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P_M's Paris trip report: the good, the unexpected, the voice inside my head, and "Ugly Naked Guy."

P_M's Paris trip report: the good, the unexpected, the voice inside my head, and "Ugly Naked Guy."

Jan 25th, 2005, 05:20 AM
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P_M's Paris trip report: the good, the unexpected, the voice inside my head, and "Ugly Naked Guy."

I have just returned from a week in Paris. I will post my report in installments and try not to make it too long. I hope you will enjoy this report.

My traveling companions: I went to Paris with my dad and his wife Divina. I was in high school when Dad met and married Divina. Many kids that age resent their step-parents, but I knew from the first time I met Divina that she would be a friend. She is beautiful, sweet, funny, and has never tried to interfere with my relationship with Dad. They have a great marriage and are clearly each other's best friend. They still laugh and flirt, and will be celebrating their 25th anniversary later this year. This was their first trip to Paris and only their second trip to Europe. I have been to Paris twice before, in 1980 and in 1992.

The good:

The first good thing that happened was the tailwind on the flight over. We landed a full hour early. What a nice surprise, it usually seems to go the other way. We got a really good package deal through AA Vacations since it was the low season. It included airfare, hotel, a free sightseeing tour, and a free transfer to the hotel upon arrival. Going back we had to make our own way to the airport, but you will hear about that little mishap in "the unexpected" chapter. Our hotel was a 3* called the Trinite. It's a decent hotel for the price and the area was not bad. The staff were very nice and helpful with the exception of one airhead who will also be mentioned in "the unexpected" chapter of my report. The weather was nice considering it was January. It was cool but mostly sunny. There were a few days with light rain and fog, but for the most part it was great. On our first day we went on the Marais walking tour where I met our Fodorite, PJI. She is a lovely young lady with a very nice husband. They are a fascinating couple and I envy them for living in different parts of Europe. After that we spent the next few days doing the usual tourist stuff, such as the the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Sacre Couer, Arch of Triumph, etc. We had no trouble using the metro and once again I wish the US had such good public transportation. On one day we took a trip to Versailles. I had forgotten how big that place is and how many things there are to see on the grounds. We were there the entire day and still didn't see everything. It was a great day and Divina took a very keen interest in Marie Antoinette. On our last day we topped off the trip with a Seine dinner cruise. Although we had done the boat tour in the daytime, Dad & Divina were really impressed by how beautiful Paris is at night.

One evening about halfway through the trip, Dad & Divina got very tired and wanted to go back to the hotel at 7pm. It was a beautiful evening and I felt energetic, so I told them I was going for a walk along the Seine. Dad was really worried about me being out alone at night, so I had to reassure him I would be OK. I asked him if I should call his room when I returned to the hotel to let him know I made it back safely. He said it wasn't necessary. But when I came back to the hotel, the guy at the desk told me to call my dad because dad keeps calling my room. I went to my room and before I had a chance to call Dad, the phone was already ringing. It was very sweet of him to worry, but I wish he wouldn't. Anyway, while I was out and about, I walked all the way from the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower along the Seine. I felt perfectly safe and nobody bothered me. Just as I arrived at the Eiffel Tower it started twinkling. As many of you know, it twinkles at night on the hour for 10 minutes. I stood at the base of the tower, watching the twinkling, and wished I could put that moment into a bottle and keep it forever. I had read on our board that they have an ice skating rink on the first level of the Eiffel Tower, so I went up there and convinced myself to go skating. I am the worst ice skater on the planet as this was only my second time, but I survived. The other skaters soon figured out they should just get out of my way. It was great fun, I met many nice people there, and I'm glad for the experience of skating on the Eiffel Tower. After that I visted the Alma tunnel, where Princess Diana died. It was very sad, as there are still many notes, ribbons and memorials to her placed near the tunnel. Although I thoroughly enjoy the company of Dad and Divina, I have to say my walk alone on the Seine was one of the highlights of the trip for me.

To be continued.
P_M is offline  
Jan 25th, 2005, 05:30 AM
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Continuation of "the good"

While we are on the subject of "the good" let me take a moment to speak about the French people. As we all know, they have a reputation for being rude. I would like to state for the record that we did not meet a single rude person during the entire week we were there. There were several occasions where we looked like confused tourists and people would come up to us and ask if we need help finding something. One man even walked a block out of his way to help us find what we were looking for. Nobody ever mentioned the political situation, and of course, we didn't bring it up either. As I stated earlier, this was only Dad and Divina's second trip to Europe. The first was to Italy, and Divina pointed out that the French seemed more welcoming than the Italians. Not to say the Italians were bad, only that the French were better.

I know this goes without saying, but the food, wine and desserts were out of this world!! They say it's impossible to get a bad meal in Paris. I was almost ready to agree with that as we had no bad meals all week until Friday, our last full day. We went to a nice restaurant and I had a crepe that was terrible. It was a chicken and cheese crepe. The cheese was tough and chewy, and the chicken was awful. I didn't eat much, so I ordered a banana and chocolate crepe for dessert. Now THAT crepe blew my mind!! It was like desset heaven, and it made me glad we went to that restaurant. Although my meal sucked, the dessert more than made up for it. So I have to say that it is highly unlikely you will get a bad meal in Paris, but it IS impossible to get a bad dessert.

Stay tuned, later today or maybe tomorrow I will post "the unexpected and the voice inside my head."

P_M is offline  
Jan 25th, 2005, 05:30 AM
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Hi P_M, I also heard about ice-skating rink and I really wanted to go, but I just couldn't find the time in the end. That must have been a really wonderful experience. (And I don't ice-stake at all.)

I look forward to reading the rest of the report.
111op is offline  
Jan 25th, 2005, 06:52 AM
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Hi P_M!
Lovely report, hurry up and post more !!
Scarlett is offline  
Jan 25th, 2005, 06:56 AM
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Really enjoying your report, thanks, P_M - looking forward to the rest.
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Jan 25th, 2005, 06:57 AM
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Hi P_M,

More, more.

ira is offline  
Jan 25th, 2005, 07:13 AM
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Can't wait to hear more about this trip!!! Especially about the voices in your head and the ugly naked guy!
hunnym is offline  
Jan 25th, 2005, 07:29 AM
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I'm loving your report!
When dln and I were in Paris recently we had planned to go iceskating at the Eiffel tower, but the time just flew by. I'm so glad you got to experience it -- What a great memory!

I agree about how nice the people were -- we had the same thing happen with people coming up to us and asking us if they could help us find something. So sweet!
marcy_ is offline  
Jan 25th, 2005, 07:43 AM
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Who knew I was so lovely? Thanks for the kind words. It was so very nice meeting you and your family.

We missed the ice skating also. Went up to the second level instead. Glad you did it! What a great story to tell.

I had a chocolate and bananna crepe too - YUM!

Looking forward to the rest of your report. Makes me feel bad for only posting some "observations".
PJI is offline  
Jan 25th, 2005, 07:52 AM
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Enjoying your report, PM. Sounds like you had a wonderful time. I can relate to those moments that you want to capture in a bottle to hold on to forever.

It's nice that you can travel with your dad and his wife. I have a very similar repoire with my own step-daughter, although she is only a teen. We are looking forward to traveling to Europe with her upon her graduation, so hopefully our trip will be as good.
Statia is offline  
Jan 25th, 2005, 08:01 AM
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P_M, I've been waiting for your report.
Wonderful! Waiting for more

.....about that naked guy!!!
cigalechanta is offline  
Jan 25th, 2005, 08:08 AM
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P_M, yes, Paris IS gorgeous at night! When Marcy and I were there we stayed out late at night simply walking around and soaking up the atmosphere. (Well, there were a few nights of walking around in circles getting lost, but that's also part of the Parisian experience, isn't it?) Weren't we all lucky with the weather being so good?
Jan 25th, 2005, 08:27 AM
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P_M that's a great trip report. Paris is more beautiful at night! I'm sorry I missed seeing the ice skating rink at the Eiffel Tower due to the really long lines on New Year's Eve afternoon.

francophile03 is offline  
Jan 25th, 2005, 08:32 AM
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P_M, thanks for the good report. more more more... makes me want to catch a plane to Paris!
suze is offline  
Jan 25th, 2005, 09:07 AM
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P_M, anxiously awaiting your next installment...great so far!

tpatricco is offline  
Jan 25th, 2005, 11:14 AM
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Welcome home, sorry we didn't connect while we were all there.

I'm not much of a skater either (a disadvantage, since I grew up in snow country) but I was kind of disappointed with the rink at the ET--I thought it kinda small (but it does gain points for its location!)

Your walk sounds lovely, good for you!
Those moments alone can be as precious as the fun with the friends and family.
elaine is offline  
Jan 25th, 2005, 11:30 AM
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Hello again, and thank you all for so many nice replies!! Here's Chapter 2:

The unexpected, and the voice inside my head:

Our plan had been to visit the tourist sites on our first few days, then buy a 3-day museum pass and visit the museums over the last 3 days. Our last 3 days would be Wed., Thurs., and Fri. On Wednesday morning we went to the Louvre where we planned to buy a 3 day museum pass. We went to the office where those are sold and a few people were ahead of us. While we were waiting, the voice inside my head started telling me that the museum pass would not be a good idea. I don't know why, I had crunched the numbers and it seemed like it would be a money-saver. But that silly voice inside my head wouldn't shut up and kept telling me not to buy the museum pass. I finally told Dad & Divina what I was thinking. At first they disagreed, but I told them I had a bad feeling it wouldn't be worthwhile. They eventually said OK, we won't buy it, so we left that office and just bought a day pass for the Louvre. There were no lines to enter and few crowds inside, and we spent the entire day there.

The next day (Thursday) we had planned to go to the Catacombs, Saint Chappelle, and the Conciergerie. We went to the Catacombs only to find a sign saying that it's closed until May. Apparently these ancient bones need rennovation. So OK, we said, let's head to Saint Chappelle and the Conciergerie, and maybe we'll catch the Orsay this afternoon. We went to Saint Chappelle and there was a sign posted that it's closed for the day due to a strike. We then went to the Concergerie and saw the same sign. We went to the Orsay and same story, closed for strike. We then learned that all tourist sites were closed for the day due to the strike. At this point I realized that the voice inside my head was right. The 3 day museum pass would not have been worthwhile since nothing was open on what would have been the second of the 3 days. I'm so glad I listened!!

At first we didn't know what to do with the rest of our day, so I had to put on my thinking cap, as I was the only one who did any of the trip planning. Dad and Divina had left that to me since I'm considered the travel expert in the family, also since I'd been to Paris before. I gave it some thought and remembered seeing the Bateaux-Mouche boat tours by the Eiffel Tower. We didn't know if they would be running or not, so I suggested we go there and find out. When we arrived, we discovered that the boat tours were still running so we took a boat ride. After that we spent the rest of the day just piddling around the Montemartre area and enjoying the view from the Sacre Couer at night. The next day everything was open again, so we went to Saint Chappelle, the Conciergerie, and the Orsay. I am disappointed to have missed the Catacombs, so this means I'll have to go back to Paris sometime after May when they re-open. Darn....

Saturday was our day to come home. The flight left at 10:40am and it was a 40 minute ride to the airport. We had booked a shuttle van to pick us up at 8am in order to get us to the airport exactly 2 hours before our flight. On Friday night, the voice inside my head told me to have the desk clerk at the hotel call the shuttle service and reconfirm our ride for the morning. As usual, this particular airhead clerk was giggling out loud on the phone with a friend. When she finally acknowledged my presence and put down the phone, I asked her to make the call to reconfirm. She shrugged and said this service is good and if we booked it for 8, then there's no reason to call and reconfirm. She then went back to her personal call. I regret to tell you that I backed off and did not insist she make the call. I wish now I had listened to the voice inside my head instead of the airhead behind the desk, but I must take responsibility for not insisting she get off her personal call and tend to my business first. Anyway, Saturday morning we came to the lobby to wait for the shuttle van. At 8:07 the van still hadn't arrived and I was getting very impatient. I asked the clerk to call and find out why the van wasn't there yet. This was the same clerk who talked me out of reconfirming the night before. She called and I could tell something was wrong, but I don't understand French so I didn't know exactly what was said. When she hung up she immediately made a second call. She then told me the van was delayed, but I knew she was fibbing and the van wasn't coming because it hadn't been properly booked. I told her to call a taxi, but she said she already did. (that must have been the second call she made) The taxi arrived within 2 minutes and whisked us off to the airport. The taxi ride turned out to be 9 euros cheaper than the shuttle van would have been, so we thought at first this was a good thing.

On the way to the airport, the cabbie asked us which airline we were flying with and I said American Airlines. He told us that is at Terminal 1, so that's where he took us. We came into Terminal 1 and started looking around for the American Airlines ticket counter. We couldn't find it, and since we were already late getting there I was a bit nervous. I finally asked someone and they told me that AA is at Terminal 2!! I was so mad at the taxi driver because we told him we were flying AA and he still took us to the wrong terminal!! So, we had to walk completely to the other end of Terminal 1 and catch a bus to the Terminal 2. We moved as quickly as possible through the crowds and when we got to the bus stop I had to use my bad French to ask around and figure out which of the 4 buses was the right one to get us to the other terminal. Thank God my French was just good enough to get us on the right bus, but it was about a 10 minute ride. We finally arrived and time was short. We got in line for the flight to DFW and it wasn't very long, but it moved slower than molasses in the winter. Then we had to go through security and passport control which was a long process as well. We made it just in time, but this was really nerve-racking. None of this would have happened if only I had listened to the voice inside my head and insisted the clerk reconfirm our shuttle ride. But also I am to blame as I should have made a point of noting the right terminal in advance instead of having confidence a taxi driver would know. Lessons leanred.

Stay tuned, coming up later: Ugly Naked Guy....

P_M is offline  
Jan 25th, 2005, 01:01 PM
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What a perfect Cliff Hanger...

coming up next The Ugly Naked Guy
Scarlett is offline  
Jan 25th, 2005, 01:16 PM
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Scarlett took the words right out of my mouth!
jody is offline  
Jan 25th, 2005, 03:24 PM
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Ugly Naked Guy:

OK, here's the part you've all been waiting for, the chapter about Ugly Naked Guy!! Before I get started, let me state that while I was in Paris I was going over the events of the trip and trying to decide what to include in this report. I spent a lot of time debating whether or not I should include Ugly Naked Guy, as it's a bit frivoulous and has nothing to do with Paris travel. I decided later that it was part of the experience, so here it is if you are interested:

If you ever watched the show "Friends" you will know they had a neighbor across the way whom they refer to as "Ugly Naked Guy." To the best of my knowledge, this person was never seen, he was only left to the imagination. As the name would suggest, he was an unattractive man who would go around the apartment naked while leaving the curtains open.

If the movies are to be believed, every hotel room in Paris is a large room with a view of the Eiffel Tower. But if you've ever traveled to Paris on a budget, your room was probably a small one with a view of an apartment building, as was mine. When I am in a small hotel room I tend to look out the window often to keep from feeling so clausterphobic. On my first night in Paris I opened the curtains to see my view at night, and what did I see? You guessed it!! There he was, in all his glory, the French version of "Ugly Naked Guy!!" He wasn't doing anything particularly interesting, just going around his apartment in the buff. I couldn't help but laugh, as he seemed not to notice or care that he was so visible to me and probably many other guests in my hotel. I didn't look for more than a minute or two at at time, but it was amusing that every evening when I was in my hotel room, Ugly Naked Guy would be there, cooking his dinner, watching TV, etc. I am thankful I never looked out the window while he was crouching down to pick up something from the floor. One night Dad & Divina came to my room as we were on our way out. I had mentioned nothing to them about this, I just told them to go to the window and take a look. They did, and within a few seconds they cracked up laughing. (no pun intended) Yes folks, there was a full moon out every night while I was in Paris. Unfortunately, the dark side of the moon was equally visible. All I can say is I went to Paris for different experiences, and this is certainly not something one would see in my middle-class suburban neighborhood. As the last chapter of my trip report comes to a close, I would like to leave you with this one parting thought: Why is it that the most blatent exibitionists of the world are the ones you least want to see naked?

I hope you have enjoyed this report as much as I have enjoyed writing it for you. I hope I have brought back nice memories of your last trip to Paris....well....except for the part about Ugly Naked Guy. If you haven't gone to Paris yet, please do go. I'm confident you will love it as much as we did.

Thank you for reading.


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