Two weeks in Paris ... how to fill?

Old Apr 16th, 2014, 06:45 PM
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Two weeks in Paris ... how to fill?

The facts: Family of four with 18yo son and 9yo daughter who has celiac (must be gluten-free) will be in Paris August 3-16. We live in south Texas so anything less than scalding hot temps will be cooler than where we live in August! We plan to take one day and make a trip to Disneyland Paris. The kids have never been to any Disney park so we thought we'd take advantage of the proximity. Other than this, we have no plans for the two weeks.

We are staying at the Serotel Lutece at 2 Rue Berthollet. I don't know anything about the hotel ... my husband made all the reservations and told me about the trip after the fact,

Would like suggestions for family activities, activities our 18yo son could go do by himself (this trip is a high school graduation present among other things), gluten-free restaurants, day trips that could be accomplished on public transportation (we will not be renting a car), etc. Mostly, we would like to walk everywhere and just absorb being in Paris.

The 9yo is an accomplished ballerina for her age so maybe taking in a ballet performance would be nice?

This is our first trip to Paris. We spent two weeks in Eze (near Nice) about 4 1/2 years ago and loved it.

Thanks in advance for all suggestions!
lsremington is offline  
Old Apr 16th, 2014, 07:04 PM
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Guide books are a good investment.
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Old Apr 16th, 2014, 10:22 PM
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Get the youngsters exploring the public transport system, and looking up your hotel on Google Maps and Streetview:
http://www.ratp.fr/en/ratp/c_21879/visiting-paris/
http://www.ratp.fr/plan-interactif/
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Old Apr 16th, 2014, 10:27 PM
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You - or just your son - might enjoy seeing the Friday night rollerblade parade. It always starts at the same place, but takes a different route each week, which is only announced a few days beforehand - who knows, it might pass not too far from your hotel, but it wouldn't be difficult to get to a spot along the route anyway:
http://pari-roller.com/la-randonnee/...e-rendez-vous/
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Old Apr 16th, 2014, 10:28 PM
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What are your interests? What are the kids interests? You should get them actively reading guidebooks and planning activities for all of you.

Give us some details about what you consider fun so we can make pertinent suggestions.
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Old Apr 16th, 2014, 10:50 PM
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Hi Isremington,

When I have a nice, long stay in Paris, I like to pick one neighborhood and spend the entire day exploring it. Of course, read ahead on the neighborhood (Michelin Green Guide) and then just go wild.

I also recommend a bike ride in the countryside with French Mystique. You can pick a long, all-day tour, such as one to Chartres, or a short and quick ride in the countryside. I did the ride to Chartres last Oct, and it was the highlight of my 10 days in Paris. August might be a busy time for him, so you may want to get this scheduled quickly.

http://www.frenchmystiquetours.com/

Have fun as you plan!

s
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Old Apr 17th, 2014, 03:52 AM
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I would take some walking tours with Paris Walks.

http://www.paris-walks.com/

You're near rue Mouffetard, a market street, which is best seen on Sundays. At the bottom of the street, around noon, are accordion players and people congregate to sing and dance. Sheet music is given out if you can follow in French. I love doing this.

Search on this forum for gluten free. There are several threads on the subject with restaurant recommendations. Carry a card that states your daughter cannot have anything made with gluten so you can show the waiter. That way you can choose any restaurants and not have to run around looking for particular places to eat.

You could go to Giverny or spend a few hours at Pere Lachaise cemetery (in Paris but very green). You're not far from the Luxembourg Gardens which are lovely.

You're going to have to take public transportation to many sights as you won't be able to walk everywhere. Your hotel is about a 20 minute or so walk to Notre Dame.

You've not said anything about yourselves other than your daughter likes ballet and you want family activities - whatever that means; we don't know your family. It's difficult to make specific recommendations for you.

Here's my list of things I've done and would like to repeat or see for the first time.

Val-de-Grace Church
Mosque & tea in the garden
St-Etienne-du-Mont church
Luxembourg Gardens
Pantheon
St-Denis Basilica
Opera Garnier
Orsay Museum
Pont Alexandre III
St-Germain-des-Pres church
St-Sulpice church
Orangerie Museum
Notre Dame
Ste-Chapelle
Ile St-Louis
Hotel Dieu
Seine Cruise
Cluny Museum
Rue Montorgueil Market
Rodin Museum
Maillol Museum
Marmatton Museum
Picasso Museum (opening June 2014)
Jewish Museum
Places des Vosges
Carnavalet Garden
Stravinsky Fountain
St-Merri Church
St-Eustache Church
Jacquemart-Andre Museum
Nissim de Camondo Museum
Arab Institute
Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
St-Julian-le-Pauvre
Art Deco buildings
Eiffel Tower Backstage Tour
Pere Lachaise
Belleville
Montmartre Museum
Pasteur Museum
Museum of Romantic Life
Gustav Moreau Museum
Passages
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Old Apr 17th, 2014, 04:38 AM
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You will have a great time, and you will laugh when you get home to think tat you were worried about having enough to fill your time.

Some notes:

1. Prefer buses to the Metro because you can see the city from the bus. The RATP app is wonderful if you have a smartphone or iPad with you.

2. Use wifi wherever you can. Turn off digital roaming. Ask your son not to text his friends at home. These two will cost you a fortune if you don't unlock your phones and get local SIM cards.

3. Your son may want to look at some of the photo posts by Kerouac (just search his name in the search box above). He does photos of real people in real places in Paris. Yes, of course kids and grown ups wear jeans and shorts in Paris, but there are often differences between theirs and ours, especially for boys. Skinny jeans for girls are a universal.

4. Your son is old enough to drink in France. How do you all feel about that? You should talk because he should be allowed to go off by himself pretty often. We turned our daughter and son loose in London when she was 16 and he 13, with limits, of course, and I think Paris is generally safer than London, though if he hasn't had any French, that will make a difference.

5. Inform yourself about and discuss with your family some of the really big differences between the US and France: good manners really matter in France and if you don't know the customs, it will impact the service you receive ( or don't). Men and women often share the public areas of rest rooms ( they may wash their hands in the same place) though toilet stalls are generally like closets, with doors all the way to the floor so privacy is not an issue. Finally, without being paranoid, there really are people out to swindle you there or pick your pocket. Read about them in this forum. Don't smile at people on the street, hard for Texans. The good news is that your chances of getting mugged are far, far less than in the US, and your chances of getting shot are next to Zero, unlike going to a big ciity in the US.
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Old Apr 17th, 2014, 05:25 AM
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Hi Isremington,

Good for you - two weeks in Paris! I suggest that you watch Woody Allen's film MIDNIGHT IN PARIS together. Great views of the popular venues in the city. Also takes some Paris Walks.

I would recommend the book THE GREATER JOURNEY, AMERICANS IN PARIS 1830-1900 by American historian David McCullough if you are interested in art.
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Old Apr 17th, 2014, 06:03 AM
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I would engage Michael Osman for several days--maybe one for an overview, but for sure one or more to guide you all through the Louvre and Orsay. He will be a gem for your children especially--he is a wonderful "teacher" without the pedantics, and an artist in his own right so will link the works of art with the art movements they represent in history. For the Louvre, the building itself has its own story outside the works it houses, and he is adept at telling this part also. He is also a good companion and fun!!
Your son might enjoy the Segway tour--or Fat Tire Bike tour. Sounds like a great fun family trip!!
And most especially a ballet performance!!
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Old Apr 17th, 2014, 07:24 AM
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Here is a brief list that summarizes many of the most popular day trips from Paris (within an hour and a half by train). With the exception of Reims, Troyes and Rouen I haven't included places that require advance train ticket purchase to get the cheapest train ticket prices. The rest of the destinations are all local trains with fixed prices. There are certainly many other day trips you could also do but this list covers most of the biggies:

Provins (an authentic walled medieval town): http://www.provins.net/
Trains depart from Gare de l'Est. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules. Train ticket is Mobilis Pass zones 1-5.
__________________________________________________ ________________________

Château of Chantilly (wonderful fairytale château, famous art collection): http://www.chateaudechantilly.com/fr/
http://www.chantilly-tourisme.com/
Trains depart from Gare du Nord and arrive at Chantilly-Gouvieux. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices.
__________________________________________________ __________________________

Senlis (beautiful small medieval town can be combined with a visit to Chantilly):
http://www.senlis-tourisme.fr/
Take train to Chantilly (see above). Take bus number 15 from Chantilly to Senlis. Bus schedules here: http://www.oise-mobilite.fr/index.asp
__________________________________________________ ___________________________

Reims (champagne tours, great historic cathedral, museums):
http://www.reims-tourisme.com/
Take TGV train from Gare de l'Est. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices. Train tickets cheapest if purchased 3 months in advance.
__________________________________________________ ____________________________

Epernay (champagne tours): http://www.ot-epernay.fr/
Trains depart from from Gare de l'Est. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices.
__________________________________________________ ____________________________

Fontainebleau (former royal town with famous château):
http://www.musee-chateau-fontainebleau.fr/
http://www.fontainebleau-tourisme.com/
http://www.uk.fontainebleau-tourisme.com/
Trains depart from Gare de Lyon arrive at Fontainebleau-Avon. Take Bus A from train station to château. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules. Train ticket is Mobilis Pass zones 1-5.
__________________________________________________ ___________________________

Versailles (obvious):
http://en.chateauversailles.fr/homepage
http://www.versailles-tourisme.com/en/accueil.html
There are several possible ways to get here by train from Paris. Easiest (least confusing) is to take RER C from Paris to Versailles Rive-Gauche. Use www.ratp.fr for train info.
__________________________________________________ ____________________________

Château of Vaux-le-Vicomte (the château after which Louis XIV based his garden renovations for Versailles and IMO one of the most elegant château in France):
http://www.vaux-le-vicomte.com/
http://www.vaux-le-vicomte.com/en/useful-information
Trains depart from Gare de Lyon and arrive in Melun. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules. Train ticket is Mobilis Pass zones 1-5. Take taxi from Melun to château or in high season use the shuttle bus from Melun to château. See 2nd link above for further transport info.
__________________________________________________ ____________________________

Rouen (small city, lots to do, wonderful cathedral, medieval old center): http://www.rouentourisme.com/
Trains depart from Gare Saint-Lazare. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules. Tickets cheapest if purchased 3 months in advance. Last minute tickets cost 22.80€ each way (45.60€ round trip).
__________________________________________________ ___________________________

Giverny (Monet's house and gardens):
http://fondation-monet.com/en/
http://giverny.org/giverny/
http://giverny.org/gardens/index.htm
http://www.vernon-visite.org/index.shtml
Trains depart from Gare Saint-Lazare and arrive in Vernon. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices. Look at links above for info about shuttle bus to Giverny, or walking or renting a bike.
__________________________________________________ ____________________________

Chartres (the famous cathedral and wonderful old medieval town):
http://www.chartres-tourisme.com/en
http://www.discover-chartres.com/

Malcolm Miller Cathedral Tours:

Daily tours of Chartres Cathedral from Easter until late October are at 12 noon and 2.45 p.m. Not on Sundays, and during the winter occasionally or on request.

E-mail address is [email protected].

Trains depart from Gare Montparnasse. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices.
__________________________________________________ ______________________________

Compiègne (château with museums, wonderful old town. Can be combined with a visit to the château of Pierrefonds): http://www.compiegne-tourisme.fr/
Trains depart from Gare du Nord. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices.
__________________________________________________ _________________________

Château of Pierrefonds (Magnificent fairytale looking château. Reconstructed in the 19th century but magnificent nonetheless. Can be combined with a visit to Compiègne):
http://www.pierrefonds.monuments-nationaux.fr/
http://www.pierrefonds-tourisme.net/
http://www.compiegne-tourisme.fr/Le-...errefonds.html
Take train to Compiegne (see above). There are shuttle buses from Compiegne to Pierrefonds but they are infrequent. Use www.oise-mobilite.fr for bus info. Easiest means of access is taxi from Compiegne to Pierrefonds. The tourist office in Compiegne will assist with taxi service.
__________________________________________________ ____________________________

Troyes (lovely small medieval city):
http://www.tourisme-troyes.com/
Trains depart from Gare de l'Est. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices.
__________________________________________________ ____________________________

Auxerre (lovely small medieval city):
http://www.ot-auxerre.fr/
http://www.burgundy-tourism.com/page...erre-1034.html
Trains depart from Gare de Lyon. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices.
__________________________________________________ ____________________________

Laon (medieval hilltop town with a spectacular cathedral): http://www.tourisme-paysdelaon.com/
Trains depart from Gare du Nord. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices.
__________________________________________________ _____________________________
Crépy-en-Valois (charming little medieval town with 12th century châteaux, abbey ruin, quaint streets, nice park)
http://www.valois-tourisme.fr/
Trains depart from Gare du Nord. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices.
__________________________________________________ _____________________________
Crécy-la-Chapelle (small charming renowned artists village): http://www.cc-payscrecois.fr/Crecy-la-Chapelle,203.html Trains depart from Gare de l'Est. Transfer at Esbly to the next train for Crécy. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules. Train ticket is Mobilis Pass zones 1-5.
__________________________________________________ __________________________
__________________________________________________ _____________________________
Moret-sur-Loing (charming walled medieval village/artists village):
http://www.ville-moret-sur-loing.fr/rubrique.php?id=189
http://www.msl-tourisme.fr/index.php/francais/accueil
Trains depart from Gare de Lyon and arrive at Moret-Veneux-les-Sablons. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules. Train ticket is Mobilis Pass zones 1-5.
__________________________________________________ ___________________________

Auvers-sur-Oise (Van Gogh and other impressionist art history):
http://www.auvers-sur-oise.com/heading/heading899.html
Trains depart from either Gare Saint-Lazare or Gare du Nord. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules and prices.
__________________________________________________ ___________________________

Rueil-Malmaison (château of the Empress Josephine and a nice old downtown. On the RER A line and could be combined with a visit to Saint-Germain-en-Laye):
http://www.chateau-malmaison.fr/
http://www.rueil-tourisme.com/
Take RER A to La Défense and then bus 258 to Château de Malmaison. Also possible to take RER A to Rueil-Malmaison and then walk 1.5km to 2km to old downtown and then to château. Bus number 144 also available from RER station to get to downtown then walk to château. Use www.ratp.fr for transport info.
__________________________________________________ ____________________________

Saint-Germain-en-Laye (former royal town with a wonderful château now home to the national museum of archaeology. On the RER A line and could be combined with a visit to Malmaison):
http://www.ot-saintgermainenlaye.fr/en/
http://www.saintgermainenlaye.fr/en/...ulture/musees/
Take RER A from Paris to Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Use www.ratp.fr for train info.
__________________________________________________ __________________________

Barbizon (famous artists village, can be combined with Fontainebleau):
http://www.barbizon-tourisme.fr/
Trains depart from Gare de Lyon and arrive in Fontainebleau-Avon. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules. Train ticket is Mobilis Pass zones 1-5. It is necessary to take a taxi from Fontainebleau to Barbizon.
__________________________________________________ ___________________________

IMPORTANT NOTE: When using the http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ website here are a few tips. When entering Paris as your arrival or departure point you will notice a drop down menu appears when you start to type the word ''paris''. Select ''Paris (all stations – FR)'' and this will automatically bring up the correct train station in Paris for your journey. Be sure to uncheck the box marked ''Direct Trains'' to see all options.

If you are redirected to the RailEurope then try again and select ''Antarctic'' as your ticket collection country to avoid being redirected to the RailEurope website. The RailEurope website usually doesn't show all the trains and shows higher ticket prices. Be sure to also look at other ticket purchase options. If you are having troubles with the SNCF website you can try using a new ticket selling website called www.capitainetrain.com. You can also use the German rail site www.bahn.de for schedules but it will not give train ticket prices.

These are the most popular day trips and all are worthwhile but there are many other less popular and equally worthy day trips. I could easily list a couple dozen more but only if what's on this list doesn't interest you. A good guide book for the Île-de-France region should give you more ideas.

You'll need to take a train from Paris to do these day trips. For info on trains in Paris and the nearby suburbs (métro and RER trains and those TER trains that operate within zone 5) use the website www.ratp.fr. Use the interactive map on this website to plan your trip: http://www.ratp.fr/plan-interactif/carteidf.php?lang=uk. Parts of this website are in French so you can use an English language companion site www.vianavigo.com. You can also use www.transilien.com for métro and RER trains and those TER trains that are part of the Transilien network. Some TER trains on the Transilien network go beyond zone zone 5. It's a personal choice as to whether you prefer using the RATP or Transilien website.

A great website to learn about the Paris métro/bus/RER network is www.parisbytrain.com.

For trains that go further beyond the Île-de-France and outside of the Transilien network use the website http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ A great website to learn about trains in France (and Europe) is www.seat61.com if you have any train questions/problems.

Paris and many of the places nearby in Île-de-France are divided into zones, numbered 1 through 5. Paris is in zone 1 and areas outside Paris are in zones 2 through 5. Some of the destinations I mentioned are in zone 5 (Provins, Fontainebleau, Moret-sur-Loing, Vaux-le-Vicomte, Crécy-la-Chapelle, Barbizon). For these journeys it will be more cost effective to buy a one day Mobilis pass for 16.10€ for zones 1 through 5. This will be cheaper than the point to point tickets round trip. Plus, this pass is good for unlimited travel on all public trains and buses for one day in zones 1-5. Buy it first thing in the morning before your first métro ride and it gets you to your train station, your round trip tickets, any buses you need to use at your destination and any traveling you'll do in Paris when you return. Before you use the ticket make sure to write your name and the date on the ticket. You can buy these passes from the ticket machines in métro/RER stations. The machines have an English language option. If so, look for the one day Mobilis pass option. When you get to the screen that lists your zones to choose from press zone 1 and then press zone 5. You can also buy them at any ticket counter. They are good for 60 days so you can buy it in advance if you want to be prepared. It's not valid until you write your name and date on it and validate the ticket on your first métro/RER trip or at the train station. If you buy the ticket at a main line train station before boarding a train be sure to stick it in the machine that validates tickets and it will punch your ticket.
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Old Apr 17th, 2014, 09:40 AM
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Wow!
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Old Apr 17th, 2014, 09:48 AM
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Well, the first thing I would do is find out from your husband more about the hotel. I looked on line and they don;t appear to have quad rooms - so has he booked two separate rooms? Do they have AC (the hotel looks very pleasant - but AC is NOT a given in hotel in Paris). And while I'm sure you're used to heat in Texas - you're also used to having AC everywhere.

As for "filling time" in Paris - just check out a couple of guide books - there is enough to keep you busy for months - as well as the option for a couple of day trips - Versailles, Giverny, etc.

When we took our tween/teen daughters one place they adored was the Musee de Cluny (with the famed Unicorn Tapestry and a plethora of items from the middle ages). They went back for a second visit when DH and I went gallery hopping one afternoon.
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Old Apr 17th, 2014, 10:54 AM
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In August for the past couple of years they've built a beach along the Seine...dancing, music, etc.
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Old Apr 17th, 2014, 11:17 AM
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The hotel has family rooms for 4 and an apartment for 4. They also have AC. You need to click reservations to see these options.
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Old Apr 17th, 2014, 06:06 PM
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Maybe the Catacombs for the 18 yo. If there is a ballet at Opera Garnier, it is a gorgeous place to see one. I kinda doubt it...August is vacation time for many Parisians. They have a tour there, as well that would be worth it.

I would recommend tea at Un Dimanche a Paris for your daughter and you, at least. Really pretty shop and restaurant with fabulous desserts and macarons.
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Old Apr 17th, 2014, 07:30 PM
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Great suggestions here!
We enjoyed being on the Eiffel Tower at night as every hour on the hour the lights twinkle and it is usually less crowded than during the middle of the day.
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Old Apr 18th, 2014, 12:00 AM
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Amazing list by french mystique, thanks.

Here is a link for cool stuff to do... I like the pet cemetary ..

http://www.coolstuffinparis.com/ceme...tery-paris.php
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Old Apr 18th, 2014, 02:06 AM
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"When we took our tween/teen daughters one place they adored was the Musee de Cluny (with the famed Unicorn Tapestry and a plethora of items from the middle "

This has been on tour for a while--not sure when it is to return, but it is, of course, spectacular.
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Old Apr 18th, 2014, 11:09 AM
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Put it down to me being a crotchety old codger, but when nice Fodorites take the considerable time and effort required to supply so much valuable information to a poster like isremington, one would think he/she would have the grace to at least come back and acknowledge our efforts.

Maybe even stretch it to a "Thank you".

End of rant.
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