Thursday, September 20, 2007

Our First Day in Paris

CDG airport was crowded and interesting with all the languages, accents, and signs. It seemed more of the signs were in English than we remember from past trips, and have mixed emotions about that. Part of the joy of traveling for us is experiencing the differences. The only transportation decision we left undecided prior to takeoff was getting from CDG to our hotel. Door to door shuttle (expensive) or train and metro (cheap) would depend on how tired we were upon arrival. We really figured the younger generation would opt for the shuttle. Nope. Bring on the metro. So sure was I that we would not need the directions, only the address, our hotel's location was now a metro-map mystery. So we headed to the east toward Père La Chaise (we felt better than we looked) because at least I remembered that much from the mental map. Ed was able to mangle our suitcase's pull out handle (no more pull out) going through the turnstile on the metro. Rookie mistake. For some reason I had his suitcase and he had ours. His suitcase is fine (BTW).

The stop we (I) picked to get off was the Avron metro stop where we received some really fine help from the metro information guy who ignored the line forming in front of his booth to help us at the wall plan. He even printed out the directions that I should have before we left. Talk about rookie mistakes (mine) and before we go any further, who says Parisians aren’t friendly. That has not been our experience, at all, ever. He told us it was a short walk, and might even have been a pleasant short walk, had we not been wheeling (Ed’s) and alternately lugging and dragging (ours) suitcases. Just FYI, when a roller suitcase retractable handle no longer works, unless you are going to carry it, there is no painless way to move it. It finds a way to damage some part of the lower leg, almost always that tender spot on the back of the ankle, at every bump and turn. Anyway we arrived at Hotel Armstrong after a 15 minute walk, checked in and found the rooms clean and OK with a typically very small bathroom. ( The front desk people were not as friendly as I had hoped given the good reviews on Trip Advisor.

We went out about 5:00 and took the Metro to the Trocadéro on a packed rush hour sort of commute. While on the journey we did meet a nice Croatian couple and their young daughter and had a few laughs. The wife (Davorka) was attending a beauty shop exposition and her family was along for a couple of days. ( … note the "hr" at the end (interesting) and click the link to see some cool Croatian)

As first impressions go, I think it is difficult to beat the view of La Tour approached from the rear of the museum. All of a sudden there it is before you in perfect harmony with it's surroundings. Today it glows in the late afternoon sun with a clear, dark blue, later summer sky behind it.

There was an electronic sign on the bottom stage proclaiming Rugby 2007 with the scores, and they had suspended a huge rugby ball between the first and second stages. (Didn't know anyone still played rugby, and have no clue why they do.)

At the bottom of the museum steps a pavilion had been set up with television cameras and tables, and nicely dressed, nice looking people doing whatever they do at functions like this. We considered walking in like we owned the place to sample what looked like a nice arrangement of edible goodies but decided against. Instead we bought some crepes (Ed was reluctant) and some espresso and off we walked to explore.

Getting our sea legs after so much motorized transport, we walked down and across the bridge, dawdled under the arch (marveling at it’s architecture), checked our directions and headed toward Pont Alexander. We did notice some nice food stores on the way but three quarters of us we were so full from our crepes that we could ignore them with ease.

We strolled over the bridge and then made our way by the Grand & Petit Palais where there was preparation going on for some kind of function, and as at the Rugby pavilion, not the kind of function to which we would be invited. We were now at Les Champs-Elysées and none of us had the desire nor inclination to walk up it … (kinda funny as a must see, but on the first day the idea of walking that walk can be daunting).

Off we went via the Metro over to Cluny and the Latin Quartier and the beautiful square of St. Michel. We ate at Le St. Severin restaurant by the Sorbonne, because we had been there before (with Emily and had an excellent meal), but ya know, ya can’t go back expecting the same experience. Three of us had the fixe prix menu, Kat had the chicken which she enjoyed. We all cleaned our plates, so a moderate success.

Walking back via Notre Dame, we talked ourselves into an ice cream, (why not, we had just finished a full dinner) and at 11:00 it was magical, not crowded, just beautiful. Life is good. We took the metro back to the hotel, this time we got off at the correct stop (Porte de Montreuil) and found that it is a pleasant 2 minute walk back to the Armstrong.

Kat did talk to her mom, who will need shoulder surgery for a torn rotator cuff (a football injury at her age?) So kind of an emotional end to the day.

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