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Paris Day 1

Friday, January 06, 2012

Thursday late morning we checked out of the London hotel, had lunch at the tapas restaurant - I had the octopus and a trio of mushrooms sautéd in garlic and white wine garnished with garlic chives, so yummy - and headed to the train station to catch the train to Paris. Jacq was happy since we went by King's Cross station, another Harry Potter filming spot.

There was a tree down on the tracks so we were about an hour late getting into Paris. Once we arrived I discovered that now even the Metro ticket machines require a chip on your credit/debit card to use, which means - for us - it is cash only. The ATM only dispenses bills and there are no change machines around. Fortunately I still had a few euros in coins left over from my last trip here and was able to buy single trip tickets so we could get to our hotel. We also got in a lot of strength training hauling our (very heavy, at least 40 lbs. based on the weigh in I gave them before leaving home) suitcases up multiple subway staircases in both cities.

We are staying just a short walk from the Arc de Triomphe. I had forgotten just how large it is. Our hotel room is even smaller than I had expected. From the door to the bed there is a space of 3 feet; 1 foot between the bottom of the bed and the wall; 2 feet from the other side of the bed to the wall; and the headboard is snug against the 4th wall. It's a good thing we are not claustrophobic!

Jacq has announced our intention of taking the stairs to the top of the Eiffel Tower. When I was here 2 weeks for work in 2008 I had my weekends free for sightseeing, went to the Eiffel Tower, remember thinking people who took the stairs were certifiably insane and it would be impossible for me to do anyway being 70 lbs. heavier than today and so far out of shape that climbing a single flight of stairs left me out of breath with a pounding heart and buckling knees.

We shall see if we make it to the top!
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BUTEAFULL 1/6/2012 8:55PM

    this is such a wonderful adventure (except the tiny room)

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KKINNEA 1/6/2012 1:07PM

    I know you'll get to the top - we need a picture of feet going up and down!

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CBAILEYC 1/6/2012 10:49AM

    I've loved reading about your adventures! Good luck on the stairs! Whew!

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    Those stairs will be nothing for you! You are already conditioned and I think you'll surprise yourself! emoticon emoticon

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GETSTRONGRRR 1/6/2012 8:06AM

    You'll make it no problem...have a blast!

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APIRLRAIN888 1/6/2012 7:17AM

    You'll make it! That's awesome ....jealous much

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London Days 6 & 7

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Tuesday, once Jacq was with her Dad i took off to do my own sightseeing. My son and I are both interested in military history so I headed to the Imperial War Museum. I had planned to walk there but it was windy and raining quite hard and within 5 minutes my umbrella had blown inside out 3 times and the backs of my legs were drenched from heel to thigh. So I caved and took the subway. I found my way there without any detours - I am directionally challenged and while I'm not so bad that I always get lost it will generally take me a bit longer to get to my destination than it should.

I spent some time wandering around inside, took lots of pictures for my son and bought him some books. Upon leaving the rain had stopped so I took off to find the HMS Belfast. The routes I needed to take along the river was blocked by buildings so I had to walk through some of the nearby streets and ran across a pirate galleon moored in an alley. It looked like someone had cut out a very narrow boat slip from the river right between 2 buildings and then built the sidewalk back behind it so it is permanently moored.

Unfortunately the Belfast is "closed to visitors until further notice" so I could only take pictures from the dock. It is right by London Bridge so I got a lot of bridge pictures then walked across it to get to the Tower of London. The Crown Jewels are on display in the Tower and they are pretty amazing.

Finally I went back to the shopping district of Bond/Regent/Oxford streets to get my souvineers for myself - from the East India Company. A whole shop dedicated to tea

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Wednesday was our tour to Windsor, Stonehenge and Oxford. Our tour guide was quite opinionated on certain subjects, such as how he felt about Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the overpass bringing people from Heathrow into the city which has been discovered to be "falling down" six months before the Olympic Games and the inadvisability of anyone talking while he was doing so.

We had about an hour to go through the public areas of Windsor Castle, which is primarily Queen Mary's Dolls' House, the State Apartments and St. George's Chapel. Absolutely magnificent, I can't even imagine what it would be like to live there.

The next stop was Stonehenge. According to the guide the reason you can no longer walk among the stones is because at one point people had started chiseling off pieces of the stones to take as souvineers, so the historical society had to rope it off. It is a shame some people are so stupid and ruin it for the rest. There were also a large number of sheep wandering about so the air was quite fragrant.

After Stonehenge we went to Oxford. I bought the optional tickets to go into Christ Church College, which is where the castle scenes were filmed for Harry Potter. We saw the corridors from the movie, the staircase, the one area where Harry had his first flying lesson and the banquet hall. And, of course, the buildings themselves are pretty amazing.

Once we were back to the hotel we just grabbed some baquettes from a stand in the train station and I set out to the laundromat. I had originally intended to use the hotel service until I looked at the prices - about $4.50 per pair of socks for example. So the laundromat it was. Fortunately there was one only a 5 minute walk from the hotel.

Thursday we check out and take the train to Paris.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CANDOK1260 1/5/2012 10:39PM


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GETSTRONGRRR 1/5/2012 8:35PM

    WOW, too cool....glad you're having a great time.....and logging lots of aerobic points to boot!

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DOODIE59 1/5/2012 3:40PM

    I am glad you had that day to yourself. That's a fun and meaningful way to explore ... answering only to your own interests for a day:)

Paris next! Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy:)

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APIRLRAIN888 1/5/2012 1:55PM

    awesome that yes to ""stupid" tourist....I had some similar problems on our tours

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    What a fantastic opportunity you're having! This is so cool! I hope you are having a wonderful, terrific time!

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KRISTINKP 1/5/2012 10:09AM

    So awesome! I love England and so want to go back there again! Have fun on the next leg of your trip!

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CALIPIDGIOUS 1/5/2012 8:52AM

    Sounds wonderful! So glad you are enjoying yourself!

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DEZZIEJAMES 1/5/2012 8:30AM

    LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!! Dying to see some of those photos!!

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INIT2LIVEIT 1/5/2012 5:54AM

    roflol re your tour guide... sounds like a real peach ;-)
Enjoy the next leg of your trip!

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London Day 6 - Jacq's Day with her Dad

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Tuesday we finally cornered Jacq's father to spend a day with her here in London. I have been asking him repeatedly for a year - literally one year - if he wanted to spend time with the kids while we were here (our son was supposed to be here too originally) and if so which days. His response was always "Ummmm, yeah, I take them for a day, I don't know exactly, let me get back with you.". Had it been just me I wouldn't have chased him for an answer but Jacq wanted to spend a day with him.

So after finally pinning him down Tuesday morning he said he's on his way to pick her up...and shows up 2 hours later. They went to the London Dungeon which is some sort of tour/ride/amusement that takes 2 hours, plus half an hour in line. Jacq said it was pretty fun. The only problem was that her Dad sent her in alone (she's 13) because his girlfriend didn't want to do it. He dropped her back at the hotel after spending 3.5 real hours with her wandering around a museum his girlfriend wanted to go to instead of what Jacq had asked to do with him (6 hours total if you count the Dungeon where she was alone) and after taking her to McDonald's so she could buy her own dinner since she didn't know when I would be back.

I'd like to kick his backside (that's the polite version).

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GETSTRONGRRR 1/4/2012 8:27PM

    Sounds like a total schmuck (and whipped to boot). Focus on enjoying your time with Jacq.....your both on vacation in a great cultural capital of the world!

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KAREN_NY 1/4/2012 3:45PM

    How painful. :(

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APIRLRAIN888 1/4/2012 1:28PM

    Awe sorry about that

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F8CONE8 1/4/2012 12:59PM

    That sounds like my son's father - a real jerk! many times I would have gladly killed him and that too is the polite version. Even now that my son is a grownup he still tries to "win" his dad's love. I always believed that a child deserves to love their parents so I tell my son - love him for what you can and ignore the rest. His dad "loves" him as much as he can.

Poor Jacq what an awful age to be neglected by her father.

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MCJULIEO 1/4/2012 12:42PM

    I hurt for your daughter... please let her know that she is especially loved today...

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CODEMAULER 1/4/2012 7:01AM

    There will be a day when they both realize what a lost opportunity this was for both of them. With any luck, it won't be years from now.

At least he did *something.* To this day I still cannot get quality "Dad Time" unless I surprise him at the office... and then he still calls his wife to meet us. My folks have been divorced for almost 30 years and nothing has really changed.

Kudos to you for making the effort; I know it's hard to be the only adult in the mix.


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CANDOK1260 1/4/2012 6:50AM

    men can be jerk that all i can says

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INIT2LIVEIT 1/4/2012 4:59AM

    I am sorry, I know how my sister feels when her ex pulls crap on the kids. The worst part is that there isn't much she can do about it. Well... anything that would be legal...
we call it - get the coat hanger - to plaster a smile on the face. Doesn't help the kids her getting obviously angry in front of them.
You have my sympathies...

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London Day 5

Monday, January 02, 2012

Today we slept in and got a late start, not leaving the hotel until after 12 pm. We wandered about Harrods department store a bit, having to employ lots of elbow strikes to make our way through the maddening crowds. Absolutely insane. I picked up some Harrods' souvineers for my nieces and fancy chocolate for my sister as a thank you for taking care of my dog and cats.

Over lunch I received dating advice from my 13 year old daughter, who does not yet date, consisting of such gems as "Don't tell him you have cats. It's OK to say you have a dog, guys like dogs, but keep quiet about the cats." and "Make sure you tell him your kids are already teenagers and will be gone soon so he doesn't get scared by the idea of raising more kids." and "Make sure he's rich and thinks he needs to buy our affection. I really want a PS3."

After lunch we went to Camden Town and I had to take a picture of Jacq crossing Abbey Road. I don't quite get why this is a big deal but she tells me Beatle fans will understand. At least we were not the only ones taking pictures of people crossing the road; residents there must despise tourists for disrupting traffic as it is a busy intersection.

We rode the London Eye and she got some good pictures of the city at night. We went to the Aquarium, which is not really worth the money in my opinion. We walked around a bit along the Thames before returning to the hotel area. Dinner was at an "American" Steakhouse, where the music was (Old) Country music, from the 70s and 80s; lots of Kenny Rogers, Willy Nelson, Emmylou Harris, etc. Jacq thought it funny that for once I actually recognized the music.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DOODIE59 1/3/2012 12:08PM

    Your daughter is not only wise, but witty too:) There is nothing like a sense of humour to enrich one's life!

I concur with GETSTRONGRR ... you were joking about not knowing the Abbey Road connection, right?

Enjoy your holidays!

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MCJULIEO 1/3/2012 9:39AM

    Fun, fun, fun!

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INIT2LIVEIT 1/3/2012 6:07AM

    Your daughter is adorable! It's special your getting to spend this time with her, before she gets older and busier (with dating) LOL

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APIRLRAIN888 1/2/2012 10:03PM

    Fun time
Lol on advice

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GETSTRONGRRR 1/2/2012 8:23PM

    Sounds like Jacq has some good advice for you....will you come back to Sparkpeople re-christened as Sharp-toothed-poochie?

e tell me you are joking not knowing about Abbey Road?

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ELYMWX 1/2/2012 5:49PM

    Check out their webcam:


Strangely mesmerizing...

Comment edited on: 1/3/2012 12:02:04 AM

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CANDOK1260 1/2/2012 5:47PM


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London Days 3 & 4

Monday, January 02, 2012

Saturday we went to the Camden Markets and spent some time wandering around. It was like a giant flea market spread out down the streets. We also went back to the shopping district to a store my daughter wanted to go back to.

After a quick lunch we changed and went to the Wicked matinee. It was excellent, if you ever have an opportunity to attend I recommend it. For dinner we had Italian. We missed the fireworks at midnight, but Jacq was not interested in them anyway and I wasn't going to leave her alone in the room to go myself.

Sunday we walked to the Houses of Parliament, saw Big Ben and watched most of the parade. About 1/3 of the way through it started to rain but most people stayed anyway. Our school band was near the very end, they looked and sounded pretty good even in the rain. They were one of the few bands chosen to play in the massed concert band to close the parade.

We didn't really feel like doing much else yesterday so we went to an Indian restaurant for dinner - first time for my daughter - and saw The Help at the move theater.

Some random observations - London is remarkably clean given that there are virtually NO garbage cans anywhere on the street; at least we have not seen any. I take that back, I did see one on Friday. What do people do with their trash as they are walking around? Do they carry their Starbucks' cups with them all day?

Jacq is very impressed that - compared to home - most people we've seen are not overweight. I've explained it is because of all the walking, most people in a big city do not have a car to drive everywhere so they walk. Plus in the restaurants portion sizes are much smaller than in the USA so one eats what is actually closer to a proper serving, not 2-4 times a serving as at home. She also observed that fast food is not nearly as prevalent here compared to home where we have half a dozen fast food places on every corner. And that there are so many different restaurants and cafés to choose from everywhere one stays interested and mindful of the food one eats because it is less likely one will get bored by only having the same old same old to choose from.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SPARKLELA 1/2/2012 3:57PM

    What a great way to ring in the New Year! Great observations by your daughter.

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MCJULIEO 1/2/2012 12:56PM

    What an observant daughter!

I know that you're having a great trip!

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APIRLRAIN888 1/2/2012 12:48PM

    Wow awesome!!!!! U running there?

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DOGSTARDADDY 1/2/2012 11:53AM

    Sounds great!

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FUNKY5RED 1/2/2012 10:52AM

    What a great trip! Continue to enjoy.

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DOODIE59 1/2/2012 10:30AM

    There is nothing like travel to expand the mind. Have a fantastic time, and enjoy the opportunity to bond with your daughter:)

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RESULTS361AP09 1/2/2012 10:08AM

    Sounds like a fantastic trip! And the fact that your daughter is observing things like that is even better. Have a safe trip home.

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GETSTRONGRRR 1/2/2012 8:16AM

    Sounds like a great way to spend the New Year. Keep enjoying!

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CODEMAULER 1/2/2012 6:10AM

    Happy New Year!

The trip sounds awesome and VERY educational. I hope that the remainder of your visit goes well.

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