Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Europe - Part 2

Since I am finally getting the first of our photos from Paris uploaded, I thought I would tell you a little about our first day in Paris. When we arrived on Monday night it was so late that we really didn't see much other than a quick glimpse of the Eiffel Tower and Sacre Coeur as the shuttle headed to our hotel. But, despite the late night, we were up early. Our tour guide, Pablo, picked us up at 8:30 for our day long tour. Pablo turned out to be the best tour guide we could have wanted. He was full of information and stories about all of the things we saw. He started out just driving us around to give us a quick tour of the city. It was hard to decide where to look at times. Our first stop was at Notre Dame, where we had time to go inside and take a tour. What an amazing cathedral!! Then we headed off to see more, ending up on Montmartre, where we stopped to see Sacre Coeur - another amazing church. We also had some time to just wander around - of course Christy found a gelato shop for a little snack! Quite a view from there - you don't realize how large the city is until you see it from up high. Then it was back down to the Eiffel Tower for a late lunch at the restaurant on the first floor up. They called it a "gourmet picnic", and it really was quite good - as were the views. Then we went up to the second and top floors - the views were amazing even though it was quite cloudy and overcast, and threatening to rain. At one point we weren't sure we would actually make it up to the top because of rain, but they only had it closed for about 15 minutes. There were times while we were up in the Tower that you would have sworn that every person in Paris was up there it was so crowded, and their system for selling tickets to the elevators was very inefficient, but it was worth it in the end. This was also where we learned that Europeans really have no concept of standing in lines - it's each man for himself, and they have no qualms about pushing right through you. After we got down we headed across the street and found we were right on time for our cruise on the Seine. It was so nice to just sit and relax and watch the city float past. We saw some things we had seen earlier in the day, but from a different vantage point. When we got back to the hotel, we were afraid that if we sat for too long, we might never get back up again, so we headed out to explore the area around our hotel. Our hotel was nice and in an excellent location - just a block from the Louvre. But, the rooms were TINY! Carl and I couldn't even open a suitcase without putting it up on the bed. The kids were a little better off - they could open one. Anyway, we wandered around checking out all of the little cafes in the area, and finally had a really nice dinner not far away. By the time we were done with dinner it was raining, so we just headed back to the hotel, with a stop for ice cream and coffee for dessert. It truly was an amazing day - seeing so many of the things you think of whenever you think Paris - The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, the Arc de Triomphe, the Grand Palace, etc. We couldn't wait for the next day and the Louvre!!!

The first photo is Notre Dame, the second is Carl, Sean, and Christy on Mont Martre, and the last is, of course, the Eiffel Tower! Note the grey skies in all of these photos - we only got fleeting glimpses of the sun the whole time we were in Paris.

More to come later!

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