My Latest Adventure in 2015

My Latest Adventure in 2015
I'll be walking the Camino this fall from August 11th until approximately October 5th...eventually will spend a week in Paris before returning to USA on October 20th

Sunday, June 28, 2015

TRAINING WEEK FIVE





It's been two weeks since I've taken a day off....but today is Sunday and I've decided to take one.  It's Mass with the family, a memorial service and then a flotilla with neighbors in the late afternoon.








My scorecard for last week:
Sunday....5.30 miles, Monday. ..4.47 miles, Tuesday. ..12.84, Wednesday. ..4.10 miles, Thursday. ..7.26 miles, Friday. ..6.44 miles, Saturday. ...8.10 miles.  A total of 48.51 miles.




My first ever adventure into the state park that is within walking distance of our home.  I've tried some new things today in my quest to learn more about posting on my cell phone.  Hoping that is all works.  Buen Camino


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

WEEK FOUR OF TRAINING



Last week I made a mistake and put it was the second week for the second time. so yes this is week 4. Leslie in Oregon: love seeing your comments yes I am aware of the disappearance. I'm walking east to west so I will end up on the ocean at the end.  The photo is of my oldest daughter Jenn who paces me on a long hike once a week.
I'm actually 2 days late in posting this but for the fourth week I did 45 miles : I took sunday off and on Monday June the 15th I did my longest ever hiked it was 16.9 miles and it took me just under seven hours to do the walk. I then sat down and reevaluate my days on the actual journey to make sure there were no more 16 mile hikes. I gave up my days off and spread the miles over the extra 3 days. on Tuesday June the 16th I did 5. 11 miles in less than 2 hours. on Wednesday 6. 11 miles and on Thursday 6.9 miles. Friday I stretched my pace and did 10. 44 miles and then saturday I relaxed and did 2 miles around the lake just to keep my feet moving. I hope you're enjoying keeping up with my progress it keeps me moving just knowing that a few of you out there are  following my story. the backpack is nearly done and then in another week I'll start caring  it every once in awhile.  I'm typing this on my cell phone so that I can learn to do it before I go on my trip as this will be my only computer during my journey.   buen Camino


Sunday, June 14, 2015

THIRD WEEK OF TRAINING

I learned a few things last week:  1)  socks with toes in them are fabulous!   No new blisters.  But today I exchanged my new size 9 for size 10 shoes for use on my journey.  The 9 is fine for walks under ten miles but over that my toes begin to hurt!

So after making three trips to Big 5 Sporting Goods and several other sporting goods stores I still could not find my shoe in a 10.  I even looked on the Internet and everyone was "out of stock"!

Today I decided to return the second pair that I have not worn and then spend the $100 for the shoe that is similar but not the same.  Twice the cost!   I took another look when I returned the shoes and my prayers were answered!  Someone had returned a size 10 that is in perfect condition!  So I am now set with shoes and will give them a run tomorrow when my daughter Jenn and I do a long hike.  Then back on the shelf for use for only long walks until time to go to Spain.

Last week's milage:   47.37 miles   (M: 7.14; T:2; W: 10; T: 5.07; F: 12.52; S: 10.64)

Jim is walking three to five miles most days and every once in awhile we meet and walk together for a part of our journey.  He still has not made up his mind about going on part of my trip.

Buen Camino

Sunday, June 7, 2015

SECOND WEEK OF TRAINING

Last week I walked fifty nine miles.  My longest day was fourteen miles in five and a half hours without stopping.  I was dead tired by the time I stopped.  But after three hours of rest I felt much better.  Each day I get stronger.


Saturday, May 30, 2015

PREPARING TO WALK 500 MILES IN SPAIN


   Sounds a bit much for a 76 year old woman but I'm determined to complete the pilgrimage done each year by thousands of people across the top of Spain.  To prepare for this journey I have begun to walk each day.    I try to do some hills in addition to my walks around the lake.  I've been racking up a minimum of five miles a day and sometimes more.  Today was a record breaker as I started early in the morning and completed ten miles!!!   My legs are killing me this afternoon and I also managed to get my first blister today before completing three miles.

     Tune in and watch my progress.  Next weekend I'll carry my pack on one day to see how I'm doing with the packing.  It's a process of trying to carry as little as possible but still have everything that I need.  Yes...these are the sandals that I'll be wearing on the hike.

     I'll begin to make these posts from my cell phone soon and hoping to discover how to post photos on the web for you.  But, the posts may be much shorter than usual and fewer photos for sure!

As they say on the camino....buen camino

Friday, May 8, 2015

TRAVELING TO USA

 
   We were all up early and out on the curb by five forty-five in the morning.   The taxi arrived about ten minutes early so by our scheduled six o'clock we were loaded and on the road.   We used a taxi service that we were able to pre-order on the Internet.  And, we were able to specify a mini van that was perfect for all of our luggage and the wheelchair.

    By leaving early we saved a bit on the fare since we didn't have the morning commuters that would have extended our half hour drive to possibly an hour and a half.  But, we had to wait for half
an hour to check-in at the airline counters after we arrived.  Mary and Phil were on US Airways and we were on American Airlines; they were next to each other for check-in so we were able to stay together until they were all checked in.  After going through security; another bonus for arriving early as we breezed through easily with no stress, we found our gate and settled in with free wifi but no electrical outlets that had power.  Lots of outlets but none of them worked!

 

   Our gates were a bit of a walk, we were at 50 and they were at 37; just long enough to be a good leg stretch and we each made the trip once to say our final goodbyes.  Our plane was a new one and they had stretched the leg room in the main cabin; a real bonus for the tall men.  Even when the person in front of you leaned back; you didn't feel crowded.  We had a full flight from Paris to Dallas and they kept us busy with movies and two meals.   Great crew with lots of service with a smile!

     We generally stay awake coming home because it's daylight the whole way.  This time we have a different experience in that after we'd purchased our tickets with air miles, they changed our flight and we ended up with a sixteen hour layover in Dallas, Texas.  We reserved a room at an inexpensive hotel near the airport with shuttle service.  So we've been able to have some dinner, go for a walk, shower and get some sleep soon.   We have to be back at the airport by five o'clock tomorrow morning for the final three and half hours of flying in LAX. 

    A pleasant way to arrive rested after a very long trip.  There are storms warnings for the Dallas area tonight.  It may be an interesting night!  And so ends our trip; thanks for joining us on our journey.


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Thursday, May 7, 2015

SAINTE CHAPELLE


    We woke to beautiful sunshine for our last day of adventures in Paris.  Spent some time getting ready for tomorrows trip to the USA and then walked to Mary and Phil's apartment at eleven o'clock.  Jim hailed a taxi and we were off to Sainte Chapelle to see the beautiful floor to ceiling stain glass windows in the top chapel that was built as a home for the "Crown of Thorns" from Jerusalem.   Over the centuries the thorns were removed and distributed throughout Europe but the crown remained in Paris and is now kept at Notre Dame and displayed to the public on special events such as Good Friday during Lent. 

     The lines were long but because of Phil's wheelchair we were allowed to go through a special entry so that he could use the elevator.  Jim was the caregiver for Mary and Phil and went with them.   Jim has been in the chapel many times over the past twenty years but this was the first time there was no scaffolding inside of the chapel for the cleaning that has been in process for many years.  That, with the sunshine, made this a very special visit for Jim.  Because of the special entry we were limited on the number of people so I elected to stay outside because of the ramps that Jim would have to push the wheelchair up during the visit. 

      After they returned to the street we walked from there across the Seine River to the Left Bank.  We noticed that the water is running so high there were no boats on the river today; very unusual.    We walked through several of the small streets around St. Michel and ended up at the bookshop Shakespeare and Company and enjoyed the wonderful views of Notre Dame.

     Everyone was hungry so we walked back to St. Michel Blvd. to a favorite crepe shop and Jim and Phil each had a jambon and fromage crepe while Mary and I enjoyed a cappuccino drink.   And,
this was also another check mark on the list of things to do:  sit outside of a shop for food and/or drinks and watch the people stroll past.  By the time we finished, Phil was ready to return to the apartment so we hailed a taxi and scooted back to the apartment.  One could really get spoiled using taxicabs but this was the easiest way to get Phil from place to place on his Paris Adventure.

     Everyone took time to rest and I caught the Metro to the tenth arrondissement to check out a
new Hostel called Generator that has just opened.  It really impressed me and I'm looking forward to hopefully staying there at the end of my trip this fall before leaving for the USA in October.  It's a new chain of Hostels all over Europe and although it's in an "edgy" and upcoming area of Paris; their prices are good and it looks great.

     Back to our apartment to finish packing and cleaning and then we walked to Mary and Phil's about four o'clock.  We first played our last two hands of Hand and Foot, finishing the game we started on Tuesday in Normandy.    Mary and Jim won!
  Then we headed out about five thirty for an early dinner.  We intended to eat at the Italian Restaurant on their street.  Oops....all of the restaurants were closed from four to seven o'clock!   One exception:  The Chinese Restaurant....so we enjoyed our last dinner in Paris at the Chinese Restaurant with the windows open to the street and it was just warm enough to enjoy the ambiance!   I must say that although rain was predicted for every day of their short vacation; we've had beautiful sunshine ninety percent  of the time!  God has been good to us. 

     We're back in our apartment after helping Mary strap up the wheelchair for shipping as baggage but leaving it so that he could still use it as a walker until he has the airport wheelchair.  We used two luggage straps and lots of plastic ties.  Tomorrow we will walk the five minutes to their apartment and the taxi (van) will pick us all up at six o'clock in the morning for our trip out to Charles de Gaulle Airport.    I'll probably do a wrap up blog after we get home, so for now ...  au revoir

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

THE AMERICAN CEMETERY OF NORMANDY

     Our hotel outside of Bayeux was very nice last night and we even added the French Breakfast to our bill so that we'd start out the day with full tummies!   It was about half past nine when we left the hotel and headed towards the American Cemetery of Normandy.  We got a bit turned around before finding our way; arriving at the site above Omaha Beach about ten o'clock.  The sun was shining and the wind was blowing very harshly but we were delighted that the rain did not come down until we were leaving the cemetery.

 
   Jim said that one of the most special moments came when he was pushing Phil in the wheelchair and a young french man came up, touched him on the shoulder and said "thank you" softly to each of them.  He probably thought they'd fought in WW II, but they each had their time in the service; Jim right after Korea and Phil was actually in the Vietnam War.   So the thought was much appreciated by both of them.  This visit had much more meaning to them personally than to Mary or to me.

     Back in the car before the rain drops began to fall; we drove further west to Pointe du Hoc where The Ranger Units scaled the cliffs.   It's a bit of a walk from the parking lot to the actual site so we mentally said our thank you to the boys, took some photos and continued our day of remembrance.  Yes, we were only youngsters but we all remember those days in the 1940's.   And Phil is feeling the effects of all of the walking that he has done in the past few days.   Yes, he walks and uses his wheelchair as a walker sometimes when he is feeling good. 

 
   By half past twelve we were at Sainte-Mere-Eglise where the soldier hung all night on the church steeple when it caught his parachute.  The moment was added to a movie starring Red Buttons and called "The Longest Day" about the D-Day Invasion.

    You'll see a new monument that is very unusual in the slideshow; a huge silver woman symbolizing Peace I think.   Very modern and unusual.   Not my cup of tea but the boys loved it!

    On our return trip towards Caen we made several serendipity stops; first one was at a German Cemetery along the highway called German Cemetery at La Cambe.  It was actually an American Cemetery until 1947 when those bodies were shipped home to America and they moved the German bodies into the cemetery.  They have a book listing all of the men buried and we found five Brockmanns (my maiden name), seven Benders (Phillip) and nine Jansens.  We are all of German descent several generations back.  

 
   Our second stop was at the fishing village of Port En Bessin that is right on the English Channel.  Found the fish market and many little shops.  The boats were done for the day and tied at the docks.  From there we went off at Bayeux and enjoyed driving through the Centre Ville admiring the half timbered buildings and tiny shops along with the Cathedral. 

     Soon we were back on the highway and the rain came in buckets for a short time.  Happily it was sunshine again when we reach Caen and returned the car before walking across the street to the
train station.   There we checked into the Assistance for Handicapped and when the time came, Phil was once again put on a lift and into a special car for wheelchairs.  They are fantastic.  They even called ahead and when we arrived in Paris they had a taxi waiting for us so that they could deliver Phil right to the curb and put him in the taxi before returning to the station.  Marvelous; we wondered if the trains in the USA have such a program for the Handicapped.

     By nine o'clock we were all safely back in our apartments and getting ready for our last day tomorrow.  We've ordered our taxi for the trip to the airport early Friday morning and the weatherman says it looks like good weather tomorrow.  Hope you've enjoyed reading about our day.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

OUR VISIT TO NORMANDY AND D-DAY



   It was seven o'clock Tuesday morning and we were all standing outside of Mary and Phil's apartment waiting for the taxi cab that we'd ordered using the Internet.  He arrived right on the dot of seven and we were off on our adventure to Normandy for two days and one night.  Best of all the rain has stopped and we're expecting mostly wind for today when we arrive in the north.

 
    Soon we were at the Gare Saint Lazare train station and headed towards the office for assistance for handicapped that I'd found on Saturday when I purchased the tickets.  We'd been told to arrive about an hour early if we wanted to use the service and we were at least an hour early and they had us wait in their waiting room until the team of three arrived to facilitate Phil's train adventure.  We were along for the ride.  First we headed for the toilets so that everyone could use the facilities before getting on the train.   Then we were off to the platform for our train.  They punched our tickets for all of us and handled Phil in the wheelchair.  Mary, using the cane, had to hustle to keep up with them.

     It was amazing; we had our own car!  There was a lift to put Phil on the train without his having to get out of his chair.  The car is designed for up to three wheelchairs and their caregivers.  It had electrical outlets for us to charge our phones and a handicapped bathroom.  We occasionally had people coming through from other cars but we mostly had it to ourselves for the two hour journey.  Plus they put us on early so we didn't have to wait in the station. 


    We saw sunshine, rain, sunshine, rain and finally sunshine in Caen.  Along the way we went through the towns of Mante, Evreux Normandi, Bernay, and Lisieux before arriving in Caen.  We were very excited seeing Lisieux as we could see the Basilica from the train.  Mary and I spent hours there on our trip in 2009 to see the home of St. Theresa of Lisieux and the Basilica.  Lisieux is the second town of Pilgrimage in France, the other is Lourdes in the South of France.

     We had people waiting for us when we arrived in Caen to take Phil off of the train and into the station.   We crossed the street and picked up our rental car at Enterprise Rental Service.   We have a black Citeron with GPS...this time build-in.   She finally got us out of Caen and over to the Caen Memorial, but not without lots of U-Turns!


   It was about noon when we arrived at the War Memorial Museum.   We spent about two hours there before heading back out on the road about two o'clock to find the Arromanches Les Bains on the coast.  This is the area where they built huge floating docks to unload equipment right after the invasion.  It worked beautiful for a short time and then a major storm tore it apart.  Today pieces are stuck in the sand, some close and more off in the distance.  At low tide you can actually walk to some of the ones close to shore.

    A fun note:  while there we walked to a store so that Mary could find a key chain for their travel tree; and Jim handed me a bottle of liquor to purchase made from apples as that is very popular in this area of France.  It is called Calvados.   I was surprised when the clerk said forty two euros.  Wow...Jim is springing for a really good bottle.   Only later when he opened it in the hotel room and discovered it was forty proof did I mention the price...he was shocked....he thought it was two euros!  Not sure just how we'll drink it all before we leave for home on Friday.  We may leave it for our manager of our apartment.

  
  Leaving there we drove further west along the beach to the Batterie de Longues; a group of four huge concrete buildings that each housed a gun that could shoot two miles out into the water.  Jim didn't remember that we'd seen these in 2012; but it was still fun to see them again.  We have good friends who live in Florida who just posted a photo at this site on Facebook a few days ago.  They stopped here during a cruise!  Small world.   It would have been fun to accidentally see the Hermans here.  We've done that more than once during our years of traveling.

     By this time it was nearing four o'clock so we decided to head for our hotel outside of Bayeux for the night.  We had some problems with the GPS and actually ended up using an app on my phone to get us to the Hotel.  But it's clean and close to the highway for tomorrow.  We walked next door and had an early dinner before playing two hands of our favorite game in the lobby.  I've been busy with two days of journals to do.  But, love to do it while it's fresh in my mind.  We had rain just as we arrived at the hotel.  Hoping for sunshine tomorrow as we visit the American Cemetery.

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EXPLORING OUR FAVORITE PARIS SITES

 
  Monday morning arrived full of sunshine and we were out the door by ten o'clock in our first taxi of the day that took us up the hill to Montmatre and the Sacre Coeur Basilica.   We didn't go in because of all of the steps for Philip, but enjoyed the views as we slowly walked from there to the square full of artists surrounded by restaurants.  Each had their own style and we each found at least one that we enjoyed.  Phil found a special painting of the area and kept going back for another look.  He is an artist himself and has a greater appreciation than most for the work that goes into each painting.

 
   Mary and I were both separately by different artists encouraged to stop for a moment while their fingers moved sharp pointed scissors rapidly across paper and within minutes created a silhouette of our heads...neither were aware that the other one was with an artist.  Then came the sell, first it was twenty euro, then fifteen euro and as I walked away...just for me...ten euro!  Who could resist.  When Mary saw it she immediately returned to her artist and offer ten euros...which was immediately accepted.  So at the ripe old age of 76 we each have a likeness; our parents had them done when we were somewhere around ten years of age and we still have them somewhere.  Fun!


     We finally moved the boys away from the square and back towards Sacre Coeur for more vista views.  Along the way, Phil decided he wanted that painting.  It is about four by twelve inches so can easily be carried home.  It had started at forty-five euros and we already had him down to forty.  Jim was nominated to return to negotiate a good price.  He got him to agree to thirty-five euros and he gave him a fifty.  As he counted his change on the way back to us; he'd only paid twenty-five euros.  Phil was thrilled.


    It was hard to leave the hill and the man who was playing the beautiful harp on the steps.   But, we hailed our second taxi that took us down the hill past the Opera House, over the river, finally stopping at the very tall Montparnasse Tower.   We had tickets for ten o'clock tonight but heavy rain storms were predicted and we have an early morning on Tuesday.  So we all agreed that we'd do the tower for the views of the city.  It was very wheelchair friendly and the views from the fifty-sixth floor were wonderful.  There are steps up two more flights to the outside for views but we were happy with our glass windows.

     Back to the ground floor where we caught our third taxi that took us to Rue Cler.  It was noon and we decided to walk our favorite market street and stop at Ulysses, our favorite crepe maker, for a lunch of jambon and fromage crepes.  Mary, being a vegetarian, had eggs and cheese!   After lunch we continued our stroll down the street until we reached Avenue de La Motte Picquit.  That took us over to the Champ de Mars, the large park that leads to the Eiffel Tower.  We took a look at the Peace Monument that is closed for repairs and then strolled down the long park towards the Eiffel Tower stopping regularly to take photos.

  
  It was fun walking under the tower and looking up to view the new glass floors on the first level that have finally been finished.  Contrary to what we thought, it is still open in the center and only the corners have glass that you can walk on for views of the ground.  Soon we were out on the Quai Branly and flagged our fourth and final taxi just in time as the predicted storm was arriving.  Everyone was tired and ready for a nap when we arrived back at the apartments.

     I used the next hour to go over to the restaurant where we'd had dinner on Wednesday evening and retrieved my red hat that I'd purchased in Florence.  This was my third trip as they were closed for the May Day Holiday on Friday and Saturday when I went.  This time I called the restaurant before going to the Metro for the trip.  But, I now have my hat again!

     At six o'clock we walked in the rain to Mary and Phil's apartment and enjoyed a great dinner of leftovers; we'll only be eating one more dinner in Paris as we'll be gone for the next two days.  Afterwards we played our requisite game of Hand and Foot.   Mary and Jim beat us soundly on the last round!   Part of it may have been that we had a bottle and a half of wine to finish; and I drank more than my share.  But I did sleep really well that night and that is also the reason that you're getting the journal a day late.  I'm writing this on Tuesday evening at our hotel in Normandy just outside the city of Bayeux.
au revoir

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Sunday, May 3, 2015

A RAINY SUNDAY IN PARIS

     We woke to rain on this first Sunday in May; and many museums are free on the first Sunday of each month but we've learned that you must also be ready to stand in very long lines.  We saw them today outside the Pompidou Museum; at least four blocks long!


   We were up and out for ten o'clock Mass at the l'eglise Saint-Merry that is just around the corner from our apartment near the Pompidou Center.  A beautiful old church that is badly in need of restoration. There were about fifty people attending the mass.  An unusual "for us" part of the service was dipping the host into a cup of wine (optional) before putting it into ones mouth.  A nice custom I thought.  The organ was beautiful and we enjoyed the Mass even though it was all in French except for a few Latin parts.

     After Mass we dodged the rain puddles as we headed home and that is when we found the very long lines of people waiting for the free entry into the museum today.  Not all museums are free, especially the private ones.   Stopped at the apartment to dry out a bit and then walked over to Mary and Phil's where we left Jim and Phil working on their computers while the twins had an outing in the rain.

     First we walked around the corner to the Rambuteau Metro Station and took that to the Hotel de Ville Station where we changed to the #1 line that dropped us off right inside of the Louvre Museum.
  Well actually we were going to the Carousel Shopping area inside of the museum buildings.   The lines were very, very long again with people waiting to enter the Louvre Museum.   But this one is not free on the first Sunday except during the winter months.  I wonder how many people standing in line were not aware that they were going to have to pay the regular entry price!  

     Mary wanted to visit this shopping center for two reasons:  first she loves to see the bottom of the pyramid that is inside of the Museum and secondly she wanted to visit the Apple Store that is located there to purchase a French Plug for her IPhone "to insure that she would come back to France again".  When she was her in 2013 with me she purchased one for her IPad and by golly...she did come back again!   Something like rubbing the boar in Florence after dropping money in the water!

      We walked outside to Rue de Rivoli and hailed a cab and asked him to take us to the Pont del Alma.  A very nice man who spoke excellent English.  He said "you know, that is not really a monument to Princess Diana?"   We said
yes but that we always enjoyed reading the things that people wrote on the wall in tribute to her.   It's really a monument to the friendship between the USA and France; it's a large torch.  But when Princess Diana was killed in a car accident under the monument; it because a place for people to visit and leave flowers and notes.  The city has finally painted over the "graffiti" about her but there were a few flowers.  I think this is probably the last time I will visit that particular site. 

     We found the Metro Station right there and decided to use that to reach our next spot; the large department stores of Galeries Lafayette and Printemps.   On my bus ride to the train station yesterday I had seen their beautifully decorated windows.   We walked the length in front of both of them admiring the window displays.  Printemps was especially beautiful as they are celebrating 150 years!  One of the most unusual things we saw was a new fashion for the women:  black nylon stockings with holes in them much like the current fashion with Levis. 

    
We then got on Bus # 29 and headed home.  Oops...it passed our street; when I asked the driver he said they don't go down that street on Sundays.  Too small and too crowded.   So we got a longer walk home than expected when we got off at the next stop which was over by the river.  But we had the opportunity to walk by our apartment and I took Mary up to see our digs.  From there we walked to her apartment; picked up the boys and headed back to the Archivers bar/restaurant across the street from our apartment.  Phil walked the whole way...slowly but we all walked the four blocks there and back after an early dinner.

     On our walk home the sun came out and it was the end of the rain for the day.   We enjoyed another evening of cards and Mary and Jim won this round.  Must be time to change partners again.

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Saturday, May 2, 2015

AVENUE DES CHAMPS-ELYSEES

   
We walked to Mary and Phil's at ten o'clock this morning, weather is overcast but no rain.  However, rain was expected by three o'clock this afternoon.  And yes...it arrived right on time but it's a gentle rain and the people are still sitting outside the restaurants under the awnings; kept warm by the overhead heaters.

     We walked around the corner and hailed a taxi cab that had a delightful driver named Frankie.  We all talked non stop during the entire drive.  He drove us right up the grand avenue to the top at the circle around the Arc de Triomphe.  We took the requisite photos from there because of the stairs required to go over to the momument.

   
Then we all started walking downhill towards the Gardens of the Tulleries.   We took turns with the wheelchair.  Mary is having difficulty walking because of a bad knee and so Phil walks a bit now and then to give her a rest; otherwise she uses his cane to aid in her walking.  It is a dry morning but cold.  Along the way Mary purchased a stocking hat and gloves for Phil to help keep him warm.  They'll come in handy next week for our trip to Normandy.

     We stopped at several stores but the favorite for the boys was the Peugeot which had some great new cars for them to investigate.  They would not allow the wheelchair inside so with the cane and Jim's assistance he managed to walk inside the store.  They even purchased a toy model for Phil to take home as a souvenir.    Notice in the photos the clothes that are being worn...pants are high water and very tight on the body.  Women and girls mostly wear black tights and very short skirts over them.  

    When we reached the Tulleries; Jim left us and walked to the Petit Palais for an exhibit called the "Baroque Underworld Vice and Destitution In Rome in the Seventeenth Century".    We hailed a taxi cab and headed back to the apartment.  It was a fun two hours of walking the Avenue des Champs-Elysees.  Jim didn't enjoy the exhibit; in fact he said it was very depressing.

    I made sure that Mary and Phil were settled in and then I caught bus # 29 to the Gare Lazare to purchase our tickets for the Tuesday trek.  It was a fun bus trip past the Opera House and the department stores with their fabulous window decorations for spring!  So many things to visit and so little time.  I've been spoiled by longer visits in the past few years.

   
We're doing a train trip to Caen in Normandy on Tuesday and Wednesday to see the D-Day invasion museums and sites.  So glad I got the tickets early as it took me about half an hour because of the issue of the wheelchair.  Apparently when we arrive at the station there will be someone to assist us with getting Phil on the train.  We saved thirty percent on the tickets by getting non-refundable tickets.  Jim called me on the cell phone while I was there.  He was back at the apartment with no keys; I suggested he go to the bar across the street and wait for me.  I did return by taxi rather than the bus to speed up the time it took to return.  Once home I did some grocery shopping; and about four o'clock we put our things together and braved the sprinkles to walk to Mary and Phil's apartment.  We stopped at the butcher across the street from their building and purchased a hot roasted chicken for our dinner.  Mary had already prepared the vegetables.     

  
  We enjoyed our dinner and then switched partners for the card game of Hand and Foot.  Phil and I against Mary and Jim.   It was a real squeaker, the winners changed with each hand but in the end Phil and I won the day!  We then all took turns riding the tiny elevator to their seventh floor to see the views of the roof tops in Paris.  Lots of fun and then we headed home for the balance of the evening in our apartment.  I took a few shop window photos for you; the windows are beautiful in celebration of May 1st, a bank holiday in France for the weekend.
  au revoir

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Friday, May 1, 2015

WALKING AROUND NOTRE DAME AREA

 
   On Friday we had an almost rain free day...thanks to your prayers...and we were able to make our first walking tour with the wheelchair for Mary and Phil.  We had a sleep-in morning and started our day at noon.  The wheelchair and Phil fit into their elevator, it's temperamental and sometimes he has to wait until I walk down the steps and push the button from below; but for the most part it makes the trip possible.   We carried umbrellas but didn't have to use them for the few drops now and then.

     We walked along side of the Pompidou Center, taking turns pushing the wheelchair either empty...Phil would always do it then as he uses it for a walker for balance...and sometimes with Mary in the chair instead of Phil as she is having major problems with her knee; again with Phil pushing.  When Phil is in the chair we rotated pushing him so everyone got an opportunity to rest.  Cobblestones are the hardest and if really bad Phil has to walk and push his chair himself.  Once I nearly dumped him when I crossed the street and tried to take a running start at the slight incline and discovered their was a small lip and we needed to tip the front wheels to get up.  That and knocking the foot rest off once were our only major issues.

  
  Passing the Pompidou we entered the Hotel de Ville  Square (Paris' City Hall) and there were many things to see.   First the building and then all the activity:  the merry-go-round, a basketball exhibition, a man blowing large bubbles for the children, and massive pictures of old Paris that we stood in front of for photos.  

     We crossed the street and then walked west along the right bank of the Seine River, stopping to admire the few vendors that were open.  The trees are totally green and it's a beautiful walk.  The fact that several were opening their boxes was a good indication that the weather was not going to be too bad today.  Phil is getting his wish of walking the streets of Paris to see the people.

At the Pont Tour Phillipe we crossed the river and walked to St. Louis en  L'Ile for a stroll down one of our favorite streets in Paris.  We stayed in several different hotels on this street many times during the 1990's....when I was still working...the hotels are rather expensive on the Island.  Phil wanted to see the place that is famous for it's ice cream:  Glaces Berthillon.   He called it gelato...but that's the Italian version...and most people refer to it around the world as gelato.  We showed him the shop at the end of the street but he decided it was too cold, so we'll save that treat for another day.

  
Rather than walk back down the main street we walked over to the Seine again and walked along the water back to the bridge that, because of the weather was devoid of it's usual display of artists performing for money.  But the views are always there.  We saw a bride and groom posing for photos on the left bank...in the same area where we spent many evenings in 2010 with our family for picnic dinners along the river....and a boat load of tourists cruised by.

  
Across the river to stepped into the garden that surrounds the left side of Notre Dame.  I was wrong and the Square is actually named "Square Jean XXIII"....Pope John 23rd....and they have added the statue of St. John-Paul II in the gardens between the rose window and the river last October.  We got a few sprinkles as we exited the garden and took a look at the massive line waiting to enter the Cathedral; we decided to come back another day to see the inside.  Both Mary and Phil were beginning to show some wear and tear from our morning outing.

 
   We headed back towards our apartments, crossing Pont Arcole and walking back past the Hotel de Ville on our way to the Pompidou Center where we jogged to the left and went towards the front of the museum to see the Stravinsky Fountain that has all of the modern art designs.  That was our last site for the day.

    Arrived back at the apartment; tucked Mary and Phil in for some naps.  It was now two o'clock and Jim and I walked the additional five minutes to our apartment and then I got to have my adventure for the day.  Each day I've been able to have a project that gets me out walking on my own in the afternoon.  Today I decided to head back to the restaurant to pick up my red hat that I left after dinner on Wednesday night.  Walked to the Metro, changed at Hotel de Ville and exited on the Champs-Elysees at the Franklin Roosevelt Station.  Again...light sprinkles now and then, but the day is good.  It was only a short walk to the Baroche Restaurant and I started noticing how many of the stores were closed?   When I arrived at the restaurant it was also closed!   Then I remembered it is a holiday weekend for all of France...May 1st....May Day celebration!   So it will probably be Monday before I can get my hat!

     But I did manage to get a decent photo of the Arc de Triomphe down the street before returning to the Metro for my ride back to the apartment.  Once I arrived I took some time to explore our area.  I found the Taxi Stand where there are always waiting taxis; it's just around the corner at the Metro Station, so it's easy to get to from Mary's apartment if it's not raining.  I also discovered the many bus stops nearby that may be great for some trips. 

 
   And I found the entrance to the beautiful garden known as "The Garden of Anne Frank" that is located in the center of the buildings that Mary and Phil live in.  They don't have a view from their apartment but at the elevator there is a beautiful view from the hall window.  It's a lovely park, there is even a built-in checkers board on a table, fountains, flowers and a playground area that is semi hidden behind the many trellis' for the flowers to climb on.   Finally back at the apartment, it was now half past four o'clock in the afternoon.   And I'd walked a total of 6.38 miles for the day.

     Jim and I headed out the door just before five o'clock to walk to Mary and Phil's; there we agreed that we'd go to the Chinese Restaurant and get food to go.  Phil was feeling chipper from his nap and walked with Jim and I using his cane for the short walk.  Mary prepared the table and when we returned we had a wonderful dinner in the apartment.  We are both having stove issues in our apartments:  we have not been able to get ours to work...it's brand new and a glass top electric model...they are bringing us a hot plate on Saturday.   Mary's is similar but we did get it working to cook our pasta dinner on Thursday. 

After dinner we cleared the table and finished the final hand of yesterday's game...it was nip and tuck but the boys won 13,080 to the twins at 12,665.  Then we began a new game and this time the twins won handily with 17,360 points to the boys 15,010.   Jim and I walked home before nine o'clock for a few hours of computer time before bed.   I hope you've enjoyed our journey today.

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