On to Paris and home again

Trip Start Mar 30, 2008
Trip End Apr 09, 2008

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

We arrived in Paris on Monday and I went off site seeing on my own. The guys had already seen enough and wanted to rest. I walked up to the Arc d'Triomph. There seemed to be something happening at the Arc; there were soldiers and a marching band getting organized for something and they had fenced off the front and shooed us out from the center. It started raining and since I couldn't stand under the arc I proceeded to get soaked. Another tourist, an asian lady, welcomed me under her umbrella for a time. I held my map over my camera and waited for something to happen. I thought it might be the Olympic torch, but it turned out to be a Veterans' Memorial. The torch had passed by my hotel earlier that day.
My hotel room was on the first floor and if I went out onto the deck I could see the eiffel tower. There was a crane in the foreground, messing up my pictures.
That evening we hooked up with our customer and customer engineer and went to a fancy restaurant. I had filet de boeuf. It was good, but not as good as our Black Angus! The desserts are amazing in Paris though! I had a tart this time. We had walked to the restaurant and coming back we caught the tower blinking. It is lit up at night and the first ten minutes of every hour of darkness it blinks.
Meetings ran until about 3pm the next day and left the rest of the day for site seeing. The customer engineer, Brandon, and I were the newbies to Paris, so we went off by ourselves. We rode the subway to Notre Dame and on to the Louvre. Both were spectacular. We just missed the climb up Notre Dame. The people in front of us got through and then they closed the gate (thank God!!). After climbing the cathedral in Prague, I'm not sure I could handle this. There were some young men doing a mime show in front of Notre Dame. The police came and stopped them. We went inside. It was kinda dark and I didn't use flash, but the pics aren't bad. Then we walked around it and back to the subway to the Louvre.
I got a pic of skate boarders for my grandson, Austin. These are the first skaters I've seen in Europe. Austin is very much into skate boarding. Inside the Louvre I got maybe one pic before my camera died! Dang, I hope Brandon shares his pics with me!!
There was a gala going on under the pyramid; red carpet out to the road, black tie affair. The Louvre is HUGE. I imagine it would take a week to see it all. Of course it was closed on Tuesday. Brandon will get to go back on Wednesday, but I'll be heading home. One thing I noticed at the Louvre was the Lady Liberty on one of the buildings. I didn't realize she was taken from this sculpture, or any sculpture. I guess I thought she was original. Of course I haven't been able to verify this, but there's no doubt in my mind. I would post a picture but, ARRG, no camera!!!
From the Louvre we had planned on catching another train, but there was always something in view to go see. So we ended up walking back. There was the huge park up to L'obélisque. http://www.pbase.com/ericdeparis/image/71205031
I was amazed at how much French I could read. I only took three years in junior high. But I was able to make out most signs, menus, etc.. So I could pretty much decipher what was written on monuments and tell Brandon. I think he took Spanish in school. Anyway, the, I mean L'obélisque was brought over from Egypt on a ship. It's covered with runes.
After L'obélisque Brandon got shots of the Arc, which is straight up L'Avenue de Champs Elysées from L'obélisque. Then we headed toward the tower and our hotel. We passed the Petit Palais and the Grand Palais and then crossed the Seine to find a restaurant. We scored in the food department, at L'Arcade. We had their salmon special and I had some Creme Broullet for dessert. One thing about dining in Paris, it's all about the wine. The only beer you can get is Heinekin. Brandon and I aren't into wine, although I told him he better learn to like it as it's a very important part of his new job. Oh yeah, Brandon and I are both fairly new to our jobs, and travel. This is Brandon's second trip; first on his own. It turns out we graduated from UW together and found we had a lot to talk about. Dinner was nice and we succeeded in finding our way home.
Wednesday Ron and I shared a taxi to Charles De Gaul. I would fly home alone on BA, but at least I had first class from London. I ran into a retired customer engineer in the London lounge, so I didn't have to feel totally alone. And we were able to pass the time with good conversation.
It's good to be home!!

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