Today was laundry day…. I went down early to get our laundry going (three euros for wash, three euros for dryer, each load, plus two euros for soap! Ugh…). Luckily, there were two washers and two dryers, so we should have been able to get our laundry done pretty quickly… BUT, one of the washers was broken, which meant we spent too long doing laundry this morning.
But it’s part of the deal… “backpacking” across Europe has some downtime, rest time, and administrative (aka laundry) time. Long story short, we got out at 2:00 pm! Poor William, he was ready to get out of this blasted hotel room earlier than two!
The last load came out of the dryer and three minutes later we had called an Uber…. which was one minute away! Our drivers have been awesome, but this guy was AMAZING. He was chatty, stylish, super fun, and playful. He sang, and interacted with all of us. The whole experience might be summed up in this shot:
This guy was the real deal, and started our Paris day off on the right foot!
He dropped us off at the Eiffel Tower, in a downpour of rain, but hey, less tourists, right? There were no lines, and we got right in. The tickets were only seven euros to climb up the stairs by yourself… as opposed to riding the elevator (aka lift). Heck yeah… let’s do the whole Paris experience! We’ll ride the lift when we are eighty!
We climb up to the first floor, which is 187 feet up. That is like 18 stories! Just to the first floor! It was a great climb, but the good stuff was on the second floor… which is 377 feet… that’s about 37 floors!! Lots of stair climbing, which felt really good (Yes, I was quite winded when I got to the top).
There was one more flight of steps (just about 15 steps) to the second platform of the second floor… The Trio went up but honestly, I was just fine where I was. They walked around, took gobs of pictures, and I waited. I actually listened in on a bunch of tour guides talking about various points of Paris, history of the town and tower, etc. It was really cool to listen in. I waited, and waited more, for The Trio…. finally, I went up and looked for them. I walked around the platform three times, then back down to the second floor, another three times, and thought “well, they must have gone all the way up to the tippy top, or down to the bottom, but I can’t find them at all!”
What do you do? Stay in one place, right? Nope… I figured at some point they would go down (I was kind of tired/bored of waiting for them on the second floor) to the bottom, and we would meet there. Remember, I’m without a phone… and we hadn’t talked about a central meeting point (we haven’t needed it so far), but I thought “okay, Plan B is they Uber back to the hotel, I grab a local hotel and get on Facebook or Google and chat to Ellie and figure out how to meet up.” Not ideal but I thought we might be getting to that point. Ah, the logistics of travelling in a group 🙂
I went down to the first floor (again, 18 stories up) and walked around three times.
Finally, as I was about to go down to the bottom, I spotted William at the other end of the platform. Victory! Reunited! Whew! I think we were all relieved to be back together.
We were starving by this time and decided to go check out the Statue of Liberty (more on that below), but first had to eat! We went a few blocks down, then a few blocks to the left, to try to get away from tourist food and tourist prices… but we didn’t do too well. We found a “pizza bar” which means pizza and a bar, not a buffet (oops). William and I shared a pizza (first one on this trip for us) and the girls shared pasta with four cheeses… the problem was that one of the cheeses was goat cheese, and Sam doesn’t eat that (picture a girl gagging). So, she pecked at a few things but really didn’t get lunch.
Next we were on a hunt for macaroons, which are over-priced french cookies. They are about as big as one or two oreos, and cost one to two euros each. Seriously. Who comes up with this pricing. We didn’t find any right away (we did but they were fourteen for fifteen euros… I was sure we’d find some for cheaper!) so we kept walking. Surely we’d come across a pastry store, no monsieur?
We then set off on a long walk to the Paris Statue of Liberty. Here’s the three of us doing stretches… I bet we are easily averaging 5+ miles each day, sometimes more. Not too bad, but it’s a lot considering I was laid up for a few months this year!
Never heard of the Paris Statue of Liberty? I hadn’t either. Apparently it was a gift from Americans who were French (or however you say that nowdays)… it is actually really cool. They faced it west, directly at the big Statue of Liberty off of New York.
Here’s a view of her from the bridge… facing away from the bridge because that is west:
Right before you get to the statue you go from the middle of the bridge down a ramp, then down some stairs to the island-thing that the statue is on, and of course, you go under the bridge you were just on. What do they have under bridges in Paris? Well, a workout place, of course! This was really quite impressive… the Trio were all like “why don’t we have this in America??”
From there we were, how do you say super duper exhausted in French? We called an uber to get a ride to the Louvre Museum. It was about 1.9 miles away and I don’t think I would have made it on my ankle. The driver got us there in about 20 minutes and we went to the iconic glass pyramid thing… it was pretty cool. More impressive than that is the surrounding building, which is the actual Louvre. Apparently, this was a palace, and honestly, it made Versailles look and feel a little small (at least the single, main building, not all the Versailles buildings + gardens + location). The Louvre is huge… amazingly huge and majestic. This is supposedly the largest museum in the world… and once you go in, it’s easy to believe that no other museum compares.
Our main goal was to see the Mona Lisa… cliche, I know, but hey, that’s what we were after. After 2+ weeks in Europe we’ve seen a ton of old buildings, paintings, statues, etc., and it’s not as impressive anymore. Sorry to all the educated, lettered people, but hey, I basically flunked out of my humanities class in college :p
After a few false starts we finally got on the right path to the Mona Lisa. They know that is what you are after at the Louvre, so they put her up a bunch of flights of stairs… I felt like I was climbing the Eiffel Tower all over again :p
She was in the Italian section and, even though I said it’s not impressive anymore, the paintings were amazing. The size of some of them, and thinking about the artists making their own paint, and what their inspirations where, etc. was really just super cool.
We found her, the Mona Lisa, and just like I’d read, there were a bunch of people there… but it’s not as bad as the whiners say. Be patient and you can move your way close to the front… and then you’ll come to the realization that the painting (which isn’t very big) looks exactly like it does on Google Images :p Here’s our own picture of her:
From there we slowly made our way out of the museum… this cool wall with all of the languages was on the way out:
When I say “slowly made our way out” it’s because we had to figure out how to get back down (not as easy as you would think… imagine a maze of stairs with not-very-good signs), and then once you get out you are in a mall-like thing with all kinds of high end stores… again, it’s not super clear how to get out of the shopping area. This palace/museum was so big it’s almost incomprehensible.
We finally got out and our next task was to figure out how far away the Notre Dame was, and how to get there (uber? Walk? Train?) It was only a mile away and for some reason, we were (almost) all up for another mile 🙂 So we set off, in a drizzle of rain (it had mostly been a clear, beautiful day, except for when we got dropped off at The Tower). It was a nice walk, really, through the charming/gorgeous streets of Paris (with a pause for Sam to get a chicken sandwich on a baguette, since she really didn’t have lunch). This walk really didn’t even feel touristy…. and finally, there we were! Facing the famous Notre Dame!
Here’s a great shot from William’s camera… above the three ground doors there are a bunch of pillar-looking things that spans this side of the building… those are lifesize+ statues of people (not sure who, there are more than 12 of them):
I think it was around 8pm by now, and it was closed, but we enjoyed being there, and looking at it… it was really quite something. I wish I knew more about it before we got there… Ellie says “tell us the history of this,” and I said “I honestly don’t know anything about it, except for the Victor Hugo book, and the Disney movie…” and she said “Oh, I thought you knew everything.” :p LOL Far from it! But I’ll study up on this. This whole trip has been a lesson in What Jason Doesn’t Know About World History.
Again, it was time to look for food…. dinner time! We were headed away from the Notre Dame but there was a street vendor selling these super neat things (called Lotus Flowers see images here on Amazon) that he made, and he was demonstrating it for someone. We were all struck with how amazingly cool these things were… we bought four of them! The Lotus Flower is an ancient meditation thing (toy? device? fidgity thing?) from India, and just too cool for words. We spent at least a half hour with this guy, who hails from Poland (but spoke great French and English), and has been making these by hand for, I think, 27 years. William is totally interested in learning how to make and sell Lotus Flowers… stay tuned! I think they are way more fun and intriguing than fidget spinners!
We crossed the bridge and then went up two streets to an alley with lots of neon lights… it was like a market with food and souvenirs.
I know, very touristy, but the price were GREAT! Instead of fifteen euro plates, they were like five. The first stop was crepes (haven’t done that yet) for four euros each. We got three with Nutella and coconut flakes… they were DELICIOUS. Across the alley was gyros for five euros… that was our next stop. Finally, were were well-fed and ready to conquer the rest of Paris (which was mostly getting home!).
We walked down the alley a bit more and finally found what we were really looking for: macaroons! Oh yeah, and it happened to be a gelato (ice cream) shop, too… it had everything we were ready for. We spent about thirty minutes there eating and eating and eating… and then walked around the alleys more. This was not just one alley, it was multiple. Lots of eating, lots of tourists, and lots of shops. It was really fun.
When we got to the end we got our uber, a guy who spoke no English, so we didn’t talk to him, but the Trio was playful and chatty… we finally got in at 11ish, and pretty much went to our beds. I got to talk to my kids at home, and Kaisie… that was really nice. It’s always nice to hear their voices, and what they are up to.
So that’s it, Paris is done… tomorrow we are planning on going to Monet’s Garden, which has been Ellie’s dream (I’d never heard of it before). We are either going to the beach after that, or we are headed back home to explore this neighborhood a bit. We’ll see what the day brings!
Au revoir, mis amigos!