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Twelve Nights: Venice, Bologna & Paris (plus Ravenna)

Twelve Nights: Venice, Bologna & Paris (plus Ravenna)

Old Jun 3rd, 2016, 09:24 AM
  #21  
 
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Still following along, ssander, and enjoying your trip very much. As you say, it's nice to mix up new experiences with old and loved ones and I\m picking up some good tips about parisian buses, onto which I have yet to venture despite numerous visits to Paris over the years.

Keep it coming!
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Old Jun 5th, 2016, 03:06 AM
  #22  
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DAY 10 - THU MAY 19
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Our usual in-room breakfast this morning: coffee, milk, nuts, orange, strawberries, and a pastry called a Las Vegas that consisted of layers of berries, whipped cream and cake.

Today we decided to visit the Decorative Arts Museum, located in the same complex as the Louvre…in the northwest wing. First we looked at the art nouveau and art deco sections, which we had visited in the past but never get tired of. We ascended through the 20th century decades section…housed in the tower, with a floor dedicated to each decade.

At one point we looked out the window westward and saw rue Rivoli with bumper-to-bumper traffic not moving at all. We asked one of the museum employees about it and she said (I believe), “Manifestations.” I assume the English equivalent would be demonstrations.

It’s amazing how every trip to Paris uncovers something new…at least new to us. We were on our way out, when I noticed on the museum plan a section called. “Advertising”. Intrigued, we walked over and discovered an entire wing with two incredible sections. The first, advertising, was an amazing collection of large posters ranging from the 1880s to WWI. The second, “Tissues”, was a huge collection of wallpapers and wall fabrics. If you are in Paris now, you have till June 12 to see this temporary exhibition. (Note: There was also a Barbie Doll temporary exhibition, but we were not interested in that.)

We stopped at the BHV cafeteria for lunch and then back to the hotel for a nap.

Our next walk was one we found in Walks Through Lost Paris by Leonard Pitt. This was a walk through the Marais with lots of historical information and great photos comparing the streets and buildings today with how they looked in the past. (It is a very long walk—the entire book only has four walks—and we really only did about half of it.)

http://www.amazon.com/Walks-Through-.../dp/1593761031

We found another restaurant with a discount on The Fork website, made our reservation, and headed over to Vins et Terroirs on the left bank. We shared ravioli and salad starters. Linda had lamb and I had beef…and, of course, wine…and chocolate cake for dessert. The food was pretty good and a bargain at 40% off.

We then walked over to Pont des Arts, which looks so much nicer now that they have pretty effectively stopped those horrid love locks. Then proceeded along the river back toward our hotel, stopping at an ATM. (Hotel de Nice does not take credit cards, so I had to start accumulating the cash a couple of days ahead of checkout.) Then to bed.

[More to come.]
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Old Jun 5th, 2016, 03:42 AM
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Glad to see your comments on the Museum of Decorative Arts. It's on my list for my upcoming trip.

Also curious about Venice and the cruise ships that dock there now. Did you encounter a lot of them (and the hordes of passengers that they unload on towns)? I have not been to Venice in years and would love to visit again. I know there are crowds in Venice and am envisioning mobs of cruise ship passengers making any movement any where in Venice impossible. Just wondering what your experience was.
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Old Jun 5th, 2016, 05:58 AM
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denisea...

The big cruise ships dock at the western end of the island near the Tronchetto, so we didn't see any of them. As for crowds, you can't avoid them in the main tourist areas: San Marco, Rialto, and everywhere in between.

However, because this was not our first visit, we tried to spend some of our time in areas that were not jammed.

ssander
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Old Jun 5th, 2016, 03:33 PM
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DAY 11 - FRI MAY 20
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Before we left the US, we had two possible day-trips worked out, both from An Hour from Paris by Annabel Simms: Crecy-la-Chapelle and Champs-sur-Marne.

http://www.annabelsimms.com/

The weather, while not really rainy, tended to threaten rain a lot of the time. The hourly forecast convinced us that this afternoon would be the day to go…and we picked Crecy-la-Chapelle.

After our usual breakfast (with flan and a pear tart for the pastry), we headed out for a walk through some of the passages in Paris. We had done this before, but it’s always fun. The route was a combination of suggestions that Kerouac and Degas had posted on Fodors several years ago.

We took the bus back to the hotel and rested for an hour, then had soup and salade nicoise at Pizzeria Sant’Antonio before heading to Gare de l’Est to take the train to Esbly before transferring to the little train (actually more like a tram) that took us to Crecy. (This was all covered by the week pass on our Navigo cards.)

Crecy-la-Chapelle is a beautiful town with old buildings, canals, a moat and remanence of fortification towers. There were practically no tourists…in fact most of the people were old folks walking their dogs. (The younger residents were at work no doubt.)

Halfway through our walk, we came upon an old lady standing by the side of one of the canals. She started to tell us about the washing platforms along the water. She spoke no English at all, but we managed (with our very rudimentary French) to have a ten-minute conversation with her. It turned out that her son works and lives in California. While I know there is no way we, as tourists, can blend in and be like locals, this was a magical moment for us that we will never forget.

We got back to the hotel about 7:30 and headed over to a crepe place that we had been to on our last trip: Au Beurre Sale. They have really good crepes here, and the dessert crepe had four scoops of lime sorbet, raspberry syrup and loads of whipped cream.

We took the bus back and walked around the Marais a bit before turning in for the night.

[More to come]
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Old Jun 6th, 2016, 04:10 AM
  #26  
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DAY 12 – SAT MAY 21
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The usual breakfast in our room…sharing a raspberry tart and a pear tart. The weather is beautiful today.

First we took a walk up the Canal Saint Martin (starting at Republique) with a stop at Jardin Villemin and, of course, watching one of the boats go through a lock. At rue Louis Blanc, we turned right and walked to Place du Colonel Fabien, where we jumped on a bus to Parc des Buttes-Chaumont.

This is one of the loveliest parks in Paris, IMHO. Folks were jogging and fishing and just stretching out in the sun. There were a number of wedding groups there for photos, and lots of kids. We checked out the grotto, with its waterfall, but did not walk up to the folly, because we were trying to minimize the stress on Linda’s foot. (We had done that on a previous visit.)

We then took the #75 bus back, getting off near the Pompidou and walking the rest of the way. We stopped at a chocolate shop to pick up some gifts for the friends who picked up our mail and watered our plants. Since it was Saturday, the market across the street was in session, so we also picked up some roasted chicken, potatoes and tabbouleh for lunch and some strawberries for tomorrow’s breakfast.

We decided to take a somewhat unstructured walk. Starting at the Place-Royale-Louvre Metro stop, we zig-zagged through the Tuileries to Concorde to Vendôme to Madeleine and then up to Blvd Haussmann, where we grabbed the RER back to Châtelet - Les Halles, and walked back to the hotel.

Then we took a short nap and packed for tomorrow’s flight home.

Dinner was at Equinox, a small restaurant on rue des Rosiers that we had been to a number of times on previous trips. We had tomato-mozzarella salad, steak and potatoes, and baba rhum.

Afterwards, we headed to Ile St-Louis (but not before I picked up some gelato at the Amorino on rue Vieille du Temple).

We decided to go down the steps to the quai on the western tip of the island. There were the usual young people hanging out, but there was also a group of them jamming — two guitar players and a couple of saxophonists. It was such a beautiful evening, sitting there with the river in front of us, Ile de la Cite to the left and the music all around. We didn’t want to leave, but tomorrow is travel day, and we would have to get up pretty early.

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DAY XX – SUN MAY 22
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Goodbye to Paris. We have a 1:20 pm flight to Philadelphia, and there have been times when the security lines at CDG have been horrendous, so we wanted to leave early. After the usual breakfast, we headed out at around 9:15. We took the #1 Metro to Chatelet and then the RER B Express to CDG, getting there around 10 am. There was a pretty long walk through T2, but passport control and security moved quickly. (Our boarding passes showed us with TSA pre-check, and I think we may have been directed to a faster line, but I’m not sure.) Once inside we relaxed with some more breakfast and waited to board.

The flight was too full to try to get an open bank of four middle seats, but it was a good flight that arrived in PHL on time.

After our last trip we decided to get in the Global Entry program. It costs $100 for five years, and you have to go to the airport for an interview, but if you fly more than a few times a year, it is worth it, since it only adds a couple of bucks to each flight. You get TSA pre-check on all flights (which gets you through security much, much faster on domestic flights) and also through a fast kiosk entering the US.

This was our first experience with Global Entry. I placed my passport in the reader without difficulty. It took my picture and asked me the usual questions. Unfortunately I answered “yes” when asked if I was bringing in food (the chocolate). So it directed me to the humans. In addition, I was standing too near Linda and both of us were in her photo. It delayed us three or four minutes, but it was still faster than the standard entry process. Next time I’ll do better…I think they meant produce and meat when they asked about food, not packaged candy.

We took the shuttle to our parking lot and drove home through traffic that made me nostalgic for the RER B Express.

[End]
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Old Jun 6th, 2016, 03:10 PM
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global entry is a snap once you get used to it. We were once called over because we answered yes to bringing back merchandise over some dollar amount. The guy asked what I bought (necklace) and just waved us on . I think it's a big improvement over the old way even though the first time my photo was on both receipts!, I do think there is limited acceptance of Pre-check with some airlines (Delta, American, United and a few more) in some EU countries, Canada and Australia.

Crecy last Chappelle sounds like a great day trip!
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