Tag Archives: rer

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 Seven – Versailles and a ‘flaneur’

This was the last day of our four-day museum pass. A trip to Versailles was the plan.

We got up early and took the RER train. We arrived just a few minutes past the opening at nine.

The chateau, built by ‘Sun King’ Louis XIV in the late 17th century, is magnificant. Unfortunately, around ten thousand other people arrived to soak in the magnificance with us. The crowds were overwhelming. In many of the rooms, we couldn’t even find the sign with the appropriate audioguide number because the camera toting tourists (like us?) were packed cheek to jowl.

When I complained about it to Mrs Poolman, she said it was just like a Florida football game. So when is the kickoff? Let’s start a wave! I don’t think all those Chinese tourists would understand.

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Mrs P in the fron courtyard

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This room is NOT crowded by comparison.

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Mrs P listening intently to the audioguide.

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The Hall of Mirrors

We made it through the chateau without causing an international incident. It was touch and go when one older guy roughly elbowed me aside so he could assist his wife who apparently had not a clue how to work her camera. I figured Hillary has enough on her hands,
without me adding to her troubles.

For all you hear about rude Parisians, for the second trip in a row the only jerks we have met were from abroad.

When we finished with the chateau, we found out that visiting the gardens and other buildings would run us another 15 euros apiece. We were pretty fed up with the experience, so we headed back to the train and Paris. 

After lunch, most of our merry band wanted to spend the rest of
the afternoon reading and napping. I didn’t want to waste an afternoon in Paris with a museum pass by hanging around the apartment. So I took off on my own again. I took the Metro back down to the historic city center. The line to Sainte Chapelle wasn’t as long and it was moving. The stained glass there lives up to it reputation.

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Just a sample of the stained glass.

Then I walked a block back to Notre Dame and went through the archaeological crypt. Not mind blowing, but pretty cool all the same.

Then I walked through the Latin Quarter tourist district. I turned right on Blvd Ste Gremaine and walked a few more blocks to a Metro station and back to the apartment.

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Blvd Ste Germaine

Earlier in the day I had made reservations for Mrs P and me at a restaurant recommended by Adrian Leeds in her Kindle book, “Top100 Cheap Insider Paris Restaurants”.

The Bistro  du Septieme on rue Tour Marbourg  was great. We had fantastic three-course “menu” meals. (That is French for “blue plate special.) I started with escargot, then steak and fries and finished with a creme brulee. Mrs P had a scallop pate for her entree, veal for the main dish and some frozen chocolate dish for dessert. Each meal was 25 euros or about $32. Not bad when you consider it covered three courses, tax and tip. We also shared a small bottle of wine.

As we were walking the few doors from the Metro station to the bistro, I saw  a Gator ball cap on a window table of another restaurant. I knocked on the window and gave the two couples  Gator chomp. A half minute later, one of the men chased us down on the sidewalk to talk. He is a pediatrician from Gainesville vacationing with his wife and another couple. He pulled us back to their restaurant to meet the rest of his group. We had a nice conversation. They will also be at Mont St Michel later this week, so we may see them again. Small world.

Altogether, it was a very nice evening. Tomorrow is Montmartre.