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January 1st 2006
Published: June 22nd 2017
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Geo: 48.8567, 2.35099

Happy New Year! Well, it started off that way until we got to the tube and found our station had been closed due to lack of staff. This after, the night before, we were certain that the tube strike was not that big of a deal and chose to sleep in a bit and not leave until 9 a.m. which would give us plenty of time. Jeannette began flagging down random English people to find out how best to make our way to Waterloo station in the way "we were fit." Our 45 minute walk was further disrupted by some sort of marching band festival. Picture the four of us with ill-packed luggage trying to negotiate our way through a bunch of dressed up horn players, some from "Thomas Jefferson High School" and their coach buses. It was a good thing to put behind.

After several stops due to luggage mishaps, and a newly refined definition of luggage with the emphasis on "lug," we arrived at Waterloo station. Jake, hot and thirsty, fled from Rich and the munchkins down the Eurostar escalator. Rich, ever the hero, made sure all were fine and well.

Customs were especially bothersome as we had to lug our bulky gear through metal detectors. After changing all our money into Euros, we wanted something to drink, but found ourselves still in the land of pounds. "Oh well." We eventually boarded the train only to find out that "shit happens." For real. At some point on our trip, Jake drug his rolling suitcase through... shit... which managed to find its way onto his hand, coat, jeans, and bag. A visit to the baby changing room on the train was essential.

The train pulled out and the four of us drifted in and out of sleep, sometimes snoring ourselves awake and, in the case of Jeannette, sleeping entirely through the Chunnel. We made our arrival at Gare du Nord in Paris and had to do our usual "quest for toilets." This was our first of many encounters with the "pay to pee" policy in France. No wonder why the Metro smells so much more urine-like than the London tube. As we each ventured out from our pile of luggage, taking turns playing guard, we were each accosted by "mosquito man," offering to load our luggage onto a cart, hail a taxi for us, and ultimately, to walk us to our hotel. Finally, Jeannette waved him away and we made our way down Rue de Magenta to number 58. We saw more graffiti on the course of our walk than would be expected on 50 boxcars passing through Chicago. Rich adds that that a piss cost €.60 as opposed to a full Euro toilet.

Shortly, after trekking our way through a construction zone (this was not pleasant, especially for the munchkins), we found our way to Relais de Republique Hotel. Our rooms, though nicely equipped with clean bathrooms (no dripping), were the size of postage stamps. It was interesting fitting both people and luggage inside.

From there it was our first Parisian adventure. We took the Metro to Chatelet and walked to Notre Dame, which was beautifully illuminated and featured a nice-sized Christmas tree in front. Jake and Jeannette were pleased to see "Our Lady" clean, lit up, and without the scaffolding that had masked her face on our prior visits. We popped in to see the beginning of a Mass and were greeted by the thunderous sound of the pipe organ which sounded more ominous than religious. It reminded us of the Phantom of the Opera. Rich remarked that there were no werewolves to be round in Paris, either. We wandered into the Latin Quarter and ate at GB Cluny. Our waiter was very nice and treated us to pepper steak par excellence along with a crème brulee finish.

Finally, it was back to Relais de Republique where early to bed, early to rise would eventually make more time for... other activities.


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