Paris - Day 2 - Eiffel Tower, Good Grub, & Cruise!

Trip Start Jun 25, 2008
Trip End Sep 01, 2008

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A relaxing morning. Everybody slept really well ... just not quite enough. This apartment is a comfortable and quite place, close to everything. We LOVE it!

I take a quick trip to the boulangerrie for some morning treats while the family relaxes at the house. By the time we get the house organized, pack our picnic backpack, get dressed, etc ... its about 11am. Out the door we go skipping along like a bunch of nerds. But we are happy. : )

The metro/bus/train stations are SUPER easy to navigate here. So much nicer and cleaner than some of the other big cities we've stayed in. With no problems whatsoever, we arrive at our destination ... about a five minute stroll along the Siene to ... the Eiffel Tower!

We arrive to find that the place is PACKED with people. Lines for tickets, lines for the bathroom, ... people everywhere. And roaming to and fro, there are vendors selling Eiffel Tower junk stuff. Little toys, keychains, etc. But these aren't just salespeople. There was a definite creepy vibe about them, ... and so as I stood in line with my don't-talk-to-me-or-you-will-die look on my face, I did my best to scope out the situation. Within five minutes, I saw the deal. A young boy walked up to a man asking the price for an item. He turned instantly, and went toward the mom (who had two other small children with her) and began discussing prices with her. Soon after three other men came, one alongside the first vendor, and the other behind the woman she was surrounded (yet still in line and amongst a bunch of other tourists). Then, I saw a fourth man, taller than the rest come over ... keeping his distance, eyeing the crowd and the horizon. He was the lookout. He spoke to the other three in short, mono-syllabic grunts and one of them responded. The second vendor who had appeared then pulled out a large drape/rug sort of thing, as if the woman asked to see it and opened it up real big ... creating a perfect blind for a whole section of the area. Now, anybody on my side of the deal couldn't see what was going on. ... Suddenly, the lookout guy grunted something, and on a dime, the other three "vendors" stopped their negotiation and spread out again. ... I tried to see what the lookout saw that prompted him to call off the pickpocketing/thievery ... but I couldn't see anything out of the ordinary. No cops or military nearby that I saw. ... Anyhow, these guys were well organized and I kept a tighter grasp on my bag after that.

Took a little over an hour to get our tickets and get started on our climb. Oh, and yet another example of the ultra-nice French people. I accidentally stood in a looonnnnnggg line for tickets, only to find out last minute that it was the wrong line. This line would only allow us to access the elevators, not what we wanted to do. I asked an employee for help, absolutely expecting their answer to be that we'd have to wait in line again, ... but instead, the guy made a special phone call and connected me to the front of the line in the right place. All with a big smile. Awesome! ... The rumor of the rude Frenchman is dead in my mind.

We finally begin our climb. A good challenge with a backpack full of picnic stuffs and two small kids. I get a nice workout burn in my legs carrying Sam and Ella at various times to help them along. And then we arrive. Its a gorgeous view from both the first and second level. Perfect weather today ... not too windy, a few clouds in the sky to keep it cool. But really, the view isn't what you come for. Just SEEING the Eiffel Tower is the memorable thing. To be at its base, to see its architecture, and ornate designs ... to eat lunch in the park. A wonderful and relaxing experience.

The birds here are the bravest I've ever seen. As we ate lunch, Samuel tossed a small bit of crumbs to some really cute little birds nearby. Soon, there were six of them. A few more crumbs, and the six small birds blossomed in to six pigeons and six small birds. And when Ella joined in, ...a big ol' crow appeared. A literal pecking order appeared right before our eyes! The little guys would scurry about trying to get to the food first, ... but if a pigeon came near, they knew well enough to get out of the way, ... but the best and largest pieces all went to the crow, who towered above the other birds with his long, sharp beak. Soon, they were getting super aggressive and we let the kids loose on them. Sam and Ella went running along scaring them away.

Poor little Ella. She had a great opportunity to tell me the truth today about something small, but she decided to lie again. Breaks my heart so deeply! She had become really excited about getting ice cream and said, "Iiiii get Ice Cream! .... Brother doesn't get any!". ... We've been trying to teach the kids not to compare with one another, so I ask her, "Ella, what did you just say?". She repeated, "Iiiii get Ice Cream!" .... and thats it. "Ella, you said something else. What was it?" .... "Nothing." .... "Ella, tell me the truth please." .... "For real, all I said was Iiiii get Ice Cream. Thats all." ... We all heard what she said, and the guilty lying face was obvious. .... "Ella, I heard exactly what you said. And I'm disappointed that you lied. And so now you won't get ice cream." ... Later, I walked with her and reviewed the situation and reminded her that all she needed to do was to tell me the truth and that she would get ice cream. In fact, I told her that I was really hopeful that she was going to tell the truth and I was going to celebrate and get her a BIG ice cream. I asked her why ... and she was being genuine and sincere with me and remorseful. I asked her if she was scared (because all lying is from fear, isn't it?), and she said yeah. She said was scared because she compared to brother and didn't want to get in trouble. Still, no ice cream. But I think if I keep giving her opportunities, she will come around.

Back to the Metro, back home. I take Ella for a nap (she fights it, but my magic back rub gets her to sleep!), ... and the rest of the crew goes for some awesome looking ice cream down the road (turns out it IS awesome, and super close to the house). When everybody gets home, we ALL go for a nap.

And around 6pm, we head out again to experience a local favorite. Fast food, French style. L'Entrecote. This place has one thing on the menu. Seriously. ONE THING. You sit down, and they come up straight away asking what cooking preference you prefer: rare, medium, or well. And then, a small green salad. Then the main course: steak frites with a homemade sauce that, with a healthy scoop of spicy mustard, becomes AMAZING and addictive. The serving is a bit small, so although I'm loving the food, I'm bummed that there isn't quite enough. But ten minutes later, our waitress returns and RE-SERVES the plate a second helping. I can't tell you how happy I was at this moment. Pure bliss. ... And I think my palette has matured a bit on this trip. For the first time in my life, I felt like I actually WANTED a glass of red wine. So, we ordered one up. A perfect meal! In and out of there within 45 minutes, and we ate early enough to avoid the lines.

And then, on to our final destination for the evening, ... Mimi wants to do a river cruise. We had originally thought to pass on the experience, but I'm so glad we listened to Mimi! A short walk to the Seine just as the sun begins to set creates a magical glow to the horizon. The bridges and walkways begin to fill with people enjoying picnics and wine with friends. Its a relaxing, laid back environment. Wonderful. My research online find us a deeply discounted, pre-purchased ticket packet for the boat (saved nearly 20 euros!), and we enjoy a wonderful one hour cruise that starts at 9pm. Its a perfect trip.

Tons of historic buildings. And twenty minutes in to the trip, the experience turns from a dusk/sunset cruise to a full on nighttime experience. So we get the best of both worlds. We see a bit of Paris during the day, and also get to experience its wonderful lights! ... The Eiffel Tower stole the show of course (especially when it went all twinkly on the hour), but several other beautifully lit structures along the course as well.

This trip has been great to help me discover two ways in which to bond with my little girl Ella. One: skipping. Two: photography. She LOVES to take pictures. So, for the first thirty minutes of the cruise, I let her take all the pictures she wants. She sits on my lap and we laugh and take photos non-stop. "Look Daddy! .... Oh, yes, I got it!" .... "Ella, look ... a bridge is coming." ... "ooooh, I better get it! Got it!" She is so precious to me.

As we return to dock, the kids start loosing their minds. They are just like Janice and I when we get silly. They get CRAZY. Its like they are drunk and on speed at the same time. They are so stinking hilarious. I caught a little of it on video with Sam doing a Fulton-and-Marconi-esque Asher repeating thing that was sooooo funny, especially when in the middle of it, he yelled, "Blog this!". ... And a bit of Ella and momma playing CHICKEN with their faces. Hehhehe...

Oh, one small note on Samuel and his wiggly fingers. Its so hilarious. We've taught them the hand smacking games (see the video), and whenever he wins ... he does the most hilarious victory celebration cheer with his hands. Makes me smile just thinking about it. I love to see the competitive side of my son. : )

Having my mom here is awesome. We were shocked to find out that in all her travels, this is her first trip to Paris! ... Our apartment fits us all perfectly, and its provided an excellent help for Janice and I as our batteries are drained at the end of this long trip. Yesterday, when we got out and ran ... or having Mimi help them get dressed or eat ... little things, but they are making a huge difference. And the kids love seeing a familiar face, somebody different than just our little family.

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nicoleisjealous on

'I asked an employee for help, absolutely expecting their answer to be that we'd have to wait in line again, ... but instead, the guy made a special phone call and connected me to the front of the line in the right place. All with a big smile. Awesome! ... The rumor of the rude Frenchman is dead in my mind.'

I love hearing stories like this!

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