We had a leisurely ride on the train. We went through Greenwich Mean Time which was really quite nice and the Chunnel which was surprisingly short. We arrived in Paris at 5:30 and after our awful experience with luggage on the tube we took a cab to our hotel. After checking in and freshening up we ventured down to the "Place de la Concorde" As we came up from the metro we turned and saw the oblusque, the fountains the "L'arc de Triomphe" and the sparkling "Tour Eiffel." It was beautiful. We walked around for a while and stopped for dinner in a little café in the Tuilleries Jardin. We must have been looking particularly Americain because we were gouged. I had Soupe de l"oinion and Jimmy had a Jambon et Fromage Omelette it came out to 40 euros. We made it back to the hotel just as it started to rain. We are looking forward to a full day tomorrow and a fabulous dinner and show for our anniversary. Au Revoir.
This morning we strolled down the Champs Elysee and saw L'arc de Triomphe and a bunch of Japanese tourists. Next we continued our tour of the Tuilleries Jardin and the Louvre. The Musee was closed but we ate lunch at the carousel (mall) underneath and went through the shops. Who'd a thunk there'd be a mall under a big ol museum! After lunch we found the travel agent to confirm the plans for tonight and then set out to Ile de la Cite to see Notre Dame and Sts Chappelle. The church was beautiful the spire and the rose window and the towers. The age of everything is really hard to comprehend. It was really old before America! ... I'm glad I don't teach history. We made our way back to the hotel to rest for tonight; we didn't know the show started at 11:30. We can't believe we get to spend our second anniversary in Paris it is really beautiful. We are also glad we didn't go to Versailles. We know if we had we wouldn't have been able to see everything today and we're still coming off the KP high. We conclude as to Royal Palaces, "Seen one, seen'em all."
We are in the tiny green rent-a-car going to Normandy but I must recount last night for posterity
. Dressed in our vacation finery we set out to meet the group. We arrived with plenty of time to spare because we are punctual Americans so we had a 7.00 euro Heineken at the café on the corner. We arrived at the Eiffel Tower and were in awe of its monstrosity. It was still daylight as we arrived but as we got to the restaurant the sun was setting. It was a sight to behold. It was a set menu with an aperitif, appetizer, main course and dessert. The aperitif tasted like a blush wine but was very thick and coated my tongue quite nicely. If I had known what was to come next I would have licked the glass clean. I don't remember ever seeing the name of the appetizer but if I had to name it I would call it SNEAKY FISH PUFF. Although it looked innocent enough, with the first bite I tasted fish. I politely ate the puff only portion but Jimmy thought it was good. Next they brought out the main course which Jimmy called STATE FAIR CHICKEN. I'm not sure that I agree with this title as I believe that state fair somehow qualifies the chicken as award winning or "Outstanding in its Field" The sauce and minced vegetables did have a certain hay/oat aroma which Jimmy later explained was what he thought of as "state fair smell." The Dessert was to die for. It was a chocolate mousse surrounded by a moat of vanilla sauce. I couldn't help but notice it was the only plate taken away completely clean. After dinner we walked around and took pictures of the Eiffel tower. We met the Illuminations city tour in progress and drove around with them for an hour before we went to Moulin Rouge
. We saw all the sites of the city all lit up...just like the people in the bus. We arrived at the show and stood in line briefly behind a black couple. Music came on outside and the little black man started dancing so I joined in. We talked with them a while and found out they were from New Orleans and Hungry for some home cookin. We were ushered inside and took our seats with the New Orleans couple at the tiniest table ever. We popped the cork on our champagne and the show came on. French singing and dancing and then boobs. Not all of the girls, just a few and not for any particular reason. It wasn't vulgar they just looked forgetful. Not that the male dancers would have noticed, it was definitely Gay Paree! We enjoyed the acrobats and the ventriloquists as we grew tired of the titty factor. I guess that growing up on a farm in Russia there's not much else to do than throw your sister around and pretend like the dog can talk it was a beautiful show and an unforgettable night. We were briefly locked out of our hotel when we returned at 2:30am but the night man let us in shortly. It was a great anniversary!
Still in the car. This morning after breakfast we walked to Gare Du Nord to pick up our rental car for our drive through the French countryside to Normandy. We found the car rental, checked in and got the keys
. With map in hand we headed for the garage but we were confused when we saw a hertz van where our little green Alamo car should have been. We headed back to the counter to see if he told us the parking space number. He did not...but he did forget to mention that there were multiple space number 6009's and we were simply looking in the wrong section. Information that would have been helpful to us before he sent us into a freaking French garage. Anywho, we found the car and headed out round and round and round the garage like the old hamburlgar slide at McDonald's. Unlike American parking garages, the French have elected not to criss cross back through floors but to seal off the edges and create unending circular turns until you reach street level. I was as green as the car. The traffic on the city streets is mind boggling. No painted lanes and no left turn arrows make for a lot of honking. The roundabouts alone shaved years off my life. I was just happy we were on the familiar side of the road in France; I don't think I would have made it in England. Now we are on the open road and Jimmy is driving us beautifully, we've only stalled out once. I think he is especially enjoying the 130 km speed limit and although I'm not sure of the conversion it feels pretty dang fast in this tiny green egg.
6:45 pm still in the car we are returning to Paris from our day excursion to the Normandy region of France
. We went to Rouen, Caen, Colleville Sur Mer and Omaha Beach. It is a beautiful, pastoral area full of farm land and really old houses. We took the scenic route through Caen to arrive at the Memorial museum. We looked around for awhile but still had a long way to go to get to Omaha Beach so we pressed on. The wrong direction at first then we turned around a couple of times. Jimmy drove us beautifully through pouring down rain and the tiniest streets you've ever seen. We arrived at Coleville Sur Mer and saw the American cemetery memorial of 9000 crosses with names of the men who died there. The cemetery overlooks Omaha Beach and we were excited to venture down the long steep pathway to stand on the famous beach. It was eerily calm and quiet but I thought it felt really peaceful as if God decided enough stress had come before. We picked up a couple of rocks to take with us and took some pictures. We were not as excited to venture back up the steep pathway. We are on our way back now and are enjoying the random 80's and mid 90's pop selections on the radio. We should be back in Paris by 7:30 and we are starving. We couldn't find a place to eat lunch.
Sur la train aux Bruxelles. Well we didn't make it back at 7:30 like we had planned. We arrived at the station at 9:30 because of the unbelievably bad traffic in the city
. It took an hour and a half to move 10 blocks. There are no lanes here and the motorcyclists are insane...if it's paved their driving on it. To top it all off it was raining chats and chiens and we hadn't eaten anything since breakfast. I was experiencing extremely low blood sugar and I shook all the way to McDonald's (the only thing open that late without a red light on.) we ordered and took it back to our hotel where we ate and crashed. I woke up when the Presidential debates came on...I'm not that patriotic, my Tylenol PM only lasts 6 hours. We slept late today and then went to St Germain de Pres and Montmartre, just little neighborhoods with shops. We did stumble upon Rue de Chaussures, shoe store after shoe store, a foot fetishist delight. We bought Christmas ornaments and paintings and on our way back to the hotel we got off the metro at Chateau de l'eau because we hadn't seen that part of the city and I liked the name. "House of Water." We didn't know it was the sister city of South Oak Cliff until large black men followed us a couple of blocks looking like true menaces of society. We turned up a respectable looking street and hightailed it out of there. We found Marches St Quentin where fish beef and all manner of foul are exceptionally visible in their crudest form and ready for the taking. We didn't take any. Then we returned to the hotel to wait for the train. It occurred to Jimmy that it was 2:00 and we had probably missed check out time. Luckily it was no problem. We checked out, stowed our luggage with the concierge and went next door to the brasserie for a biere before we went to the train station. The garcon sat us in the restaurant part of the establishment and we encountered a really rude waiter who made us move when he found out we weren't eating. Now we're on the train about 30 minutes outside of Paris and we're a little apprehensive about Brussels... we did not understand anything they just announced on the speaker.