Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Around Paris

On the first full day in Paris Chris and I managed to have a nice little lie in. We have been pounding the pavement and hitting all of the sights at a breakneck speed for two weeks now so Paris was just going to have to wait. Our breakfast consisted of croissants, baguette, tea and coffee...not exactly the Egg and I special but as they say, "When in Rome..."

As I said earlier, we had a bit of a false start because the batteries on our cameras gave out and we came back to our B and B where we had lunch and a bit of a snooze. We left for a look around the city at about 3, well rested and fed. We headed for Notre Dame where we had to put up with huge crowds and then we went for a nice little stroll on the left bank and through the Latin District. We managed to stumble upon a crepiere that was recommended to us by a dinner partner on the cruise. It was owned by the woman's god daughter. We shared a couple of crepes. Yummy! Typical Parisienne cuisine! Large crowds in this "old" part of Paris. We have now seen so much gothic architecture and so many cathedrals dating from the 1200's or so, that everything is becoming a bit of a blur!

Luckily we came across this bike rental station and decided we needed to step up the pace. With the help of some very kind people we figured out the whole machine thing and how to get the bikes out of their locks and we were off and biking. Paris is great for bike lanes but the traffic in this city of eleven million can be a bit frightening. We rode along the left bank of the Seine, which is the river dividing Paris, towards the Eiffel Tower. We rode around the tower and through the park then headed off along the Seine on the right bank passing some beautiful bridges and buildings until we reached the Louvre. We kept riding until it was dark and then we had to search for a place to return the bikes...not exactly easy. Each bike return we came across was full. At about the sixth place we found one spot, not two. This was getting a bit frustrating and we were beginning to think we would be keeping the damn bikes, riding them back to the B and B and maybe bringing them home as souvenirs, when we managed to score two spots. Bike riding in Paris has definitely been a highlight!

The other highlight has definitely been riding the metro. After 24 hours in this city, both Chris and I feel like pros and look pityingly on those new arrivals studying the big maps at the entrances with confusion. We feel so confident that we are thinking we should use a French accent and begin helping other tourists. Seriously, the metro is an amazing thing to those of us that don't have it in our home towns. These underground tunnel systems are very quick and amazingly simple to navigate. They can be frightening...crackheads, pickpockets; entertaining...gypsies with their portable music systems serenading and playing musical instruments; claustrophobic, on one ride, I swear that if someone died they would still be standing since we were wedged tighter than sardines in a can; and definitely efficient. I love going underground at one point in the city, transferring between trains, reading the maps, and popping up in a completely different spot. Like I said, this would not seem too thrilling to those who live in mega metropolitan areas where this is a regular method of transport, but for someone who only travels by car (even when I go around the corner to the Hasty Mart) it is pretty cool!

Picked up another couple bottles of vino, for €2,85 (gotta love Europe just for the wine prices!), and headed back to our room. Tomorrow Versailles!

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