Friday, August 9, 2013

Au revoir, Paris! Buon giorno, Venezia!

I woke Wednesday in the wee hours of the morning the sound of pouring rain. I didn't think this would bode well for our day of sight-seeing, but it ended up being mostly dry with only a few drizzles of rain. 
We began our day with breakfast at a nearby bakery. We got pain au chocolat, chocolate viennesoise (hot cocoa with mounds of whipped cream) and a pistachio cranberry tart. Breakfast of the champions. The pistachio tart was especially delicious-- picture marzipan made of pistachios instead of almonds with cranberries mixed in and you have the tart filling. 
We took the metro to the Place Charles de Gaulle for a quick photo op with the Arc de Triomph.
Then we strolled down the Champs Élysées in a light drizzle of rain. We stopped at Laduree Tea Salon for a quick peek at their tres elegant tea rooms, two almost-too-beautiful-to-eat pastries and a box of macarons to go. 
After our scenic stroll we hopped on the metro and got off at the Bastille station for a look the Marais district. We walked to the Place des Vosges,
snapped a picture in front of Victor Hugo's house,
and found that the French are really serious about their clearance sales. 
Then we wound through the narrow streets of the Marais and the Jewish quarter. 
By this time we were ready to eat again so we stopped at L'As du Falafel
for shawarma and the best Falafel sandwich ever. 

We wandered down more streets, exploring bakeries for more scientific samples for our "best macaron of Paris" study until it was time to head back to our hotel to catch our train to the airport. 

We took the train and then shuttle to Paris Orly, waited in a horrendous line on a different floor of the airport to check bags for our EasyJet flight, had very spotty wi-fi and then finally got on the plane. 

We caught a few glimpses of Venice through the windows as we landed. We walked out of the airport to a burst of humidity and heat, not unlike landing in Hawaii (but without the promise of swimming). We were tired so we decided to pay a little more and take a little longer to go on the direct, scenic Allilaguna boat through the lagoon. Bad idea.

I had pictured open seating on the deck of the boat, overlooking the lagoon as we sailed by the setting sun. We found ourselves enclosed on the inside of a sweltering boat with mosquitoes and no a/c.
I am sure the ride could have been quite scenic, but the windows were not very clear (and fogged up, to boot) and only opened four inches from the top.
Luckily, our baggage got a nice breeze and a beautiful view on the open middle deck that had no seats. 

When we got off the water taxi I quickly saw that finding the B&B was going to be difficult, so I called and asked for directions. The clerk happily gave me directions in English--of which I understood maybe two words. He spoke so fast and his accent (Indian, not Italian) was so thick that all I could make out was the name of the street- which I already knew. 

So we started wandering. We must have looked pretty lost because another tourist couple asked us if we were lost and helped us find our way to the hotel on their map. 

We checked into our apartment and repeated our London ritual of immediately flopping on the bed in front of the fan (but this time it was an a/c unit!). Bella Italia!

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