Thursday, February 26, 2009

Oct 26-Monday Pere Lachaise & Notre Dame (Again)

Rain Rain GO Away! Our plan for the day was to go to Versailles. Fortunately Shane double checked the info before we got on the train. It’s closed on Mondays. Hum. Change of plans. We opted for Pere Lachasie, a fine old cemetery in Paris with lots of famous people in it The City of The Dead We seem to be on a theme here in Paris

Pere Lachaise was beautiful, fascinating and a little creepy (sound familiar?) Very gothic and lovely with lots of famous people buried there. Chopin, Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, George Harrison, Jim Morrison, Isadora Ducan and the most heartfelt monuments to the Holocaust I have ever seen. Since it was the week before Tousaint (All Saint’s Day, Nov 1) many people were there visiting and sprucing up family graves. The ravens were everywhere and were happy to add to the creepiness by flying around and landing on the top of crypts posing nicely for pictures. We met a young couple who were working on a documentary about students living in France. They asked Shane if she would be willing to be a contact for consulting.
How fun!


<---Edith Piaf

Holocaust ----->

After Pere Lachaise we stopped at a little Greek café. Cheap and wonderful. The man running the place was very nice. Everyone so far in Paris has been really nice to us. I think if you try and speak French, even badly, and act like a decent person you will have no trouble.

Next we went back to Notre Dame so we could see it in the daylight. It was a good choice as the back area was open to the public. It was closed when they were saying mass so we did not see it last night.

After we saw more of the inside we went around to the back of the building which I think is much prettier and much more interesting from an architectural viewpoint than the front. You can see the flying buttresses nicely.

This tree was behind Notre Dame I thought it was cool. The boats were on the river out front of Notre Dame.

These birds were really funny. They are in the bushes in front of Notre Dame. People come up with bits of bread in their hands and the birds just fly right up and land on them. Shane was trying to lure a pigeon but she had no bread and the pigeon caught on pretty fast.

Hungry now and in possession of an umbrella we set off to the Latin Quarter. We had dinner at Bistro 30 upstairs. The food was wonderful and the waiter cute. He flirted with Shane a lot so he also has good taste. It’s so funny to sit so close to the other people. I am glad they speak French and I don’t or I would always feel like I am eavesdropping on their conversations!

After dinner both of us headed off to the bathroom, which was at the top of the long flight of stairs leading to the second floor where we were seated. I came out first and as I was coming out the waiter dropped a whole tray of glasses down the stairs. It made a HUGE crash. I clapped quietly and he laughed and took a bow. Shane came out of the bathroom and said “Mom you didn’t cause that did you?” ACKKKK…NO!.

We went back to the hotel and bed early as we had to be up and off to the TGV (train) at 6:30am.

Bon Nuit.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Oct 26 -Sunday Catacombe & Pantheon

Got up at 9:00 am and off to the Café Du Marche for breakfast. Sunday brunch. Croisant, juice, tea, eggs & salmon. Many things were closed because it was Sunday, including the Monoprix (upscale small walmart type place) where we had hoped to get a hold of a corkscrew. We need a corkscrew…grrrrrr.

Off to the catacombs (yes of course on the metro). Shane went and got in the very long line. I went to the corner public toilet where I saved an elderly woman from a power washing. The toilets close up and power wash after every use. She tried to scoot right in behind me as I was going out. All I could think to say was NO!!! NO!!! LA DOUCHE!! (shower). Her daughter grabbed her and thanked me.

The catacombs were awesome, and freakish. Six million people’s bones piled up or in lovely patterns.

Shane doing her Blair Witch Imititation!

Getting out was terrifying 83 steps about 20” wide spiraling. Thought I might have a clue now how all those bones got there. I did finally make it to the top and sat in the chair. The guard asked if I was ok. I looked behind me and there was a flashing DIFIBULATOR! YIKES! Next to it on a table were some skulls and bones. Shane and the guard explained that those were the items taken that day from people trying to steal them. WHO STEALS BONES FROM A MONUMENT????

My new goal is to become a ventriloquist so I can hang out in the catacombs and scare people. I said that while I was down there and some girl said I was twisted. Nice to have my talent recognized.

We were next considering the Louvre, however, there was a little euro store (dollar store) in our path and VIOLA! they had a corkscrew! We realized after we bought it that they would confiscate it at the Louvre. Maybe lunch and the Luxembourg Gardens.

We found a great upscale Creperie and parked. I had a crepe with ratatouille. It was wonderful. We happened to be facing the Pantheon and so we ditched our plans for the Luxembourg Gardens and went to visit all the dead people at the Pantheon. Voltaire, Zola, Mdme Currie, Braille and many others. There was a great special exhibit on Zola. The Pantheon was a spectacular work of art in itself as well as a great way to learn some French history.

The guy on the left is Voltaire.

Yes.. really, this last one is the guy’s heart in a jar. He was very important.

Our next plans involved the corkscrew and some picnic food. We were cold though so we went back to the hotel and changed. Back on the metro. We bought a bag of roasted chestnuts from a lady outside the metro station. They were gross. Now we know. We found a tiny market to purchase our feast. Cheese, bread, grapes, apples, olives and some chocolate pudding. We didn’t really want the pudding but we had no cups. Buying the pudding was cheaper than buying a 50 pack of cups. We planned on eating the pudding first then using the jars for wine. Back on the metro to the Eiffel Tower. There’s a great big field of grass behind it where people go to picnic and others go to try and bum cigarettes from picnicking people.

I took this picture with my phone. I still have it as my screen.

The pudding was gross. I ate mine. Shane dumped hers on the grass. She said there are so many dogs people will just think it is poop. Nice. We called Uncle John to wish him Happy Birthday!

The picnic was great until it started raining then is was still great in a kind of soggy way but by then we were ready to go. More metros. More stairs.

We got back to the hotel and I went on the shower adventure. The shower was on the fourth floor. I found it. The token went in a box then you got 10 minutes of water. I put the token in and nothing happened. I banged on the box. Yep, that did it. It was a nice hot shower.

Got back to the room and Shane was sound asleep. There was a little more wine in the bottle. It was raining harder now so I poured myself a glass, opened the windows and looked out on my shiny wet patch of Paris. It was lovely. It looked like a French painting.

Bon Nuit.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Day 1 Oct 24/25 (Fri-Sat) Flight & Paris

I started my trip with a flight to Salt Lake City and was entertained the whole way by the little girl behind me who screeched at intervals for no apparent reason other than sheer joy. The screech was usually punctuated by a kick to the back of my seat. I prayed she was not going to be continuing on the 10 hour flight to Paris.

I got on my flight to Paris to find a 21 month old boy was going to be in the seat behind me. Oh joy! He did not screech and only kicked occasionally.
I arrived at 10:30 am Paris time. I was thinking that I would be able to see the Eiffel Tower as we came in. Silly me. Not only was it very foggy and we were lucky to even see the runway, the airport is quite a ways from downtown. I did find my luggage and sat down in baggage to wait for Shane. I waited and waited. I tried to call her but found my international phone did not like her number. Eventually I noticed everyone else was going out the door with the big sign that said SORTIE. No one seemed to be meeting anyone in baggage claim. I picked up my stuff and went out the door. The first thing I saw was SHANE! Whew.
We shoved our luggage (she had luggage too as she was a long way from home and on vacation as well.) through the train gate stiles and got on the RER to Paris.

We took the RER and a million metros with a zillion stairs into the heart of Paris and found ourselves standing on a street corner, lost. Lost in downtown Paris. Lots of cars whizzing by and people rushing around. We guessed, and started up the street.

We guessed correctly! After much walking we found our little hotel, Hotel Picard, on a tiny quiet side street. It was very old, very quaint and very French. I learned that the “first floor” everywhere is really the second floor. We hauled our luggage up the stairs which were marble until they went out of view then became ugly asbestos, to the desk.

The people were very friendly. We got our little room facing the street across from the bathroom (toilet only, shower is on the 4th floor).

It had beautiful tall windows that opened so you could lean out and see the tree-lined street.
There’s no rest for the jet lag sleep deprived so after we got checked in (our room was not ready yet), we went for some food. On the way we passed a rotisserie cooking lots of chickens. I pointed and said VIOLA! UN POLET! (Look a chicken) Shane had told me I would not be able to use that phrase in France. She admitted she was mistaken.
The area around our hotel had lots of little cafes (really all of France has lots of little cafes) so we decided on the Café Du Marche. We sat outside. There are lots of people with lots of dogs that they clearly adore. I loved watching them. I even saw a beagle! After lunch we decided to go in search of a cork screw as Shane had a picnic behind the Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel) planned for tomorrow night and we had no way to access the great Beaujolais she brought from Lyon. I of course being a trained observer, already knew where a wine shop was located. They, in true French fashion, did not have anything to open wine bottles with. (This topic will carry on in tomorrow’s journal.)
Well fed and now checked into our room we decided to head out to Sacre Cour. When you leave you turn your hotel key (an actual key) into the desk clerk because if you lose it there are not spares.

A million more metros and a zillion more stairs (by the end of the trip we figured out that we traversed on an average approx 500 stairs per day in Paris. Only people who have been to France will believe me. )

Sacre Cour was stunning. You go up this touristy shopping road that is kind of like a big alley and then WOW there it is RIGHT in FRONT of you….Note the green carousel top way up the road in the first picture, then the carousel in the second picture.

The view of Paris from Sacre Cour was lovely.

More stairs!!!! And worth every one!!!! Shane did introduce me to the funicular, sort of an elevator/tram.

I saw gargoyles….. Here, you can too!
Next we headed off to Notre Dame. It was getting close to dark. Nice lighting for picture

They were conducting mass. It was of course magical and touching and yes, they allowed pictures

Next back to a whole bunch more metros to the Eiffel Tower. There seems to be a trend here of hiding the great things and then just springing them on you!

Of course we did go around to the front!

The stars and non-traditional blue lights are in honor of France marking its six-month presidency of the European Union by lighting up the Eiffel Tower in blue with yellow stars, recalling the EU flag. Every hour it starts twinkling for 5 minutes.

We had dinner near the Eiffel Tower. It was marginal and expensive. The people next to us were from Alabama. They ordered Pepsi. It was 8.50 euro (approx $12.00 ea). We drank wine. It was much cheaper. It comes in a pichier (pitcher) a cute little pitcher at that.

In trying to get back we missed the metro station but found a crepe wagon. Yummmmm banana nutella crepes! Shane got into a heated conversation regarding Lyon football (soccer) and Marseille football with the one of the guys in the wagon who was from Marseille. The other guy told this story about a chef losing a star in his rating and putting a pistol to his head. Even I understood that conversation in French as it was well animated. What a fun conversation!!! (Really they were very nice, very funny and very friendly.)

We finally figured out the reason we kept missing our stop was because the metro station we were looking for was closed for several days for repairs. It was the one closest to our hotel and of course would open back up the day we left. 3 more metros back to our hotel.

We walked back to our hotel. On the way Shane taught me how to say “ I want to use the shower tomorrow morning.” The desk man handed me a token.

It’s midnight. The street below is now very busy with a hopping little café right underneath us. If I wasn’t drop dead tired we would go!

Bon Nuit.....zzzzzzzzzzzzz

Introduction To This Journal

Bon Jour!

This is the start of journaling my trip to visit my daughter in France last fall. I thought it I get started one day at a time I might get it done.

We spent 3 days in Paris, 3 days in Lyon and 3 days in Marseille, then one last night in Paris. My daughter (Shane) lives in France as she is studying to be a teacher and was living in Lyon at the time. She how is working as an intern teach in Poitiers. Her blog is a running journal of her time seeing "A Little Bit Of This World".

I am going to get going one day at a time. I have the first week or so finished then it might slow down a bit.

We had a great time so it should be entertaining. If not the pictures are good.

Bon Voyage!