We are here!!!
Travelling to Paris
Kristen picked up a stomach virus on Christmas Eve, but there was no practical way to postpone our trip; primarily because the flight, ll tours, trains, hotel, and airport shuttle service were not only scheduled, but PREPAID. We boarded the first plane, from Chattanooga to Memphis around 5pm on December 25. Kristen's fever had been between 100.4 and 101.5 for the day, and her stomach was a disaster. She made use of one of the airbags on the flight (sadly) - with no choice, as the onboard restroom was out of order.
She was looking like she might be getting better in Memphis, but as we went from terminal to terminal on the electric walkways, OOOPS - another need for a bag. Poor Kristen. When we boarded the flight from Memphis to Amsterdam, her fever was 102.1. Her throat was *very* sore, and she was in dire need of ice.
The flight was still boarding when I asked our attendant if he could get her a cup of ice, and told him she was quite ill. *OOOPS* He swiftly told me, "No - she is not ill - if she is ill, she will not be allowed to take the flight!" OK, no, she is not ill, but she would *really* like some ice - which he brought pronto.
Thank goodness for those flight bags - she needed another on this flight. Great. We had been on the trip for less than five hours and she had already used 3 bags. Egads.
We had food on the plane - Kristen of course had very little, but it was some pretty good chicken with green beans and some type fried cubed potatoes, along with salad, a roll, and some dessert (that I didn't try). Kristen picked at the food. We slept most of the trip (I think we must both be contortionists now, folding into unrecognizable shapes to grab a few winks). A quick breakfast was served prior to landing in Amsterdam (which Kristen quickly declined).
The Amsterdam airport is very nice indeed, but I was quick to find the smoking section which was in the restaurant area on the upper floor. We weren't able to eat, as I didn't have any Euros at this point (duh!). Kristen was able to obtain a cup of ice at no charge from the McDonald's after explaining we only had American dollars.
OH - the weather. When we arrived in Amsterdam, it was clear, sunny and beautiful. As we sat on the plane waiting for takeoff to Paris (less than 2 hours later), it was overcast and we had a small-sized hailstorm. Quick changes here! The flight to Paris was short, and we made it through the airport in a breeze.
Arrival in Paris
I am *so* thankful we had made reservations with PariShuttle from the airport. I made a quick (free) phone call prior to picking up our luggage (which came off almost first!), and the driver was waiting at the exit for us. The drive from CDG Airport to our hotel must have been some 45 minutes - traffic here is VERY dense. The roads in Montparnasse are amazing - most do not even have lines, and I swear, our driver was an EXPERT driver, and although I had complete confidence in his driving ability, I was afraid to look out the window because at intersections, the cars just go anywhere and everywhere!
He delivered us safely to our hotel Unic st Germain, where we checked in with no problems. By this time, Kristen was very much on the mend from her illness. I was quite relieved. Upon checking in, we discovered that breakfast was NOT included in the fare, although the Expedia site indicated it was. OK... we would live with that.
We took the lift up to our room on the 3rd floor - which was barely large enough to accommodate the two of us and our luggage. We entered our room. I'm sure glad I paid a premium for a larger room, because this one is TINY! Not nearly as tiny as the very efficient room Richard and I stayed in during our Japan trip, but tiny nonetheless (suffice it to say that if one of us is walking, the other needs to be sitting).
I tried to access the internet (Expedia said there was free wifi, at least I BELIEVED it said that), but could not. Fine - we'd try later. We went downstairs and out for some dinner around 5:30, and stopped at a Bistro on the corner. Kristen had a chicken and mayo baguette with Coca-Cola; I had a pate baguette with a small bottle of wine (which was cheaper than the coca-cola, I might add). About half through the dinner, she saw a waiter carrying a plate of french fries to another customer, and just *had* to order some, which we split. 30 Euros later, we headed back to the room, and went to bed after our long trip at about 7:30.
*Side Note*: I told the desk clerk when we returned that I was having difficulty accessing the internet, and sadly learned that it was not free. There were cards to be purchased, though! OK, I can live with that. A 24 hour card was approx 20 Euros, and although I was not happy with it, I would take one. THEN I found out they were *out* of 24-hour cards. They did, however, have 1 hour and 3 hour cards. The price of a 3-hour card? 15 Euros!!! NO!!!!!!!!
I was now in the room conversing with Kristen, angry because I had chosen this hotel for (1) free breakfast, (2) free wireless internet, and (3) free coffee in room. There were none of these things. I was contemplating how to get a refund and relocate. Then, as we discussed it, we realized we did not come to Paris to sit in the room on the internet, and we would just have to adjust. The room was, after all, very nice (albeit small), and we were otherwise quite happy.
OK, we'd live with it! I tried to use the phone card to call home, and found out we didn't know how to use the phone, either. Time then, to just go to bed!
Our first comment was the bed was as hard as a board and our pillows as hard as rocks; our second comment (in the middle of the night upon waking for a wee bit) was that boards and rocks weren't so bad. We slept until 11:00 am (egads!) the next day, she finishing the last of her illness and me getting rid of exhaustion.
Our First Day in Paris
We showered and readied ourselves for the day, and were AMAZED at something we were told practically *never* happens in Paris - SNOW! And I mean, nice BIG beautiful flakes, that stuck to cars, roofs, and grounds on ice skating rinks and tops of buildings. BEAUTIFUL!!! What fun.
We headed first to Creperie du Josselin for brunch (which came VERY highly recommended), and were delighted to find it just about 150 meters down the street. The place was crowded beyond belief; Kristen took one look at the crepes and decided it was not for her, and really wanted to leave (I mean REALLY). I just smiled and stood my ground - this was a must try, and I was planning to try. When our seats came open (they were turning people away by this point), she had no escape. I had the ham and cheese crepe with a coffee; Kristen had a Coca-Cola and vanilla ice cream. Delicious - actually both of them (I tried the ice cream!). The waiter was especially kind, as he charged us only 10 Euros (the price of a one person fixed price meal) for our lunch!
We left there and headed for the obligatory shopping trip at Inno, where Kristen purchased a black hat and some very chic black gloves, then we were off to the Montparnasse Tower and a beautiful overview of Paris from the tallest building in the city. On the way, we enjoyed a look at the carousel and an outdoor ice skating rink, which looked all the more fun coated in the falling snow! The view from the top of Montparnasse Tower was spectacular, as the snow had temporarily waned and the sun was temporarily shining.
I took picture upon picture, and we had a quick snack at the 360 Degree Cafe on the 56th floor. Kristen I photographed having a Ben and Jerry's ice cream with a Sprite (how American is THAT????)! I had a coffee. To give an idea of pricing - our coffee, ice cream, and sprite here totalled 12 Euros - 2 more than our lunch, and MUCH less of cuisine and quantity!
After a nice time, we window shopped along the first floor, then returned once more to Inno. I wanted to pick up some snacks for the room - Kristen wanted fruit, but the grocery area had *such* a strong aroma from the fish market there that she could not bear shopping, and we went without the fruit. I bought some wine and champagne, and Kristen got a few coca-colas, and we returned to the hotel and decided to purchase the 3-hour internet card.
We're pretty much up to date on where we are now! Kristen has been writing in her journal, and I have been catching up on the trip journal for the blog, as well as taking photos off the camera and onto the computer. We will go out for dinner in a bit; we are totally convinced that people here MUST be rich as it costs 4 arms and 3 legs to eat.
Tomorrow is our trip to Versailles - a day trip with lunch included; we will be picked up at the hotel lobby between 8:45am and 9:00 am.
Vive la France!