Paris, France

The Eiffel Tower, obviously

May 24, 2007–On Thursday, our luck had run out!  We misread the train time for the train to the castle Mt. Saint Michel, and missed the only train of the day.  So, we hopped a train to the next town…no luck there either.   And, this time, there were no “fairy American couples” offering free rides across rural France!  So, we decided to cut our losses and take an earlier train to Paris.  We caught the train with no problems, and we thought our bad luck was over…not so!  When we were changing trains, Matt’s luggage got caught in one of the gates, and when he pulled on it, the handle for the roller broke into about 70 pieces!   It was AWFUL!  Poor Dover had to carry his suitcase across his shoulder for the next 30 minutes!   Nonetheless, we found the hotel with no trouble and were very pleased with the room and the hotel location.  We all took a quick nap, and when we woke up, we headed for some food.   After that, it was off to the streets of Paris for a walk, and what a walk it was!  We walked along the river Seine and saw the lights of the Louvre, Notre Dame, and the Eiffel Tower.  It was breathtaking to think that I was actually there.  I mean, I had seen it on television a million times, but it is TOTALLY different seeing it in real life!   Well, we looked at watches and realized that we had been walking for over 3 hours and that it was 2am!   Needless to say, we took a cab back to the hotel!

Inside Pei’s Pyramid at the Louvre

May 25, 2007–Today, Matt left for the Netherlands (He has been to Europe twice before, and he wanted to visit some areas that he hasn’t seen before.  He is going to join us again when we reach John Harris’ Vienna).  As for Dad and I, we hit the “touristing” with a vengeance!  Our first stop was the Louvre.   Ok, someone could have told me that the Louvre was HUGE!  It was overwhelming, but fun at the same time.  I am an engineer; so, naturally art is not my passion.  But, it was cool to see so many famous pieces.  After our time with the Venus de Milo, Mona Lisa, and many others, it was off for walk down the Champs-Élysées.   Now, THAT was a street!  Beginning with the Obelisk and ending with the Arch de Triumphe, Dad and I walked the entire thing and noticed that there were purses and watches that were worth more than my college education!

Arch de Tiomphe

That being said, the Arch was by far my favorite part.  I literally walked where so many famous and influential people walked…Napoleon and his army, Hitler and his army, the French and American Armies after WWII, JFK and Jacqueline Kennedy, and the list goes on!   How cool is that!  After the Arch, it was of course off to the Eiffel Tower where Dad and I struggled greatly with our fear of heights!  While standing in line for the elevator, we had plenty of time to “appreciate” just how big the Eiffel Tower really is.  If you have never been to Paris , take my word for it; it is TALLLLLL!  We got on the elevator and struggled as we rode higher and higher.  We got off on the first level, crept out of the elevator, and slowly made our way to the edge.   After about 5 minutes, we became somewhat at ease with the height, and after another 5 minutes of challenging our manliness, we found ourselves on the elevator to the top!   Again, we crept off the elevator and realized immediately that we were over 1000ft off of the ground!  I don’t know how tall it looked on the ground, but it definitely looked taller at the top!   As we became accustomed, we again ventured towards the edges and enjoyed one of the most breathtaking views that any human can imagine!  It was certainly worth conquering our fear of heights!   After that full day, it was dinner and quickly to bed!

Hall of Mirrors at Versailles…Where the Treaty of Versailles was signed to end WW1

May 26, 2007–So, Louis IV…what a SHOW OFF, but Versailles was pretty amazing! It is absolutely unreal to think about one person and his/her family demanding something so extremely extravagant! On top of that, Marie Antoinette demanded her own separate castle that was about a mile away from the main castle. We, of course, toured that, as well. It was a pretty neat day.

May 27, 2007–It was a pretty rainy day in Paris. Luckily, we had been hitting the “touristing” pretty hard, and we had only one more big thing to see in Paris…Notre’ Dame. We hopped a subway under the Seine, and walked over to the immense cathedral. It was quite extravagant and definitely worth the walk in the rain…plus there were tons of little tourist booths over there, and we got some great deals on some t-shirts….hey, first time in Europe, I have to have some t-shirts, people!

ANYWAY, after seeing Notre Dame, we decided it was time to wash some cloths. Not to be gross, but I was down to the LAST pair of boxers, and I am not one of those guys that can simply “turn them wrong-side-out and go about my business.” We ended up dragging my suitcase to this little laundry mat relatively close to the hotel, and it ended up being quite the cultural experience. First of all, I have not been to a laundry mat since my freshman year in the dorm, and needless to say, I was a little rusty…PLUS, all the directions were in French. These two ladies must have felt sorry for the poor little Americans and helped us out, or we might have been there all day. Once, we got it started, we were getting a little cocky until we almost stole this one guy’s dryer. Needless to say, that made two days in a row that I was cursed in French, but the clothes did get clean and dry in the long run! 🙂