Oct 08

European Discovery Day 13

Day 13 (May 20): Paris Sightseeing

On our city tour, see the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Nôtre Dame Cathedral and the Louvre, shop on the Champs Elysées and stroll by the Seine. Tonight, why not experience a Parisian cabaret?

Another late morning, didn’t have to get up till 7:15! It’s a good thing since yesterday I started to get a cold and today I have a cold. At 8:45 the bus left for the Paris Opera House and the optional perfumery demo. I’m not really into perfume and I was congested so I skipped the perfumery. I headed to the Musee Louvre with Nicola, Alberto, Laurie, Garry, Chris, Lisa, and Ali. We quickly got in the Louvre using the back entrance that Hans had showed us the night before and our museum cards we bought. We even managed to find our way around in spite of the fact that they ran out of English maps.

Our first stop was Venus de Milo, pretty girl, too bad she doesn’t have any arms. Then we headed through the grand gallery, from the Da Vinci Code, to the Mona Lisa. There was a line to see her, but you could take pictures, but they didn’t come out well since she had glass or something covering her. After the Louvre we headed to Notre Dame, which was very nice. After that we all stopped for lunch at a little cafe by Notre Dame.

After lunch Alberto, Nicola and I separated from the rest of the group to go to see The Thinker at the Musee Rodin. We tried to take the Metro but I think we ended up in the wrong station and after examining the map for 20 minutes decided to just walk to the Musee Rodin. We passed the Musse d’Orsay along the way, but didn’t go in. While walking Alberto started to drive me nuts. He was walking with his map completely open and every now and then he would tell me where we were, except he would off by 2 blocks. Nothing like doing stuff that screams “tourist” to everyone around. At the Musse Rodin the gardens were beautiful and The Thinker was cool. We took a minute to sit down and rest our tired feet and figure out the Metro. We managed to take the Metro to the Arc de Triomphe without getting lost.

When we got to the Arc de Trimophe it took us a few minutes but we finally found the walkway to the arc. Once in we climbed up a bazillion steps and finally were at the top. At the top we took some pictures and ran into Mike and Mel, we also sat down for a bit to rest our extremely tired feet. The view was really nice, but not as cool as the night view from the Eiffel Tower. On the way down we ran into Michael, Monica, Caitlin and some others. It’s amazing how many people we could run into in a day in such a big city, we had run into Maya and some others in the Louvre and Simon and his group at Notre Dame. After the Arc we took a walk down the Champs Elysées for some shopping and delicious Sorbet that I would find. After a couple shops we ran into Maya, Anne, Roshni and Kreena. After that we all headed back to the hotel on the Metro.

After we got back I decided to take a walk to the internet cafe so I could send my “I’m in Paris” emails. When I got back I called mom, hung out with some tour mates in the lobby, and repacked a bit. So much for getting some rest before Moulin Rouge. Kamala, Mikki and I met up with Becca and Zeeni, but not until we were accosted by Frenchmen. We tried walking, but ended up taking the bus to Moulin Rouge, we found a nice little sidewalk cafe to have dinner at before the show. The waiter was very nice, especially considering Becca was the only one who spoke any French, and she didn’t speak much. After dinner we finally went to see Moulin Rouge, it was a little weird, but a cool show. But I was so tiredd (should have taken a nap) that I was falling asleep at one point. At the end of the show we lost Becca and Zeeni so the 3 of us left together. Outside Kamala went across the street to take pictures while a bunch of Frenchmen decided they liked Mikki and I. I am not liking these Frenchmen! Anyway, we tried running across the street, yelling at them, but it took a few minutes to shake them, when we got to the bar to meet up with the rest of the group who had gone to the earlier show or had skipped the show all together.

By the time we got to the bar several people had already headed back to the hotel. But the rest of us had fun, I even danced. We left around 2:30 and we all decided it would be a good idea to walk back to the hotel. So Chris, Alberto, Simon, Kamala, Mark, Roshni, Kreena, Mikki, Vicky, Kenny, Michael, and some others walked. But our group got split up half way when someone got hungry and I didn’t see the rest of them till morning. But we got to be the loud obnoxious people walking down the street, we didn’t get back to the hotel till 3:10, I thought Hans said it was a 20 minute walk? Maybe if we were sober if would have been 20 minutes.

Oct 06

European Discovery Day 12

Day 12 (May 19): Lucerne to Paris

Through the French countryside to the romance of Paris. Enjoy a first view of the sights of this spectacular city of light.

Today we got a little later of a start since we were going to the top of Mt. Stanserhorn, so I got to sleep till 6:30, wahoo! We took an 8:10am train up to the gondola that would get us to the top of Mt. Stanserhorn. What a phenomenal view! And, because it was still cloudy this morning, it was actually warmer at the top then in town. We got a nice chance to walk around before coming down so the bus could leave at 9:30 for Paris.

Today I decided to be a flowerbox, I sat in the front row of the bus with Chris. Our first stop was after 3 hours for lunch. I found the French to actually be pretty friendly, but I was a little overwhelmed by the trying to pick out food, I ended up with quiche. Actually, the most stressful part of the whole trip would be the first rest stop in each country, trying to order food in a new culture. After lunch it was a 2 and a half hour ride on the bus, the highlight of this part of the drive would be playing Horse. This is as easy game that anyone can play, see a horse and be the first to call it. One point for real horses, two points for pictures of horses. At this next rest stop the woman was rude, so being an annoying American, I kept going back to her.

Back on the bus Hans gave us a history lesson on France, something about Napoleon. At 7:30pm we finally got to Paris, we had 30 minutes to check in before dinner and our evening tour of Paris. The hotel was nice, but the rooms were smaller than a shoebox for sandals. We had a pretty good dinner at the hotel, Chicken, rice and salad.

At 9:00 we headed out to the Eiffel Tower and the city tour. The first stop was the Eiffel Tower, with a drive through the Arc de Triomphe on the way. We had a bit of a line to get into the Eiffel Tower, but we made the best of our time by starting the wave. The view from the Eiffel Tower was amazing, especially with the late dusk sky. I give credit to those who were afraid of hights, but still went up as I know it wasn’t easy for them. Good job gals! Anyway, back to me. I bought myself a giraffe Eiffel Tower and a blinking Eiffel Tower. But the funniest thing was when Mike bought multiple blinking Eiffel Towers and then tried to sell one to one of the peddlers. Mike offered 5 euros, but the guy would only pay 4 and Mike didn’t have change for him. Then Michael tried to buy one from him for 2 euros, telling him they were made in China and the cost was really low. Amazingly the guy stuck around quite a while for all the torture we would inflict on him.

After that we did our drive around Paris, we saw a lot of things… The Paris Opera House, The Louvre, Notre Dame, Musee Rodin, Hotel de Ville, and a bunch of other stuff. We got back to the hotel around midnight and got to bed a little after 1:00am.

Jul 23

1 Day in Paris

On my European Discovery Contiki tour we had a 2 night stop in Paris – 1 evening where we did a city tour and then a full day in the city leaving the following morning. On our night in Paris we did a city tour and stopped to go up the Eiffel Tower. The following day I had to do everything else the city had to offer. So what can one get done in the city of Lights in 1 day?

Our bus departed at 8:45 and took a little tour by the Arc de Triumph, down the Champs Elysee and were dropped off near the Opera House. I skipped the option of visiting a perfumery and instead headed to the Louvre. On this stop we planned to see the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo. We tried to get a map of the Louvre, but they didn’t have any English ones which made it a bit difficult, but we found both. Neither was quite as impressive as I had hoped, but both were worth the visit. The Louvre was also worth the visit, I think the landings for the stairs were bigger then my apartment.

Next we were off to Notre Dame by foot where I lit a candle for my sisters baby. We had been doing the same route as some other people on tour so we naturally met up by Notre Dame and all had lunch at a little cafe nearby. It was probably a crappy restaurant by French standards, but we all enjoyed it.

After lunch Nicola (my room mate) wanted to go to the Musse Rodan to see The Thinker. I would have preferred the Musse D’orssay which we passed on the way to the Rodan, but as I’m not much into art I opted to go with Nicola and her preference. We had tried to use the metro, but apparently ended up in the wrong station, we think, and walked this distance. It was a fun exploration but a long walk. The Musse Rodan was really nice though, the gardens were gorgeous and The Thinker impressive. After this we figured out the metro and shot over to the Ard de Triumph. We had a bit of trouble finding the walkway, but did and then almost died trying to climb the stairs. The view of the city was great and totally worth it. You get a different perspective of the traffic coming and going in the traffic circle from up above. Just to prove how small a big city like this can be when you’re on a tour, we ran into a bunch of people from tour here. After that we had to walk the Champs Elysee and get some sorbet with some of the other members of our tour that we ran into.

It was now time to return to the hotel as most people on my tour were going to Moulin Rouge that night. I was also going, but I was going to a later show so when we returned I had some free time which I should have used to nap but instead found an internet cafe and called home. Then it was off to see Moulin Rouge and meet up with my tour mates at a bar nearby for out last night of the tour. It was a full day, but we did get to see a lot of what the city has to offer. We even got accosted by rude french men!