Friday and Saturday, Paris

Amazing place, my head is on sensory overload from all the activity and sights around us. The train ride from Holland/Netherlands to Paris was basically uneventful. Up early on Friday and a ride in 2 cars to the main train station in Rotterdam to catch the Thayers higher speed train with limited stops to Paris. We are retracing our route north going through familiar territory and towns and train stations just not getting off. We were supposed to get to the station early, which we did, to load the bikes into a separate compartment but the train showed up about 3 minutes before it was scheduled to leave so we just loaded everything into an entry way that has temporary fold down seating that is designed for the overbooked passengers. Yes, they over book but not like United Airlines, they let you on and you can use these temporary seats or stand. We gave our seats to the 2 guys in the overbook seats and we were fine with all our luggage surrounding us. The ride didn’t take long, maybe 3 hours but seemed like less and we were getting off at Paris Nord station, been here before at the start of the trip. A cab ride, expensive!!!, to the hotel and an early semi check in and a walk up the street to a sidewalk cafe to fulfill Bushy’s wish of having a beer and a feed at a sidewalk cafe in Paris. Walk back about 6 blocks and our luggage is already in the room on the 3rd floor. It’s a cozy space, barely room for 2 single beds right next to each other, a TINY, closet that has the toilet in one corner of the room and a smallish closet that has a sink and shower in the opposite corner. The window opens to an empty inner courtyard that has lots of other windows looking in as well.

We get a local map, good luck with that, this city is really dense, roads and buildings stacked on top of each other. Google maps gets us down towards the Seine at the Grand Palace area, my head is just on a swivel as we walk, taking picture after picture. A stop at a local bar along the south bank for expensive beer and wine, 20 euros for 2 drinks, yikes. It is Paris and we are on the Seine though.

Friday, breakfast buffet at the hotel, quite nice, euro spread and we are off on a the local #30 bus to Trocadero (2 Euro each for the ride) which is across the river from the Eifel Tower. More walking across the bridge and then down to the river to hop on a cruise boat up the river past all the major landmarks like the Notre Dame church and the Louvre museum and 22 bridges and then back again. The phone camera is taking a beating. Not that many people on board and the weather has warmed slightly with a bit of sun so it’s pleasant. Back on the bus and off to find lunch along a small side road that is filled with very local shops, cafes, bakeries, food and meat markets, great reasonably priced meal. Looks like you can find cheaper prices around here. Back to the hotel for a mini break, we have reserved space at a show called Crazy Horse (A recommendation of our hotel hosts) for later so before we know it we are walking again down to the river still kind of wandering even with the map and eventually find ourselves almost back to the Eifel Tower again. Dinner next door to the show and in we go. Great, fun, slightly sexy but as our hosts said, not vulgar, show. Again, drink prices are exorbitant, 1 each for the pair of us. We get seated next to a couple from California of all places and the guy is in the car restoration business.

We need to walk back to the bus stop we used earlier but it’s dark and we are getting lost again, even with the map, eventually we make a circle around a big traffic circle and find the bus stop but mistakenly take the #22  bus instead of the #30 which looks to be going the same route but veers off the road we need so we hop off. The bus driver’s either can’t figure our my pronunciation of our end stop or just don’t know so asking has gained us no help. The street signs are hard to see plaques on the buildings, somewhat high and not always easily visible so we wander around before we find the right landmarks and find our way home, finally.

Saturday, sleep in some and hotel breakfast again, was great yesterday and the price is only 13 euros so why not. American dollar to euro is about the same, the euro being slightly stronger right now but acceptable. Today is tourist time again, bus #30 and only #30 to Trocadero again, walk across the bridge and pick up the Big Bus Tour, same as in London, to ride around on the open air top deck and get off a few times to look around. We stop at the the Louvre and walk into the central courtyard which is HUGE and has the glass pyramid entrance area. The crowds are big and the lines are massive to get in so even though we won’t get another chance we just don’t have enough time to stand in line, get a ticket with an assigned entry time and see all the museum, the place probably would take 2 to 3 days to get through to see it all.

Back on the blue line portion of the bus to do the north side loop around the Moulin Rouge area and then swap buses back at the Louvre to do the red bus route and end at the Arc de Triumph and a #30 bus ride home. Dinner at a local restaurant a block from the hotel and back for an early bed getting ready to attend Liege, Bastogne, Liege bike race, last of the spring classics tomorrow. Big day, we need to hop a train to get back to Charles de Gaul airport and pick up the rental car we will have for the rest of the trip to southern France and our big bike ride climbs up Alp Duez, Mont Ventou and the Tormalet.