A Travellerspoint blog

Paris - Montmatre

Separate activities day again...

sunny 92 °F

Today Sally really went to the Eiffel Tower and also the Rodin, L'Organerie and a quick peek at the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa. Phil and Kate toured Napolean's Tomb and the Army Museum (which included a Picasso exhibit) and toursy pictures...

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I get to be the third wheel with Ivan and Diana on the trek up to the Sacre-Coeur. The line for the venicular is long, so we made the decision to hike up the steps in front of it - something I have never done and don't think I ever will again :) It was nice to revist the church as I had misunderstood the first time that photos were not allowed (just flash photography was not allowed and no photos at all in the main seating area).

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We zagged to the left instead of the right when we hit the cute, toursy Montmartre village and saw a great square filled with artists - doing paintings, sketches and scissor cut-outs. The square was so nice we had to stop and sit a while (as you might imagine, on the pricey side of things...).

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Around the corner was the Salvador Dali museum - if you don't know, Ivan is a big fan of his work. The museum was interesting because it was centered around his sculptures instead of this paintings (but there were still plenty of those). The museum is actually an art gallery as well and sold "original" works (multiples, I think they are called - like only 1 of 200 casts or prints or something). I saw a few price tags around 5k Euros. Ivan is still try to decide which piece to buy :)

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We grabbed a quick Kebab at the 20th top fast food place in Paris (per Ivan's fancy phone). It was fine, but Ivan really enjoyed it because of the worker there was so jovial - oh yeah - and he spoke Spanish (which really threw me for a loop cause I'm still to stop reverting to German and squeeze in bits of French). We ate in a little, but very busy park - with Bioce ball and table soccer - I think Ivan scared the kids playing when he screamed "GOAL" when they scored :)

Off to the Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysees. The line was not too long, so they went up. Having made the spiral staircases just a few days ago, my knee convinced me that I should just sit in the shade and wait for them...

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Back towards the hotel, Ivan and Diana bail on dinner and opt for doing laundry instead. Phil, Kate, Sally and I go down the hill to the local Kebab place - smells very good, but just too full to try it. Afterwards, we go next store to the 2bis to catch the Eng/Nor game. Observently, Phil notices that our new "standby" has had a makeover - changing from old green awnings and covers to new bright blue ones.

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We catch the England/Norway game and meander home exhausted again (averaging 7-9 miles of walking each day)...

Posted by M6-Greg 22:53 Archived in France Comments (0)

Paris - Deuxième Partie

A lazy day

sunny 92 °F
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Don't know if you are reading the blog, Emmie, but Happy Birthday!

So Ivan and Diana have their plans for the Eiffel Tower today as does Sally separately. It's a work day for me (trying to extend my vacation), but I explore the local area a bit for breakfast - finding the fancy french marshmallows (guimaures), some laundry mats, and saw a big side of beef hanging over the street from a hook on a truck (only managed to capture the guy carrying into the shop/restaraunt)...

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Phil, Kate and I do laundry and have a nice lunch at the place next store. The Wash Boat, is sandwiched between a restaraunt and a highly rated bar, Teddy's Bar - with Air Conditioning as part of it's permanent signage (we make a note to come back later).

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The Cluny Museum (Middle Ages) is not very far away so Phil, Kate and I decided to see what was there - ancient bath ruins, the Lady and the Unicorn exhibit, new reception area. It frigidarium/baths were pretty neat. The lady and the unicorn tapestries were impressive wall length depictions of the different senses (touch, taste, hearing, seeing, and smell - in order of transcendence). But the main part of the museum is really closed for renovations (for about 2 more years).

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Kate found a nice pub nearby with lively, where we enjoyed few pints where the "beer of the moment" lived up to its name (keep changing on us)...

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Back to the hotel area to hang out and wait for the others to return, so naturally we decided to try Teddy's Bar. It was loaded with Teddy bears, a hard working, fast bartender, a leopard wall-papered room, and oscillating fans to "air condition" the area. We decided to get their Sangria special which was very good - seems cinnamon is a magic ingredient - and will make it into any recipe I use in the future - it was very good. They had an American lager, Shipyard, which was so foamy, it took them 4 glasses and several minutes to get someone a pint of.

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Still waiting for the others, we tried some other neighbor places as well - all very interesting - Tapas Bar (with Ernest Hemmingway site) and a place to get our new experiental drink - Get 27 - kind of a minty (think warm peppermint patty Scope).

We all got together for a bite to eat and hang out and when returning to the hotel got kicked out of the small lobby (too loud, too late :)

Posted by M6-Greg 22:22 Archived in France Comments (0)

Travel Day - Reims, Paris, London

From 8 down to 6

sunny 90 °F
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We have a late checkout of noon, but the train doesn't leave Reims for Paris until 2pm, so I thought everyone would sleep in. It takes us longer than expected to finish switching suitcases and get out the door. It's nearing the end of the trip for Gwen and Rishaun - both a very happy and very sad day. They are ready to go home (and I am sending all of my cool weather clothes back with them). Rishaun misses his "normal" life but a long trip can be draining on anyone (especially with all the hops we have been making). It is surprising that everyone is up, checked out of the hotel before 11am. Though sometimes actually walking out is like hearding cats...

I thought we had a plan to revisit the Cathedral and such, but with less time and knowing that a sit-down meal takes longer, we split into groups again - some opt for a quick meal (those that had seen the Cathedral already). Judging by the pictures, I guess you know what I did. Afterwards, Rishaun gets one last gelato and enjoys a guy playing the steel drum.

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The train back to Paris is the nice one - reserved seating in first class, with room for our luggage. Gwen and Rishaun are off to the airport, will spend the night in London and then back to the states in the morning. It is a sad day indeed (for me), but they are glad to be getting back - yes, part of me would like to be returning with them of course... So our group is back down to 6 people now...

I didn't really know where in the city our hotel was - just in the city - but it turns out it is in the Latin Quarter - which has a really cool vibe (just walking to the hotel). We have a very nice conversation with the reception guy at the hotel - soccer in America kind of things, etc. After getting settled in our rooms, we venture out exploring without a fixed destinition in mind. I had seen a craft beer place, but we decided just to wander. Well, the beer gods were looking out for me I guess as the first place we wandered to was that very place :) They had a limited selection on tap, but a great selection overall. However, since they had no a/c or patio, it was just too hot. So, one and done. Phil was surprised by the bill, but in a good way - might have topped my "deal" from yesterday - 19 euros for 6 beers (and his was about 1/3 to 1/2 of that)...

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Given time, spidey senses were abandoned for google reviews... Kate found a local place with more cheep beer - 3 euro pints that we couldn't resist. Turns out, all of their beers are cheap, so we have to try a few.

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After a few, we separate between the comfy (PK) and the explorers (IDSG). We hike towards the water and Notre Dame - it is Ivan and Diana's first time in Paris and they are giddy with everything - and I grab some more shots of Notre Dame that I failed to get the first time around.

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Phil and Kate had enjoyed our local college pub a bit too much :) and retired early afterwards. We started looking for places for dinner for the rest of us. Ivan said the place directly across from our hotel was in the top 50 in all of Paris - definitely worth a try then! Ivan is his typical high-maintenance self - how is this dish prepared, what does it look like, etc, etc, etc - only thing is, he does not speak a word of French and is frustrated when he can't get all of his answers in English or Spanish (I find it hilarious personally).

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The meal is excellent and we even tried their homemade moonshine (best we could tell, that is what it was) - not recommended. But the lamb shank on quinoa with dried fruits is high-recommended and a nice end of the day.

Posted by M6-Greg 23:54 Archived in France Comments (0)

Reims - Game Day

Avoiding the sunny side of the street

sunny 90 °F
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Unfortunately, I did not sleep well and was up to 5:30am to look for different hotel options. Finally, I found something that looked okay but still pretty pricey, but in the city and not at the airport. After some back and forth later with others, we pulled the trigger on it and at least had a place to stay. It was generally another late start for our group and it will be an earlier game tonight (6pm). There was a place called the Harold restaraunt that we wanted to tried last time we were in Reims. We tried to head out to about 10:30am, but with various delays and finding out that it was "open" but not serving food until 12pm, we strolled in about 15 minutes before that. Phil and Kate had already given up on the place - they had a bunch of reserved seating for locals it seemed... We waited it out and had a very enjoyable meal (though we sat at different tables).

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Afterwards we met Phil and Kate in the main square, some decided to visit the Museum of the Surrender. As you might have heard, it is pretty hot here not (feels much hotter, muggier than the temperature indicates. The 0.6 mile walk in the sunshine was a bit much for some of the group. The museum was "air conditioned" I guess, but was very warm still. The tour starts with a very informative video that explains that the surrender of the Germans in World War II actually occurred in Reims (Rheims). But it was done quasi-secretly to get the Germans time (2 days) to evaluate and evade capture by the Russians. The secret didn't keep and the end was announced the next day and a second, open ceremony was performed in Berlin. The museum itself was very small, but you can see the room where the unconditional surrender was signed.

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Just a little bit of time for gelatto and Champange (separately for different people) before heading back to the hotel to freshen up for the big game. The time has come for the elimination rounds! It is very warm indeed with our seats facing into the sun. Some stop for food and are taken back by the inefficiency of the process. The person that takes the order, collects the money, then gets the food (waiting for it to be cooked), then compiles it and then serves it to the customer, and after that customer is done, the next customer's order is taken.... about 30 minutes to get through a line of about 8 people...

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The stadium seats are really to small again - managable - except for the people eating - perhaps you can see all the ketchup spills on Rishaun's new jersey? :) He is all legs and really the seats were too little (seats are on top of concrete blocks so no room underneath either). The location is good in the stadium - third row, just shy of the center circle.

Assuming you know that we squeaked this one out. It is a strange feeling that the referee was really poor but yet, we got 2 penalty kicks. I really think our players were beat up and the refereee did not protect them, but in regards to the PKs, I thought they were favorable for us. Good for our traveling group as we plan to go as far as the USA does...

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It just a short walk to the hotel but people are tired from the sun in our face the second half as well as the aforementioned hike. Rishaun suggest getting Pizza and staying at the hotel (watching the next game there). Which is fine for some of the group, so we just relax there to watch the game. I got the best "deal" so far - with a Tower of Beer and an nice antipasta tray for 20 euros...

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Posted by M6-Greg 22:56 Archived in France Comments (0)

Reims - Version 2

The seedy side of Paris

sunny 80 °F
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There has been a snafu with the Hotel reservations in Paris, yes the one in a couple of days from now - they canceled our reservation! They say that the will work with the hotel to see about resolving it and contact me again later in the day (this is how my early morning day started)... It is a later start out from Vernon to Reims today so some sleep in. Different groups doing different meals - breakfast, brunch, lunch, etc. Ivan and Diana grab a bite across from the train station (also where we got the bikes). They have great coffee and one of their best meals in France so far - no joke - according to them (which really means, the closest to Puerto Rican food :)

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We have to change trains in Paris but have a long time to do it. There's the normal up/down stairs for the metro, but we caught the metro right on time. Unfortunately, it is our first experience with crime... I group of kids pushed on right after us and one of them tries to get into Diana's fanny pack - but if you know Diana - you know that doesn't happen. We were separated into 2 groups and while none of us got hit. A man by the other group lost all of the money out of his wallet (they took all the cash and threw his wallet back at him as they jumped off the metro at the last second). Not a nice introduction to Paris for the newbies (even if we were just passing through)... Most grab some food or drinks at the train station as we have about an hour layover.

First class trains (reserved seats) for the second leg of the trip to Reims and finally Ivan is satisfied with the trains :) Since we have been to Reims before, we know to take Taxis to the hotel (and where the Taxi stand is).

As previously mentioned, the group is on different eating schedules, so we do a lot of casual wandering and stopping for food/drinks this day. We don't really get much farther than the main square. We settle on a nice place outside that has the France/Brazil game on. Having not heard from them about the Paris reservation I called the booking agent in the early evening and spent about 30 minutes on the phone with them - in the end they canceled our reservation, the hotel and the booking agent would do nothing to help us out. We are out of luck (trying to keep the blog family friendly)... As you might imagine, finding a reasonably priced hotel in Paris the last minute for 4 rooms is not easy (I had booked out at the Airport as a backup, but it is a 45 minute ride in to do anything)... We were all looking, but it was hard to book on our phones and pick anything good - we thought of separating, etc - but room availability also disappeared as we looked.

My cell service is bad, so I decide to just enjoy the game and suffer with the remote airport hotel. While at the bar, we spotted the handicapped lady that Kate had befriended in Le Havre. Even though she is in a wheelchair she sports a very laissez faire attitude - but to a fault. Her free spirit led her to watch the USWNT games, but without any planning she was at the hotel we were at in Le Havre (which was fully booked). She was going to just sleep outside of the hotel as she couldn't find any room - the hotel took her in and found a space for her... Then she said the USWNT was fun so she starting looking for a room in Reims, which is here where we saw her again. She didn't have a ticket to the game either - but Kate would hook her up with one of ours the next day.

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Posted by M6-Greg 02:09 Archived in France Comments (0)

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