A Travellerspoint blog

Day 24. Paris to Mont St Michelle

sunny 28 °C

Left our hotel at 8:40 this morning and arrived at Charles de Gaul by cab. We had a car reserved for us but by the time we found the car rental desk, got all the paperwork done, found our way to the car park and sorted out the GPS, English please, it was after 11. Then we were off. The car is roomy, has A/C, and is very comfortable but it is a standard shift. Dennis had to reacquaint himself with a standard while trying to get us through the outskirts of Paris. The airport is an hour east of Paris and we were heading west, so we had to retrace our cab ride which took another hour and then we were free of the bumper to bumper traffic. We stopped for a picnic in a rest stop and then headed into rural France but were still on the freeway. We figured out how to reprogram the GPS to avoid highways and toll roads and suddenly we were in farmland on single lane roads. Dennis was feeling dreadful, so Ron took over and got reacquainted with a standard on nice quiet slower paced roads. We continued on to Mont St Michelle and found a hotel for the night. It was a much cooler day due to the A/C in the car so we had a good appetite and went out for a good dinner. We have driven through the the most beautiful French countryside today, through lovely old villages and medieval towns. We went for a short walk and stared at Mont St Michelle. We will go out there tomorrow morning. It was a great day.

Posted by GBallam 13:54 Archived in France Comments (0)

Day 23. Paris, France πŸ‡«πŸ‡·

A walk in the park

sunny 31 °C

We had until noon to use up our Paris pass. So we trekked 5 km to the MusΓ©e d'Orsay. It was a beautiful walk along the Seine and mostly in the shade of trees. By the time we got there it was around 10 AM. No problem, we thought. Well they refused our passes and wouldn't even let us use the loo, even after speaking to supervisor after supervisor and explaining how we understood our Pass privileges. At the time we purchased the passes we had asked the clerk repeatedly how the pass worked and if it was good for 48 hours. Gin asked her in French and I asked her in English several times and the answer was always the same. 48 hours. Well apparently we were misinformed as the pass was only good for 2 calendar days even though we didn't get it until noon. Grrrr. Gin & I were willing to pay the admission but the guys were so disgusted with the way the staff treated us that they refused. So back we walked the 5 k and went to see the cannons and pool and fountain across the river from the Eiffel Tower. By now it had heated up to 31 and we were a little heated ourselves. Lesson number ???? Speak to two different staff at these places and see if you get the same answer. We are still smiling πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ. We had a lovely relaxing afternoon. Went for another walk but it was just too hot and there was no breeze today. It was time for a lazy afternoon and that's just what we did. Dennis is still sick and now has a bad cold, still has a sore throat and feeling pretty rotten. It's all about timing πŸ˜“πŸ˜₯πŸ˜–. I did get some great photos last night and I am still high from the climb up the Arc de Triomphe yesterday. Still 31 at 8 pm when we had dinner. No AC in this old hotel but a fan using the only electrical plug! We are having such an adventure! 😎

Posted by GBallam 13:17 Archived in France Comments (0)

Day 22 Saturday. Paris πŸ‡«πŸ‡·

Banner day for me

sunny 27 °C

We were up and out early to hop on the metro(subway) to get the missing hop on off passes. Once we found the office we were all set to go. We hopped on a bus, sat up top in the open part of the double deck and enjoyed much cooler temps and a breeze as well. It was cloudy 'till noon and we enjoyed the bus tour with narration so we got some history lessons and a better idea of where at we were looking at. We got off at spots along the way and the. Just picked up the next bus. It is a great way to cover a lot of territory. The Arc de Triomphe was the highlight of our day. We went inside and started climbing. I told them all I was going only to the middle level. No way was I going to the top. Well we climbed and we climbed until we reached the gift shop. Gin & I needed a break so we cruised the shop. Anything to quit climbing! We had come so far and still hadn't seen daylight and I so wanted to at least make it half way. We started to climb again and amazingly saw daylight ahead. So I emerged from the stairwell to find myself at the very top. Momentary panic but then I realized I was nowhere near the edge I recovered my composure and Ron attached me to a two step platform that gave me about 300 degrees of railing to hold on to still 10' from the edge. He went off to take photos. By the time he had come to collect me my heart had stopped racing and I wanted to see the other side which meant getting to the rim. And hey, I did it. Hanging on to Ron for dear life but I did it! I am so happy we climbed the 288 stairs and really glad I didn't count! The day was cooler, easier to manage 27 C. with a good breeze and lots of wind when the bus was moving. We went to Notre Dame early and there was a huge outdoor mass in progress so we had to come back later in the day. It was a beautiful Church. We went to the OpΓ©ra Garnier where some of the Phantom of the Opera was filmed but all the tours in English had sold out and the auditorium was closed due to a rehearsal. That was disappointing. But we had a great lunch in the TrocadΓ©ro. We stayed on the bus for another city tour and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We went for a simple dinner and then we were back to the foot of the Eiffel for an evening river cruise on the Seine. That was so much fun. We had a school choir aboard that sang at least half of the time. And they were incredible. Of course their voices carried on the water and we got the attention of all families and young people partying along the banks and strolling over the bridges. We got waves and cheers and applause, whistles and cameras and shouts. Every time we went under a stone bridge if the kids weren't singing they were cheering and the echo was deafening. It was a fun hour. Then we hung around the park at the base of the Eiffel waiting for darkness, which didn't come until 10:30. And then we decided to wait for the sparkle show at 11p that lasted for 5 minutes. The lighted tower is beautiful and the sparkle show was a bonus. Our room in our hotel is covered with a form of ivy and our room has a wide window ledge. There is a pigeon sitting on two eggs in our casement ledge so we are afraid to leave the window open as our window opens right to the bottom of the casement. Dennis and Gin are right above us and while they can leave their window open at night they are bothered by mosquitoes. We walked 16.8 km today and it was a long day. I'm sure we'll sleep soundly tonight.

Posted by GBallam 08:34 Archived in France Comments (0)

Day 21 Friday Paris πŸ‡«πŸ‡·

Culture Plus

sunny 30 °C

We were in the subways first thing this morning to get to the other side of town to get a Paris Pass. Then we walked up to the Louvre and joined the masses. We spent a few intimate moments with Mona and 200 others then on and on we went. There simply aren't words. We had lunch there and Ron had the most expensive cheese burger he has ever had! €20, But it was very good and satisfied a craving for Canadian food. After lunch again Dennis left us as he is still very under the weather. We carried on until we were ready to drop. The paintings, sculptures, ruins, antiquities, all overwhelming. Again it was hot outside and with all those bodies in the Louvre stifling in there as well. The Louvre itself was stunning, so much marble, so many stairs, so many exhibits, so many people. To say impressive would be a gross understatement. We had a Paris pass which entitled us to the "hop on hop off" buses. So we hopped on one to go back to our hotel as it was a half hour walk and it was 33* out in the shade! Well, apparently, while our Paris Pass did entitle us to ride those buses, we were supposed to read our 120 page booklet and go to a Red Bus office to pick up a pass. They had only given us 3 different passes in the morning when we purchased them but we needed a fourth! They had not explained this to us well at all and so we refused to get off the bus. We promised we would go back tomorrow and collect the appropriate pass. We didn't realize, due to not having all the info we needed that the bus took us to Timbuktu and back before taking us back to the Eiffel Tower where our Hotel is. So it took us 90 minutes on a steamy hot bus to take us somewhere we could have walked in 30 minutes. We obviously didn't do our homework on this one. Adventures befall us. We walked under the Eiffel on our way home, hit a cool shower, and flaked out from the day! Even with all the metro and tour bus rides we still walked 13 km today. I think we get a little dehydrated on these hot days as we don't drink enough never knowing where or when the next WC might be found. Kosh's went out for dinner. We did not feel like a hot meal, nor a busy, noisy restaurant so we bought sandwiches and juice at the grocer and brought it back to our room for a little peace. I will never, ever complain about the traffic or the noise in Victoria again!

Posted by GBallam 14:59 Archived in France Comments (0)

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 Comments (0)

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