Wednesday, May 6, 2009
BACK TO THE GOOD OLD USA!
Tuesday, May 5, 2009 Paris
I don’t think that we’ve mentioned that European banks have finally corrected an on going problem with the ATM machines. They always gave you fifties or one hundred euro bills in the past and then it was always a problem getting someone to accept them when purchasing small items. Now they give you twenty euro bills in the machine; a very nice change for both the tourist and the shop keepers.
We slept in this morning and had a leisurely breakfast while working on our computers downstairs. Vicki, the artist from California, sat with us and afterwards brought her postcards and a sampling of her most recent painting up so that we could purchase a couple of the postcards. They are very good examples of the street scenes in the Latin Quarters.
About ten o’clock we walked over to our local Metro Station that is only a couple of blocks from the Hostel, Place Monge, that took us to the Arc de Triomphe. The weather is cool but dry; a bit of sunshine would be nice but at least it’s not raining!
Coming up out of the Metro onto the Champs-Elysees Boulevard gives one the perfect photo of the Arc de Triomphe if the crowds don’t prevent you from stopping for a minute or two to focus your camera. This morning we stopped a few feet from the exit to take our photo and saw that a couple behind us wanted to do the same photo opportunity. He motioned that it was okay and that he’d wait. I asked if he’d like us to take a photo of him and his wife and then after accepting the offer said he’d do the same for us.
Seeing that they spoke very good English, I asked where they were from and he answered California. I said I was also from California and then we continued the routine: Orange County….Yorba Linda…WOW! Yes, they have lived in Yorba Linda for twenty some years near the Yorba Linda Country Club. They have watched our Christmas Boat Parade at East Lake for years and so I told them I’d send an invite for this year’s Open House! Small World, Isn’t It! That’s the second time I’ve unexpectedly met someone from Yorba Linda while traveling in France. The first time I actually knew them and hopefully this time I will get to know Bill and Carol. They were on their way to see the same museum that we are going to later this morning.
We continued on our way to the Arc de Triomphe and took lots of photos. Mary said she’d just as soon not climb to the top but she did enjoy the WW I Memorials that are all over this monument; especially the Eternal Flame.
We walked from there down one of the broad boulevards that are like spokes in a wheel shooting out in multiple directions from the hub that is the Arc de Triomphe. We stopped for coffee at a little shop called Au Bouquet Haussmann just before arriving at the Jacquemart-Andre Museum. A boutique museum that has remained frozen in time since the house and the art collected by the owners during their lifetime were donated to the city of Paris at the end of the nineteenth century. The house was designed by the man who came in second in the contest to design the Paris Opera House and so he doubled his efforts to make this a very unusual home that Parisians clamored to visit. Their parties were large and very popular with the “in” crowd. This was my third visit to this museum and I enjoy it more each time I’m there; a great mix of art and a grand home to showcase the art but still showing the house as a home and not just a museum.
We found the Metro that took us to the Musee d’Orsay where we spent two hours enjoying the works of Impressionism artists such as Monet, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Degas, Renoir, Whistler, and many more. This is one of those museums that you can spend days exploring and never see everything. Our feet will only let us do so much so we selected the type of art that we both enjoy the most for our visit today.
We took the Metro back to the Hostel and purchased some food at the grocery store right next door to the Hostel; we’d been walking to one several blocks away as we didn’t see this one until yesterday. Tomorrow morning we’ll see a few things and then go to the airport for our final night.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009 Last Day in Paris
Packed our bags for storage before breakfast and left the Hostel at half past eight for our last hurrah in Paris. We caught the Metro to St. Sulpice and after three transfers arrived to find that one of the two towers was under renovations. But inside we explored the ancient church that gained a spot of notoriety when it was referenced in one of Dan Brown’s books. The organ is huge and used regularly for very well attended concerts. The astrological clock is very different in that it uses an Egyptian-style obelisk as a gnomon or part of a sundial to indicate a period of time when the sunbeam from a tiny hole in a window strikes a certain spot on a specific day of the year.
Soon we were headed back for the Metro and another stop to explore the ruins of a Roman Arena that is still used for sports. Portions of the seating still remain and are used for spectators today as they were in the days of the Romans when France was known as Gaul. Today it’s used for soccer more than anything else!
Back on the Metro again…yes, we managed to use the last of our metro tickets today; for our final destination to see the quaint end of our street Rue Mouffetard. This is a very popular Parisian shopping street that our Hostal happens to be located in the middle of. We’d seen the top half several times but had not gone the opposite direction. We were so glad that we made the trip as it was every bit as interesting. We found an old church where they were having a funeral, an organ grinder making music for euros, and shops for all different kinds of foods. These were individual shops: seafood, cheese, meats, fruits and vegetables, clothing, etc. etc. etc. So very French to carry ones basket and go from store to store each day for fresh supplies; our last stop was to purchase a baguette of bread for our lunch at the local Boulanger Patissier Shop.
The Shuttle Service picked us up at one o’clock and we were at Charles De Gaulle Airport within half an hour. Checked into our hotel for the night…wow…our own bathroom; then headed over to the airport for a run through of tomorrow morning. Now we know exactly where we need to go early tomorrow morning. Tomorrow night we’ll be snug in our beds in the USA!
Hope you’ve enjoyed sharing our journey with us.