We drove to the nearest train station (20 minutes away) Friday morning and caught the 8:00 AM train to London. Once in London we had to walk to the International train station (our original train wouldn't take us there). It was about a 15 minute walk although we had bags to carry. Mine was on wheels, but Joe had a duffel type bag so he had to carry it. Once we got to the International train we eventually boarded another train to take us straight to Paris (two hour train ride). The ride was uneventful and the scenery didn't look much different than that of England. At least what we saw out of the windows on the way.
All of the directions for the above, walking to the train stations, tube stations and the walk to the hotel I had written down in minute detail in my trusty notebook that goes everywhere with me. Thank goodness. The only hard part was finding the right places to go once we were in the stations. But with virtually no mishaps the tube dropped us off near our hotel so we managed to walk there and arrived at our hotel that afternoon in one piece.
|Our hotel was very nice, but look at this OLD elevator! You had to open the cage door |
to step in!
handle carriers. (YES I tried them and YES they were delicious, amazing in fact.) The food was just as fantastic. The French Onion Soup was the best we've ever had and to die for. How did I go from dogs to food so fast? Geez, there's no hope for me.
Anyway, I was amazed when a couple of well dressed women came in with a dog! They sat right down at a table and ate there. Soon after that another person came in to eat with their dog. When that dog walked by the one who was already there
they started barking at each other which caused a kind of a commotion for a few minutes. I looked around and no one seemed to notice. So I asked the waitress about it and she said that dogs are welcome anywhere with one exception...they can't go into grocery stores. I was VERY surprised,especially in Paris as it seems to be such a chi chi city. I liked the idea though. Wish it pertained to other cities.
Our hotel was near the Eiffel Tower so we walked over to it and around that evening and then made it an early night at the hotel. I felt like I had walked miles that day. Naturally Joe says it wasn't that far. We always disagree when it comes to the physical aspects of things.
|Palais de Chaillot|
Houses naval museum, ethnology (a branch of anthropology) museum and a theater.
|Jardins du Trocadero|
Created for the International Exposition held in Paris in 1937.
|Statues near the entrance to the above.|
The next morning I had planned for us to take a bike tour of Paris. We had been told about a bike tour company called Fat Tire Bikes. They have tours in a lot of major cities in Europe and the US. Actually the company is based in the US. The Americans that we met in Scotland told us about the Paris tour and highly recommended it. The tour met at the south leg of the Eiffel Tower on Friday morning at 11:00. We were there and ready to go.
It was a beautiful sunny day,temperature around 70 degrees. It couldn't have been more perfect. There were about 25 riders. The bikes were kind of heavy and had only three speeds. But Paris is flat as a pancake so there was no worry that one keep up on the tour. It was a four hour tour with a stop for lunch. After tooling around getting used to our bikes we set off. We had a mixture of different age people on the tour. They even had tandem bikes for adults who had kids that could sit on the bike behind the adult and help pedal. There were a couple who each had one and rode their two daughters behind them. It looked like great fun for the kids, and made us think of our five year old granddaughter Caroline. How she would have loved it! Our fellow tourists were from America, Amsterdam, Australia, Canada and Switzerland. The tour guide was American, as most of the young people who worked for the company. What a great opportunity for them, huh? They get to live in a foreign country, ride bikes for a living while experiencing all kinds of fun.
We rode in a big group through narrow streets, parks, bike paths and on major roads. Our guide (Brian) told us as long as we stayed together (especially through intersections) that no cars could divide us. Kind of nerve wracking at times! It was such a pretty day and so much fun though. We stopped at all the landmarks and listened to our guide tell us about the places, the history and so forth. It was really informative and entertaining. We didn't have time to go into any sights but that wasn't the purpose of the tour. It was more of an overview. A great way to get a feel for the city, especially if you are there for a short time like we were. I only wish I would have had more time to get better pictures of this stuff! It was all so interesting.
|Ecole Militaire (Military School)|
Founded by Louis XV in 1750
|Our tour guide, Brian on a bridge overlooking the River Seine|
|Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel|
Built by Napoleon in 1806 to commemorate his military victories.
It is topped with eight soldiers of the empire and covered with
intricate carvings of the many battles.
|House boats along the River Seine. Notice the tomato plants in the planter!|
The spaces that the houseboats are in are extremely cheap and hard to get!
The waiting list is 40 years long as they usually get handed down from family to family.
|I actually snapped this picture while riding. This is some of the nice|
paths we got to ride along. See the tandem bike on the left?
|A neat decoration actually UNDER the bridge. This bridge is right|
around the corner from Ponte de l'Alma Road tunnel where
Princess Diana was killed in 1997.
|Here we are in Paris!|
|Brian, doing some of his tricks for us.|
You didn't think that we'd be able to do a bike ride like that without a mishap did you? Aha! You know me well. We were sailing along at a pretty good clip. Joe had been behind me the whole way. He always like to keep me ahead of him when we are walking, riding or whatever. I guess he thinks he can watch and make sure I don't make any wrong moves. So anyway, we
are riding along and all of a sudden something comes flying out of nowhere across the street and in front of the bike in front of me. I thought it was someone's camera. The guy in front of me swerved to miss it and then I swerved. Except when I swerved I hit his back tire and went down like a ton of bricks! It was a nasty fall but also embarrassing. I was kind of shaky and shocked so the embarrassing part didn't really kick in at first. I heard a couple of women exclaiming, "oh no" and "oh my gosh". All of a sudden there were all these people crowded around trying to help me and asking me if I was OK. Joe would have been right behind me on his bike but now that I think of it he was the THIRD person to reach me. I need to ask him what was that all about!
Brian, the tour guide was there immediately, sat me down on the curb and ran to get his first aid kit. I had hit bad on my right knee, but had jeans on so it didn't get scraped too much. I
had a huge scrape down my forearm. That was pretty much it. Brian started taping up my arm as others were standing around offering me water and advice. That's when it started to get embarrassing. I wanted to get up as fast as possible and get on with the tour. Which after about ten minutes we did. My right leg hurt pretty bad, but it was fine to ride. Turns out it was a reflector that had broken off of one of the bikes that had skirted across our paths.
We finished the tour that afternoon and still, even with my fall, I am so glad we did it. I'd like to do one in London. The have them here also. So if anyone who is planning to visit us is interested, let me know! They also have them in Barcelona, Spain, which is another place Joe I would like to visit. Maybe I can make a spectacle of myself in every country!
We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the area and taking in all the sights. There were people everywhere and all kinds of stuff going on in the parks and public venues. People dancing, bands playing, human statues, all kinds of crazy stuff. One of our favorite things to do is to people watch. We did a lot of that with me resting my poor leg.
|The River Seine|
The women in Paris seem to all be sized zero or two! It's not just me saying that. One of the American women on the bike ride mentioned it to me at lunch. She was an average size person, not overweight and she felt huge compared to these women! I swear you could point out the Americans everywhere. If they are even a little overweight and /or wearing tennis shoes (trainers they call them) they might as well hang a sign over their head that says "American". I am not kidding either. Same goes for the American men. They are dead ringers if they have on khaki trousers and tennis shoes or sensible brown shoes, whether they are overweight or not. Naturally we stick out like soar thumbs just like the rest of them though!
The people of Paris are much more stylish too. Both women and mean wear scarves around their necks. It is practically a fashion faux pas if you don't! The women have stylish skirts
or slacks with expensive shoes (usually a heel) and nice coats. Hair perfectly coiffed and matching purse. The men wear skinny black pants or jeans (usually black) with black leather shoes that are very flat and long toed (looking). They have hair down to their collars, long on top, hanging rakishly over their forehead and down over one eye. They sweep it back occasionally with a flick of their wrist. I tried to get some pictures but it was very hard to get those hairstyles without getting noticed. Two young lads walking along caught me and stopped to pose!
At the end of the day, my leg was bothering me and swelling badly so we didn't venture out too far. We found a nice cafe for dinner and called it a day. The next morning we had to leave to catch the train home. This time we called a cab! There's only so much "riding with humanity" that we can take!
Now that I am home I have a leg that is turned completely purple with bruises from above my knee to my ankle. The bruising goes all around my leg front and back (weird) and just today has gone down and covered my foot too. I don't get that, my foot doesn't even hurt! Bruises popped up on my calf on the other leg too. Probably from the bike pedal. Since I am able to walk on it I don't think there's any real damage. But man it looks like someone took a baseball bat too it! Joe checks it out daily when he gets home from work. Today it is turning lovely colors of yellow/green. Ugh.
I had to call my mom when we got home from Paris for a little sympathy...I have squeezed out about as much as I can from Joe!
I must add at the end here that I am getting SO frustrated with this blogger site! It continually changes my font size, moves words around and makes paragraphs when I don't want them. My captions under pictures and some of my left margins are out of line and messy. It just really bugs me.