Tag Archives: cathedral

Day Three — Chartres

Ever since I took a humanities course during my senior in high school, I have been a little fascinated with the Cathedrale Notre Dame de Chartres.  On Friday we took the train to visit the cathedral. If you wonder what’s the big deal, do a Google search and check it out. It is sufficient to say that it may be the pinnacle of Gothic cathedral architecture. And it was built in the 13th century.

We met up with BIL and SIL’s friends Cindy and Hal at the train station with relatively little, but some, confusion. The train trip was very pleasant.

The cathedral was impressive. All it was cracked up to be.

We met up with the famous tour guide, Malcolm Miller, for one of his tours. $13 well spent. (10 euros)

We had lunch at a cafe there in Chartres. Their specialty was crepes…like 50 different varieties. A years, and I don’t remember eating a crepe. Now it’s been crepes for lunch two days in a row. Don’t see that as a trend when we get back home. Here are some pics.

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The cathedral

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Mrs P and me

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Some detail

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zMore detail

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SIL, Mrs Poolman and BIL right after lunch

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All of us

Paris Day Two – Notre Dame

We all needed a good night’s sleep, so we starrd off slow this morning.

We had a nice breakfast at a cafe near the hotel. Then we finished repacking and took the Metro to the rental apartment that will be home for the next week. The apt is nice. We met the two older Canadian couples who were moving out as we arrived. I’ll post pics tomorrow.

Early afternoon, we walked a short way to Place de Concorde. During the revolution, this is where many heads rolled. Napoleon replaced the guillotine with an oblysk he stole from Egypt. Now it is a giant traffic circle and maybe as dangerous as during the revolution.

We bought tickets to the Batobus, which is a hop- on, hop-off tour boat that cruises up and down the Seine. Nice trip.

We got off at Notre Dame and toured the cathedral. It started to rain as we were leaving, causing hordes of tourists to try to cram through the exit doors. It was a serious crush of people.

We escaped to a nearby cafe and sat out the shower while eating crepes. Tres bien.

We walked around Ile St Louis for a bit and then caught the batobus back down the river and out apt on Place de Madeline.

We were pretty pooped, but still needed to exchange some trainm tickets (double bought) and shop for some food and stuff for the apt. It’s late and were tired.

Tomorrow we hook up with SIL and BIL’s friends for a trip to Chartres. Should be fun.

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Mrs Poolman and me at Place de Concorde

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The Batobus

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Pont Alexander III

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A chapel inside Notre Dame

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Notre Dme in the background

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A cafe on Ile St Louis

New year’s resolutions and science jokes

This morning the alarm clock rang at 6:15 am for the first time since December 22. It could have waited a while longer, in my opinion. I was getting used to those sleep-ins.

It’s January 2 and time to return to work. Things are slow today. Officially, it’s not a holiday for us, but most of our staff is taking a vacation day to say home and watch football (I guess.) I have set my DVR to tape the Gators in the Gator Bowl and will watch it tonight when I get home. The game is between two 6-6 teams, so who really cares if they see it “live?”

Looking back on 2011, it’s been a pretty good year. Our family has been, for the most part, healthy and happy. The year had few down spots, and many good times. My trip to Europe in the spring was a great experience.

Myself and my brother at the Cathedral of Notre Dame

I hope to make another trip soon, his time with Mrs. Poolman (although the trip with Mrs. P will not entail the military history focus.)

In catching up on some news-related Web sites, I came across all kinds of “New Year’s Resolutions” topics. One really rang a bell with me. Take a look at this column. It’s worth a short read. I wonder if he would mind if I just adopt his as mine also.

One of our scientists sent me an email with a joke voted the funniest by a group of scientists.  “I thought this would give you some insight into the people you work with,” he said.

A couple of New Jersey hunters are out in the woods when one of them falls to the ground. He doesn’t seem to be breathing, his eyes are rolled back in his head. The other guy whips out his cell phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps to the operator: “My friend is dead! What can I do?” The operator, in a calm soothing voice says: “Just take it easy. I can help. First, let’s make sure he’s dead.” There is a silence, then a shot is heard. The guy’s voice comes back on the line. He says: “OK, now what?”

I had heard it before. Not great, but not as bad as it could be, like maybe something like this.

Q: Why are quantum physicists so poor at sex?

A: Because when they find the position, they can’t find the momentum, and when they have the momentum, they can’t find the position.

If you don’t “get it,” that’s OK. Most people not familiar with Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principal wouldn’t either.

On that weak note, here’s hoping everyone reading this has a great 2012!

Another beautiful day in Paris

We had a very busy day in Paris. It’s too bad so much of it was spent “enjoying” the delights of the Parisian mass transit system. A total of three trips between central Paris and the airport, amounted to about four hours of transit time.

Either my alarm clock didn’t work or I didn’t hear it (a real possibility), but I didn’t awake until Ron called me a little after 7:30 am. That gave us a late start and we never caught up. However, we didn’t really worry about it and made the most of the time we had.

Ron, Birdie and I ran out for a breakfast of pastry and coffee and orange juice at a sandwich shop around the corner. Then we got our bags and reversed our steps from Tuesday morning and headed out the Best Western Hotel near the airport.

Our three days of experience we picked up maneuvering through the Metro and train system made the trip back to the airport a little easier than the trip in on Tuesday, but not by much. We had two Metro (subway) trains and the longer RER above-ground train. All were jammed packed. It was tough to get our bodies onto the trains, let alone our luggage. The combination of luggage and crowds made the process like running an obstacle course in a rat maze.

As we went to board our second Metro train, Ron asked me to confirm our destination. “Chatelet des Halles,” I told him. It was good he asked, because while I made it on the train, Ron and Birdie did not. There just wasn’t room at the door they tried to use. What they did see, as the train pulled away, was me falling backwards.

Because it was so cheek-to-jowl crowded, I thought it would be best for me to remove my backpack to reduce the space I was taking. As I pulled the backpack off, the train took off. I just felt myself falling backwards – right into the lap of a teenaged girl. Since the train was still accelerating and there was nothing for me to grab on to, it took me maybe 10 seconds or so to be able to extract myself. Very embarrassing, but right in line with many of our other adventures on the Paris Metro.

We finally made it out to the Best Western around 1130 am and connected with my brother, Dan, and the rest of the tour group. After dropping off our bags and getting situated, we headed back into town for lunch and a visit to Notre Dame.

A tour boat on the Seine near Notre Dame

Poolman and brother, Dan, at Notre Dame

We did a short walk through the Latin Quarter south of Notre Dame and ate a very nice lunch at a little sidewalk café. None of us could make sense of the bill, but we decided that it was a good meal at a reasonable price, so we just paid it and left a tip.

We toured the Cathedral of Notre Dame, which was just amazing. Here is a sample of some of my photos.

Cathedral of Notre Dame from the front

One of the many stained glass panels.

The right transept with cherry blossoms.

The flying buttresses that hold the walls up.

Gargoyles

It seemed like our trip back to the Best Western took forever. I had one satisfying moment. While we were waiting for the shuttle from the airport to the hotel, a woman (French, I believe) asked me for directions. Me? It turns out she was headed to the hotel right across the street from the Best Western, so I was able to help. Imagine that!

This evening, we had dinner with the rest of the tour group. We are hitting bed early because the wake up call will be coming at 6 am. Then we are on the bus, headed for Normandy and the rest of our tour.

Should be fun!

Paris in the springtime…

Well, today has been quite an adventure.

Our flight to Paris was smooth and uneventful. They showed that Denzel Washington movie about the runaway train, so that made a couple of hours fly by. We got into Charles DeGaulle Airport around 730 am just as it was starting to get light.

On the other hand, the trip from the airport to the hotel, on one train and two metro subways was a real adventure. It involved large amounts of time wandering around looking for an appropriate exit (sortie), at least one nearly-lost train ticket, and an incident where an admission gate snapped shut, with me on one side, and my arm and bag on the other.

Dragging our luggage through the two transfer stations was a real trip. We just followed the signs, but then went up stairs, down stairs, around the corner and all over the place. At one point, we had to carry/drag our bags up about three flights of stairs. I didn’t think Birdie was going to make it. When he finally reached the top, he looked at me and said, “We’re not doing that again.”

When we finally popped out of the last Metro station, our destination street, Rue d’ Miromesnil (after which the Metro stop is named), was no where in sight. Rather than wander around aimlessly, I walked into a bakery and got two very nice people to point me towards the right street, just a block away.

When we got to our hotel, we felt like we had finally arrived.

Our hotel

We had been rode hard and put up wet. Our rooms were not ready yet, because it was only 930 in the morning. We caught our breath. Then we left our bags with the front desk and backtracked our route back to the Louvre area. We had lunch at a nice café that travel-writer Rick Steves recommended.

Une baguette

After lunch we walked through the Louvre grounds and down to the Seine River. We bought tickets to the Batobus which is a boat that travels up and down the Seine, stopping at eight different locations.

Batobus

You have unlimited jump-on jump-off opportunities. We spent around an hour and a half riding up and down the Seine, chilling out and taking pictures.

Notre Dame

The Seine

Birdie, Poolman and Ron

After one complete round trip, we figured our rooms would be ready so we headed back to the hotel.

Birdie, Ron and I met up later at a bar-café about a block from the hotel. They said it was the only one of several such establishments that made them feel welcome. It might have had something to do with the pinball machine – Big Buck Hunter Pro. Birdie and Ron are both big outdoorsmen, so that made them feel right at home. Birdie commented that he expected to see that in a convenience store in Vidalia, Ga., not in downtown Paris, France.

We had a dinner there of steak and fries and crashed early. (Or at least that was the intention. I’m still writing.)

Tomorrow, the plan is do Notre Dame and the surrounding neighborhood, and then the Louvre in the afternoon. I hope the rain holds up.