Monday, August 5, 2013

The Train Crashes... And Starts Again

We started Sunday with grand plans which I had carefully outlined on a notepad before setting my alarm the night before.

This involved checking out of our hotel, going to church and seeing the Victoria and Albert museum-- all before noon. A bit overly optimistic perhaps? Apparently we were actually quite tired because both Megan and I slept through both of our alarms, missed breakfast and checked out of the hotel ten minutes late, just after 11:00 am. 

We even missed the 11:00 am meeting for the Portuguese branch, so church was out and we only hit the last item on our schedule, the V&A museum. 

We looked at a historical fashion exhibit, browsed a few galleries and realized that even I-- with my wild enthusiasm for museums, history and art-- had reached my artistic and historical saturation point. Like an overwatered houseplant unable to retain any more liquid, I was just done with museums. 

So we strolled and walked home. We walked past the building where we were planning on going to church (so I guess you could say we "went" to church in the most literal sense...)
and then took a very leisurely stroll home through Kensigton gardens in Hyde Park
past Kensington Palace (former home of Princess Diana, soon to be home of William and Kate). 

Then we picked up our bags from he hotel and headed to Kings Cross station to get a photo op at Platform 9 3/4. 
Then we caught our Eurostar train to Paris.
We went through the Chunnel and them caught glimpses of French countryside. 
Then we bought Metro tickets and  took the suburban RER train to our hotel in the Left Bank. 

After checking in we barely squeezed the two of us and our bags into what might be the world's smallest elevator intended for humans. 
We then went down the ultra-narrow hallway (Parisians are all skinny, right?) 
to our cute room that may in fact have bright fuchsia and navy brocade fabric hanging on the walls.
We then made our way through the crowds and street performers of the Left Bank

to Notre Dame Cathedral. 
We were hungry after our train food lunch so we stopped for a Jambon and Fromage crepe (Ham and Cheese-- kind of like a French quesadilla-- and then a Berthillion Ice Cream cone. 
After tasting their salted caramel ice cream I think it is miraculous that Parisians are as skinny as they are. So. Amazingly. Good. These people know ice cream. 
We toured Notre Dame Cathedral
and then walked along the Seine at twilight, watching the boats go by in the dark.
 Something about Paris just touches my heart-- it is so beautiful. Our original plan was to walk for a few minutes and then take the RER train directly to the Eiffel Tower.
But... the RER train closed early on Sundays. Never fear, I had a plan B. We stopped at one of the many bicycle rental stations and went to the machine to rent bikes. But.... That particular machine didn't do rentals unless you had an annual card. Never fear, I had a plan C. I got out my maps and found a bus route to the Eiffel Tower. We found the stop, sat and waited for 10 minutes. The bus approached and we sighed a sigh of relief... until it drove right past us. Plan D. We walked along the romantically floodlit bridges of the Seine all the way to the Eiffel Tower. And walked. A long way. (Note: The Seine gets progressively less romantic the longer you have been on your feet.)

We went up the Eiffel Tower, enjoyed the fabulous views and came down thirsty and exhausted. Suddenly 4.50 Euros for a chilled bottle of water sounded like a great deal (and believe me, the uchilled water tasted like nectar of the Gods). 

With a bit of effort and waiting we caught a cab. I calmly said "Bon soir,"  and gave the cab driver the name of our hotel and its address. But apparently our luxury lodgings with the awesome elevator did not ring a bell with him. And he didn't speak a lick of English. I tried to explain it to him. No luck. I got out my pocket street atlas and pointed to the hotel's location, marked on my map. No luck. I crossed my arms like streets and said "Rue Sofflot et Boulevard Saint Germaine" over and over. Finally the connection was made and we were on our way back. Whew. 

1 comment:

Lisa said...

I think the language barrier would freak me out. Not being able to communicate...scary. Still fun trip!