Friday, April 08, 2011

Europe 2011, Part IV: Day 1 in Paris

As I mentioned in Part II of this series of posts about my trip, I didn't blog or post anything online about the trip prior to it happening, nor did I do any From-The-Road -type notes. I did, however, take mental notes about what sort of facebook statuses or tweets I might have created while I was gone. You can find these brief anecdotes - sometimes helpful hints for taking your own trip! - in the remainder of my trip posts; they will be BOLD.

Our group numbered sixteen total: 2 professors (Darin and Ken), four spouses, and ten students. Part of our travel plans included chartered bus tours with English-speaking tour guides. Our first tour guide was a petite and soft-spoken blond woman.

This French tour guide is sweet, and I like that her English accent is British. I like how she says city: "see-tay" (equal emphasis on both syllables)

One of the first things I noticed was the steering wheel on the bus, and how it had clips to hold a piece of paper, and how I would like one of those in my van.

The second thing I noticed was how the tour guide would drop, "But what can I say? We are French," into the conversation. I didn't realize that this phrase was not concocted solely for Disney's Ratatouille, but is actually said to justify things like not following rules of the road and such. Charming.

She explained that Paris is a city surrounded by a Ring Road and divided in half (sort of) by the Seine (just say "sen"). And it's just that simple. At some point we switched tour guides and after driving past some significant sites, we arrived at our hotel. We were early, but were hopeful that we could at least get our room assignments, get cleaned up, and maybe rest a bit before our tour was to continue in a couple hours' time. All but two rooms were ready, and one of them was ours. We dropped off our suitcase and decided to explore our neighborhood just a little bit.

Our first stop was a corner bakery where, in an attempt to be completely original, I purchased a pain au chocolat. We then explored a Sunday Market, which was beginning to close, so while we didn't purchase anything there, it was a good opportunity for me to try out my camera.

Darin and I kept mentioning to each other how surreal it was that we were actually there.

Arriving back at the hotel, we had a seat in the lobby while waiting for our room to be ready. I took a look around.

French maids? Wear crocs.

I did fall asleep briefly, and as our bus pulled up to the hotel, our room became ready for us. Realizing that only one of us could fit in The Elevator Which Takes Ten Years, we hiked up six flights of floors on a circular staircase.

In Europe, the buildings are numbered differently: our main floor, which would be floor 1 on an elevator in the U.S., is floor 0 in Europe. Go up one flight of stairs, and you're not on the second floor, you're on the first.

Back on our bus for the tour, we (as a group) opted to not go to the Louvre as part of the tour, but rather just be given our tickets so that we could use them during our free time. This meant more tour time on the bus where I both dozed off and took some pictures through the bus window.

The tour guide was very resourceful and apparently passionate about French history. As we drove by some department stores, she told us that it wasn't worth it for us to buy clothes in Paris. "We don't even buy clothes in Paris," she told us. "We fly to New York City to shop for clothes."

Armed to avoid the pickpockets, our bus stopped a plaza near the Eiffel Tower before finally bringing us to the tower itself.

They were performing 'Hey, Jude'. Of course they were.

Breakdancing on the plaza.

One benefit of doing a bus tour is that you don't have to wait in line for tickets.

We looked, and felt, like zombies.

Elevator shaft, going down.

At the conclusion of our tour, we arrived back at our hotel, but had arranged to meet as a group to walk to a restaurant which was recommended by our tour guide. It was, essentially, French Applebee's, which was disappointing to me but I didn't care. I was hungry and tired, wanted to eat (I had the salmon), get back to the hotel, check in with the kids, and sleep.

So I did.


Naomi said...

I'm impressed, you packed a lot of things into your first day, the jet lag coming this way is awful!

Emily said...

Wow! That is a lot in one day but how fabulous it all is! I love the FB anecdotes and the photos. Keep 'em comin'!

Jennifer said...

Too bad you didn't get a chance to rest before your sight-seeing, but it looks like an amazing day. I love the market!

Why were there 4 spouses but only 2 professors? Were the other professors already there, or has someone taken up polygamy? ;)

Jen said...

I'm so glad you are sharing your trip and everything you learned with us! I can live vicariously through you since I doubt I will be seeing anything in Europe for a VERY long time.

Monica said...

I love these posts! I feel almost like I went to Paris. Only I didn't (which I don't love).

The camera seemed to be a good choice. I love the pictures.

vanessa said...

oh good! i wanted to hear all about this so now I get to catch up :)

Whatever Dee-Dee wants said...

Sounds like an amazing trip!

ray-ray says said...

Jealous. Very jealous. But I'm being careful not to covet your getaway.

And I'm hoping you had better food experiences. Maybe a Royale with Cheese??

~j. said...

Naomi - Ug, that jetlag! I felt like I was dragging the majority of my trip...but I was excited to be there, so it worked out.

~j. said...

Emily - Thank you! Is it weird that I tend to think in tweets?

~j. said...

Jennifer - heh. The other three spouses were those of students. No polygamy. I'm pretty sure.

~j. said...

Jen - You never know...I didn't think I'd EVER go to Paris. Ever. You could end up being surprised with an opportunity to go!

~j. said...

Monica - You'll get to Paris when you & James set off to save all the Parisian whores or whatever it was you were inspired to do after watching Les Mis.

~j. said...

vanessa - Yes! Catching up. Speaking of which, I guess I should catch up with writing my posts. ps, I love your baby.

~j. said...

Dee-Dee - thank you! It was great.

~j. said...

ray-ray - don't be jealous. You could also eat Le Big Mac.

Nicole said...

So exciting! I love seeing all the pictures. I bet you and Darin had a blast together!