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24 June 2009

This morning a guided sightseeing tour shows you many of Paris' most famous sites such as the Arc de Triomphe, the Place de la Concorde and the bustling Champs-ElyseÚs. Stop for a photograph in front of Paris' most famous site of all, the Eiffel Tower and learn the history of this once not-so-popular attraction before continuing to Notre Dame. In the afternoon enjoy a trip to Louis XIV's Versailles. Tour the Hall of Mirrors before exploring the beautifully maintained gardens. Tonight, see the landmark sites of Paris lit up on an evening boat ride along the Seine.

The morning started with a major crisis. I could not find my purse. In the purse was my wallet and my cameras. I thought I remembered deciding NOT to take it downstairs when I used the hotel computer. I looked all over the room trying to find it. Jeri looked. I have heard so much about pickpockets and gypsies that I figured if I HAD left it downstairs (where 2 people were waiting to use the machine), it was long gone. But I went downstairs to check.

As I walked into the lobby, my friend who had sold me the very expensive internet card the day before saw me and said "I think I have your bag." Whew! She did. Crisis #2 averted.

We had a lovely breakfast here in the hotel,but the activities of yesterday must have done something to my body. Though there were unlimited chocolate scones, all I craved was fruit. I had peaches, oranges and about a quart of orange juice.

After breakfast Dana told us about a cheap internet cafe which ends up being about 4 doors down from the hotel. The hotel charges 15 euros an hour and this place charges only 2.50 euros an hour!!!!

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At 9 we met our BUS...no metro today...and had a beautiful tour of the city, led by a woman named Amahl (that may not be how you spell it) who was funny, extremely knowledgeable and just a delight. We saw all the sights we'd seen yesterday on our Bataan march, but from an air conditioned bus, which was a GREAT improvement!

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We got off in a few places, like Des Invalides, which was a military hospital, and is the burial place for Napoleon. Simply gorgeous. We only did the free parts because we were on a tour bus and couldn't take the time to pay the entrance fee to see Napoleon's coffin.

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We also stopped at a peace plaza overlooking the Eiffel tower, which was really very cool.

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We drove through the tunnel where Diana met her end and up the Champs Elysee, which was also very cool, especially since I didn't have to drive through all that horrible, horrible traffic!

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Amahl left us here and Ian took over and we went out to "old Versailles," the old part of town where he was quite eager to have us see the old market. Semi interesting, but we ended up having lunch at a Breton cafe, where we all have savory crepes (galettes). I had crab and it was delicious. We also tried the fermented cider, very "Breton" we were told, which was refreshing (it WAS).

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Next was the palace at Versailles, which was so opulent words almost fail me. How can someone be so incredibly self-obsessed as to build such a monument to himself! But it's definitely worth seeing.

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But I get so thirsty during these marches that I would sell my firstborn for water, if she weren't being so good to me to begin with!  I'm afraid I've given up all pretense of keeping up and people are being so solicitous,but if I hear Ian saying "it's just short way from here" one more time as he points me off on the last mile of the hot march, I'm going to do something drastic.  I passed on the tour of the gardens and headed off with Dana and her daughter Kimberly.  We found a snack booth where tourists were crawling and demanding water (yes, it was that hot).  I got a bottle of water and we turned the corner where Ian told us the bus was "right there."  "Right there" was too far in the distance to see.   "It's just after that woman in the grey," he told me as I felt like collapsing.  Well "that woman" way off in the distance was about the halfway point.  But by the time I got to the woman, Jeri had reached me with a strawberry sorbet which was the best thing I'd ever tasted.  It kept me going to the bus and I collapsed to the applause of everyone who had been waiting forever.  My face was about the color of the sorbet.

I have, thus, decided NOT to go to the Louvre tomorrow. I know that sounds crazy, but what I really want to do is go to the Opera House after the group gets backfrom the Louvre and I know I won't enjoy it if it is my second museum of the day (though, thankfully, the opera house IS "just a short distance" from here!). Since I've found a cheap internet cafe, I am perfectly happy to do what I said I would do before we came here. Sit at an internet cafe in Paris and enjoy the scene around me!



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