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Day 8 I'm a Swiss Miss Wannabe

Friday, July 11, 2014

It was a wonderfully cool travel day as we departed France…destination Switzerland. The French countryside was lovely.



We could always tell when we were approaching a village, because we would see a steeple way above the trees in the distance. As we drew closer, we would begin to see all of the houses gathered around it.



Our driver pointed out this monastery that was being restored. They have an organ that is over 1000 years old, and they still play it every day.



One of the men on the bus saw a rabbit hopping across a field that he swears was bigger than a St. Bernard. We had a great time ribbing him about it for the rest of the trip. Bert finally confirmed that it was a field rabbit, and that they weren’t uncommon, but not until it was almost time for us to go home. Love his sense of humor.

I was surprised to see so many vineyards in Switzerland. I had expected to see more of them in France. The Alps were magnificent. I don’t think I would ever get tired of looking at them. We stopped at a rest stop for lunch. We chose to get a gourmet burger and fries. I felt so sorry for the young man in front of us in line. He kept asking for a double cheeseburger and holding up his thumb and forefinger, which we had been told to use for 2. It was not on the menu. He ended up with 2 very large cheeseburger meals complete with 2 huge orders of fries and 2 large drinks. It would have been funnier, but it cost him $36. I asked him if he was going to be able to eat all of that, thinking we could buy one from him to help him out. He said he thought he could eat it all. He was rather green by the time he finished it. The food was excellent. I was impressed at the size and cleanliness of the rest area. It was like a mini mall, or small shopping center, with several restaurants, and a small grocery store. After lunch we went into store to buy snacks to have on the bus. I tried my very first Double Caramel Magnum bar. I know they have them in the states, but I had never tried one before, mostly because of the price. I discovered that they are worth every penny. We still had a lot of countryside to enjoy before we reached our destination for the day.

We stayed at the Art De Vivre in Crans-Montana. We loved our room with it’s down pillows and duvet, and our balcony with its magnificent view of the Alps.



There was a peaceful little lake about 100 yards from the hotel. We had time for a nice stroll before and after dinner.





It was a charming village. All the businesses had lovely flowerboxes.





This was the first place that struck us with the “I could live here!” Even with the clouds and the evening showers moving in, the majesty of the mountain ranges were intoxicating.





Our dinner was our favorite yet! We had a great salad, no clue what that dressing was, followed by some of the best spaghetti I’ve ever tasted. Next came grilled chicken with fries, and a dessert that I can best describe as a pear muffin cake. This meal I would definitely order on my own. We retired for the evening quite satisfied.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

OVERACTIVEELBOW 7/12/2014 3:29PM

    I am so glad that 'Day 8' was a good one. Great pictures ! Love your narrative. Thanks for sharing.

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TINY67 7/12/2014 1:19PM

    Great Pics! Thanks.

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DESERTDREAMERS 7/12/2014 1:19PM

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PMAY0313 7/12/2014 12:57PM

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KIWIANN 7/12/2014 10:14AM

    Sounds like an amazing day - and those are GORGEOUS pictures!! I can imagine that if I were there with you I would have been oohing and aahing all the day long!!

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SANDRALEET 7/12/2014 7:43AM

    Beauty is all over Good food and so clean

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NILLAPEPSI 7/12/2014 7:28AM

    Great photos! That bed looks so comfy!!! I could crawl in there right now & take a nice long nap. emoticon

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TRISTAROSE 7/12/2014 6:00AM

    Such beautiful pictures!!

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LIVINGFREE19 7/12/2014 1:28AM

    Love the pics!

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DEE107 7/12/2014 12:26AM

    thank you love your pictures

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_CYNDY55_ 7/11/2014 11:40PM

    emoticon emoticon Photos!! emoticon for sharing!!

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GINA180847 7/11/2014 10:34PM

    Thank you, that was wonderful!

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ARTJAC 7/11/2014 10:14PM

    emoticon emoticon

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MARCIAC10 7/11/2014 10:11PM

    Beautiful pictures!

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BUTEAFULL 7/11/2014 9:51PM

    when I went to the Alps it rained, so glad you have good weather and the views oolala

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1MORNINGWALKER 7/11/2014 9:44PM

    Wow Switzerland is just beautiful, loved it all, but those mountains are just magnificent emoticon

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DR1939 7/11/2014 9:38PM

    We've never been to Switzerland. Several times we've been very, very close, but we couldn't fit it in. The views of Switzerland from France, Germany, Austria, and Italy are lovely. I'm glad you finally got a meal you liked. It sounded delicious.

One of the reasons we've never made it across the Swiss border is that there is a big charge for nonSwiss autos to cross the border. Don't remember how much but that it was there irritated us so we didn't drive over.

Comment edited on: 7/11/2014 9:39:53 PM

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SLIMMERJESSE 7/11/2014 9:22PM

    I loved Switzerland sooo much.

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KATELJM 7/11/2014 9:06PM

    Love your travelogues!

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1CRAZYDOG 7/11/2014 9:04PM

    Gorgeous!!!

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1CRAZYDOG 7/11/2014 9:01PM

    emoticon pictures. Sounds like a beautiful trip!

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Day 7 Music in the Park

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Today’s adventure started at the Eiffel Tower.



Our city coordinators continually cautioned us not to look at, speak to, or interact with the gypsies in any way, warning how aggressive they could become. Boy howdy they weren’t just whistling Dixie. Some of our poor kids, who have been taught to make eye contact and speak when spoken to, were getting mobbed. Hubby and I made quite a few rescues of distraught teens that did not know how to get away when surrounded by 3 or 4 adults demanding they make a purchase. Lucky for me, I know a very kind and caring youth pastor who is a gypsy, who came from a huge family of hard-working gypsies. That enabled me to talk to the kids about stereo-types, and point out that not all gypsies behave like the ones we encountered here. There were armed military guards walking around, and the scam artists would scatter whenever they came near.



I forced my hubby and son WAY out of their comfort zones, insisting they go to the top of the tower with me. I did cave and agree to take the elevator all the way as opposed to climbing the stairs to the second level. A small concession on my part, considering how difficult it was for them. The views were out of this world. I could have spent hours up there with the wind in my face.



















It really opened my eyes to how large Paris was, and how little of it we were actually seeing. Next we were off to Notre Dame. My son was highly amused by a restaurant café named Magots. Teen humor. Thought we’d never hear the end of the jokes that followed.



Our first glimpse of Notre Dame was awe-inspiring.



Thanks to Disney, my quest began to discover gargoyles. Because of movies and books, I had expected to see them all over France, and was starting to give up hope. I was not to be disappointed.













At least outside, I could take all the photo’s I wanted. Every inch was unbelievably beautiful. How on earth did they create something so incredible that could endure the ages?



















Street performers only added to the ambience.



We walked to the lovely nearby St. Severin where the choir and string quartet performed.







Then we coached to Georges Brassens Parc for an outdoor band concert. It was packed with people. There were people from 2-90’s dancing and clapping to the music and waving flags. It was a lot of fun.



Then it was back to the Restaurant Le Saulnier for our dinner of some kind of beef with pasta. Very fatty. Dessert was some sort of puffy hollow flaky pastry with what might have been vanilla sauce. We were glad we had snacks in the room to munch on. On the ride back to the hotel, we saw lots of people dancing on the wide sidewalks between the streets. It looked and sounded like a lot of fun!



We were definitely ready for a good night’s sleep.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PMAY0313 7/12/2014 1:52AM

    emoticon

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_CYNDY55_ 7/11/2014 11:42PM

    Beautiful Pictures emoticon emoticon

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SANDRALEET 7/11/2014 6:11PM

    If you can Eat were the people that live there eat

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MARCIAC10 7/11/2014 5:58PM

    They prey on tourists. I found them to be bad at all the tourist traps! I'm not one to make eye contact, and just breeze by anyway, but I heard them trying their tricks: friendship bracelet, lost wedding ring, etc. I'm sure a lot of gullible people fell for that stuff.

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GINA180847 7/11/2014 5:24PM

    Oh my, I am so enjoying this. You are so good at bring it all to life.

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KATELJM 7/11/2014 1:26PM

    Love your travelogue!

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TINY67 7/11/2014 10:35AM

    emoticon Keep them coming.

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DR1939 7/11/2014 9:57AM

    The gypsy's around the Eiffel Tower truly are aggressive. We also found those in Budapest to be so. We climbed the tower once. One time when we were on top a snow storm came up. It was really cold. There were spring flowers all over Paris at the time. Your pictures are beautiful and bring back so many memories. As for the food, I like French food but get tired of it after a while. We usually eat only one or two meals in a restaurant and the rest in bars and cafes where the food is simpler. Often we stop for bread, cheese, and fruit and have a picnic lunch or grab a bowl of soup or a salad. I see you found what most people do, once you go to Europe you want to return again and again.

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KIWIANN 7/11/2014 8:34AM

    What amazing photos of the sights of Paris - thanks for enjoy the City of Light vicariously through your camera lens :)

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GINNABOOTS 7/11/2014 8:19AM

    Oh my, what wonderful architecture! You captured it so beautifully!

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NILLAPEPSI 7/11/2014 7:26AM

    Wow! Wow! Wow! Gorgeous photos! I just love the architecture. emoticon for sharing.

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TRISTAROSE 7/11/2014 5:44AM

    Such beautiful pictures .... what a view from the Eiffel Tower.

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ARTJAC 7/11/2014 5:18AM

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LIS193 7/11/2014 12:51AM

    Beautiful pictures!

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DEE107 7/11/2014 12:17AM

    love the pictures have a great night

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EHLIFESSHORT 7/10/2014 11:39PM

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LIVINGFREE19 7/10/2014 11:05PM

    The pics look awesome, thanks for sharing!

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SLIMMERJESSE 7/10/2014 10:27PM

    Gorgeous pics and so nice of you to share.

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GAYLE-G-63 7/10/2014 10:26PM

    Gorgeous pictures! =)

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CAT-IN-CJ 7/10/2014 10:14PM

    Absolutely breathtaking!

Thank you for sharing with us.

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OVERACTIVEELBOW 7/10/2014 9:55PM

    Fantastic pictures from the Eiffel tower... The city really is huge...
The trouble with most trips... you only begin to scratch the surface of what is really out there to see, explore, and enjoy. Large Group Tours are a great way to get a sampling of the adventures that are out there. Sadly most of us will not get the chance to personally partake of even a sample. But through the eyes and tales of others we do get an inkling of what we are missing.Thanks for sharing your adventure.


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1CRAZYDOG 7/10/2014 9:50PM

    Beautiful. How scary for your teens to be harassed like that! Glad you could rescue them.



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Day 6 Paris: The City of Love

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

We started our day with a continental French Breakfast. To say we were disappointed would be a huge understatement. There was French bread, croissants, and chocolate au pain similar to the ones we were served in London, only not as fresh, and only about a third of the size. My preconceived notions were once again proved wrong. Where were all the decadent French pastries I have always heard about? Not here, that was for sure. Other choices were corn flakes, bananas, room temperature orange juice, coffee, tea, and water. I realized how thoroughly the Thistle hotel in London had spoiled us. I don’t think I’ll ever experience another breakfast spread that will match theirs. It was enough to meet our needs, but my greedy palate wanted more. My fault, not theirs.

We soon loaded the coach for the half hour drive back into Paris. At first I wondered why we were staying so far out, but decided it was probably for our safety. I don’t think Paris is the type of town anyone would be comfortable with the idea of a teenager sneaking out at night to explore. After all, kids will be kids, and even the best of kids make poor choices at times. The Saphir has lovely grounds, and plenty to do from tennis courts, gardens to walk in, game tables, lounges with big screen tvs and plenty of seating, to a very nice pool.





This morning the traffic was not nearly as chaotic, but still too crazy for my taste. The parts of Paris we drove through were less seedy for the most part, and there were interesting old buildings and sidewalk cafes to enjoy. The prude in me did tend to frown disapprovingly when Bert, our driver, pointed out the sex district and all of the exotic shops for sex toys. Their windows and ads were obvious enough, they really did not need attention called to them, especially with a bus load of teens, mostly ranging from 14-17 in age. The historic Moulin Rouge was in the mix.




Our first stop of the day was to visit Montmartre, and view the Basilique de Sacre-Coeur. (I still can’t pronounce either one correctly). It was gorgeous! Words cannot describe. Photos weren’t allowed. Selfie addicts were ignoring the rule, but we chose to respect their rules. Bathrooms had attendants, so we had to wait permission to enter, and have our stall checked before leaving. Interesting. One young lady was being chewed out (in French of course), and was sent back to her stall. Don’t know if she forgot to flush or what but, WOW, made an impression on me. Wish we had that in the states. Public toilets wouldn’t be so gross then.



Shopping in Montmartre was an experience and a half. I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere quite so crowded, and it wasn’t even a holiday or special event. Our first stop and purchase was at a street-side creperie. I was fascinated watching them make crepes to order. We had never tried them before, so we decided that would be our lunch for the day. Mine was dusted in a sugar concoction, and a fresh lemon was cut and squeezed over it. It was utterly divine, and quite satisfying. Kept me full until dinner. My son got one filled with fresh whipped cream. He loved it, and it was hilarious watching him eat it. It was like he was 2 again. There was no way to bite it without getting it all over his face!

Right around the corner, the artist were set up, painting and sketching and selling their wares. For a while, I regretted that I didn’t buy an original painting to bring home, but now that I look around my house, I don’t know where I would have hung it, so it was a good choice. Around the corner and down the street, all kinds of different shops were set up. I looked for a t-shirt, but didn’t find one I liked, but I did find a beautiful scarf at one of the shops on the right. I recently learned how to tie them so that the fit like a vest. Can’t wait to wear it to school, and have people ask, “Where did you get that?” and be able to reply, “Oh, just a little shop in Paris, France.”




Believe it or not, cars and motorcycles go up and down this street, and the crowd parts for them to pass, then fills right back in. Insane. I just have to share photos of these bras, panties, and pants for sale. I could not believe the way they were displayed. These were actual store fronts, not yard sales! It amused me that the throng of people around them stepped back out of the way as soon as they saw my camera up to take the shot. Wish people taking selfies were that considerate.




At the intersections, we would often see statue people, who would pose for a picture with you in hopes that you would throw some change into their case. Every visible part of this guy was shiny gold. I wonder how he stood all that make up, and how hard it was to wash off.



Early afternoon, we boarded our coach with a tour guide who pointed out many famous buildings, and shared some of the history of France with us. Her accent made her difficult to understand, and I always felt like I was a sentence or two behind. For some reason, many people liked to sit on the steps of the National Music Academy and eat their lunches.



Because the streets were not laid out on grids, the buildings were often odd shapes.




We ended up at the Louvre. I was not prepared for the size and magnitude of it. You could spend a month inside and still not see everything. We were free to explore the sections we wanted. Even with the map, it was difficult. We stuck with our son’s areas of interest, and viewed the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and the Greek, Roman, Etruscan, and Medieval sections, (with a quick run through the Egyptian section, my choice) before we ran out of time. When he was younger, I had read On Etruscan Time by Tracy Barrett to him. He loved seeing all the pottery and coins and other artifacts that were in the book. It was difficult to get a decent picture of Mona, because the painting is really very small, and the section is roped off, so you have to stand quite a ways back from it, and hope your zoom works. Not to mention all the selfie addicts who have no qualms about shoving their way right in front of you.





Next, it was back to the Restaurant Le Saulnier for our dinner. We had chicken cordon bleu with salad and fried potato chunks with chocolate mousse for dessert. Our entrée was smothered in some kind of sauce, which we scraped off to make it edible. The mousse was heavenly. I could have eaten a huge bowl of that! The rest was ok, we just don’t care for any kind of sauces or gravy on our food. Others really seemed to enjoy it.

Afterwards, it was off for an evening cruise on the Seine river. The views were gorgeous. Unfortunately, a rude selfie addict stood up in front of us for the majority of the cruise. He would not take a hint no matter how many people were asking him to sit down so that other people could see. Is there a selfie anonymous organization to help these people??? If not, there certainly ought to be. Luckily, I was sitting by the side of the boat, and had told my son to sit behind me instead of beside me, so at least we had an unblocked view to the side. Couldn't look back though. You guessed it. More selfie addicts back there.



I loved some of the artwork on buildings.



My preconceived notions about the bridges were all wrong. I had always heard about the many bridges over the river, and had assumed, because of the way they were mentioned in stories, that they were pedestrian bridges where people went to enjoy the view. Wrong! All of them had more vehicles than people on them. This one had to be reinforced because of the weight of all the padlocks people had put on it as a symbol of their love. Interesting tradition. Too bad hubby’s lock had broken.



Every few “blocks” you would hear a different kind of music blaring, and see people eating and dancing along the river side.



Loved, loved, LOVED the cruise! Despite the selfie addicts. Today’s impression of Paris was much better, but I still wouldn’t want to live there. You can see that our day was jam packed full of activity, and we were ready for that ride back out to our peaceful hotel in the country for a good night’s sleep.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BUTEAFULL 7/10/2014 5:50PM

    I am jealous you got to see the Louvre, I've been to Paris twice and still didn't get to see it, I just watched a PBS video on the Mona Lisa, there were two done at the same time and one wasn't finished (she looks younger in it), and it has pillars and a different color in the background very interesting show they even did carbon dating and other tests to authenticate it.

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PMAY0313 7/10/2014 12:08PM

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DESERTDREAMERS 7/10/2014 7:51AM

    I am SO jealous and happy you had a rgeat time. Selfie addicts are idiots

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TRISTAROSE 7/10/2014 6:16AM

    What an awesome experience .... Thanks for sharing all your pics!

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ARTJAC 7/10/2014 1:00AM

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JANIEWWJD 7/10/2014 12:34AM

    Sounds like you had a pretty good time, minus the breakfast! LOL!

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LIS193 7/10/2014 12:14AM

    Thank you for sharing your trip! Love your blogs!

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DEE107 7/10/2014 12:06AM

    love the pics and sounds like a good time

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LIVINGFREE19 7/9/2014 10:03PM

    Love the pics, so awesome!

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HOLLYM48 7/9/2014 9:48PM

    thanks for the pics of Paris. I have been there twice and absolutely loved it and hope to get back again in the next 5 years. It is busy and a very different kind of life than what we are used to here in the US. I am glad you were able to get such great pics. The one of the Mona Lisa was fantastic, when we went I couldn't get close enough to take a good picture of it. The Louvre is overwhelming to the senses to say the least!

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2BDYNAMIC 7/9/2014 9:36PM

    Wow .............. I am jazzed!! And hope you don't mind ............ But as a 'grown adult' I too would have snuck out in the middle of the night .................. emoticon .. And yes--as one said ............ thanks for being such a great tour guide!!!

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KATELJM 7/9/2014 8:34PM

    Thanks, your travel essay brought back lots of memories! As I recall the outlying hotels are more reasonable in price and more modern in amenities. The only problem I ever encountered in Paris came from a fellow American, but I had a Frenchman who ran interference for me.

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SANDRALEET 7/9/2014 8:25PM

    The amount of food they eat is less Good food cooked and served Sauce is nice We eat to much fried or plain food Other food is a required taste

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KIWIANN 7/9/2014 8:20PM

    Wow - Jam packed is an understatement!! It is amazing how much you saw in the course of the day - bet it felt like two!! emoticon

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COCK-ROBIN 7/9/2014 8:14PM

    Wow, this is amazing! I wish I was there with you.

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NILLAPEPSI 7/9/2014 7:39PM

    The photos are amazing!! emoticon for bringing us along.

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OVERACTIVEELBOW 7/9/2014 6:47PM

    Hope you are having fun reliving your trip.
And thank you for sharing.
hugs, audra

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1CRAZYDOG 7/9/2014 6:36PM

    emoticon Never heard of ANYPLACE where they check the stalls before you can leave! YIKES!

Despite the cons, sounds like Paris was a good experience.

Thanks for sharing the pictures and "taking us along" on you tour of Paris!

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TINY67 7/9/2014 6:23PM

    Sounds like you had another great day.

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MARCIAC10 7/9/2014 6:22PM

    Paris really does have great pastries. You have to get away from the tour bus venues though. The sidewalk cafes are awesome. I enjoyed spending time at them, drinking cafe au lait and eating those fabulous pastries and watching the people walking by, many with their dogs. We stayed in a small French hotel near my son's apartment and had a great time, although the staff of our hotel spoke very limited English. We were very close to the Eiffel Tower, although I never went up in it. I hated getting near those tourist areas, as you'd be besieged by all those scam artists!

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CAT-IN-CJ 7/9/2014 5:41PM

    Sounds like Paris is living up to it's name and fame.

Thank you for being such a great tour guide!!!

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DR1939 7/9/2014 5:24PM

    Paris actually is quite safe even for teens. We usually stay near one of the universities and it is busy day and night. Our favorite area is near the Sorbonne at Boul Mich and Ste Germaine. Last time we had an apartment in the Marais and again felt very safe all the time. We seldom stay in a large hotel. I'm sure why you were in the outer arrondissements was the number of rooms you needed. In the old city centers most hotels are small.

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Day 5: On the Road Again

Monday, July 07, 2014

Time to move on to our next destination. I was very impressed with how clean London was. We saw very little graffiti, and when we did, it was impressive. Here is an example.



I had hoped we would take the Chunnel, but instead we drove under the English Channel through the Black Water tunnel. We were on our way to Dover to catch the ferry to Calais, France, where we would proceed to Paris by Coach. At first I was completely enamored with the castle.



But soon I was equally impressed with the white cliffs of Dover. The view from the ferry was breathtaking. I had never ridden on a ferry before, and was surprised at the size of it. There were around 100 coaches, and numerous cars below deck. There was plenty of room for everyone to roam the deck, entertain themselves in the arcade or casino, grab a bite to eat, or take a nap in one of the many lounges. We spent most of our time on the deck enjoying the view and watching kids feed the seagulls. Many of them had never seen gulls before and they were having a blast. It was amusing watching them try to get the seagulls in position so they could take a selfie with them.



A large portion of the day was spent in the coach. I tried to stay awake, but it was difficult. At one of the rest stops I bought what I would describe as chocolate covered waffles. Don’t know what they were called since no one was speaking English, and everything was written in French. They were quite tasty and very filling. I was still pretty full from breakfast, and these held me over until dinner.



We arrived in Paris in the evening. Our first impression was not good. It was not at all the romantic place I had seen depicted in the movies. Every place we visited in London was so clean. Our first sight of Paris was filthy at best. The traffic was insane, and that is probably an understatement. The streets are not laid out on grids. When we would come to an intersection, there were 4-6 choices of directions to turn, some of which required a wide u-turn. There were no lines on the streets, and in what I would think of as four lanes were crammed about 6 -10 vehicles facing various directions. Traffic was bumper to bumper, and when I looked down from the bus window, I couldn’t see the street because the cars were so close. Motorcycles and bicycles were weaving in and out of the cars as well as on and off sidewalks, and police officers were stopping and giving right-of-way to the motorcycles. It was mind boggling.

We were taken straight to the Restaurant Le Saulnier for our dinner. We were nervous getting off the coach, and wondered if there was a mistake, because it felt like we were in a ghetto. Trash and graffiti (not the pretty kind) were all over dingy walls. Trashy half torn off posters were hanging everywhere, and there were people begging and sleeping on the sidewalks. We hurried inside a restaurant which was being renovated on the outside. Inside was a pleasant and much needed surprise. The tables were set and waiting for us. The walls and ceilings were a beige/yellow. There were huge brightly colored paintings all around. The skylights were painted with vines and flowers. Quite beautiful.





Supper was “pretty” too. It was all arranged very pleasingly on the plates. It began with some kind of ham quiche. Not sure what else was in it. Next came turkey cutlets smothered in mushroom sauce served with rice, green beans, and French bread. Dessert was an apple tart. I scraped the sauce off of everything, and managed to eat enough of it to not be hungry. Nothing I would ever care to eat again though. Hubby wouldn’t eat any of it but the bread and a bit of the tart. I was at least willing to try everything. Our server did not speak English, but was very witty. He would tease us about not cleaning our plates, and pretend we weren’t going to get our dessert. It was fun communicating in a joking manner without speaking the same language.

After dinner we were off the Saphir Hotel, which was about 30 minutes out in the country. It was a sight for sore eyes.



Our room was nice and comfy, and we were ready to turn in for the night, but…Murphy decided to bring the law down on my hubby. (Possibly for his unkind remarks about the food. He’s a very finicky eater.) I had changed for bed, and he still could not get his suitcase open. Something had happened to the lock, and it would not open no matter what we did. I got dressed again and went looking for our one of city coordinators, who speak English, for help. I also wanted to escape the foul mood his frustration was bringing about. I found one in the lobby, and she translated to the guys at the desk what we needed. The boy she wanted was on break. She calls him her magician, because he seems to be able to fix whatever needs fixing. We had to wait a bit, but he popped in, and had me bring the suitcase down. I wanted it made clear I didn’t care about the lock, but not to break the suitcase. He took us to the kitchen, and managed to get that Samsonite combination lock off with a table knife, with no damage done to the suitcase at all. I was most impressed. That young man is indeed a magician.

Back to bed for a wonderful night’s sleep. Our bed was very comfy, and also very low to the ground. It was the first time ever that I could sit on the side and have my feet touch the ground.



Funny that our coordinators must have understood our 1st impression, even though we didn’t say anything, other than comment on the traffic. They kept reassuring everyone that tomorrow we would see the part of Paris that causes everyone to fall in love with it. At this point, it was hard to imagine.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

_CYNDY55_ 7/11/2014 11:50PM

    emoticon emoticon BLOG!!

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LIS193 7/10/2014 12:11AM

    What a great trip!

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HOLLYM48 7/9/2014 9:52PM

    That was an interesting first impression. I am glad it got better though.

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ARTJAC 7/9/2014 1:55AM

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KMICHA 7/8/2014 10:22PM

    Another great tour! Thanks for sharing!

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PMAY0313 7/8/2014 4:42PM

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GAYLE-G-63 7/8/2014 12:56PM

    Looking forward to hearing more...=)

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CAT-IN-CJ 7/8/2014 11:35AM

    Another day, another adventure! Can't wait to hear about Paris!

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SANDRALEET 7/8/2014 9:12AM

    You will love Paris to

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KIWIANN 7/8/2014 9:09AM

    Your travel blog is such an enjoyable read! Thanks so much for sharing your adventures with us homebodies :) What a let down to experience the ugly side of Paris after the beauty of London and Dover.... I am looking forward to hearing if Day 6 was an improvement!!

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OVERACTIVEELBOW 7/8/2014 9:08AM

    Sorry your first view/encounter with Paris was such a huge let-down. Your last few words give me hope that tomorrow is a BETTER day. I expect that even London has a part of town that they prefer tourists never see/experience. I expect that most cities and towns have those places, too.
Thanks for the sharing your trip.. Love your pictures and your narrative too.
emoticon Audra

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JAGRIF 7/8/2014 8:30AM

    Great pictures. Thanks for sharing. Glad you are having a good time.

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NILLAPEPSI 7/8/2014 4:05AM

    I am so enjoying your blogs!! emoticon for sharing your trip with us. Looking forward to finding out if you found the beautiful section of Paris.

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BMCOLLEY 7/8/2014 3:35AM

    Fantastic pictures and descriptions. Thanks for sharing.

Bettie

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BUTEAFULL 7/8/2014 1:48AM

    I feel I'm with you on the trip, great commentary

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DEE107 7/8/2014 12:18AM

    thank you so much for sharing

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LIVINGFREE19 7/7/2014 11:25PM

    The bed looks like it is on the floor!

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GINA180847 7/7/2014 11:24PM

    It must have hurt to leave clean England for yucky Paris. But I can hardly wait for the good part of Paris.

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EHLIFESSHORT 7/7/2014 10:58PM

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KATELJM 7/7/2014 10:34PM

    Years ago when I lived in Paris for a summer, my parents were passing through on a tour. I recommended that they take a taxi around Arc de Triomphe. A local looked at me and asked, "Do you not wish them to live much longer?"

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SLIMMERJESSE 7/7/2014 9:48PM

    I was in awe of the Dover white cliffs and kept thinking of the poem. Arrived in Belgium, but didn't stay due to moving on to Amsterdam next. Lovely photos.

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DESERTDREAMERS 7/7/2014 9:42PM

    I've been to Germany and Korea, but never The British Isles or France. Bucket list has Ireland ...

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DR1939 7/7/2014 9:25PM

    We have been all over the UK but have never seen the White Cliffs of Dover. It is on my wish list. We took a ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm a couple of years ago. It was an overnight trip. However, my favorite was from Algeciris, Spain, to Tangiers, Morocco. Not nearly as nice, but quite exotic. I love Paris, but you are correct, it is not as clean as London. The rest of France is a little cleaner.

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IDLETYME 7/7/2014 9:13PM

    Sounds like you are having a wonderful trip. Thanks for the pictures - great!
Enjoy!!! emoticon

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1CRAZYDOG 7/7/2014 9:02PM

    Aren't the White Cliffs of Dover gorgeous! I saw that too. Brief stay in Paris and not impressed either!

Glad that the magician got the lock on your hubby's luggage opened!

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TINY67 7/7/2014 8:55PM

    WOW! emoticon

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Day 4 Striking Up the Band

Sunday, July 06, 2014

By this point, my body is starting to adjust to the time difference, and I’m noticing a few more things, like the sun rises at 4:30 a.m. and sets at 11:00 p.m. No need for daylight savings time here. I was totally unprepared for this revelation. After another delicious breakfast buffet of fresh fruit, freshly baked breads, and fresh cheese, we were off for our 1st concert. That was, after all, the main purpose of this trip. We began the day at Wesley’s Chapel, which was breathtakingly gorgeous with all its stain glass windows. The string quartet and choir performed here. It was an entirely different experience hearing them perform in this setting. Most impressive.



Next, we boarded our coaches and proceeded to the Victoria Embankment along the Thames in central London. There we had another lovely “chef in a box” picnic. The park was filled with many business people enjoying their lunches outdoors as well. After lunch, the band set up in the bandstand and performed their first 90-minute outdoor concert. They drew quite an audience and enhanced many a lunch hour for sure. Afterwards, we packed the equipment on the coaches, then we had the rest of the afternoon and evening to explore London on our own (in small groups). So many sites to choose from, so little time.



We chose to begin our exploration with a river cruise on the Thames. It was divine. Our captain was entertaining, and did a great job of pointing out the sites, answering questions, and going slowly so that we could enjoy the view and snap what photos we wanted. I never realized what an epidemic of selfie addicts there are out there. What an eye-opener. I enjoyed the anecdotes about Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.



There was a great view, and more history about the Tower of London.



Bridges and architecture fascinated me.





After our cruise, we walked over to the London Dungeon, enjoying various street performers along the way.





While pricey, the dungeon experience was well worth it, and I would highly recommend it. Again, I was disappointed that photos were not allowed. The performers did an outstanding job, and never broke character. They covered many of London’s factual as well as fictional infamous characters. It was extremely interactive and entertaining as they involved the patrons in their performances. We were not expecting there to be rides involved, including one similar to a log flume, and one that reminded me of Disney’s Hotel of Terror, only a smaller version. Took us quite by surprise, which just added to the fun. The experience also lasted a lot longer than we expected. I thought it would take about 15-20 minutes, and it lasted around 90 minutes. That made the cost seem not quite so bad.

As we emerged from the dark, I felt something hit my chest. I immediately looked up, expecting a pigeon, but didn’t see anything. After a couple of steps, I felt something sharp poking me. I looked down, and discovered that the nose pad had broken off my glasses. It was quite jagged, and poking my nose as well. Luckily, I had prepared for boo-boos (like all good mommies) and had a Band-Aid in my pocket, which I used to rig my glasses so that I could see without cutting my nose. No idea what caused it to break, but a small annoyance like that was not going to ruin my good time.

By this time, we were ready to just soak in the scenery, and find a place to eat dinner. Somehow I just couldn’t convince the boys that they wanted to experience High Tea. Go figure. We took off walking in the general direction of our hotel and checked out all the sidewalk café’s we could find. We finally agreed upon a Pizza Express. That may not sound adventurous, but believe me, those pizzas did not look anything like the ones I’ve had in the states. They were very tasty, and a good choice for the experience. Nothing about them tasted like any other pizza I’ve ever had. The meat was a bit too much for me, so I picked it off and gave it to the boys. I like cheese pizza, which was not an option on the menu, so that worked out well for us since the boys like more meat. Since the soda cost less that the water, we went that route. Also an experience. Although the names were the same, Coke and Fanta, the taste was not. The flavors were much more intense. I don’t know how else to describe it.

After our late supper, we continued to stroll leisurely to our hotel, enjoying the sights and sounds of the city. I was still enamored with all the window boxes full of flowers. We took an extra-long time walking around St. Paul’s Cathedral to enjoy is fully from all sides one last time. It was our last evening in London, and we intended to savor every moment. I, personally, can’t wait to go back again.



I know I’ve left things out that we did, like visit Harry Potter sites like King’s Cross station and Charing Cross Road. Hard to include it all. I took over 2000 photos, so I have to pick and choose on those too. Next trip, I plan to attend a High Tea, and visit Kensington Palace and Park to see the statue of Peter Pan. We only had so much time, so there was no way to see it all.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IDLETYME 7/7/2014 9:15PM

    Your blogs are great - just like being there with you! emoticon

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MARCIAC10 7/7/2014 7:14PM

    I do remember on our visit to Germany the first time how odd it was for the sun to set so late!! They are so much further north and it threw off my body clock which was already jet lagged. And the early morning sunrise didn't help either. Memories...

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1CRAZYDOG 7/7/2014 4:08PM

    The bridges and towers are awesome!


Sorry that the eye glasses had a problem, but glad YOU didn't!

What a wonderful trip! I was always left with the desire to go back, too, which I did. Years ago, though!

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GINA180847 7/7/2014 3:10PM

    Thanks a lot, now I don't think I can live without experiencing some of the things you mention here. Hmmmm! Maybe I can lay aside so much per month to make it come true. All kidding aside, wow. You do such a good job of describing and awakening a desire for a trip to England it is quite fantastic.

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PMAY0313 7/7/2014 12:40PM

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TINY67 7/7/2014 12:32PM

    Good update and those pizzas sound great.

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GAYLE-G-63 7/7/2014 12:20PM

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LIS193 7/7/2014 12:10PM

    Sounds like you had a wonderful trip!
emoticon

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CAT-IN-CJ 7/7/2014 11:10AM

    How exciting! Thank you so much for sharing your trip with us!!!!!
And 2000 picture?! Well, you'll find that's the best souvenir you can bring home!
You have the rest of your life to relive the experience by looking at the pictures.

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SANDRALEET 7/7/2014 9:47AM

    So much beauty in all country's

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KIWIANN 7/7/2014 9:12AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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GINNABOOTS 7/7/2014 8:56AM

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TWEETYKC00 7/7/2014 8:39AM

    Wow, really cool!

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KMICHA 7/7/2014 7:45AM

    I sure am enjoying the tour !

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OVERACTIVEELBOW 7/7/2014 7:40AM

    So glad you are sharing your trip... I look forward with great anticipation to your next day blog (every day !!!).
emoticon Audra

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TRISTAROSE 7/7/2014 6:21AM

    emoticon What a wonderful experience!

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NILLAPEPSI 7/7/2014 4:19AM

    So glad you had a great time. That stained glass is amazing!! How beautiful!!

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ARTJAC 7/7/2014 1:52AM

    emoticon SO PLEASED YOU ENJOYED YOU VISIT TO ENGLAND

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DR1939 7/7/2014 1:46AM

    There's always something to see in London. Glad you enjoyed it.

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BUTEAFULL 7/7/2014 12:31AM

    it all sounds so wonderful

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DEE107 7/7/2014 12:23AM

    thank you for sharing great pictures

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JANIEWWJD 7/7/2014 12:09AM

    The pictures were fantastic!!! I love stained-glass windows!!!
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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LIVINGFREE19 7/6/2014 11:45PM

    I love the pics! It is so fun to see another country!

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SLIMMERJESSE 7/6/2014 11:30PM

    I felt like I was walking through a history book throughout Europe. The cathedrals and castles were amazing. I fell in love with the little towns and villages; I'd love to live there.

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EHLIFESSHORT 7/6/2014 11:07PM

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