We love Paris! The sights, sounds, smells, and the overall vibrancy of the city certainly breeds excitement! Wednesday morning dawned overcast again but we were hopeful, as sunny skies were forecast for the afternoon. After breakfast, we headed to the Metro and made our way to The Louvre. As we walked through the huge stone archway Curtis got his first glimpse of the glass pyramid. We joined the not so long line, and proceeded inside. As we organized our belongings before entering the museum we heard this ungodly screeching! Curtis, and dozens of others, went over to investigate. Apparently a lady, who was coming up the escalator, got her skirt stuck and it was pulling her down! Security was soon there to help! Whew-glad I didn't don my skirt today!! Opting for one audioguide to share and our map in hand, we set off...for 6 hours!!!! What a wonderful place with a very confusing map! We gazed upon wondrous works of Rembrandt and Ruben as well as the lady herself, the Mona Lisa. At this point we had to sharpen our elbows and steel our will. The last time I was here, the Mona Lisa was on a side wall. Now,
they have her on the end wall. Not sure if this is better or maybe the crowds are just larger, but wow! I finally know what it feels to be in a mosh pit!!!! I was pushed and shoved by tiny Asian girls and we were completely displaced by two Russian women! We finally made it as close to the front as possible where I snapped a quick pic of Curtis and the famous lady. From there we went on to find the statue of The Winged Victory of Samothrace as well as Venus De Milo and Michelangelo's "Dying Slave". We wandered through the Greek Antiquities admiring the ancient artifacts and stones inscribed with hieroglyphics. We walked through the display of sarcophogi and passed under the large winged bull. These ancient Greek, as well Roman times are periods of such interest and intrigue. After winding our way back and forth, we finally decided to call it a day and onto the escalator. As we exited the museum we were thrilled to see blue skies and sunshine, if not a bit windy! From there we walked through the beautiful Tuleries Gardens, resplendant fountains along the way and dotted with people sitting
in chairs basking in the sun. We walked down towards the Obeslisk at the end of the gardens and then searched for our Metro station. We finally asked a very young police officer, carrying a submachine gun, where the station was located. He sent us off in the right direction and we soon boarded our train. Weary, we found seats and made our transfer easily. As we exited our always interesting stop at Chateau Rouge we passed through men selling purses and other souvenirs. Purses were snatched out of the hands of prospective buyers as the police were spotted and everything was quickly gathered up and they were on the run! We headed back to the grocery store, picking up a few necessities for dinner and settled in for the night.
Thursday morning we set out in the sunshine to climb the Eiffel Tower. We took the Metro so far and then walked down the street and around the corner to where this unbelievably famous structure towered in the near distance. We walked along the paths leading to it, eyeing the large tennis ball suspended from the centre in recognition of the French Open which is currently underway here
in Paris. Because of our prowess with climbing stairs we opted to walk the 704 steps up to the 2nd level from which it is necessary to take the elevator. The climb was actually quite good and as we reached the 1st level we were rewarded with nice views over Paris. We continued our climb to the 2nd level and again were thrilled with the huge Paris landscape as we walked the entire perimeter. From there we joined the queue to take the elevator to the top. As in every crowd we encountered those who cut in front and jump ahead in the line. A few snide comments may have left my mouth but I think I am done with rude tourists!!! We soon boarded the elevator and made it to the top. We climbed the few remaining stairs and headed out to the observation deck. The view is quite humbling and was also very hazy compared to the lower two levels. We snapped our pictures and then took the elevator down again where we walked down to the second floor and stood on the glass floor. After reaching the bottom we then headed up to the Arc de Triomphe.
We wound our way through the busy streets until we came to, yet another, famous landmark. The roundabout the encircles this monument is huge!!! We had to go under the street via a tunnel to get there. We then climbed the 284 stone spiral staircase up to the top where we got yet another view of the city. It is quite unique that the Arc de Triomphe is the hub and the streets reach out from it like the spokes on a wheel. Each of these streets is a beautiful tree-lined lane. After leaving we headed down the 1.9 km Champs Élysées. We popped into a few stores but were not ready to buy at their prices. That went for stopping for a beer as well! Sitting in a park and buying a beer was much cheaper!! We then walked down to the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais. Walking across the Pont Alexandre. We then continued our walk to the tip of the Tuleries Gardens where we caught the Metro back to our neighbourhood where we stopped for a beer. As we sat and sipped we saw a rather interesting character climb onto his motorcycle and head off.
Just another quirky person that made us smile! Later in the evening we walked up to Sacre Coeur. Behind the church there is the most marvelous section which was a beehive of activity. Tons of restaurants line the streets and dozens of artists sat, drawing pictures of tourists for a pretty penny. This is the same square where Kellan and my niece, Sadie, had their picture done as a gift for my parents 7 years ago. We stopped for a drink and chatted with a nice couple from Luxembourg. As night descended (it doesn't get dark here until after 10pm) we were able to take pictures of Sacre Coeur lit up. We then headed down the steps to our hotel. This ended up being the most disgusting walk ever!!! Since hundreds of people sit on the front steps leading up to Sacre Coeur drinking wine and beer, it is inevitable that Mother Nature calls. It seems that everyone goes behind a small building just above the stairs. From this point the urine drains down the steps like a fountain and emanating from this is the most horrific smell!!!! As we started our descent we noticed, aside from the smell, that
the stairs were wet. Gross. We then moved over to the railing and went down the steep ramp. Not easy but better than the alternative!!! As we watched others climbing the stairs we could only shudder knowing what they were slopping through! We soon made it back to our hotel and tucked in for the night.
Friday morning the sun shone brightly and the sky was a brilliant blue! The temperatures were to soar into the mid 30's so we dressed appropriately and headed out. We decided to walk back down to Notre Dame and into the Latin Quarter. Once we arrived, we walked through the busy, narrow streets lined with French and Greek restaurants, creperies and booths selling gyros. We picked up last minute gifts and walked up to the Sorbonne. From there it was back to the Latin Quarter where we dined on a Nutella and banana crepe before making the long journey back. Yep,'due to the heat, I was wearing flip flops!!! After a long, hot walk in the sweltering temperatures we made it back to our neighbourhood where we stopped for a much needed ice cold draft beer. Returning to our room, we dumped out
our backpacks, ditched well-worn and the "never want to see again" clothes, and re-packed for the last time on the 95th day of our 96 day adventure. After putting our sore feet up for a couple of hours, we headed back up to the square behind Sacre Coeur and settled on the same place we visited the night before. We chose to sit in the garden terrace, which was lovely. Our last night in this amazingly beautiful city of love had us dining on huge escargot followed by a gigantic pot (one each) of mussels in white wine sauce. As we dug out the succulent seafood we recalled how our journey began, the twists and turns it has sometimes taken, and the wonderful times we have shared. It seems like a lifetime ago that we started this amazing, and sometimes crazy, adventure! What a gift we have been given. To be able to experience so many different countries, each rich in tradition and culture, history and architecture, with such vastly different landscapes and geography has been something that we will forever treasure.
Tonight we are enjoying our final bottle of wine as we finish packing for our morning departure.
We are to arrive in Toronto at 5:15 and Kellan will be picking us up and driving us home to Meaford. The end of our journey is bittersweet. We look forward to seeing our family, friends and enjoying the beauty of our home but at the same time we are somewhat sad that this chapter has come to an end.
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