Tag Archives: metro

Looking back at a great trip

It’s Sunday afternoon and we’ve been back in the USA for six days. I guess it is a cliché, but as much as we enjoyed our trip to Paris and Normandy, it is nice to be back in our one house. I think about a week and a half is my limit before I start thinking it would be good to be back to familiar surroundings and routine.

Our trip back to Savannah on Monday was grueling. As we were riding the RER train to the airport, Mrs. Poolman commented that she hoped we had the same luck as we did on the flight over; that is, no one sharing our three-across seat combo. Or, at least not a 300 pounder. As it turns out, the guy in the aisle seat was closer to 400 pounds. Seriously! And Air France has to have the smallest seats in existence, in both width and front-back space. We were on that Boeing 777 for 11 and a half hours, and Mrs. P was not a happy flier. Jabba the Hut oozed across the armrest and over into Princes Leia’s seat space, and the person in the row in front kept reclining her seat so far that she couldn’t even focus on the back-of-the seat TV monitor. At one point Mrs P just couldn’t stand it any more and got up and stood in the back of the plane for around an hour. We didn’t realize how small the seat space was until we connected with a Delta MD88 in Atlanta. When we sat down, Mrs. P and I looked at each other and commented on how much more room there was. Long haul – tiny space. Short haul – roomy seats. That doesn’t seem right.

One thing interesting about travel is trying to figure out the different plumbing and electricity. When we checked into the Holiday Inn St Germain des Pres in Paris, we couldn’t figure out how to turn the lights on. They would come on and then go out again. Then we noticed a little device on the wall near the door. The room key is a flat piece of plastic, and you are supposed to insert the room key into the slot in the wall device. That allows you to turn on all the room lights. Nice idea to save on electricity, but a bit confusing if you have never encountered it before.

What is it with the French thing of a shower guard that only covers half the tub? We had this in three of the four rooms in which we stayed. You have to really work at it to keep the shower spray from soaking the entire room. Would a full-length shower curtain be that difficult?

This is the bath-shower in our apartment. Note the glass shower barrier that extends only halfway down the tub.

Visitors to Mont St Michel are constantly climbing stairs.

You stairs are everywhere!

There is no flat surface on the island. Everything is up or down. It’s a great way to get some exercise. I did notice they have automatic defibrillators about every 50 feet on all the streets.

Instructions in several languages

I wonder how often they are used. At one point, I was out on the causeway taking some pictures when a very rotund man walked by on his way to the gate. All I could think of was, “Oh man, you are going to die here.”

And once again, I have to point out that the people we encountered were all fantastic. The French, and Parisians in general, have a bad reputation for meeting unfriendly, especially to Americans. We did not encounter that at all. Everyone was great, whether we were interacting with a waiter in a sidewalk café, or a fellow passenger as we were packed cheek-to-jowl on a crowded Metro train. The only even slightly unpleasant people we encountered were tourists. See my posting on our trip to Versailles.

The bank account won’t take another trip like this for a couple of years. But if I can get Mrs. P back on an airplane, we’ll attempt another trip before too long. Looking forward to it.

Paris Day Eight — Montmartre

This is our last day in Paris before heading to Normandy tomorrow. Our good weather ended. Most of the day was cool and drizzly. Fortunately, it never really rained heavy.

We kept the activities low key. We took the Metro (What else?) to Montmartre and just wandered around. Eventually, we had a very nice lunch in a cafe. The waitress made fun of me feable efforts to order in French, but I think she appreciated the effort.

After visiting all the high-brow museums, like the Louvre, we finished out visit to Montmartre with a stop in the Museum of Erotic Art. It was a little different.

We got back rlto the apartment in the late afternoon and spent the time preparing for moving out in the morning.

Dinner was some fresh baguette sandwiches we picked up in Montmartre.

Here are some pics.

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Musicans trying to earn a Euro on the Metro

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Street scene in Montmartre

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Myself and Mrs Poolman at the Basilica of Sacre Couer

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Place Tertre

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Just a street scene with Sacre Coure in the background

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Heading back to the apt on a wet afternoon.

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One of the less offensive exhibits from the erotic art museum

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.