Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Here is a brief recap of our nice little trip to France. For now, just pretend that we arrived at CDG without any flight delays, cancellations or having to deal with terrible customer service from Lufthansa.

Upon touch down in Europe (Frankfurt) we made a bee line to the nearest cafe to treat ourselves to a nice bowl of (restrain your excitement) cold fresh milk and cornflakes. And coffee. And bacon (Brian). And eggs. Oh what a delight it was. We didn't even wait to exit the airport or reach our final destination.

We now had just two days in Paris, but made the best of it. We stayed at a small hotel that I stayed at once before several years ago. The staff is still very pleasant. Rooms are clean, simple and cheap. The location is great for exploring central Paris on foot and Metro.

Despite several trips to Paris previously, neither SJD nor I had actually been up the Eifel Tower. Weather was actually quite nice at the bottom. We took several photos before paying a few Euros to walk to the top. Elevators are for wimps...according to SJD. Personally, I think they're somewhat convenient. The wind was really howling above the first level. We were not allowed to climb beyond the 2nd level (oh darn) because the wind and rain was probably really stinging up there. Not just kinda stinging like while we were taking in the sites on the 2nd level.

Sturdy tower I reckon.

Looks good close up.

Looks even more spectacular at night.

(Bonus! I'm slowly reading a really good book The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. It recounts events in Chicago during the 1890's leading up to the World's Fair. Lots of Chicago architecture history is covered in an entertaining way. There is a serial murderer element as well. All good Chicago stuff. Oh, also there are quite a few references and comparisons to Paris and Eiffel Tower. A big thanks to a former coworker, Mike Holland, for turning me on to this book.)

Somehow we managed (not intentionally) to not step foot in a single museum. Ok, we kinda walked around for half a day in a daze looking at all the storefronts full of things to purchase, but really didn't need in Accra, or in DC for that matter. Wool blazers? Nah. Shoes? Sandals do just fine here. Bike parts? Oooh, that was a tough one, but we resisted. Instead, we sampled chausson au pomme, salade chevre chaud and vin bon marche at every given opportunity. Oh, just for good measure we popped into a few of the well known sites like St. Chapelle, Sacre Coure, Jardin du Luxembourg, and a few markets along the way. We're tourists don'tcha know?

We took a boat tour up and down the Seine. Even bought tickets for an evening ballet performance at the old Opera House for 7 Euro apiece. I did this once before. The view was highly obstructed, especially if you actually sat in your seat. You could hear the performers jumping around on stage, and every now and then get to see them exit stage left. But to see the building itself is well worth the price of admission. Experiencing the lengthy bows and ritualized curtain calls is also amusing. (SJD note - BEP suggested the lengthy applause for one piece was due to relief that it was over...I made an effort to find a better view and actually found the dancing to be quite good)

We were settling into a lifestyle of exuberance rather nicely despite a weak exchange rate and the disappointing realization that my French speaking skills have almost all but disappeared. I kinda toss out the correct words, pause, hope that the French speaker can put them in the correct order, turn to SJD (whose French was only marginally better) for translation assistance, then point and gesture. I try...I really do.

Alas, it is time to head to Toulouse and Foix on the TGV.

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