Sunrise over Europe as we approach the coast.
Well, we started out our trip by almost missing our plane out of San Diego! Our tickets said boarding was at 7:00, but they’d moved it up to 6:40. After waiting in line at check-in for almost an hour, and then waiting about 15 to 20 minutes to clear security, we figured we’d have time to grab some breakfast to go at McDonalds. Jesse & Erin waited in line while Margaret went ahead. Food and drinks had just arrived when Margaret came around the corner saying “We’ve gotta’ go, NOW”. She’d just gone to gate and found they’d finished boarding and were at last call! Running down the concourse with three large Diet Cokes is not the easiest of things, but we made it and they closed the door to the aircraft behind us. Phew! Well, almost. We then sat on the tarmac for about 10 minutes. We ran for that? The plane finally rolled and we were away! For a 15 minute taxi and wait, taxi and wait. We taxied to the other side the field for our take-off, but we finally got airborne.
Six hours later, after 1 in flight movie and other misc entertainment (including a sales
View of the Tower and the Seine River on our walk to the Tower and the Trocadero Fountain.
pitch over the announcement system for a US Airways Visa), we landed in Phillie for our 2 hour lay-over before our flight left for Paris. No last second run through the airport this time, luckily. But THIS time we had about 15 or 20 minutes of sitting at the gate after the Airbus A330 had been loaded before we taxied. At Phillie, we had the Mother of All Taxis, as we taxied for about 25 minutes. The A330 had a much more robust entertainment system of view on demand movies, TV shows, and educational video. We took off in daylight, flew through dusk and into the evening, and chased the sun to a stunning dawn as we cleared the Atlantic and got “feet dry” again (a naval aviation term meaninur flying over land again).
We arrived at Charles DeGaulle Airport with no difficulties. It was quite early, something like 8am, so we decided that we had plenty of time to put the bikes together and ride into Paris. We were done assembling and were ready to go by 9:30. Now, CDG airport is NOT the easiest thing to get out of, or find your way away from. It took
The entryway to the Louvre.
us 20 minutes or so to get out to the road and start biking. Within 30 minutes we had gotten pulled over by a French road crew for being on a highway where bikes weren’t allowed. With hand gestures and a map we finally conveyed to them where we were trying to get, and eventually they worked out a way to get us to a starting point by backing up one of their vehicles with us following in it’s wake until we got to the green verge of an overpass we could get down on leading the bikes. Finally got going again and started making our way to the city. At this point we started blundering about the various roads and small hamlets between CDG and Paris. The roads were narrow and the drivers fast & close. A little scary at times, including one truck that if Erin hadn’t have braked, he’d have hit her. Margaret also had a car that came very close while turning right directly in front of her. If we had gotten any kind of straight shot on decent roads, riding in to Paris wouldn’t have been a problem. As it was, we were really starting
The Winged Victory of Samothrace
Large and strikingly beautiful, one can only wonder what she looked like whole.
to get hammered by the jet lag, so we called it after somewhere around 17 miles. I can’t give you the exact number because I forgot to reset the odometer on my GPS before we started rolling. After talking to a local about a taxi, he suggested the Metro. Fine idea, except for the multiple sets of stairs we had to lug the bikes up and down. Of course, mis-judging where we should get off didn’t help matters, nor did the fact that they wouldn’t let us back IN, saying that bikes were only allowed on Sundays….funny, the agent that sold us the tickets onto the train outside of Drancy didn’t mention any such thing. So we were stuck with riding back the way we had come for a couple of miles. All and all a pretty LOOOOOONG day. When we finally got to our hotel, they didn’t realize that the reservation was for 3 people plus bikes, so they originally gave us two rooms. The clerk called us back within 10 minutes and said he’d gotten a single room worked out with two beds. It was entertaining getting the bikes upstairs because the elevator literally only has enough room
The Venus de Milo
Second most popular woman in the Louvre...
for 4 people, tightly packed. We had to wheelie the bikes in sideways and tuck in behind them to ride each bike up individually to our room on the third floor, after having already done it once up to the two rooms on the sixth. Are we having fun yet? We cleaned up, took a nap, and then went walking down the street in search of dinner. We had a pretty good meal and some great beer (draft Heineken NEVER tasted so good!), then crashed for the night.
Thursday, the 8th of June
Off to the Louvre! We only have one day in Paris, so we figured we HAD to hit the Louvre. We had some great French pastry for breakfast, then hailed a cap to the Louvre. I’d have taken some nice pictures on the way, unless I hadn’t have had a DEATH GRIP on the upholstery since our French speaking oriental driver thought he was a cross between Mario Andretti (a great internationally know race car driver) and Sebastien Loeb (the French two time World Rally Championship ace). What can I say about the Louvre? It’s the most amazing single repository of artwork in the world. Of
The Trocadero Fountain....
View of the fountain from the top of the Eiffel Tower. Amazing view!
course it’s hard to miss the Winged Victory of Samothrace as it graces the head of the stairway into the Denon Wing. The main hall we walked down that contained works from 13th - 17th century Italian artists was just awe inspiring. We then headed back to towards the main sully and the Venus de Milo, the other great woman we had to see (Mona being the first, of course). After giving her the proper admiration, we continued on through the wings containing ancient Greek ceramics, and then Pharoanic Egyt (chronological circuit). By this time, we were hungry, thirsty, and tired. There are no water fountains in the Louvre, and cafés only at certain parts. We had lunch and then went to go to the Medieval section of the Louvre, where they’ve excavated some of the ancient subterranean structure. Unfortunately, Margaret had managed to lose her ticket somewhere so Erin and Jesse had to go it alone. It was a short exhibit though, so all was well. We were getting a little tired, with more to see, so we left the Louvre and walked down the Seine to the famous Trochadero Fountain, and that symbol of Paris, the Eiffel Tower. The Tower is an amazing piece of engineering and craftsmanship, particularly considering the time it was built. The view from the top is just breathtaking. We had a much saner cab ride back, thankfully. The bad news was that we finally figured out that we had lost a day on the flight, and had to be in Provins tomorrow to claim our hotel room. After much brainstorming and throwing away of ideas, we realized that we’d have to partially dis-assemble the bikes into their cozys again and take the train. So we’re up-and-at-‘em again at 8am tomorrow to get collected by the taxi and taken to the train station where we head to Provins for the Medieval Festival there….
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