A Travellerspoint blog

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Paris highlights

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Paris
May 4
This was “the” day....Our only full day in Paris to see all the famous sites—well, those that were in our vicinity and do-able. We were within easy reach (by subway) of:
La Tour Eiffel
Champs Elysees
Place de la Concorde
L'arc de Triomphe

We were advised by Maritta the night before that we should have purchased tickets for the ET online ahead of time because we were likely in for a wait of up to two hours. Somehow, we neglected to do this. We thought we would get there early and take our chances, anyway. Well, although we intended to get up early, and Mark set his famous Blackberry Z10 alarm, and despite my being awake for hours during the night, we slept in. Mark forgot to ensure the time of the Z10 was 'current' and though I woke up at 6:00 a.m. (one of many times), we both slept until 9:30 (we had anticipated standing in line at the ET by 9:00) However, we set out on our way. The trip on the subway was really quick. We got off, following the herds, and, really weird, we came up from the underground, walked maybe half a block following the signs, and could see that we were coming to an open place and were going to turn to our left and see the Tower. As we neared the corner I had this really funny feeling that I wanted to cry. I put it down to no sleep, jet lag,and anticipation, but felt stupid all the same. Anyway, we turned the corner, and as expected, we were in a large open plaza area and there was the Eiffel Tower in front of us. It was quite an amazing feeling to view something in real life that is such a world-renowned icon.

There was still quite a ways to walk down to it—we passed by some fountains and had to cross the Seine—and then we were there at the base of the Tower. There are 4 ticket booths, one at the bottom of each of the four bases of the Tower. One was closed as there is work going on. I think we likely picked the longest of the three line-ups, because that is just what we do. We got there at about 11:00-11:15, and within 10 minutes, the lineup was never longer than when we joined, (and was always less). Whatever.....you only do this once. An hour and a half later (maybe it was two hours, I forget—kind of like childbirth), we were finally purchasing our tickets. Despite what we had decided ahead of time, when it came to buying the tickets, we purchased Summit tickets (Mark's idea). That took us by elevator as high as you could go (14.50 EU ea). It was worth the price of admission. First elevator took us to the second platform. There you had to get off and go find the lineup to the next elevator that would take you to the top. We were used to lineups by then. What a view....Can't really say anything about it: It was just “an experience”. We noticed a small hole in the wall which offered Champagne...however, it was just a little 'over the top' in cost for us, despite our apparent 'darn the cost' attitude. After looking as much as we wanted-which isn't really a lot, you can only walk around the same walkway so many times—we found another lineup to get the elevator to take us back down. Then at the second platform, we had to find another lineup (MUCH shorter) to take us down to the bottom. The elevator stopped at the first platform in case anyone wanted to walk down (we could have walked down from the second platform as well), but we chose to just take the easy route (as did everyone on that elevator). It is just as well, considering the rest of the day.

So, we saw the Eiffel Tower, and I am so glad we did. Even Mark was ok with the standing in line part of it,considering the result (we almost didn't do this, a choice I would have regretted all my life).

From there, we walked out the other side (from where we came in) under the ET, which took us to the Champs de Mars park. It is just a large grass area in front of the ET. Maritta had recommended a restaurant to us to try, which was very close by. We went there and reached it near, but well before 3:30, but were advised that they close at 4:00 on Saturdays (!) so they would not seat us for a meal. Somewhat disappointed, we walked to the next doorway and had our lunch there. After that, we continued our walk for another few blocks which brought us up to about the middle of the Champs Elysees. We turned to our right, and continued the walk up to the Obelisk at Place de Concorde. Then we walked down the other side ... there was discussion as to how far we could go, but we just kept plodding on........the closer we got to L'arc de triomphe the more difficult it was to say we had seen enough. So , we entered the part of the Champs Elysees which was not just a tree-lined boulevard but which was serious designer label shopping. We did not shop. However, we did have an expresso (moi) and un biere (Mark) at a sidewalk cafe, on the CE (another 'tick'). We continued until we reached the end at L'arc de Triomphe. There was a band playing for some reason and we took pictures of the edifice of course. Same as the Arches in Rome and other places, except we think this one was much larger. Then were both ready to finally call it a day. I was VERY happy that we saw all that we did and that Mark was agreeable to all the walking, despite the pain I know he was enduring. We found our way back to the appropriate metro station, and got home, with several ticks on our list of things that we all want to see, along with many sore muscles......

Tomorrow, we head to Barcelona.

Posted by mutzy 07:14 Archived in France Comments (0)

Paris to Barcelona

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Moving Day May 5, 2013

Paris to Barcelona

We woke up at around 8:30 am and our only task was to get ready for the trip to Barcelona. We had to have a “you build” breakfast as we had some leftover food that Susan was loathe not to consume whether we wanted to or not. So my task while Susan showered was to prepare a six pack of eggs, three inches of a dried out baguette, and a couple hundred grams of some Swiss Cheese like cheese. Let's just say we had breakfast.

Susan had made arrangements for a taxi ride to the airport leaving the flat at ten o'clock so we weren't rushed. The fact that we could just get directly from point A to point B was a relief despite the fact we had gotten along just fine using buses, shuttles, metros and good ol' foot power to that point. The ride to CDG, being on a Sunday, was lightning fast and the fare was at the lowest estimated by the company.

I'm writing this a day or two later, but I recall this was the day that Susan dropped some dire news on me. Apparently I'm not on the starting rotation of photographers anymore, and have been relegated to bull pen relief only when Susan's shutter arm is fatigued. It was explained to me that shots of the Eiffel Tower were sub-standard. I was the starter that day . . .(sm: there was nothing wrong with the photos, there were just very few of them—not a lot of images for a once in a lifetime viewing)

On arrival at the Barcelona airport we were greeted with something we have never experienced before. Waiting with smiling and anticipatory looks were Cathy and Carlos, our personal escorts at the departure area. A big red sign proclaiming: “Welcome to Barcelona Susan and Mark!!”. We felt like celebrities. Lovely people who expertly drove us to the apartment and later to the cruise terminal for a very nominal cost.

Our apartment was the most unusual of all we have rented to date. It has to have been two or three hundred years old. The kitchen was approximately 4' x 6' with full cabinets on two walls and a door on another. The door had an opening with no glass. Very odd. Water to the space was limited to cold only, so washing dishes required boiling water and doing it like on the side of a lake before entering the tent for the night. The bathroom was literally an outhouse. You had to open an exterior set of french doors (8' high) and step into the outside air of the city, take two steps and enter the bathroom which thankfully had running water (hot included) and electricity. We were on the second level and the stone steps (from the front door up to the apartment) over the centuries had literally worn down the surface of the treads so that they had a dip in the center and the tread now tipped around twenty degrees toward the bottom. But the odd thing was that it had high speed internet access and a 32” high definition television.

That reminds me of the old days when people would ask: “How many rolls of film did you go through on your vacation?” The answer was perhaps four maybe five rolls, and that meant you were busy. Now we ask how many gigs do you have on your SD cards? In our case over one hundred. We have two smart phones with us, two tablets, and the camera's two SD cards (in addition to the memory of the laptop where we will backup the photos). How things have changed.

I fell asleep watching two of one hundred and six channels that were televised in English. One was was a children's version of The Disney Channel, the other was the Discovery Channel. After careful deliberation I opted for the Discovery Channel and fell asleep on the couch watching a documentary on the conspiracy theorists' view that Area 51 back in the day was a large cover up by the USA of aliens and UFOs.

Tomorrow, Mariner of the Seas.

Posted by mutzy 07:21 Archived in France Comments (0)

Sagrada Familia

Goudy's cathedral

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Posted by mutzy 08:36 Comments (0)

Black noodles and squid

Catalan appetizer in Barcelona

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Posted by mutzy 06:46 Comments (1)

Mariner of the Seas at dock

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Posted by mutzy 06:46 Comments (0)

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