Monday, March 21, 2011

Last Post in Paris (The End of An Epic)

Yes, this is my final Europe trip post. Yes, THAT Europe trip... the one that happened in October, about five months ago. What can I say? I'm prompt.

My final Parisian breakfast: a pastry from, you guessed it, Paul Patisserie.
We decided to culminate our final (half) day in Paris with a visit to the Arc d'Triomphe and a stroll down the Champs Elysees.
Looking appropriately triumphant.

Climbing the stairs to the top of the Arc d'Triomphe

 At the top of the Arc d'Triomphe you have sweeping 360 degree views of Paris, including great views of the Eiffel Tower.
The grand Parisian Boulevards, fanning out from the Arc d'Triomphe
The view of Le Tour Eiffel
View from the top of the Arc d'Triomphe

The bottom of the looooong stairs.
Yes, it really is bigger than it looks.
Tomb of the unknown soldier
Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite
A quick photo of our favorite tour bus-- the one with the growling French Neil Diamond soundtrack.
We strolled from the Arc d'Triomphe down the Champs Elysees, making a quick stop at Laduree to buy some Parisian macaroons: a box to take home and a couple for the road. Tres fantastique!
Posing in front of the main Laduree store.
Yes, those are trees of macarons. Be still my beating heart

They taste even better than they look.

An American movie billboard-- in French-- on the Champs Elysees.

Ranell with one of the Art Deco "Metro" signs.
We finally ran out of time (alas!) and caught a cab back to the hotel to pick up our bags and take us to our airport shuttle stop. We bid a final farewell to our beautiful hotel, the Concorde Opera Paris (Thank you, Priceline!).
The grand hotel lobby

Some serious chandeliers going on!

The Concorde Opera Hotel
Across the street from our hotel. Really? People eat at McDonald's in Paris?
We got to the airport, checked our bags and grabbed a final Parisian lunch at the airport outlet of Paul.

Then we headed off to our separate flights home, Ranell to Portland and I back to San Jose (to meet up with my kids at Grandma's house). I --one of the least visibly emotional woman on the planet (well, maybe with the exception of my mother and sister)-- actually got teary as I looked out at Paris from the window of my plane. Something about this city touched me. Maybe it possessed a sort of "live for the moment" attitude that I am noticeably lacking. Maybe it was a chance for me to "rediscover myself"-- as a person, not just as a wife, mommy or a something to someone else. What is that quote from the movie Sabrina? "I found myself in Paris." "Were you missing?" Maybe I was....

To quote yet another movie, "Let us not say goodbye, but as the French say, 'Au revoir!'"

Goodbye, dear Paris! Until we meet again! I hope we meet again soon!

Postscript: My lovely solo flight of uninterrupted reading across the Atlantic was followed by a short layover in Atlanta. Because of some unusual weather and high winds, this two hour layover turned into an unintentional overnight. But instead of telling us this at the outset, it was told to us in two-hour intervals as we waited on benches in the terminal. As the announcer on the terminal intercom said in his Southern accent: "It is what it is, folks." Not only did I get my fitful sleep on the terminal bench interrupted by hourly announcements that it was going to be "just one more hour," I was given a $5 certificate good at the airport food court for my pains. Yes! Nothing like a free yogurt to help you get over a mismanaged delay of an extra 12 hours.

So, if sleeping on a bench in the Atlanta airport was on your bucket list, I've given you just one more reason to be jealous. :)
Trying to catch a few winks on a bench at the Atlanta airport.

1 comment:

Caren said...

What a fun trip Karen! You make me want to go do something adventurous like that. I love your pictures. You might be interested in a blog friend of mine
She recently did a post on cheese platters! I was reminded of one of your earlier posts of your trip.