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Day 20 Thursday Amsterdam to Paris πŸ‡«πŸ‡·

sunny 32 °C

Up and outside early taking my last photos of Amsterdam. We made our way to the train station and found the right platform in all of five minutes. And wow does it ever move! We stopped at Schiphol, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Brussels then Paris. We passed by lots of industrial areas and lots of pretty agricultural land, lots of it. Lots of greenhouses too. Oh yes, and windmills. Now Dennis had a plan. We were to arrive in Paris at 2:45, catch a cab to our Hotel and hit the streets. He had the route all mapped out and we were going to do Paris. We arrived at 2:50 and piled out of the train into 32C temp. We had to walk a ways to get into the train station to find that the Paris cabbies were on strike. Since we had not planned for that, we had no maps, no idea where we were in relation to our Hotel, and the busy BUSY train station was full of harried travelers in the same boat. The poor information booths were overwhelmed with us all and beset with bewildered tourists. Some cabbies that were operating "privately" wanted a minimum of €90 to take us to our hotel which should have cost us €20. So we decided to take the metro/subway. We had to stand in line again to get directions. And then we were off. Ginette purchased our tickets and we each had to put the ticket in a slot get through a narrow turn style and out a narrow double door that opened for just a few seconds. Dennis went first and got through without difficulty. Gin went second, sending her luggage through the chute to Dennis waiting on the other side and she got through the doors. I sent my luggage ahead put my ticket in and just made it through the doors. But Ron's luggage was not on four wheels, so he had to struggle through the chute while pushing his luggage sort of sideways because it was so narrow. I grabbed his luggage and pulled it the rest of the way and he made it through the doors but the pack on his back did not. There he was stuck in the doors and panic struck as he struggled to get through. Some one finally came to help pry the doors apart and free him and so began our adventure. Well the subways were never designed for folks who have luggage. And if there were elevators for the handicapped we never saw them. So we started off up eight stairs dragging our luggage with packs on our backs and purses over our shoulders. We turned a corner, took 5 steps and then descended eight stairs. Then about 50 paces ahead we descended about 20 stairs and followed a long hallway to find we needed to descend another dozen. Some fellow took pity on my struggles and took my suitcase down where Ron was waiting to come back up to help me. Finally we reached the subway we needed and made a mad dash for the open door hoping to get us all on before the doors shut and the train left the station. We did. We only stayed on that subway for 4-5 stops before we had to all jump off and follow another labyrinth of stairs up and down to another platform to catch a different subway. We all made it onto that one too and stayed on that for longer, managing to all get off together at the recommended stop. Thank goodness for Gin as we would never have figured it out without her. We made it out of the subway with far less difficulty as an escalator brought us up to street level. By now we are hot, stressed, tired and still unsure how far it is to our hotel. We had heard that the cabbie strike was possibly regional and so hoped to catch a cab from our current destination but alas it turned out to be city wide and there were no cabs in sight. None of us had paid for a European Plan for our phones so we didn't even have google. Dennis managed to get on to some wifi and plugged in the Eiffel Tower knowing our Hotel was close by. 1.1km it said so off we trotted again trying to steer our luggage down uneven pavement booby trapped with garbage bins all set out for tomorrow's pick up. Did I mention it was hot out? Paris streets like all the other cities we have visited are neither straight nor easy to navigate. Dennis is a born leader. He likes to set off, with little or no explanation and expects to be followed. A little disconcerting for the uninitiated! Like little ducklings we followed for a kilometer and suddenly we were mid block when he lost the scent! So we parked our bums on the sidewalk and waited for him to scout out the hotel and come collect us. Did I tell you it was hot and we'd been dragging our luggage hither and yon? And it was hot? Ron got antsy and went looking also and met Dennis in the lobby. 10 minutes later Gin and I were rescued off the side of the street with all the luggage and made our way back with the guys to the lost hotel. Addresses are not what they seem to be here either 😬. We would have been lost without them, well we were lost for a bit with them, but we'd still be riding the subways were it not for Koshs. We splashed ourselves down with cold water and were back on the streets in 15 min. We walked to the Eiffel Tower then turned back for dinner as we were tired, thirsty, hungry and hot. Gin's French has been our saving grace, we cannot even read the menus! We were going to walk back but it cooled off to 28 and dinner and a beer did not revive us sufficiently to carry on. We went to a grocer for bottled water and back to our Hotel for the night.

Posted by GBallam 11:10 Archived in France

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