Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Few Days in Paris - November 1, 2, 3 & 4, 2015 - Part 2

After a good night sleep, we were up early, grabbed a quick breakfast in our suite and took off to hop on the Big Bus again.  We dressed warmly as it was threatening rain and it was a bit nippy.  We decided that today would be monuments and buildings with one museum.  Our first stop for the day was Notre Dame Cathedral.  This is the first time I've seen it without scaffolding around it.  Truly magnificent.  We spent a bit of time both inside and out admiring.

We then headed to St. Chapelle but encountered a long line for security so we took a pass.  Little did we realize that the line at St. Chapelle was probably the shortest we would see all day, lol.

We then walked back to the Big Bus stop and hopped on again. Our next stop was the Musee d'Orsay where we encountered a rather long line.  Fortunately, the wait wasn't long and we were inside and out of the weather.  A former railway station, the museum is huge and contains many wonders!  We spent several hours here and only saw a small fraction of the museum.

 Exterior of the Musee d'Orsay.
 What a treasure!  Van Gogh's self portrait.  Sorry the pic is so bad but take my word, it was magnificent!
The view across the river from the d'Orsay is the Louvre.

Departing the d'Orsay we again caught the Big Bus and headed toward the Eiffel Tower.  Our route on the Big Bus took us past the Arc de Triomphe.  We decided a drive-by was sufficient as we had a lot more to see.

By now, we were getting hungry so made a stop at the Trocadero and found a cafe for lunch.  If you've ever been to Paris, you know how wonderful the cafes are.  Most have both indoor and outdoor seating.  Maybe you didn't know, but outdoor seating usually costs a bit more!  The price you pay to people watch :-)  We chose to sit inside because the weather was inclement.  We enjoyed a lovely lunch of faux filet and frites (steak - but not filet - and french fries) along with the ever present, delightful, crusty french baguette.

Here is a picture of the Trocadero from the front.  When I lived in Paris, I would go there on very hot days and frolic in the fountains!

After lunch it was time for the Eiffel Tower!  We were going to the TOP.  Another long line but again it progressed rather quickly.  We were prodded along like cattle,(with extra shoving from one of the Chinese visitors behind us who just kept pushing and couldn't control herself), but once we got into the actual structure, it wasn't so bad.  We rode the first elevator that glides up the side on a diagonal.  We reached the second floor, had a look around and got on the elevator to the top that goes straight up the middle.  It goes up, and up, and up, and up and ......  I'm kind of leary of heights....

 A carousel near the Eiffel Tower.  I love carousels and probably should have taken a ride.  Next time!
 See the yellow elevator going up the diagonal?
Then it was time to go up the middle. Way, way, way up!  We reached the top without me passing out or throwing up (a good thing).  Stepped out of the elevator and I was fine - there was a good, strong fence around the perimeter and all my fear of heights disappeared.  It was fantastic!  The clouds had lifted and we had pretty good views from the top.  On one side it was quite windy but the other side was calm.

 A beautiful bit of sunshine poked out for us.

I was terrified!  Not really :-)

 In fact, I was thrilled. I love Paris.
 Eric was pretty pleased, too!
The River Seine from the top of the Eiffel Tower.

After a good look-a-bout, we took the elevator back to the second floor and changed to the diagonal elevator to get to the ground. Our next stop was a boat tour on the Seine.  We had purchased the boat tour along with our Big Bus tickets and we needed to go now or miss out.  So, we headed across the street from the Eiffel Tower to the boat launch.  No line here!  We quickly got in queue to board the boat, only to discover we were at the wrong boat!  A quick walk to the other side of the bridge and another short queue, but we still had to wait about 20 minutes.  Oh well......By the time we got on the boat and took off it was nearly dark.  Actually, that turned out just fine as we had seen most of the sights during the day and it was delightful to see them after dark all lit up.  The boat tour lasted one hour and we learned a lot of history about the bridges and various structures.
 Not our yacht :-)
 The queue line for the right yacht :-)
By the time we were finished with the boat ride, it was quite dark and seeing the Eiffel Tower all lit up was a special treat.  At the top of the hour, all kinds of sparkly lights flash up and down the tower, it is something to behold!

After the boat tour we waited and waited and waited at the Big Bus stop for the last bus but it never came along.  There were probably 15 people also waiting.  We finally got impatient after about 1/2 hour and grabbed a cab back to our hotel.  It was nice to get to our lovely room.  We feasted on bread, cheese, hard salami and other various goodies before turning in.  We were tired from a long day of playing tourist and had another day ahead of us.

The next morning we again dined in our suite for breakfast and bundled up.  Today was museum day and we headed to the granddaddy of them all, the Louvre.  It was only a short walk from our hotel.  We checked our coats, grabbed a museum map and made our way inside.  It is massive!  We entered under the pyramid (which was VERY controversial in it's day) and then just gawked.  It is awesome in every sense of the word.  Rather overwhelming too!  We decided to make a plan because you simply cannot see it all.  I really wanted to see the Mona Lisa because it had been on loan when I was last in Paris so we made a beeline for that.

 Looking up through the glass pyramid.

 The great hall, filled with incredible sculptures under the pyramid.
 My honey :-)

Of course, the Mona Lisa was quite a hike and we passed a ton, no, a mega-ton of fantastic art along the way so it took us quite a while to get to the Masterpiece!

 Isn't this amazing?  Fruit and veggies make an outstanding painting! she is!  I was surprised that the painting is kind of small.  For some reason, I expected a larger piece.  It was incredible and worth the long slog to find her.  Funny side story, as I approached the Mona Lisa, there was a woman smack dab in front of the painting putzing with her cell phone.  Not taking pictures or anything like that, just taking up prime space.  As I patiently waited for her to finish and move on, another patron told her to move, that she was in the way and not doing anything productive and to let others get a good view!  Good for him, she moved and I got a good view :-)

I also wanted to see the Napoleon Apartments which I had never seen to we made our way through the various wings to the Apartments.  It was worth the long walk.

 Even the ceilings were over the top spectacular.

The chandelier.....
Can you imagine living like this?  The carpets, furniture, art, dishes, everything was so over the top!

 Dining for about 40?

 A fold up - travel desk.  Sweet :-)

 A crystal vanity?  Nothing but the best for the nobility.

 Even the rugs and carpets were beautiful.
 The Chair....or maybe I should say, The Throne.
We took a break at one of the several cafes inside the Louvre and ordered coffees and pastry.  I didn't take a picture!  Shame on me because the pastries were so beautiful and they were sooooooo yummy!  Oh, they were also soooooo expensive, hahahahaha, but worth every penny.  It was a delightful break and just what we needed.  The Louvre is huge, massive, enormous and we were getting a bit tired.

Next on our agenda was l'Orangerie des Tuileries.  One of my very favorites!  A nice stroll from the Louvre along the Tuileries gardens gave us time to recoup from the crowds.  The weather held steady and didn't rain on us.  Although, we got this view of the Louvre.

The sky was looking very ominous but we stayed dry.

The Musee National de l'Orangerie des Tuileries is so wonderful.  It was a refreshing change from the massive d'Orsay and Louvre.  It is small and intimate and contains some of the most famous Impressionist art in the world.  The entire first floor is dedicated to Claude Monet and the Water Lily series.  It overwhelms the senses.  One simply has to take a sit down and a long look and let the beauty flow over you.

We then went down to the lower level and were not disappointed.  So much beauty.  I absolutely loved this museum :-)

There was so much to see!  From here, we walked back to our hotel suite after a stop at the grocer for some dinner fixings.  We missed a number of places that were on our list to see but one can only do so much in our limited time.  I also love the Rodin Museum and we saw glimpses of a number of sculptures including "The Thinker" as we rode the Big Bus but we simply ran out of time.  That's okay, it gives us a reason to go back to Paris and see the things we missed this time.

When we started this adventure, we decided a nice layover after Egypt would be nice before going home.  We could choose from a number of places, Dubai, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and others. I'm so glad Eric chose Paris!  I'm pretty sure I can talk him into doing another trip there :-)

We had a nice evening in our hotel suite, packed up our bags and got ready for an early morning.  The next day we were up around 4 am, ick, ick, ick!  Our taxi was waiting at the door for us and there was virtually no traffic as we made our way to the airport.  Through security we found our gate and waited for the plane.

The flight home, well, to Atlanta, was long and uneventful.  I tried to sleep for most of the way.  At Atlanta, we only had a short time before our flight to Las Vegas.  We were slightly delayed due to changing airplanes and our seats were changed.  Pfffttttt.......

We boarded the plane and I had a window seat and Eric had the aisle.  There was a woman sitting in the middle seat.  I asked her if she minded moving so Eric and I could sit together.  No problem she said!  Great.  So I asked if she wanted the window or aisle.  She said window.  Great.  I waited, and waited and waited.  Finally she asked what she should do.  I said she should just move over a seat!  Hahahahahaha, guess she was fatigued (or stupid).  Anyway, she moved over, Eric and I got to sit next to each other and again I tried to sleep.  I was tired of traveling and it was so nice to touch down at McCarran Airport in Las Vegas.  We caught a shuttle to the hotel where we had stashed the car and then drove the 130 miles home.

It was dark before we reached the house and it was bliss to drive into our yard.  Oh what?  The garage door wouldn't open?  Heck, I don't need this business.  We tried the opener on the other garage door and it opened so we went in the house that way.  The darn opener chain on the large garage door had come undone with a snapped off sprocket, (an easy fix after the repairman came the next day).  Regardless, we got into the house, dumped our luggage and made for bed.

Being home after our Egypt Cross Challenge adventure and our Paris layover was so very nice.  There really is no place like home.  I so enjoyed our travels and all the things we saw, all the wonderful folks we met and all the adventures we had, but I was glad to be home.

Thanks so very much for following along with this adventure.  I'll be posting an Epilogue soon as there are a number of things I'd like to share with all of you.  Until then....


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