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Trip Report Round the World Trip Part 1 - QM2, Southampton, Paris

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This is the start of my trip report on our Round the World trip this summer. We left on June 16 and returned home on August 4. We have a lot of miles, so we got the air tickets through Delta. We decided to do business class this time. We are so spoiled now – I told DH I would not do RTW any other way now! I was amazed at how not-tired we were after a long flight in business class, compared to economy. I almost didn’t want the flights to end! We each checked a big suitcase and took a carry on. I had a purse and DH had a briefcase. Amazingly, we had no hitches in the flights. No lost luggage, no missed flights. I think the most we were ever delayed was about 1 hour. The summary of our trip was as follows: flight to NYC on the June 16th, Queen Mary 2 to Southampton, then Paris; Lima, Peru; Hong Kong; Mongolia; Helsinki, Riga, Latvia; Prague; Paris; Miami. It was an amazing experience and we saw so many interesting things and met many interesting people.

I will start the report here in the Europe forum and post the other parts in the South America forum and the Asia forum. I will come back and add the second Europe part here.

We flew up from Miami to NYC on June 16th and stayed at the Princeton Club. That night we had dinner with good friends whose wedding we attended in London in March. We had a great time with them, but I can’t remember the name of the restaurant we ate at! It was very good, though!

June 17
We woke up and met some other friends for breakfast, then took a taxi to the Brooklyn Cruise pier. We knew we were in some difficulty when the cab driver didn’t know where that was! After getting GPS working on DH’s iphone, we guided the driver to the pier. Check in was very smooth and the cabin was ready when we got on board. The ship is very beautiful and really evokes the 1920s/1930s ocean liners. I won’t do a detailed report on this portion, but we enjoyed the food (especially the Todd English specialty restaurant) and the lectures. I went to nearly all of them. DH did a little work on board, so missed a few of them. I was a little afraid I’d be bored with 7 days at sea with “nothing to do” but I found plenty to do. The planetarium shows were fun as well. We even met up with a lovely Fodors poster and her husband and friends while on board! All in all it was a very enjoyable 7 days and much easier on the body than trying to sleep in economy across the Atlantic!

June 24
We disembarked in Southampton and took a taxi to the airport, as we had a 6:00 pm flight on Flybe to Paris. We stored our luggage at the airport – I think it was ₤5 per bag. We took the train (the station is right there at the airport) into the city center. It took about 5 minutes. We first went to the Sea City Museum. They had exhibits on the Titanic (one followed the stories and described the lives of several crew members and this was my favorite) and an exhibit on the general history of the Southampton area. We had a lunch of sandwiches and potato chips at their café. We then walked to West Park and saw the Titanic engineers memorial and the Cenotaph, then walked to Bargate and to the Medieval Merchant House museum, which was interesting. They had a good audioguide included with admission. We then walked back to the train station and took the train back to the airport. We checked our bags and then waited for our flight. It was a little over an hour late, but since we weren’t making a connection, it was no big deal. We got really tickled as when they made announcements of the Flybe flights, they went through a huge long list of delayed flights – I don’t think anything left on time that evening! Flight was short and we arrived at Orly and picked up our bags and took a taxi to the Hotel St. Jacques on the rue des Ecoles. We were on the 5th floor and our room overlooked the street. They had an elevator to the 4th floor, then a flight of stairs. The room was small by US standards, but we made everything work-found places for our bags. We usually stay at the Henri IV down the street about a block, but they were booked full for the time we were there. The St. Jacques is their sister hotel. I think we both prefer the Henri IV, but the St. Jacques was just as well located and the staff was very nice.

June 25
First order of business this morning was to ship some formal clothes from the cruise back home via DHL. I had looked up their locations beforehand and DH had found a box that we broke down and took with us, so we just loaded the box and took it to DHL. We paid and taped the box up and were now free to explore. This was our 3rd trip to Paris together and each of us had been once before we knew each other. We took the Metro to Montmartre to the Lamarck-Caulaincourt stop and went up the stairs to eat at Chez Ginette. We sat outside. I started with an egg and sausage scramble and DH had a salmon salad. We both had the Panga fish filet with sautéed tomato and eggplant. Lunch included a cup of coffee. After lunch, we walked up to see Sacre Coeur and St. Pierre du Montmartre. I had not been to that part of Paris since I was there in college in 1989! Boy, was it crowded there – especially the Place du Tertre! I knew it would be, but geez! We escaped down a side street quickly! We explored the Cimitiere Montmartre and saw Truffaut and Berlioz. DH decided we did need a small backpack for our trip, so we went to Monoprix and found the perfect one – it was the only one like it on the rack, so we felt lucky! We also bought some snacks there. We took a little walk around our hotel and then went to La Rose du Somerard for our dinner. It is a Chinese restaurant and we enjoyed our meal there. We both had the spring rolls for a starter. I really liked these! I had a fried fish curry and DH had beef and onions. DH had neopolitan ice cream for dessert and I had lychees in syrup. We walked down to the Seine after dinner and stopped by Shakespeare and Company. We walked along the river again and back to our hotel.

June 26
We took the Metro to try to go to see the Catacombs this morning, but the lines were all the way around the block and it was a little before they even opened! We decided not to stick around. We went to the Musee Cognacq-Jay and got the audioguide. We really enjoyed this museum – we were especially taken by the portraits painted by Maurice Quentin de la Tour. We felt that you could really see the personalities of those he painted. I also really enjoyed the interiors – the furniture and rooms in period style.

After this we went to eat at L’As du Fallafel. We got a table for two and I ordered a falafel pita and DH had a chicken schnitzel pita. Both were so good! I loved my falafel – it was a huge amount of food! But I managed to eat it!! This place was crazy busy! The inside was a madhouse and there was a long line for takeout as well! I can see why, though, as it was excellent and not expensive!

After lunch we walked over to Ile St. Louis and wandered around. I was disappointed but somewhat relieved to discover that Berthillon was closed that day. As if we needed that! We walked over the Ile de la Cite and went to the Crypte Archaeologique in front of Notre Dame. This site contains the old Roman and medieval ruins from the street that ran up to Notre Dame. Again, we got the audioguide, which really helped to understand what we were looking at. We very much enjoyed our visit here. We took a leisurely walk to our hotel, passing St. Severin church along the way. We realized that we’d never been in there and went inside. They had some beautiful modern stained glass windows that were swirls of color and an interesting palm tree like pillar in the ambulatory. We had a little rest at our hotel and then went to La Criee on rue Lagrange for dinner. We have eaten there before and really enjoy our meals there. We both had a glass of white wine and the mussels marinere for dinner. Excellent.

June 27
Our last day in Paris. We slept a little late then went to Chateau de Vincennes at the end of Line 1 on the Metro (at least I think it was the last stop). We had a moment of confusion on the Metro, as it looked like the light was punched out on the little maps on the cars, so we were afraid we wouldn’t stop there, but we did. We went into the grounds and got our tickets and of course, the audioguide. (I do like audioguides, as you can move around at your own pace, skip things you aren’t interested in, repeat things you are, etc.) They had two “tours” on the audioguide, either Royal or Military. We did the Royal one. It was very informative and interesting. We went through the donjon and the chapel. After the visit, we were hungry so we saw a restaurant across the street and just grabbed some chicken paninis with melted cheese and Coke Zeros. They were tasty and hit the spot. We had quickly and headed out again.

We went to the Tuileries Garden and walked through the carnival that was going on. They sure had some wild rides that I wouldn’t get on! Some rides were really funny – we enjoyed watching people get soaked on the flume ride and they had a “ride” where they put little kids in clear plastic bubbles in the water and the kids would flip around and try to run in the bubbles – hilarious to watch! We headed over to see St. Eustache church. We saw the Reubens painting there and the Keith Haring “sculpture.” There was some stained glass there that had not been cleaned – what a difference between the cleaned and uncleaned glass! We walked all the way back to our hotel. We then repacked all of our stuff. Our dinner reservation at Les Papilles wasn’t until 10:00! This was the second time we’ve eaten there and it didn’t disappoint! I think this might be my favorite restaurant in Paris! It is a set menu – no options – you get whatever they are serving that night, which was a leek and potato soup, chicken and penne pasta in a pesto cream sauce, a cheese course and a raspberry cream cup for dessert. We had a bottle of wine with our meal. All was just delicious. Will go back there the next time we’re in Paris, for sure!!

June 28
We had a morning flight on Air France to Lima, Peru. We had a taxi arranged to pick us up in the morning, and the flight left on time. Air France had a nice business class, with the lay-flat beds. They fed us well.

For the next installment of our trip – the Peru section – go to the South America forum! I will post a different thread here in the Europe forum when I get to that part of the trip report!

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