye to him too, when we left, but forgot. I’ll always wonder what might have happened… 

Mary wanted to see Cece & JJ’s room, so we rode the elevator which was probably twice the size of the one at the Hotel Saint Marcel, where Mary & I are staying. Likewise, Cece & JJ’s room is twice as large too, with a toilet and sink in one room and the bathtub/shower in another, with a heated towel rack. There is a spa and exercise room in the hotel, which we toured. Beautiful swimming pool, small but perfect for lap swimming. And you get a hotel bathrobe and slipper set. I’m jealous, a little!

We caught another taxi home and Mary promptly fell asleep. She’s been battling an awful cold, and between that and her leg (she broke her leg last year and it’s been difficult for her to walk very far), she has been having a tough time. I goofed around on the iPad and finally realized it was almost dark and if I wanted to see anything on a walk I’d better get going. I can’t believe it took me so long to realize that we were within 2-3 miles of pretty much everywhere I’d been for the last couple of days. The embroidery shops were farther away, but Notre Dame, Cece & JJ’s hotel, Musee d’Orsay, the Louvre, l’Orangerie… A good share of the places I’ve seen are very close to our hotel. Tomorrow I am walking to Le Marais, the Jewish quarter, and I’ll be able to walk along the Rue LePrince, which is named after a friend’s relative. And the Jardin Luxembourg. 

Tonight I started out by walking by the Natural History Museum and Jardin des Plantes, which unfortunately was closing just as I went by. I kept going and stumbled on this cute little street, Rue Mouffetard, with tons of restaurants and little shops, that is apparently walking only. Many of the restaurants were open even though it is Christmas. I might have to drag Mary here tomorrow night; we could take a taxi so we could enjoy walking along Rue Mouffetard. I stopped at Starbuck’s-barf, but I wanted a decaf coffee, which “it was too late, they were closing in less than an hour”. What the hell closing had to do with decaf coffee I have no idea. So I kinda stomped out of there, but what the heck, it’s just coffee. So I wandered around a bit more, finally got back to Blvd Saint Marcel, and stopped at Le Canon des Gobelins where I had two Jamison’s and a plate of Fines Claire, these specially grown oysters. Not that I needed more to eat, but oysters… I couldn’t resist. 

So, now I will stumble home and add some photos and get this online for you!

December 24, Paris

It’s getting a little hard to keep the days straight… good thing the photos are dated! 

Here are today’s photos: https://goo.gl/photos/EikqN72UJx839kDL6

I started out by walking up to Place d’Italie, which had caught Mary’s attention for some reason. Because she likes Italian food I think. It’s the end of the metro line we take to Gare d’Austerlitz, our stop to get home to Hotel Saint Marcel. Anyway… Place d’Italie is a huge roundabout, with a park in the center of it. Lots of shops and cafes surrounding the roundabout, as well as this huge shopping center Italie Duex, with 130 shops. There’s an elevator that would give you a great view of the area, but the guard said I couldn’t go up to take pictures, darn it all. 

So I hopped on the Metro and went up to the Louvre where I started off on foot. Walked through the Louvre carousel, which is another shopping area complete with Apple store and a post office. I’d stopped at the post office I found at Place d’Italie, but it was automated and I could not figure out what stamps I needed for postcards. It turns out envelopes and post cards are weighed and under 20 grams or centigrams or something, everything gets the same postage. The Louvre post office had a person I could speak with, so he sold me a bunch of stamps I can use on postcards or envelopes & cards. 

 

Apple + Louvre

Can you believe this?? At the Louvre!

 
I did a teeny bit of Christmas shopping; there was a really nice museum art store where I picked up a small item for some lucky person. June Lee had some interesting pieces in the store, which I adored but wasn’t quite sure what I would do with, if I got one, so I just took a picture.

 

fun glasses by June Lee

June Lee’s artwork; I could try to make something like this!

 
I wandered out of the Louvre, which I had no interest in visiting. Too many people, too many paintings, too touristy; I just don’t enjoy that kind of thing. So I strolled through the Tuilleries, a huge formal garden, and really enjoyed that. Except for the lady fundraising for a deaf institute; she basically hijacked 23 euros from me before I realised what was going on. Well, the money went to a good cause, but I didn’t appreciate her tactics. But the dogs distracted me a few minutes later-this group of loose dogs, totally well behaved… I couldn’t believe they weren’t running amok. Wish I had that kind of training skill! Three dog walkers with their charges. Unfortunately the handler I spoke to didn’t have a great command of English nor was he interested in talking to me, so I didn’t find out anything beyond that they were dogwalkers. 

No real plan for today, so I just meandered around the area people watching and going through shops until I was to meet Mary at l’Orangerie, a small museum with some of Monet’s murals. I walked through Printemps, a huge, very pricey/upscale department store and borrringggg… Until I went outside and passed their windows. Oh, so cute!! They had four windows with animated dolls in various costumes twirling around in the windows. Just darling, but I didn’t get very good photos because of the reflection on the glass. I had hoped to visit Maxim’s collection of Art Nouveau, but drat! it was closed for the holidays.

 

animated dolls at Printemps

Animated dolls at Printemps; wish I had a better photo

 
I was meeting Mary at three at l’Orangerie, a small museum in one corner of the Tuilleries. Fantastic Monet murals; it was absolutely worth going just to see those. The movie about the murals was informative and I had a much greater appreciation for the murals after seeing the movie. The rest of the artwork I wasn’t so excited about, but I am so glad I did see Monet’s murals, the Water Lilies. They were a gift to the city after WWI; Monet felt very guilty to be working on his art, while others were giving their lives to their country. He also wanted to give ordinary people a place to be calm after being in the craziness of the city. That’s why he picked l’Orangerie; right outside the building is this really busy street, but you come into l’Orangerie and go into the room with the murals and it is just instantly calming (inspite of all the goofy tourists taking photos-and yes, Mary & I were right there with them!). 

We took the bus home together, and found that we had goofed up and no restaurants were open nearby by the time we got to the hotel. So we had the cheese plate, the meat plate-hors d’ouvres at the hotel-and she had tea while I had Calvados. Now that was intense! I went for a walk and got lost, and was pretty glad I could use the iPhone map to get back! I tend to not pay attention to where I’m going, so getting back can be difficult sometimes. I rely on my iPhone too much, and I’ve had it only a year and a half. Well, if I didn’t have it, I guess I’d pay more attention!

Shopped til I dropped

Well, not really, because there was plenty of public transportation between stops. But I did find my embroidery stores, except for one that moved. I was going to take L’Open, but Mary persuaded me that the Metro would be faster. Glad I listened to her! 

The cell phone photos: https://goo.gl/photos/wgi2LKJtYoDFxTPt6

 

La Mercerie Parisienne

lovely, lovely haberdashery, La Mercerie Parisienne

 
My first stop was near the Bastille, La Mercerie Parisienne. What a treasure! A lovely little haberdashery set off the street in small courtyard. Very French, very tasteful, lots of buttons and trims, some fabrics. There were some lovely patterns that I rather lusted after, but given that I have a very full box of them at home, I didn’t buy any. There were some adorable clothing patterns for dolls too, but I couldn’t find the doll pattern so I didn’t get any. By the time I got some help from the sales clerks, I totally forgot about the patterns. Not that the clerks were rude at all-on the other hand, they were very sweet and helpful. The first one that went to help me didn’t speak so much English, so another lady helped me. I asked if they knew what crazy quilting was, and the one didn’t, but the lady that ended up helping me gave me a name of a very well known French crazy quilter, Lea Stanzaltz. I haven’t had a chance to look her up yet, but if I can find a website or something, I’ll add it here. So, I bought some buttons, some trims, and some fabric. Bias tape is way different here; I imagine you can find the typical packages we buy in the U.S., but so far all I’ve seen is small lengths of it wrapped around wooden spools or loose in small packages. It’s also patterned, not plain like in the U.S. The same is true of piping-so much more fun than at home. I didn’t buy out the store, but I had a great time and came away with some nice additions to my collection at home. And the clerk assured me they do mail order to Alaska. Something to think about… Those patterns for instance.

I also forgot to ask about couture fabrics; I had this fantastical idea of stopping at one or more couture houses and coming away with scraps they were going to throw away, for this trip’s crazy quilt project. I brought the start of another chatelaine, and now that I have something to work with, I can get started on it. 

This is the one I made several years ago: 

 

crazy quilt chatelaine

A chatelaine I made several years ago; the center of the flower on the left is a pincushion, and on the right the flower holds a pocket for scissors

 
By now it’s 11:30, and there’s not enough time to get to the next store and still meet Mary at the Notre Dame Cathedral. I opted to walk from the Bastille, where I’d gotten off the Metro, to Notre Dame. Lovely day and it was maybe a 20 minute walk, according to my iPhone. So I followed the instructions until I got close enough to see the cathedral, and then just wandered around. There was an outdoor exhibit in front of the Hotel de Ville (city hall), so I took a couple pictures with the iPhone (forgot the camera this morning, darn it!). I wandered across the Seine; Notre Dame is on an island in the Seine so I just walked over one fork (and yes, there is a bridge!). Lots of small souvenir shops and I stopped and got a dish towel. Figured I had one from Ireland so I should get one from France too. 

 

Art exhibit in front of the Hotel de Ville, Paris

I took photos of just the Alaskan animals

 
I walked over the other fork-the island is very small-and continued wandering. On this side were lots of restaurants and some small shops. I found my way back to the river and stumbled across Tapisserie de la Bucherie, a needlepoint shop. I had to take a look; I love the canvases even though I have no desire to do needlepoint. The woman running the shop was so nice. I didn’t realize she was even French, she had such a mild accent. I even found some fabric to buy! 

By now it was getting close to 1 p.m., when Mary and I had agreed to meet, so I walked back over to the cathedral to look for her. I sat for a few minutes, then decided to visit the toilette. I expected one of those nasty garbage encrusted holes in the ground that I encountered on my first trip to France and was pleasantly surprised to find a clean, attended series of toilet stalls. It cost me a euro, but I appreciated the cleanliness and privacy greatly.

I got back upstairs and almost immediately spotted Mary talking with one of the visitor guides. These young men, outfitted in green with yellow smocks, are supplicants? Priests-in-training. They have to do three days at the cathedral sharing God’s word and information about the cathedral with tourists. Mary and the young priest peer-pressured me into going into the cathedral, which is absolutely gorgeous. The stained glass… Bright and clear and stunning. I do think it’s sacreligious to treat the cathedral as a tourist attraction, but it is still used as a church. Besides, I’m not in charge! And I would have missed a stunning building if tourists weren’t allowed inside!

Mary and I enjoyed a long lunch at a nearby cafe and then went our separate ways. She to a medieval history museum and I to more fabric and notions shopping. Poor Mary’s morning trip was a trial. Her bus driver dropped her off at the wrong end of the street she needed to be on, so she watched bus after bus go by while she limped her way to where she wanted to be. And by the time she got there? It was time to come meet me. So she was tired and bummed by the time we caught up with each other. 

After lunch, when we went in opposite directions, Mary went to her museum and I caught the Metro to Basilique Sacre-Coer (Basilica Sacred Heart), near two shops I wanted to visit. This turned out to be fabric-mecca! I found the first shop, Petit Pan, with no problem using my trusty iPhone instructions. A tiny, delightful little shop with adorable baby clothes and these fantastic tissue covered lamps in a variety of shapes and sizes. I got some more quilting cottons, fat quarters, and some more bias tape. I would have loved to bring home a lamp too, but oh dear, the logistics! So I didn’t even look seriously at them. 

Petit Pan

such an adorable store! I want one of those tissue paper-covered lamps someday!


When I got out of the store, the phone couldn’t find a carrier, so I just started walking. Luckily I was going in the right direction and I must have passed a couple dozen fabric shops on the way to my next stop, Marche St. Pierre. I found it, it was tables and tables of dress making fabrics, and nothing interested me. I figured it was like Ireland and you had to buy one meter lengths-far too much for me. So I turned around and went down to Frou Frou, which I’d passed 4 or 5 stores before my destination. 

Another find! This store was much busier than La Mercerie Parisienne, perhaps because of the time of day? Late afternoon as opposed to midmorning right after opening. Tons of bias tape along with matching fabrics, two revolving shelves of DMC thread-made me wish I had a list of colors I needed, until I looked at the price, 1.5 Euro each. Quite a bit higher than the $0.25 you usually pay at Michael’s or Joann’s. There were some gorgeous books, patterns, and a small home decorating section. I would have loved to get a book or two, but since I don’t read French and they weren’t like the Japanese magazines with tons of illustrated instructions, it didn’t make sense. Maybe in my next life I will take French instead of Spanish. 

Walking back to the Metro I passed more fabric stores-again, all dressmaking fabric. On the main street to the Metro, lots of young men with small cards or watches or other small things for sale. I think the cards were phone minutes? But I didn’t investigate. The train station was full of the same. A somewhat grittier side of Paris than I’ve seen previously. 

By the time I got to Gare Austerlitz, my Metro stop, I was hot, sweaty and badly in need of a toilet. And I wouldn’t have been opposed to a nap as well. I beat Mary home, so I hopped in the shower and dressed in fresh clothes, catching a second wind. I wanted a handbag that I’d seen in a small shop close to the hotel, so headed down there. I bought this gorgeous, fun, bright red flowered bag to haul my iPad, maps, iPhone, pens, sewing and probably an elephant or two as well. 

   

I feel sorry for people that don't like seafood!

Shrimp, oysters and whelks. Yummy!

 
Mary was waiting in the small hotel restaurant for me, so after a glass of wine for me, and orange juice and cold medicine for Mary, we dropped off gear in the hotel room and went to dinner at the cafe next door, Le Baratin. Yummm…. I got this giant seafood platter with whelks, shrimp and oysters. And I did not take any shells home with me! My first time eating whelks; they were chewy and good. Some delicious mayonaisse-based dip that I mainly used on the rye bread that came with my dinner; should have asked what was in the mayo. Mary went upstairs to our room, while I went back to the handbag store, as the control tag had been left in the bag and I wanted it removed. Darn, the store was closed already! So I wandered around a bit in search of chocolate and went back to the hotel empy handed. Another day… 

Paris, at last!

Pretty lazy day. I finally started moving around about 8:30/9:00 a.m., toddling on down to a nearby pharmacie for some hydrogen peroxide for Mary and some facial lotion for me. At Heathrow, we all went through security to get into Britain (no passport stamp though, the customs guy just looked at the passport), and the bottle my lotion was in was too big. Didn’t matter that it was less than a quarter full, the bottle was too big. Hmph! And I thought TSA was picky… 

So after that little errand was attended to, I kept walking and stopped at a cafe for a teeny tiny cup of coffee and a croissant. A real French croissant!! Tasted just like croissants in the U.S. Verrry disappointing! The coffee was very strong, and I’m guessing that sleep is still a ways away for me (I’m writing this at 11:45 p.m.). I knew better, but it tasted so good, and decaf just doesn’t seem to be in the French vocabulary. 

Here are the photos from the day:  https://goo.gl/photos/1vdy9mdY4NeMudF49

Mary was up and ready when I got back, so I took my turn in the shower and once I was dressed, off we went. We took the bus down to the Gare Austerlitz where we caught the sightseeing bus, L’Open Tour. Thirty six euros for two days, which seemed like a great deal at the time. We started on the blue line, switching to the green line so we could stop at the Musee d’Orsay. A friend in Bethel recommended stopping there as it is smaller than the Louvre and has some wonderful artists. We had lunch at Les Deux Musees, a nice little restaurant next to the museum, then purchased tickets at a kiosk on our way back to the museum.

The pre-purchased tickets saved us quite a wait at the museum, so we were both glad we did that. We also had to pass through a security check, which looked like it had been implemented before the attack on Paris, the equipment didn’t look that new.

The Musee d’Orsay is a lovely building, and huge. The central atrium is surrounded by 4 floors of artwork. No, I didn’t view all of it! Van Gogh, Gaugin, Signat on the second floor; some gorgeous furniture and home furnishings; statues, statues, statues… One small one in particular that I enjoyed (unfortunately I didn’t pay attention to the artist’s name) was of a knight leap frogging over a monk. Too hilarious and yet extremely detailed and accurate (except how could a knight leapfrog anything, let alone a monk, with all that armor on?), and very lifelike, inspite of the small size (roughly 24 inches high). There are some really nice pieces of artwork and I really should have had more patience and spent more time there. Possibly the early morning coffee had something to do with the lack of patience? As well as the crowd of people. I thought this museum would be much quieter. Whatever, I still enjoyed it. 

We continued our bus tour, and yes, it was pretty awesome. The bus went down the Champs Elysees (sorry, I don’t know how to put the diacritical marks in) and I forgot to mention that the bus is a double decker, so the top is roofless, which means you can see everything and it is totally awesome to look down and see that the bus is just inches from scraping the side of some car. Anyway. It was somehow anticlimactic to see the Champs Elysees, it’s just another street in Paris with the Arc D’Triomphe at the end of it. But it’s the Champs Elysees! And the Arc d’Triomphe! So it was pretty cool. There’s sort of a street fair on either side of the street at the beginning; then there’s this major shopping district with all the big names, and finally you get to the Arc d’Triomphe. Huge, it is huge! The cars and the people look like little toys next to it. 

Ten minutes later, I caught my first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. It looks like a giant Erector set. Except for, yeah, again, that danged thing is huge! And it’s the Eiffel Tower! Being afraid of heights I had no desire to get to the top of it, elevator or no elevator, but it was still very cool to see the real thing. There’s a huge park at one side of it, which we did not take time to explore, including a small dog park. Beautifully landscaped (the dog park, I mean), fully enclosed, but awfully small. Okay, the park around the tower is beautiful too! And I saw two equestrian police officers, which made me wish we’d gotten off the bus so I could pet them. Oh, if that ain’t silly! Ah well, pretty horses and nicely turned out they were!

We rode back around (the bus, not the horses), going past the Champs Elysees this time, so Mary could stop at the tour bus main office and upgrade her ticket so we could ride again tomorrow. Even though it’s expensive, you get a fast shot at seeing a lot of Paris. You could do the same thing on public buses, but it would take you forever plus you’d be tearing your hair out trying to catch all the right buses. Why go through all the stress? While she did that, I rummaged through a couple department stores to see if I could find something to tame my hair, and keep it from getting windswept all over my face. I mostly gave up worrying about it, except for when I was trying to photograph something. I could always get the scissors out!

We switched to the yellow line, which I found frustrating because now we were sitting in rush hour traffic. Like I spent all this time & money and I’m stuck in traffic? In Paris? Don’t they know we’re on vacation?? Okay, it wasn’t that bad! We decided to jump off and head home when we got close to the Gare du Nord; by this time it’s about 5 p.m. Stomachs are starting to rumble and Mary was starting to fade. 

While she took a brief nap, I decided to go for a walk around our neighborhood and scout out a place for dinner. Hit the jackpot on this walk-I not only got a new Sim card for my phone (so I can text-aka bug!-my dogsitter, and use the maps), I found a small shoulder bag I really like (just need to make sure the iPad fits), and an Italian restaurant for Mary. Score! I picked up Mary and we headed out for dinner. Our waiter was a kick in the pants; so young and cute! A real charmer. And awesome food, again. Can’t wait to see what we get tomorrow night! 

And that is it for today. Mary’s fast asleep and I’m almost ready to quit. Will load photos and add the link tomorrow; the internet is just too slow right now.

Off to France!

The girls-Becky and Babe, my Boston Terriers, will be in Roxanne’s safe hands while I’m gone. The suitcase is packed, there’s clean sheets on the bed, and the bathroom is spotless. All I have to do is sleep tonight and get on the plane tomorrow!

This trip is a total whim. This summer I managed to snag two free plane tickets by getting bumped (twice!) on a flight to Los Angeles, and I was casting around for a destination when my friend Mary said “Hey, you wanna go to France?”. And sure, why not? I criss-crossed France a couple times way back in ’78, and I’ve been through Paris, but haven’t stopped long enough to eat a croissant and walk to the top of the Eiffel Tower. So what the heck! Here I go!

I’ll stop overnight in Seattle and Staten Island, before hopping on a flight to London, switch planes and finally land in Paris on Monday. I’m anticipating cool, but not cold, weather. As of this writing, Paris is clear and 55 degrees. Much warmer than 10 degree Bethel, Alaska! There’ll be some museums, one or two embroidery/fabric stores, and a whole lotta walking going on in Paris, Bayeux, St. Malo, and Avignon.

I’ll be posting here and on my Flickr site (http://www.flickr.com/photos/cowgirl53/) hopefully daily, but at least 3 or so times a week. 

Joyeux Noel!!