Our trip to Paris......
Day 1........July 19,2011 - Flight to Paris, France
It has almost been a year now since my trip to Europe with my family. It is a trip I will never forget. Since I was a teenager I can remember dreaming about going to Europe, Paris imparticular. I took 3 years of French in High School hoping one day it may pay off.
We planned this trip for over a year and anticipated the journey we had to come. When the day finally arrived we were ecstatic to say the least. A long white excursion limo pulled up outside our house loaded up our luggage and away we went. We set off to O'Hare airport in Chicago.
On our way to the airport we went over our plans for our trip. We would board the plane
for a 10 hour flight to Paris, France. The flight would primarily take place at night so we were planning on sleeping for the most part of it. Arriving in Paris around 9:30-10:00 a.m. We would stay for 3 days in Paris and then take the train to Cologne, Germany where we would meet up with some family members who live in Bruhl Germany. They would pick us up from the train station where we would board a different type of train and take it to Bruhl. We would stay in Bruhl for 3 days and then rent a van to drive to the southern part of Germany into Austria, and Switzerland stopping to stay in little towns along the way. We would stay in Switzerland our last night there and then head home.
Arriving in Paris......
Upon our arrival at the Paris airport we decided to rent a taxi, to take us to our hotel and drop off our luggage. We piled into the taxi and took off toward our hotel. The streets were very crowded and seemed kaotic to me. We saw lots of scooters weaving in and out of traffic dodging cars left and right. I know one thing for sure, I don't think I would ever want to attempt to drive in Paris, it looks stressful...
We stayed at the Hotel Elysees Ceramic Paris. Check-in wasn't until 3:00, and we had arrived around 11:00 a.m. so they held our luggage for us in a holding room and we set off to do some sight-seeing.
Our hotel was in the perfect location. Located just a couple of blocks from the Arch de Triomphe. Within walking distance from the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Cathedral of Notre Dame.
We walked to the Arch de Triomphe first since it was so close. Standing there in front of it in amazement. I can't believe it we are actually here, we are actually in Paris.....After taking many pictures we set off to just wander the streets of Paris for the next couple of hours while we waited for our hotel room. As we wandered we looked for a nice place to grab a bite to eat for lunch. We were all famished.... We found a nice little cafe to rest our tired feet and fill our bellies.
When we were done eating we wandered through the shops of Paris. OOh La La.....I wish I had more money to spend...So many beautiful fashions. We only made one purchase though, a box of chocolates(a must)....from an intoxicating chocolate shop. Then we strolled through the streets of Paris back to our hotel. We were back a little early, needless to say our room wasn't ready yet so we plopped down in the big coushey sofa in the hotel lobby, ate a couple of chocolates....and passed out....exhausted!
When our room was ready we took our luggage up to our room. The hotel was very nice, d the staff was very friendly, but the rooms were a little smaller than we are use to. Which I hear is a common thing for most hotels in Paris....
We freshened ourselves up and then hit the streets again....This time we headed for the Eiffel Tower. A spectacular sight at night with the lights... we were just walking up to the Eiffel tower for the first time, I believe it was 9:00 p.m. and right on the hour the lights on the tower start to twinkle....it was beautiful!
We took some pictures and then headed back to the hotel...It had been a long day and we were all looking forward to crawling into our nice cozy beds and going to sleep...Paris is a beautiful city!
Hotel Elysees Cermamic Paris
34, avenue de Wagram
What a beautiful morning to wake up to the sights and sounds of Paris and the smell of fresh pastries in the air. We woke early that morning, we wanted to get an early start on the day and enjoy every minute we had of our time in Paris.
We ate breakfast at the hotel since it was included in the stay. They offered a variety of fresh pastries, yogurt, oatmeal, fruit, juice and coffee.
After breakfast we headed out for the day, the weather was a little cooler than we were prepared for. It was the middle of summer the temperature was between 60-65 degrees, with an overcast sky and
a light drizzle on and off all day.
We walked by the Arch de Triomphe, the Alexander bridge, the Louvre and its gardens where we stopped to buy some paintings from local artists. The streets of Paris are so rich with history and architecture that it made for a truly magical walk. We also walked by The Notre Dame Cathedral, and The Eiffel Tower.
We would be visiting the Louvre tomorrow so we decided to move on. We continued on our journey through the streets of Paris. We passed by the beach and the old train station that is now a museum and lots of other beautiful buildings, and small cafes. The architecture and the history of these buildings is just amazing.
We stopped for some lunch at one of the small cafes that we passed. This gave us a chance to warm up for a little bit before we took our boat tour down the river.
When ordering a cup of coffee in Paris you will only get a small espresso size cup for around $5. Being a coffee lover I found this hard to deal with, especially since I am use to the big 24 oz.coffee that I can get in the United States for the same price. Very good coffee though!
After our lunch we crossed the bridge and boarded the boat for our tour down the river. It was a guided tour and we enjoyed it very much. We passed the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, The Alexander Bridge and many other interesting buildings.
After our boat tour we headed back to the hotel to freshen up a bit and eat supper before we headed out to take a a tour of The Eiffel Tower.
I wanted to take the tour of The Eiffel Tower in the evening so we could see the view as the sun was going down. It was very cold, and rainy but still gorgeous with breathtaking views of Paris...I didn't realize Paris was such a big city....Absolutley amazing!
What a wonderful way to end our rainy day in Paris!
Guided cruise down the Seine River in Paris.....
Walking the streets of Paris on a rainy day, how Romantic.....
"Postcard from Paris"
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Another early morning as we try squeeze every last second out of our last day in Paris...
We showered and got ready and then ate breakfast at the hotel again.
We decided it would be best if we took the metre to the louvre since we were short on time. We would be leaving Paris around 2:00 and boarding a train for Cologne, Germany. None of us had ever used the Metre before so my husband and mother-in-law asked the front desk at the hotel how it worked, where we needed to go and which one we needed to take. So we set off on our way to the Metre which was just a couple of blocks away. The Metre is like their underground subway system.
We managed to get our tickets, but then when we went to the boarding deck we were a little confused as to which one we were suppose to get on. One of the trams pulled up and we couldn''t decide to get on or not. You only get a couple of minutes to board and then it pulls off, which we didn't know because we had never used the Metre before. At the last second my husband decides okay this is it everybody jump on(all 6 of us) as my husband and son entered the doors began to close so I quickly began to step in thinking okay the doors will pop back open like elevator doors, however this was not the case the doors just continued to shut on me so I stepped back off as my life flashed before my eyes, the doors shut and the tram pulled away with my husband and my son still on board. As I watched the tram pull away you could see the passengers mouths drop open when they realized what had just happened and we were left standing there wondering what to do next. It was the scariest feeling of my life...
Realizing how lucky I am to still be standing there after my near death experience, but yet feeling lost and alone in a foreign country, and even though I had my daughter and my In-laws standing there with me my husband and son were now missing in a foreign country and we would have to find them.
We decided the best thing to do is jump on the next tram when it arrives and take it to the station that the guy at the front desk had told us to. When we arrived at the stop my husband and son were standing there waiting to greet us, ahhhh what a relief and I couldn't help but wonder what would have happened if my children had stepped onto the tram first and got separated from us, how scary that would have been.
We climbed the stairs to the top to see where we had ended up voila we made it to our destination. We stopped at some stands along the way to purchase some postcards and then strolled through the gardens one last time. The children and my husband enjoyed a ride there at the little carnival next to the Louvre and we enjoyed a bite to eat as well.
At one of the stands they had giant crepes, So my daughter and I each got one. We squirted some nutella(chocolate hazelnut spread) on our crepes from the biggest jar of nutella I have ever seen, they were delicious! That was one thing we quickly discovered over in Europe it is difficult to find peanut butter any where instead they use nutella like we do peanut butter.
When we finished our lunch we continued our walk on the grounds of the Louvre. We knew we only had about 2 hours to spend here which is not nearly enough time to see everything, we were told you can spend days in there and still not see everything. We decided since we were here we at least wanted to go in and see the Mona Lisa and what ever else we would have time for that would be enough for us....So we did and it was spectacular!
Time to head back. We got back to the hotel got our luggage and called a cab to take us to the Paris Train Station. While we waited in the lobby of the hotel we enjoyed one last cup of coffee.
The taxi arrived and we loaded up our luggage and headed through the crowded streets of Paris dodging traffic the whole way. The train station like the rest of Paris was very beautiful. As we stood inside the train station waiting for our train to arrive I began to watch people and you wonder where they are going or where they are from. So many different people from all over the world and I find it interesting to watch them.
As I am watching people there in the train station I notice several French policemen walking around in groups together and I don't know if its normal for them to walk around the station with big machine guns in hand or if they know something we don't know and an attack was about to break out, but it was a little scary.
Our train arrived on time, and even though I am sad to leave Paris so soon I am excited to get on to our next journey to Cologne, Germany where we will meet up with some very dear friends of ours.
Waiting in Hotel Elysees Ceramic lobby and patio for the cab to come and get us and take us to the Train Station.
So long Paris until next time, I hope to be back again some day!
Escape Plan: Ditch the Rat Race, Discover The World by Mark Manson
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