Monday, September 16, 2013

The City of Light(s)?! But It Rained...

Day 7 Flimwell to Paris, France!

We were all so excited; the City of Light, the City of Love! Le sigh! Paris. FRANCE! We're even taking the Eurostar a/k/a the Chunnel! How cool is this gonna be?!

We got up at 3:30 (am!) to leave by 4:30 (am!) for the Ashford International train station, as the Eurostar for Paris left at 6:17 (am!). Eeeek.

MICKEY?! Didn't I leave you back in FLORIDA?! There's no gettin' away from this mouse! I'll take Disney World over Euro Disney any day, thanks ;)
Anyway, the train ride was pretty darn smooth, and we arrived in Paris in exactly two hours, at Gare du Nord station. Straight away, I had to "go", but toilets were .70 Euro cents (.93¢); I had to use the ATM (longgggg lines), get change (at least I got the last two copies of the British newspaper 'Sun', renamed "Son", since the lil Prince was born the day before), get yelled at by the lavatory guard ladies, and was approached by a woman (in unisex bathrooms, no less) who needed me to guard her stall door since she was "claustrophobic". We're not off to a great start. When I was then short-changed by the woman at the metro ticket counter, I started to have some worries about the day ahead!
Ok, let's shake it off and head for Le Tower de Eiffel!  
Ok, this was cool. When we got off the metro train and rounded the corner, THIS is what we saw! Things are looking up! (literally!)

Garden and fountains on the...west? east? north? I dunno. I was already all turned around (and I studied the map so hard!)

We're here, we're really here! Ok, this is awesome!
Let's go up this baby! Le sigh, again. Well over an hour later, in 93° heat, we made it "inside", which just means we made it out of the baking sun into the tiny area where we waited for an elevator. Eeeeek.

Hmmm, stairs or elevator? That's a no-brainer! We were squeezed, crammed and shoved into the elevator to the half-way point, where you take another elevator to the top. Can you tell I don't like lines and crowds?!

But, hey, how 'bout this view?! I had to ask some folks who were waiting in the line for the elusive elevator to the top (which wraps around the mid-section of the tower) if I could step in and take a quick shot. They acquiesced, and this is what I saw! ☺ 

Westerly view, looking down the Seine!

Ta da! I present...our photo at the Eiffel Tower! Don't worry, I'm impatient, but I wasn't gonna jump!

Looking south. It was cool to know Alex had been here just a few years ago! But he was much younger, thinner, and more heat tolerant. Lucky kid.
Time to move on; the lines to the top were long, and I was really pooping out in the heat :(

The Metro in Paris, sadly, is not much like the Tube in London. It was hot. And not too clean. And did I mention hot? But it's ok, let's go to the Louvre; Venus de Milo, the Mona Lisa and Winged Victory, here we come! 
We're here! The sky's not lookin' too hot, but let's keep moving...

Guess what?! The Louvre is closed on Tuesday.  -_- And it's pouring. But I got this shot from the window in the main walkway! Take that, Louvre!

We made a run for it (didn't know where we were headed, but we ran anyway!), and I got a quick shot of the pyramid.

Just a kinda cool photo, still on Louvre grounds.
Our main goal of the day was the "Lover's Bridge", so we put up on our rain jackets, braved the downpour, and set out to find it! (Luckily, it wasn't far ;) 

The bridge is actually the Pont des Arts, which crosses from the left bank to the Louvre museum. From the website: "The love padlocks, called cadenas d’amour, multiplied until there were thousands of love tokens on the bridge, each engraved with a message of love. After locking the love padlock onto the fence, lovers toss the keys into the Seine river – a sign of their eternal devotion." Can you see them all?!
Linds studying the many different styles, engravings and dates! It's really kind of a wonder the bridge can hold all the extra weight!
There we are! J E, T E, L E, 7/23/13! Right by "Monica E"!

Jack locked our lock, we kissed our kiss, and threw our key! Sealed for all eternity! Hahaha, SUCKER! ;) Lindsay got us on video, which was pretty cool ♥
Lee & Bev placing their lock. Too late for them as well, their fate is sealed!
The rain started again, and we fled to the Left Bank for some lunch. Easier said than done; we finally found a café, though, Le Comptoir Des St Peres. Terrible service and overpriced food (Jack's glass of Coke was $6.51), but apparently the café lav holds a great story (which Linds found when we got home): back in the day, F. Scott Fitzgerald worried aloud to Hemingway about, shall we say, his "inadequacies"? Story is, Hemingway assured him "things were okay". At the time of usage, Jack and I were freaked out about the bathroom being unisex and not having a toilet seat, but we feel much better about it now! It's famous! :P 

I would have loved to see the Musee D'Orsay, but we were kinda gettin' Paris burn-out at this point. Maybe next time!

A few more pics by the Louvre since the sun came out! Much prettier in the sun!

My artsy fartsy French photo op of the day. Those cheeky French!
By now, we were wet, tired, and a bit discouraged, so we decided to pick up some souvenirs and head back to the train station.

Jack and Lee opted for ciders in a pub in the station; Bev, Lindsay and I figured we'd see what else the nearby shops had to offer!

Turns out wine and crepes called our names instead! Second best part of the day (the Lover's Bridge was first) was this little bit of heaven in a French café. Ok, Paris, you're not so bad after all!
Lindsay took a short clip of the numbers on the departure board flipping over, which was really neat. All aboard the train back to England, we're beat!
Paris, it's been...real!
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