A Travellerspoint blog

Day 7 - Paris to Honfleur

Rented a car, drove on the extremely expensive toll ways, lunch around the old harbor in Honfleur, Eglise St. Catherine, gardens and beach, toured town

sunny 26 °C

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It all started at 8 am with my trusty LL Bean alarm clock blaring cacophonious tones to get up. Megan drug her body out of bed in time to catch breakfast and be out the door by 10:00 am.

We headed for the train station which was just down the street from our hotel. We looked like a couple of American tourists with all of our worldly posessions in tow. I had the green monster duffle bag stacked on top of the blue beast roller bag. I also had my back pack on. Megan and her red rooster roller bag along with her Veira Bradley Elephant backpack. Everyone says, "Travel light in Europe." We looked like the Clinton's leaving the White house.

At this point, we were getting pretty good at deciphering which train to take. Paris' train numbering system needs to take a lesson from London. Bali, what the hell is Bali? Never did figure that one out. However, once we got to Gare du Nord train station, all of our travel savy flew out the window. Just trying to find the rental car counter was an ordeal. After multiple stairs cases, escalators, map consultations, and bickering, we finally made it to the National Rental Car counter. Phew, cuz my shoulder was about to give in to the green monster.

The rental car process was pretty easy. We followed two guys across the street and down an elevator to our car. A monstorous Hyundai Getz. Think Mini Cooper with less style was waiting for us. Our bags filled up the entire trunk and back seat but they fit.

Off we went onto the wild streets of Paris. We were good for about the first .2 km. Then we got into a traffic jam. We were on a two lane road from which it appeared turning left was allowed from both lanes. Apparently, that wasn't the case. There we were, in the middle of two Frenchies yelling at us and the other cars blocking us, so we couldn't move. It wasn't a one way street. Still not sure how we managed to get into that situation, I had to drive around one car on the curb and back up to avoid a car pulling out of a parking garage, and then on to the stop light. Megan said something like, "It'll take them 25 minutes to sort that mess out." Off we sped in our Hyundai.

The trip to Honfleur was uneventful. Megan slept and I drove. Nothing unusual... except for the tolls. The French seem to be proud of their tollways because they sure charge for them. We burned through almost 20 Euro to go 200 km. I'm not a fan. I thought Chicago tolls were high.

Honfleur is a very artsy lazy seaside town with a quaint down town centered around a small harbor. We checked into our hotel and headed out to tour the town.

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After lunch, we walked through the gardens and down to the beach. Honfluerians like thir dogs. Every 9th or 10th persone we saw had one or two. At the beach, we didn't swim, just sat on the seawall and people/dog watched. Then it was back through town to our hotel. Along the way, we stopped at a number of shops and at the Elisa St. Catherine church. A wooden church that is 500 years old.

Our last pit stop before the hotel was a local grocery store. We scored a 6 pack of 1664 beer for 4.30 Euro. What a deal! I couldn't wait to suck a couple down back in the room. Megan was less enthusiastic but went along with my plan.

After a couple of beers and a nap, we headed back to town. This time by car. We drove up the hill behind the motel to check out a couple of the neigborhoods and vantage points. Very nice. Along the way we drove through several residential areas full of recently built houses. Hard to categorize other than small and not very architecturally stunning.

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Dinner was at a great place recommended by the travel book. One of my courses consisted of Froie Gras. I'm not a fan.
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In between each course, the waitress brought out some small "appetizer type thingy". Each time it was something different, but just as I was ready for my apple tart, she laid down a salad with brie cheese on it. Not realizing what it was, I looked at Megan and said - "this doesn't look like apple tart". I then realized it was appetizer number "3".....dessert was next.
Megan proclaimed this as the best meal of our trip. I proclaimed it the most expensive. Tomorrow, we're having hotdogs and french fries!

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Posted by mzimmer75 15:02 Archived in France Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Day 6 - Paris

Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Av des Champs Elysees,

sunny 25 °C

It seems each morning, it gets harder and harder to get Megan out of bed. Today, was no exception. The "thrill" of being on vacation has worn off and it seems that she would rather cuddle up with the pillows and blankets, long after I get out of bed, longer and longer. However, my trusty LLBean travel alarm clock (thanks, Carole!) is quite annoying and does the trick.

Today was no different...I wanted to get to the Louvre before the lines became unmanageable. Megan was slow to see my point. Two croissants and one spilled latte later, we arrived. We spent about two and a half hours doing the audio tour and decided we were done. The museum is so massive that if you attempted to glance at every artifact, it would take you 9 months to get through the whole building!! Almost three hours and we were good! We saw the Mona Lisa, Napolean's apartment, and numerous other statues, paintings, sculptures, and artifacts.
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After the Louvre, we found a sidewalk cafe to eat lunch at. Megan had quiche and I had a tartine. We sat in the sun, drank Eau (water) and Coca Cola and rested our feet.

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After lunch, we went to the Arc de Triomphe. We couldn't have told you the name, but after we saw it, we knew what it was. We spent about 30-45 minutes there, reading and taking pictures. It was a beutiful day, so we just took our time.

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From the Arc, we walked down Avenue des Champs-Elysees. It was a really nice elaxing walk. Megan shopped a little and bought three dresses, while I sat on a park bench and read our travel book. We walked about two thirds of the entire Avenue before we veered off and headed back toward the Seine river where we picked up the Metro train.
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We ended back up in the Latin Quarter having 1664 beers for 7 euros a piece, not a deal. After one each, we headed back to our room and hit up the mini bar. I'm usually opposed to even opening the door of the mini bar, but in this case, the food and drinks were cheaper than we could find out on the street. Megan and I chilled out, watched some BBC and got ready for dinner.

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We found a French-Mexican place that looked interesting for dinner. It's been at least two weeks since I had Qdoba, so I was craving a big burrito. Megan was polite and attempted to speak French to our waiter. When she got stumped and asked the waiter (in French) if he knew English, he responded "un poquito" (Spanish)!! She was totally confused and didn't know what language to try, since she knows more Spanish than French, but better English. It wasn't the friendliest of service we've had in France, but it was very good food.

After dinner, we hit up the internet cafe and gellato (ice cream). It was a good day.

Posted by mzimmer75 13:41 Archived in France Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Day 5, Paris

La Sainte Chapelle, Conciergerie, Le Sacre Coeur, boat tour on Seine

sunny 22 °C

After our first day, we decided that it was much harder to get around in Paris due to the language barrier. When looking at the travel book, all of the sites are in French, so it's hard to find, "art museum." That's when we decided to SOS our US based French tour guides (Holly and Matt) to determine what our must sees should be during our short stay.

Armed with good info, we started our day at La Sainte Chapelle and Conciergerie. We were in awe of the beautiful stain glass and history.

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From there, we trained it to Le Sacre Coeur and hiked to the top. It was very popular and we were among very few not praying inside the cathedral. After the cathedral, we walked back down into the city and found some lunch. I found a great deal on pizza at a shady little spot, but Megan held out for somethign not containing cheese and bread (pain and fromage). We got on the train, with my pizza in hand, and successfully pissed off my first Frenchman. He shifted seats on the train after getting a few wiffs of my pizza and complaned to his new friend on the train.

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We then found ourselves in the mood for a little boat tour...we researched in our book and found one that was recommended and not too far from where we were. It went up and down the river Seine pointing out all the historic buildings and points of interest. From the boat, we had the best view of the Eiffel Tower so far!!! It was relaxing and definitely a nice excuse to get off our feet for an hour and a half!!

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We walked back to the Metro and headed for the hotel. We cleaned up and got ready for dinner in the Latin Quarter. Megan had seen q number of fondue plqces qnd thought thqt sounded like a good idea. Fortunately, there was one not too far away (kind of a joke, since basically any ethnicity of food you could think of is within two blocks of our hotel!)

After dinner we hit the internet cafe and gelato stand. It has become quite the habit.....both, the gelato and the "after dinner internet session".

Posted by mzimmer75 14:07 Archived in France Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Day 4 - London to Paris

Mark got really excited because we got to take a high speed train to France.

sunny 25 °C

We had 10:40 am tickets on the Eurostar train to Paris. Not knowing what the check in and boarding process would be like, we tried to start early. Like normal, we didn't get moving quite as planned. After two tube trains, we made it to Waterloo station. Very chaotic but surprisingly efficient. Without much trouble, we made it through check in and security. We threw our bags on car 5 and made it to our seats just as the train was leaving. 3 minutes early! The British are prompt.
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Megan slept despite the fact that there were 52 screaming 10 year olds on our car. During the trip we heard names like arsehole & bloody fat arsehole. Apparently, their teacher didn't hear any of this. She only got upset when one of the children called another one a liar.

The train arrived on time to Paris' Gare Du Nord station. After some struggles, we figured out which metro train we needed to get to the hotel.
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After settling into our hotel in the Latin Quarter and recovering my shoulders from carrying our shiznet up two out of commision escalators in the metro station, we set off for Notre Dame. Now for all you Purdue fans out there, we're not talking about that learning institution in South Bend that I like to refer to as Notre Douche but a church in Paris.
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From there, we took the metro to the Eiffel Tower. IT'S BIG!!! Bigger than on TV; bigger than on the Bachelor; bigger than any picture you've ever seen!! We decided to purchase tickets to the top. I wanted to walk, but Megan insisted on the tram car; We took the tram. The views were spectacular!
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From the Eiffel tower, we went back to the Latin Quarter for dinner. We ate at a nice place and then looked for an internet cafe. Along the way, we had Gellato. Then it was off to bed (a double size bed within a sparse room and a non functioning AC unit.) We spent the night with the window open and sweating without any covers. Megan was highly concerned that a bat was going to fly through our non screened window during the night. I assured her that of all the open windows in Paris that night, a bat was very unlikely to chose ours. She reflected on a story about her sister many years ago????

Posted by mzimmer75 02:11 Archived in France Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Day 3 in London

Changing of the Horse Guard, National Gallery, walk around Westminster, Tate Modern, and fish and chips

sunny 20 °C

The day started out with a rush to get to the horse gqrdens by 10:00 am to see the chqnging of the Horse Guards. It was a little less than we had hoped for. Not exactly an exciting experience, but the horses were cool.

Then we walked down to the Westminster area to check out the House of Parliament and Big Ben. It was Sunday so no tours were available. The gothic architechture contrasts with all the other buildings in the area.
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Next, we decided to see some artwork at the National Gallery. We rode the tube for just a few short stops. The Gallery is free (score!) but of couse Megan found a way to spend money at a free venue. First it was the Renoir exhibit that was 12 pounds and then there was the audio tour. We compromised by passing on Renoir and getting the audio tour. The audio tour was worth it so Megan eagerly pointed out that I should listen to her more often. I'm not convinced!
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We saw a bunch of works by famous dead dudes. Van Gogh, Da Vinci, Renoir, Rembrandt and Michaelangelo. I'm not a big fan of art, but this museum wasn' too bad.
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Between the nqtional Gallery and Tate Modern, we ate at a tiny Cafe along the way. The food was good but the service was a like being yelled at by your Mom while you're messing up her kitchen. As soon as you put down your fork from your last bite, the waitress took your plate. Our water glasses were gone from right under our noses in a blur. Before Megqn was qble to get her coat on after standing up, her chair was pushed in and new silverware was on the table.

Tate Modern was full of works that made us go, huh? How is this stuff art and why is it in a museum? For instance; cans of shit, a toilet, a urinal, flourescent lights, a light switch, fire bricks just like the pile in the corner of my garage, and an entire canvas painted charcoal gray. We left thinking, "I'm glad that was free." The only redeeming thing was that we did see some paintings by Warhol.

Back to our tiny room and then off to dinner. We decided to try out a different area so we took the tube to the Chelsea area. After walking quite a bit, we found a pub that served fish and chips. That's what Megan had, I had a burger. Not exactly fine dining but it worked because we were really hungary.

Today we took the Eurostar train to Paris. More on that tomorrow. Pictures too.

The keyboards in France have some of the letters in different spots so it is hard to type fast and the hour we paid for is almost up.

Posted by mzimmer75 14:08 Archived in England Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

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