PARIS – It was nice to hop the pond again this summer, but this time it was to the city known for its crepes and beautiful sites.
On this trip is Leroy Coffman; his daughters Mary Jane Coffman and Donna Beardmore; along with son-in-law Brad Beardmore, along with myself.
On the flights over, Leroy and I were on one flight that was delayed, but despite sitting on the tarmac in the freezing cold plane we made it. His children were on another one.
Arriving in Paris was easy, and we were fortunate enough to have booked a driver in advance from the airport to the hotel. It saved us the hassle of finding one with our language barrier.
We are staying at the Hotel Regina, which is so fancy you have to have a suit on just to go to bed (I am fine with that.)
Leroy and I spent time waiting in the lobby and I was able to get some work done since we had to wait a few hours to get into our hotel room, but once we did it was nice to finally clean up and get ready for the evening.
Everybody was exhausted from their flights, so we went down to La Rotonde St. Honore, a nice little café a block away and I had some delicious lamb with vegetables. The others had a variety of dishes.
After dinner,I took Leroy back to the hotel and then it was time to celebrate the big football game.
While it was not American football, France was playing Croatia in the World Cup and everybody was watching.
Every café was packed with people around a small television with their hands clinched waiting for the next goal. When it did happen everything went flying including the hugs and beer in several occasions.
I watched the game at Café de Olympia, which was probably the busiest around with people sitting out on the street in front of the café watching a television that hung under a red awning.
Once France had won, it was a mad dash for what seemed like everybody in Paris to make it to the Arc de Triomphe. So, I had to go along with everybody else with my camera.
It was a three-mile journey to the Arc and was amazing to see people of all ages coming out in their blue, white and red to celebrate the win.
As I got closer to the Arc it became a pushing match to get to the area due to so many people. At some points, I thought I was going to be trampled.
Despite the craziness, I would not trade it for anything. After the journey, I made the walk back to the hotel against the flow of thousands of people.
I got back to the hotel and quickly uploaded the pictures because I knew my adrenaline rush would soon be ending. Needless to say, it did at about 11 that evening.
The sleeping accommodations are rather odd on this trip. Usually, Leroy and I have a room with two full sized beds and minimum, but not on this trip.
We are stuck with two twin sized beds that are about two inches apart and moving them is not an option since they are bolted to the wall.
We both slept well and were ready to go on Monday, but our day would soon fall apart.
At breakfast across the street, everybody enjoyed an egg breakfast with fresh croissants along with coffee and orange juice. Brad however stuck to just bread and orange juice.
We all decided on seeing the Eiffel Tower and then heading over to Montmartre, a place for artists to display and sell their artwork.
After breakfast, we headed off to the Eiffel Tower and walked around. I did not expect it to be such a massive tower. But, the 1889 piece of steal is still holding up with people from across the world coming to see it.
I enjoyed getting to see it and so did Brad, who had never seen it before as well.
Then we decided that two cabs were needed to haul all five of us to Montmartre, but our cab driver had a different “way” to get there.
Since winning the football game yesterday a parade had been planned along the Champs-Élysées Avenue which leads up to the Arc.
Our driver, who spoke no English, decided to go straight towards the Arc, despite our destination being the opposite way. But, traffic jams complicated things and he began getting angry.
Good thing I do not know French, because I am sure he was swearing at every driver only to get out of the car and scream at another one. Using his horn was a rather polite move.
As we were winding through back streets he finally gave up and asked if he could drop us off. We had no other option than to get out and find another taxi.
It was apparently everybody needs a taxi day because none were empty, so we walked and walked towards the Metro, Paris’s subway system. But, that was closed in many areas as well.
I was frustrated at this point and tried to get an Uber, but they were even having to pick people up a mile away from our location. Leroy and I’s only option was to walk.
We did stop for a quick lunch along the way and Leroy was able to rest his back and I could rest my nerves. Then we got back to walking.
As we were getting near the Uber drop off and pickup location I hailed a taxi. However, it was not my taxi getting day and our driver had a temper again.
There was no getting in the way of this lady who was screaming at every driver and person in her way. While everything was in French again, she did speak some English and we had a nice conversation when she was not screaming at others.
We arrived back at the hotel at around 2:30 p.m. which was just in time for Leroy’s nap and time for me to head off to Montmartre.
It was fun heading up there in the Metro and once I arrived I looked at art and was even tempted by a crepe or two but wanted to make it to the see Sacré-Cœur, which is a Catholic church at the highest point in Paris.
I toured the ornate church with its beautiful frescos of Jesus’s life and the awe-inspiring pipe organ that was fixed at the back of the sanctuary. Then I had a crazy idea.
Not being a fan of heights, I paid the 6 Euros to climb to the top of the Basilica which was only 270 steps. A short jog up the stairs and I was looking out over all of Paris.
It was nice to stand there and see just how big Paris was. It is not just an Eiffel Tower.
The trip down was nearly as painful as the trip up, but I made it back and then headed off to the Metro.
When I arrived, Leroy had gotten some rest and I was able to do a little work in the lobby before we all decided on dinner down the street at a place called Café de Paris. It was a simple place since everybody had a long day.
For some reason, I was craving a hamburger and had one with some crispy fries. They even call them French fries and not chips.
After dinner, we all headed back to the hotel and I put Leroy down for the day and was back to work on stories and accounting homework.
Tomorrow we will be making our to multiple museums and enjoying more sights of Paris before we board our ship on Wednesday.