Travelling Back in Time #2: Paris, London, Amsterdam

My look back at past travels continues with our 2006 trip toEurope.

On this trip we visited Paris for the first time, followed by repeat visits to London and Amsterdam. Here’s my first entry from Paris, September 1, 2006.

Bonjour!

I am writing this from our beautiful little Paris apartment, conveniently situated on the Rue St. Honore just steps from the Musee Louvre and Les Halles market. It’s 7amParis time on Saturday, and I’ve been awake for over two hours. Vive le jet lag! I’ve got my cup of french press coffee and greek yogurt to fuel my typing, so I’ll just get on with what has happened so far.

Getting There Is None of the Fun

Our taxi picked us up at our home at 10:00am and whisked us to PDX without incident. Although our flight wasn’t scheduled to depart until 1:30pm, we wanted to get there early to get a good choice of seats and to avoid any hassles with increased security measures. As it turned out, the Lufthansa check-in line was short and security was a breeze, so we had time to enjoy a pint of ale at the Portland Brewing pub (which, we found out, is going to be replaced shortly by a Pizzacato – so sad) followed by a leisurely lunch at Stanfords (M – meatloaf, me – Southwestern Chopped Salad). Bellies happy, we checked out the new passageway connecting the two sides of PDX and M snapped this photo of me looking out at our jet in anticipation.

OMGPARIS!

We got to our gate in plenty of time, where I called my mom to say goodbye. Boarding was delayed and we were at least half an hour late leaving PDX, which made us nervous since we had a very tight connection in Frankfurt. The almost 10-hour flight was uneventful, and consisted primarily of reading, listening to iPODs, and trying unsuccessfully to sleep.

As we got closer to Frankfurt, we realized that we were more than likely going to miss our connection to Charles De Gaulle. The flight attendant told us that the next flight to Paris was three hours after our arrival. Not wanting to sit around Frankfurt International for three hours, we made a valiant attempt to make our connection – literally sprinting across the airport – up elevators, down elevators, through passport control, through security – to no avail. We arrived, breathless and sweaty, at the gate just minutes after our flight had left. We had no choice but to hope that seats were available on the noon flight to Paris.

Fortunately, we were able to get on the next flight but now we had three hours to kill. It took us a lot of wandering around, but we located shower facilities and for six euros each, were able to remove the “smell de airplane” from our bodies. We then found a Starbucks and a little cafeteria where M had some lasagne and I, more tired than hungry, managed to eat a fresh fruit cup.

Our connection was again delayed but we eventually took off for the 50 minute flight to Paris. Seated next to me was a cerebral-looking young man who struck up a conversation with us, even though I was not in the mood to talk to anyone. I noticed he was alternating between reading something in Latin and the newspaper, Le Monde, in French.

Turns out he was German, probably no more than 20 years old. He was very excited to talk about his stint in the German army, and the fact that he was studying medieval literature at University. He was nice enough, but had some strange mannerisms and I could barely contain myself from laughing. I was seated next to the German version of Gareth Keenan!

We landed (roughly) in Paris, made our way down to baggage claim and waited for our bags for what seemed like hours. Our bags finally appeared, and off we went in a taxi to our apartment. After scoping out the view and doing some minor settling in, we walked a couple blocks to the Franprix grocery store to buy some essentials – ham, bacon, cheese, greek yogurt, Pepsi, coffee, fruit, and a slice of apple tart for moi. 🙂 As we walked the short distance to and from the store, we had to keep pinching ourselves – we were in Paris! Although we were both dying to explore our neighborhood, we were approaching 24 hours with no sleep and so we crashed for about three hours.

At 7:15pm, M woke me up from my nap and I felt like I was going to die. All I wanted to do was sleep. But I knew I had to try and stay up as late as possible so I reluctantly got dressed, had some cheese and fruit, and departed for what turned out to be a very long evening.

We had a quick bite at a little cafe called Le Thermidor – I still wasn’t feeling very well and so I ordered a very light supper of french onion soup, while M had a croque monsieur. It wasn’t the best meal in Paris, but it was tasty enough and satisfying.

Falling in Love With Paris

After our meal we walked across the street to Musee du Louvre and made our way to the courtyard with the fountains and Pei’s famous glass pyramid. It was absolutely breathtaking – not something I can sufficiently convey in words, so I’ll just let some of Michael’s incredible photographs speak for me.

Pei's famous pyramid at the Louvre.

We then headed towards the nearby Musee d’Orsay, where we figured we would be able to take the Metro to the Eiffel Tower. But for some reason, we just couldn’t seem to figure out where we needed to go so we walked around a little more and then hailed a taxi and asked him to take us to Trocadero – just across the Seine from the Tower. The Troc was bustling and full of people from all over the world – I stopped for a crepe and Michael took some more photos.

We then made our way over to the Eiffel Tower and took the lift to the second level, where the best views are to be had. We must have stayed up there for an hour – Michael taking lots of incredible pictures and me just enjoying the beautiful city of Paris. I only wish I had been more awake to appreciate everything I was seeing, but the weather was perfect and it was good that we nabbed the opportunity to view Paris that way on our first night.

As seen from the Eiffel Tower.

Exhausted, we took a taxi back to our apartment and collapsed around 12:30am, eagerly anticipating our first full day in The City of Light.

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