Day 5/6/7 - Catching Up
Uh oh...the days are all starting to blend together! It's been a few days since I've posted because it's been pretty busy with seeing sights and...well the wifi in Paris has a little to be desired...but I guess I'm here to sightsee and not sit at the iPad all night long. Also...my dang keyboard needs recharging so it's taking me a bit longer to type these posts in, so please forgive me for typos, grammatical, etc. I'll do one big post summarizing the past few days so don't mind the verbal diarrhea...ha!
Day 5 - Cheerio London
For Day 5, we went out on a tour of London with the rest of the group. Now we had done most of the stuff already but it was still good because there was a lot of things that we didn't know about and we got some cool info from Tony our tour guide. Most folks flew in the day before and didn't have the luxury of three days in London to see the sights, so we ended up going back to Big Ben, Westminster Abby and then trotted down to Buckingham Palace. The weather gods were not on our side...was sooooo rainy when we were out and we got totally dumped on but nothing we couldn't handle. For the most part we've hit it lucky with ok weather, but I'm glad I packed a good variety of clothing because it's been pretty cool here...mostly around 15 degrees or so, but with a chilling wind that pops up especially at night. Because of the rain we didn't see the changing of the guards like we were supposed to, but we did get to see a bunch of the guards practicing a bunch of formations for the Queen's annual big birthday celebration as well as a small procession of Gurkhas, which are apparently kinda like the British version of ninjas.
After we got back, Hubs and I went for another jaunt down Oxford St. and I'm ashamed to admit that I have not bought a thing yet...no clothes at all!! But the trip is still early, tee hee. Stuff is either insanely expensive or not that much different than what I can get at home, at least the stuff I've seen. After a short nap, we headed down to the Soho district to watch a show, Les Mis. Now not sure if its because I'm so tired, but I found it terribly moving and actually cried through it! It was an amazing show with incredible set changes...would totally do that again. I was fascinated by how they seamlessly changed between scenes and the singing was so amazing.
Day 6 - Bonjour Paris
We ended up getting home around 11 and then had to get packed up to get ready for 5:30am....now normally that's not too bad for me but ungodly when I'm jetlagged and tired from being gogogogogo. We made the train to Paris and got in around 1pm, and did a tour of the city to get us oriented to our new surroundings. I kept looking around and thinking wow...I cannot believe I'm here, all the places that I've only read about or seen on the news. After the city tour, we went up to the second level of the Eiffel Tower which was amazing. Now not gonna lie, I was a little scared....not sure why this bothered me so much as compared to the London Eye, but there were a few moments when my legs turned to jello. After the visit to the tower, we all headed down to the Champs Élysées for dinner at a place called Cafe Clemente that was recommended by the travel director. While the meal was good, we were still looking for the perfect Parisienne experience (and we so had it, but more about that later!). When the menu has both English and French, I'm thinking it's the Cactus Club of French food vs a true Parisiene meal. After dinner we walked up and down the Champs whereas mostly everyone else did the excursion which was a cruise along the Seine. Most stores along the Champs were closed which surprised me...there were still tons of people out and about, and I thought a city like Paris would go all night. I suppose I had visions of Hong Kong where most stores open until 11 at night. One place we did visit was La Duree...famous for their macarons, I've never been a fan of them as they are usually so sweet but these weren't at all, but still delicious. We ended up flying by the seat of our pants and taking the Metro back which is their subway system...it'd it bad but nowhere as easy to use as London's Tube or Hong Kong's MTR. Our night still wasn't over though...we headed back to the Eiffel Tower to see it all lit up, which was gorgeous, but missed seeing it with the flashing lights which happens every night at 10 and 11 as it doesn't get dark here until around 10:30.
Day 7 - I Can Die Happy
First excursion of the trip was today to the Louvre and Notre Dame. Hubs and I were initially going to go on our own but we liked the lovely guide so figured we would join this one. We headed to Notre Dame first...I was surprised at how much I loved this venue. It was amazing inside...the detail, the stained glass, how ornate it was...the coolest thing was these cravings in the middle of the church that told the story of Jesus. Not being terribly religious, I knew enough of the story I could figure out what each scene was. A beautiful, beautiful place, I really was moved by how incredible this place was. As we walked outside, there was a spot in front of the Notre Dame that has a star on it that if you jump on it, you'll end up back in Paris a exactly a year from the time you do it...needless to say, Hubs and I jumped on it!
Next spot was the Louvre. Now they say that if you stood in front of each piece for a minute, it would still take a week to see the whole thing. We were so glad to have a guide to take us around as she had so much awesome info on many pieces, and took us to see some of the key masterpieces ...the statue of Nike, the statue of Venus and of course, the Mona Lisa. Again, I kept thinking I cannot believe I'm here, seeing this! We were in there for about 90 minutes, and it was enough...information overload, I couldn't imagine being there much longer. It was insanely busy to me but apparently this was a slow day as there wasn't a lineup to get into the room to see the Mona Lisa. It still took awhile to get to see her and basically it was every man for himself...again, I sharpened my elbows on a few people but this place reminds me of Hong Kong that way....poor Hubs is so incredibly polite letting people go ahead of him all the time so he always gets stuck behind. I've found that here, you just have to go for it and people typically seamlessly move for you.
After the Louvre, the group split up and Hubs and I went to the Musee L'Orangerie to see four of Monet's most famous pieces, the water lilies. Each picture is the same scene done at different of the day, and all four are in one room so you are surrounded by Monet. After taking some pictures, I just sat there absorbing the feeling of being in the room and just staring at each piece.
After art overload, we headed to the Lafayette galleries, a very posh mall. After a quick peek (again, I can't afford a thing at these places), we took the metro home and decided to check out places around our hotel to eat. We wandered down this street that looked interesting and happened upon a place that had no English on its menus...bingo! We quickly sat down and had the most amazing meal...we haltingly ordered with our high school french... Hubs had this pan fried turbot which was incredible, and I had the mackerel, also pan fried but with this amazing olive oil and basil and finished with butter. The meal also came with this stewed tomato which was so fresh and flavourful. Totally satiated, we had to order dessert and had cheese with some black cherry compote. As we finished our meal, a tourist sat down next to us and we ended up having a lovely convo with her...German but living in San Fran, we talked about tennis (she was there to see the French Open) and that we had to go to Australia next as she loved it there. A lovely meal, this was one that is going to stick with me for a long, long time...truly, I can die happy.
Tomorrow is a total free day so we've got St Chapelle, the Marmottan Monet Museum and the Musee d'orsay and then the next day we move on to Nice. the adventure continues!