Paris - Day 4 - Tourist Stops
Trip Start Jun 25, 2008
77Trip End Sep 01, 2008
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This morning we hung out and played at the apartment, while the laundry was going; we hung it on the rack to dry. Then we headed to le Parc Montsouris, a huge park right above the Catacombs;it has a few great playgrounds, pony rides,a puppet theatre and a lake. To my surprise and delight, my sweet,smart,creative grandchildren wanted to paint instead of even playing for a little bit.
Sam & Ella had a blast mixing their own colors and learning how to let the paint do what it wanted to do. While we were mixing colors,Samuel asked if I know who the best painter in the world is. I wasn't quite sure so he cleared it up for me - it's Jose DeGregorio and Jose painted a picture of Sam and his family. I have seen this beautiful painting and I have to agree with Samuel:Jose is the best painter in the world
As we neared our rue,we spotted McD's and skipped all the way home. Well, until we saw Mommy and Daddy walking toward us with unhappy faces. They had waited nearly two hours for us - we were late to go to le Musee de Le Louvre. Seems we hadn't asked "Quelle heur est il , sil vous plait?" enough. Oh la la...
Asher back ...
A solid night's sleep for me. But poor Janice. She wakes up feeling dizzy and nauseous. Something didn't sit well on her stomach last night. She's not sure she will even be able to make it back to the apartment, its that bad. But by the time the 11am checkout rolls around, she is feeling a tad better and we make our way back towards the apartment. On the way, we pick up some fresh bread for toast, the only thing that sounds good for Janice's stomach ... I'm obligated to pick up an almond croissant of course.
We are surprised to find the apartment empty when we get home. The plan was to meet at noon to head out and do some sight seeing ... but no word from Mimi. Two hours later, Janice and I give up and decide to head out on our own ... but as we leave, we see Mimi and the kids heading our way
Unfortunately for all of us, I end up being quite a bummer to be around pretty much the whole rest of the day. There are a few bright spots, but not many until the evening time. Not at all because of the mistake in our coordination, more just a vague feeling of depression that I can't seem to shake. I think that possibly my tanks are finally on empty after all this crazy travelling and I need some down time. Whatever the cause, ... the reality is that I'm pretty much a jerk to be around when I'm down like today. Sucks for everybody. I apologize a couple of times to my mom, and Janice, and the kids ... but one more can't hurt: SORRY!
So, now that we are all together, we decide to go back to the apartment to make new plans for the day. Samuel is EXHAUSTED and is crying ... saying he doesn't want to go anywhere else. Even bribe offering of ice cream and toys don't work. Hm. Ella is saying she wants to chill at the apartment also. And Janice isn't feeling up to par still. ... So, we decided it would be best for my mom and I to go to the Louvre to explore for a couple of hours and then Janice and the kids will meet up with us around 7pm. As my mom and I head out the door, Ella changes her mind and now wants to come with ..
We've heard about the problem of pick-pocketing and thieves in the densely populated Metro stops near the tourist areas of Paris. Today, my first sighting of a Metro thief in action. My mom and I board the Metro. The next stop, two or three people get in, filling the car. No seats left. Its crowded, but not uncomfortable. We aren't shoulder to shoulder. ... The next stop, the door opens, ... no change. No new passengers, nobody leaves. Then, the warning bell sounds. Beeeeeeeeeeep.... , and at the last possible second, a tall black man wearing a windbreaker and a baseball cap lunges in to the car. He looks as though he half trips as he barrels in to the two passengers who had boarded on the previous stop. His hands grab the poles just near the young woman's waist and the other hand above her head. He stands unnecessarily close to her. She grabs her purse tightly and looks away. She isn't oblivious. He remains close to her and I wonder if maybe I'm imagining that he is a thief. Maybe he's just clumsy and socially awkward. But his darting eyes still leave me suspicious. I tell my mom to be careful with her purse as we exit the train and tell her to watch the tall guy. We exit without problem ... but I glance behind and see him exit at the same time. "Great," I think to myself. My adrenaline is pumping now. I'm ready for a fight. But just as the Beeeeeeeep sounds to warn of the closing doors, I see the man repeat the same tactic I witnessed just two stops ago. He's spotted the even more crowded car behind ours ... this one full of young women tourists and he splashes in to the group, not too unlike a mosh pit sort of deal. ... We are safe. But the other tourists? Maybe they will find a missing camera or wallet this afternoon.
The Louvre is like several of the large landmarks we've seen on our trip so far: experiencing it in person is completely different than any impression a photo can create. Not just beautiful. Not just huge. Not just ancient. Its all three and more. I tried to take a video to capture the feeling, but watching it later, I realized how much the clip misses the mark. ... And then we descended in to the heart of the museum. Lots of people, but not crowded. Its such a HUGE place, I can't imagine feeling crowded. So many pieces of art. Statues, paintings, carvings. Its crazy. ... If I had to use one word to describe it: OVERWHELMING. We only have a couple of hours, so we make the mandatory pilgrimage to the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo before heading back up to find an early dinner. The size of some of the masterpieces are a surprise to me. Huge walls with paintings twenty and thirty feet high and equally long. Ella enjoys looking at the art and likes the large paintings the best. Its neat to see that Mimi's painting time with her has increased her affinity towards art.
The goal when we looked for a place to eat was to find a place away from the main entrance to try to get a better deal. The name of our choice, Hotel de Louvre, tells you everything you need to know: we failed. Hehe... luckily, the food was great! My mom, a lover of foie gras, finally gets a chance to eat some. And I'm feeling a little more brave, so I order a plate of Beef Tartar with fries. I'm happy to report that it was excellent! The portion was just slightly more than I wanted to eat, ... but I think that I'd order it again at a nice restaurant.
Back to the Louvre to meet up with the rest of the fam
Back outside the Louvre, we decide to try to track down a famous Parisian restaurant that has made a name for itself by serving up world-class hot chocolate. We find the place, ... but sadly, its closed. DOH! We decide to take a LONG walk through the parks outside the Louvre towards Champs-Elysee. On the way, little Ella zonks out completely while in the stroller. She is OUT COLD for the next three hours as we walk and window shop.
Sam has been patiently waiting for hot chocolate or ice cream since we found Angelina's closed, so we find a little cafe and stop in for some snacks, Mimi's treat! Sam and I share an order of Goose Rillettes, Janice goes All-American with a cheeseburger, and Mimi ordered a pear-ice-cream thing and Sam gets a banana split (which we all take a couple of bites out of). My mood improves a bit so that I'm at least tolerable. ... An hour or so later, its totally dark outside and we walk to the Arc de Triumph. We've heard the views from the top at night are great.
Turns out, the views from the top are GREAT. They weren't lying. The Arc itself is a fabulous structure of course, and then with Champs-Elysee lit up with cars and shops, and in the distance the Eiffel Tower and then all the various sights like the Notre Dame ... breathtaking.
Ella wakes up just as the Eiffel Tower lights up on the hour. I hold her in my arms with the crisp cold air around us. She cuddles so closely to me, desperate to keep warm. I'm in heaven.
Back down the Arc de Triumph and on to the Metro back to the apartment. Janice and I drop off the fam, and then split for another Metro ride towards the Moulan Rouge. You can't go to Paris without at least seeing the place, right? ... From what I've read, the region its in is Pigalle, the red-light district of Paris. ... And they weren't joking. Its your typical grimy sex shop row, complete with drug dealers, junkie prostitutes on the streets, and dangerous looking characters on every corner. Two blocks away from the Metro, we see the Moulan Rouge ... and immediately head back to the Metro. Not only does the last train leave in thirty minutes, but this doesn't seem like the safest place in the world. And we stick out like a sore thumb.
Back home, safe and sound. Janice's stomach is feeling better. Time for sleeeeep.