Yet another live Paris report

Oct 21st, 2013, 06:44 PM
Join Date: Feb 2011
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thank you kerouac. Did you see where we just got new 100.00 bills USD more like the euro ones. A little harder to counterfeit. I know we use cash mostly in Germany to pay for meals, in stores etc. They like the cash there.
Ok, waiting for the next installment.
flpab is offline  
Oct 26th, 2013, 08:21 AM
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kerouac -- yes, the bike ride with FMT was one of the best highlights of the trip. He mentioned that he would be working on his website and adding some rides.

KL467 -- yes, absolutely, do it! It was tremendous!

annhig & flpab -- thank you so much for your kind words and understanding! I got the unspendable mega-bill from my cousin, who paid her share of the apartment with it. She had gotten it when she lived and worked in Nice a few years ago; apparently, the bank gave it to her when she closed her account.

susan001 -- ohh, I envy you your time in Chartres. It's such a lovely town, and I will have to get back to see the ancient quarter. Yes, the ride was fantastic!

irishface -- I, too, am a weather-wimp! But Bruce is outstanding at moving the date of the ride to good weather. He will contact you for alternate dates and then ask to move the ride according to the forecasts. He can even shift the direction of the ride (if you're not tied to a specific destination) to keep you out of bad weather.
swandav2000 is online now  
Oct 26th, 2013, 08:22 AM
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Saturday 20 October

The first mission for the day is to say good-bye to Cousin S, which I did with mixed feelings. I was so happy to have had the rare time together, but I admit to feeling bewildered by her behavior in Paris. When I blew out my desire to hunt for the dress, she didn’t continue the hunt on her own. When she went to the Orsay, it was understood that I would take her to the museum and meet her as she left. And yesterday when I was on my bike ride, she spent the day in the apartment. Well, she did go out later in the day; she was meeting friends for dinner and left early enough to walk around Sacre Coeur before dinner. She maybe wandered around for an hour. As I noted above, Cousin S is absolutely fluent in French, and she lived and worked in Nice for six months. So I am stunningly bewildered by her reluctance to spend time on her own in this most wonderful and beautiful city. I think my bewilderment raised little spikes of resentment, actually, which I couldn’t completely cover up. I often felt weighed down with the responsibility of her Paris vacation. I wasn’t prepared for it, and indeed should have spoken up early in the visit.

So, anyway. Today Cousin S takes the train to Lyon to make her presentation. I helped her haul her equally-as-unreasonably-heavy-as-mine suitcase down the stairs (silently wishing a magical cousin would show up to help me with mine in a few days . . . ) and waited with her until her taxi came. Then I packed up a decent-sized load of dirty clothes into a bag and went to the post office around the corner to mail them home to Germany, hoping to reduce my suitcase’s poundage even minuscule-ly. I bought a 5-kg box, stuffed in my clothes while admiring my own ability to select exactly 5 kg of clothes, sealed it, and sent it. 27 Euro, no problem.

While waiting for the post office to open, I was happy to get to chat with an elderly man who lives on the island. He’d bought his apartment in the 1980s, he explained to me, when prices were more reasonable. He then started ranting about the horrible pink-ists in the French government, and he was pretty sure the post office wasn’t open yet because of something those nasty pink-ists had done (it was still five minutes before opening time). He then started ranting about Obama and his inability to get anything done; when I mentioned that Obama has been hampered by the Republican-controlled House, he said he was talking about Obama’s foreign policy. I couldn’t think of what Obama has or hasn’t done for/to Europe, so I didn’t say anything. We were joined by a 30-something French woman, and the man went on ranting about the pinks in government. She said something quick and sharp to him, something about reasonableness and fair sharing (as best I could make out), and the man shut up like a clam! When the post office opened, he made a grand show of fine French manners and would not think of letting me walk in second. It was an excellent vignette, the type of thing that always makes me think of real estate in Paris.

Speaking of real estate in Paris, it is my habit to always check real estate listings in the windows of agencies. Not that I could afford to move or want to move, but I just love seeing what’s there. Just fyi, cosy little one-bedroom apartments on Ile St. Louis were going for 900,000 – 2,000,000 euro. In the 7th, you could buy a two-bedroom for about the same price. So. Now you know . . .

Then I was off to meet Friend C at the Crypte Archaeologique at last. She was there with her friend, and we descended to the piles of huge, rough stones pulled from the remains of Paris’ past. I always love this museum, and this time I used the audio guide. It wasn’t great. I guess I prefer to let my imagination wander rather than being led through the ages and the exhibits. But the best things of the museum are the many wonderful videos – animated versions of the Roman fort town on the island (complete with townspeople walking the streets) and an absolutely stunning 3-D video display of the building of Notre Dame. The ND display depicts the four major stages of its building, and for each one, visitors could use the huge touch screen to zoom in to an architectural feature and to pan up, down, or turn around. It gave you the feeling of actually being there and seeing it at that stage.

Afterwards, Friend C wanted to check on her sister-in-law, who was having back trouble, and her friend wanted to visit the Eiffel Tower. I felt the need for some major shopping (it’s difficult to buy anything in Garmisch except souvenirs or t-shirts and jeans) so was thinking about heading for BHV. On the way there, I realized I was hungry, so I walked on to the Louvre area to try a restaurant I’d read about in a guidebook. Yuk. Bad idea. I guess we should just trust each other here rather than guidebooks.

I found, during the walk, that I had waaaay overestimated my fitness level. My legs had hurt marginally during the bike ride yesterday, but the pain never worsened and stayed at the level of a dull ache. That night, my legs didn’t hurt at all, and this morning, they were fine and felt normal. But now, as I walked, my legs let me know that they were not at all happy about my nifty plan to gambol through the beautiful streets that I love. I persevered, though, and enjoyed the walk and the river and the bridges. Ah, the Paris bridges. I’m realizing about now that approximately 70% of my Paris pictures are of bridges and trees, bridges and monuments, bridges and locks, bridges and water. Bridges. No wonder I was drawn to the apartment on Ile St. Louis.

Anyway, I got to the restaurant feeling awfully weary. I found, to my surprise, that the restaurant was just a sandwich place, was packed, and was not conducive to atmospheric reflections. A quick glass of wine to fortify myself, a sandwich, and out again. Truly recommend folks troll and study and research the forums to get clues about restaurants; foodies here post about not just the location and atmosphere and regional specialties of a restaurant, but also specific dishes that are good. That seems a more reliable way to match up one’s preferences and leanings to the right eatery. So, my Paris restaurant research method has been forever altered.

After my disappointing meal, I took the bus back to the Hotel de Ville. I was about to walk into the BHV when I realized . . . there’s too much “department” in a department store. I knew I’d be walking from and through kitchen stuff to coats to cosmetics and to handbags. A marathon, it seemed to me. And my legs already whining. Thinking that I’d gone four years already without any wonderful kitchen gadgets and that another year wouldn’t kill me, I walked on home in defeat. I stopped to pick up some cheese and pastries, then went home to work for a bit and to relax.
swandav2000 is online now  
Oct 26th, 2013, 09:14 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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So I am stunningly bewildered by her reluctance to spend time on her own in this most wonderful and beautiful city>>

i'm sure I would have felt the same Swandav, but perhaps she was just tired! When i worked in London, i reckoned that if i decided to do something during the day of a shopping nature, I would only get round about 1/2 of what I'd planned. Paris is not very different. the only way I can keep going is by having regular cafe/bar stops!
annhig is offline  
Oct 26th, 2013, 09:51 AM
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I had a similar experience last year in Paris with my travel buddy. Usually I travel solo, but this time a friend wanted to come with me. I thought she was an independent traveller, but oh,no.... I had an Excedrin headache by the end of that trip!
baglady is offline  
Oct 26th, 2013, 11:27 AM
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Envious of the trip to Chartres. We want to do a tour with FMT but will skip this time as we are going over Christmas and not likely to have great weather. Someday.

I am going to check out Paris by cheese and would love to know more about French cheeses, as for me they are magic.

Regarding travel with others, I can't do it anymore. I am too impatient and hate being in charge of everything. Someone always is too slow, complains too much, blah, blah . and, I hate to say it but if someone else is in charge, they never take the time to plan it as well as I would have, so from now on, no more travelling with others. It's my vacation and I don't get enough time off as it is. I just don't do well on other people's time frame.

Great report.
denisea is online now  
Oct 27th, 2013, 10:34 PM
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annhig -- I guess you're right! I hadn't thought of that because I'm usually the one who gets tired first in any group!

baglady -- yes, I've learned that one has to spell out certain expectations when you travel with other people. Good lesson to learn.

denisea -- oh, I hope you do one of the FMT in the future. He will plan around your dates and any bad weather in the forecast. Yes, definitely also check out Paris by Mouth, but be aware that the tour I took sold out one month in advance, and that was in October! December may be more crowded for folks coming in for Christmas, so I would reserve one asap. Thanks for the support re: solo travel!
swandav2000 is online now  
Oct 27th, 2013, 10:35 PM
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Sunday 21 October

Last full day in Paris, and I’m torn between a desperate rush to gather as much of that intangible “Paris” as possible and a desire to be true to my slow and steady nature. I mixed it up.

I had it vaguely in mind to resume the walk into the past and into the 16th that I’d started on 13 October; since I had a half day to myself, I was at liberty for another such self-indulgent trek. It was either that or strolling along the Champs Elysses to do some shopping. I foolishly thought I’d have no trouble finishing the walk and then meeting Friend C for our final Parisian reunion lunch meeting. Har.

I began by taking bus #74 to Alma-Marceau (where I used to change busses on my way to class). Except it took me about an hour to do only that. I had my handy-dandy RATP app on my phone, and I used it to locate the bus I needed. I didn’t know exactly where to find the #74 bus stop and, starting at Hotel de Ville, walked about a mile down Rue de Rivoli before realizing the bus stop wasn’t in that direction. Finally remembering the RATP app has a map feature, I went to “Maps” then to “Line maps,” then “Bus,” then selected “line 74.” I drilled down to get the detail of the cross streets where the bus stop is, then walked the mile back to Ave. Victoria just by the Hotel de Ville. The bus came soon after and deposited me at A-M.

I started off walking along Ave. President Wilson and went as far as the museum, then trotted downstairs to follow the river. At the Tour Eiffel, I ran up again to the Trocadero and on along Ave. Paul Doumer to rue de la Pompe and to Ave Georges Mandel. It felt like a futile search. Every time I came to a cross street, all the streets leading away looked both beckoning and unpromising at the same time. I wanted to run all the way down Passy (I remember the “Gare Passy” and a department store called “Inno”) and all the way down Rue de la Pompe (I remember seeing blue-haired Dames in Rolls-Royces, and there was a tiny hole-in-the-wall grocery store where I used to buy yogurt on the way home) and all the way down Henri Martin (the wide, wide avenue and the expensive apartments and the cars with CD plates). No time. I needed a few hours for each street, time enough to chase ghosts and sit still and conjure up what memories I could. In the absence of that time and reflection, each intersection and each street was blank to me; I’d need more than a swift walk-through. I guess both Paris and I have changed a bit in the past 35 years. This chase will have to wait for my next visit, and I won’t be foolish enough to think I can do it in the few hours of a morning or an afternoon packed between necessities and meetings.

It was about 12.00 already, and I had told Friend C that I would be in my apartment from 12.00 – 13.00. oops. Since I still wasn’t even close to the maid’s room I had lived in, I admitted defeat and hopped on bus #63 (what a terrific bus line that is!!) and got back to the island at about 12.45. C had texted me, and I had told her I was late. Then we met and had a decent, not great, lunch at the Auberge de la Reine Blanche. We talked old times and new challenges – startling new careers and the men that vanish as women make rank. It reminded me of the time we were both stationed at West Point, and we took the train into NYC for a day. On the train, we were debating the relative merits of the Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW). I remember wondering if that was an unusual conversation for two women to have on the way to NYC . . .

We went back to my apartment, and she showed me a few online hints to make travelling Space-Available on military flights easier. Then hugs and skiing in Garmisch soon and Paris in November sometime, and C was gone again out of my life, hopefully not for 15 years. I turned my face to my packing chores and doing some work for my online classes.

Monday 22 October

Leaving Paris. I felt that I had barely even been to Paris; I had only glimpsed pieces of it while scurrying through its streets on my missions and tasks. Despite all that, this was one of my best visits, probably the best one I’d had since the 1980s, so I know I’ll be back soon. My stack of unused laminated route maps taunts me.

I really enjoyed staying on Ile St. Louis. I loved the spaciousness, of course, and looking out onto some greenery, which worked well to clear my head. I also loved how convenient it was – turn right to go to the Marias, turn left to go to the Latin Quarter, or go straight ahead for Notre Dame or the Tuileries. I believe I’ll be staying there again.

I packed the rest of my stuff into my bags and called a taxi. I remembered how easy it had been for Cousin S and hoped I would be as lucky. Get real. The guy who answered the phone didn’t answer by naming his business but only by “Hallo?” huh. Ok. Are you the taxi? “Yes.” I need a taxi, please, to go to Gare de L’Est. “Where are you?” Quai d’Anjou. “I don’t know Quai d’Anjou.” (what???) On Ile St. Louis. Quai d’Anjou, ok? Assuming it was truly ok, I waddled down the stair case with the unmentionable bag. I waited 10 minutes, and no taxi came. I called again, and again got the same unhelpful guy. Hello? I need a taxi please . . . Quai d’Anjou .. . Gare de L’Est . . . . Waited another 7 minutes and was on the teetering edge of panic when a smiling and happy taxi pulled up. My relief was enormous. I crawled in, and he was very personable and friendly.

I hate it that French train stations don’t have permanent track numbers for their trains, or that they don’t announce them early enough to be helpful. Don’t know what’s up with that. I trundled around the Gare with my suitcase, bought a gift for my new neighbor and a giftie for the lady feeding my cat. Almost walked into Sephora for a last-minute Paris splurge then decided to make this an entirely splurge-free visit.

The ride home was heavenly uneventful. The TGV to Frankfurt was a double-decker, and my assigned seat was on the upper level. Nice for the views, but I was not going to haul my unmentionable up there. I had brought along a bike lock for just this purpose, so I locked my case down on the bottom level. Pleasant three hours, snacking on Pain au Chocolate, then changed trains in Mannheim, where I was overjoyed to find escalators. The ICE to München was 10 minutes late; they made up the time during the trip so that by the time we got there, we were on time. I enjoyed a nice meal at my seat during the three hours of travel and spent most of the time lost in my kindle. There were escalators also, joyjoyjoy, at München Pasing. I only had to wait a few minutes for the final ride into Garmisch, then a taxi ride home. The unmentionable really was no trouble as I hadn’t had to haul it at any time.

Final thoughts
RATP app – I thought this was one of the most useful apps ever. Instead of standing in front of the big map on the wall of the metro, you could look on your phone anytime you changed your plans or needed a review. In addition, having access to the bus options was great, and of course using the maps feature was excellent if you remember to use it! I generally would back up to a wall out of the flow of traffic whenever I needed to check it.

Google maps – don’t leave home without it. Not only is it useful to sail through unfamiliar streets, it’s a good way to get oriented whenever you crawl out of a new metro station and don’t know which direction to go. Similarly, I would back up to a wall out of the flow of traffic so I would be aware if anyone approached me.

Toilets in Paris app – used it a few times. It has a nice map feature that shows you exactly where the toilets nearest to you are. It always shows you the nearest ones, and sometimes they were paid and sometimes they were the free round stalls. I liked it and would make sure to have it on my next visit.

Lebara -- I had purchased 250 mb of internet use for the Lebara sim on arrival; it cost around 5 euro and lasted through 5 ½ days of almost constant use, with either google maps or ratp almost always on. When it ran out, I just texted the message again, and I got another 250 mb. Too easy, great price.

Hidden purse – I had heard so much about cell phones being stolen that I had almost assumed mine would be. I used a small pouch with wide web straps that lay across my chest like a messenger bag; I wore it under my cardigan or under my coat, slid around to be resting on my hip or on my rump. I put my cell phone, my wallet, and my reading glasses in there (reading glasses just because it was handy). I found it really convenient and safe. I use a backpack type purse, but all it had in it were sunglasses, water, an umbrella, etc.

And that's it!! Thanks for all your kind words!

swandav2000 is online now  
Oct 28th, 2013, 05:53 AM
Join Date: Aug 2007
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Sorry your trip is over. I knew it was to be a short one, but I was imagining many more days of exploring, tips, and thoughts.
irishface is offline  
Oct 28th, 2013, 06:09 AM
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Great report, I really enjoyed reading about your trip.
Nikki is online now  
Oct 28th, 2013, 06:17 AM
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You need to stop running around! ;-) Paris is best appreciated at a leisurely pace.
kerouac is online now  
Oct 28th, 2013, 06:33 AM
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Lovely report, swandav2000. The bike ride sounded like great fun.
TDudette is offline  
Oct 28th, 2013, 07:05 AM
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I'm sorry your time in Paris had to come to an end... I had a wonderful time following along. Thanks!
ParisAmsterdam is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2013, 11:43 AM
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 9,171 Great tips on space a travel. My fear is not getting back, but flying when the kiddies are in school is the best time. More seats available. Happy to hear München Pasing has e escalators.
I loved reading your trip report and after the last three trips with friends I am happy to be going to Germany on Thursday with just my husband.
flpab is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2013, 03:27 PM
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I was stressed just reading about your difficulty with getting a taxi. I am too much of a worrier to not pre-book one ahead of time for the airport. I am insane when it relates to getting to the airport.....I can't stand to be even close to late.

Enjoyed your report. I really will get something booked with FMT but we are pretty booked up on this trip and with Christmas you essentially "lose" 2 days. I still haven't been at a time when we can go to Giverny, so that's next.
denisea is online now  
Nov 3rd, 2013, 07:10 PM
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Swandav, just now seeing your excellent report and have bookmarked to finish reading. I am glad you had such a wonderful trip. I have always appreciated all the help you have given me when I have posted.You were especially helpful when we went to the Mittenwald and Garmisch area. I hope you can enjoy a little respite and start planning your next exciting adventure.
violetduck is offline  
Jan 5th, 2014, 10:04 PM
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First, I want to apologize for not responding sooner – I was busy teaching more classes than I like, then the holidays came in and took over most of my free time. So, I am very sorry for not acknowledging your kind comments and responding earlier.

Secondly, as always, your kind remarks are so nice to hear, and I am really happy to see that many of you enjoyed the report. I’m one of those English teachers who lazily dreams of writing the Great American Novel, so your comments really and truly made my year! Lol, hope some of you might enjoy my meandering thoughts on a future visit, though that probably won’t be until November 2015.

kerouac – ABSOLUTELY. I could not agree more. This trip got away from me in many ways. The good news is that I’ve learned my lesson, and it won’t happen to me again.

TDudette – yes, the bike ride was certainly a highlight of the trip. I am determined to build in at least two bike rides on my next visit (which will be 14 days). However. Since I am more determined than ever to go alone, it’ll be very expensive to do two trips as a sole participant.

flpab – the tip on Space-A travel was that you can connect with the various military terminals via Facebook, and actually sign-in online. That was new to me! Did you have a good time in Germany? I’ll have to look for your report!

denisea – lol, my being “punctual” can become an obsession.

violetduck – I’m happy you enjoyed the trips to Bavaria, and I hope you come back soon!

swandav2000 is online now  
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