Monday, March 26, 2012

One More Week.....

Monday, 26 March 2012

Hard to believe but we're almost ready to leave....this time next week we'll be flying over the USA to Chicago and on to Paris arriving the next morning. This morning I made sure all of my things will fit into the suitcase ... again.... and then took them back out for final review later this week before the final packing!

Today I read an article about how to dress up an all black or gray outfit in Paris: add a scarf, hat or pin but only one...never add all three! I have a hat, four different scarves and I added a couple of pins to my costume jewelry box so I'm sure that I've quadrupled my outfit variation! Contrary to previous trips; I won't feel like I'm in the same clothes day after day after day! What a difference a pin, scarf or hat will make!

Months ago, in preparation for this trip, I began to read blog spots that highlight Paris. I have shared some of them with you and my favorites are:

I check each of these daily for the newest's mostly one new photo per day...and tidbits of how to catch the essence of Paris. I also enjoy several sites on Facebook:

Bonjour Paris and Americans in France

All of the above have sharpened my pencil as we searched for sites to visit both in Paris and throughout our tour of France with our friends in the latter half of our trip.

We've had each of the local children and their families over for a dinner this past month; how delightful to spend an evening devoted to just one family; we actually had our dinners at the dining room table with candlelight. I think they've enjoyed this unusual family time as much as we have! For some, one of the big pluses was some quality time with their adult children who no longer live at home. And, we just heard that the four families who live nearby are all getting together for our traditional Easter Brunch after church. Generally I plan this and it's at our house but they put it together all on their own at the oldest daughter's home! Makes a mother proud!

à bientôt

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Hotels Confirmed...Have Euros Will Travel....

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

During the past week Linda and I have been busy sending emails to each of the hotels we have reservations with to confirm that "yes" they do have us on their books! My emails were a bit more complicated because our bank reissued our credit card in December and I had to send out that information also. We made the reservations last October; so very important to reconfirm!

The Peugeot 308 SW Diesel automobile is now paid for and waiting in Paris. It is a brand new automobile through their lease/buyback program for European travelers who are staying for a minimum of 17 days...the following explanation is from their website:

How the Peugeot Buyback Lease Works:

The buyback lease in some ways can sound too good to be true. After all, how can they give you a brand new car for less than you'd pay for a traditional rental? The reason it's a good deal all around is that locals must pay a higher tax on a brand new car. Non-EU residents are exempt. So you get the new car, avoid the tax, and they can sell it afterwards for less. You are technically buying the car, and then they buy it back from you after your lease period.

Since we will be driving from April 24th to May's a perfect deal for our trip. We'll return the car at Charles de Gaule Airport on our way back into Paris for our final six days. This program also solves the problem of the fact that most rental companies will not rent to a person over the age of 75 years...and Jim falls in that range. They are not concerned with that issue and you also have an all inclusive insurance policy that comes with the car program.

Jim and I have used this program at least four times on previous trips. This time it's a larger automobile since there are four of us and we also have GPS for the first time. Hopefully that will replace the job of navigating from maps that are generally out of date! I do hope her English is good! Oh yes....we always give our GPS a name...usually a female....the one at home is "Miss Daisy"...and we'll have to think of one that we all like for our trip...Linda...if you're reading this...start thinking!

On the Euro issue we decided to buy some from our bank so that we don't have to worry about the 550 Euros we need for the first pay the balance of our rent for the apartment. Cash is required. The 50% deposit was paid last fall when we reserved the apartment. We checked the rate online and it was 1.32; we headed to our bank intending to purchase 1000 Euros but although they assured us there were no fees for customers...the rate was 1.39! When questioned they said that those published rates are the rate for transferring millions of dollars into Euros.

So we elected to only get 500 and use the ATM when we arrive for the balance needed. Jim is sure the rate is going to go down in the next two weeks...I'm not so sure that it won't go up in the next two weeks. One of us will be able to say "I told you so!" We actually have Euros left from our trip in 2010 and our good friends Shari and Dave sold us their change that they had left from their trip last summer. So if you plan to pre-purchase money for travel; remember that the rate of exchange is much higher than published and you need to do it several days ahead as they have to order the funds for you. This is the first time we've pre-purchased funds as we always use the ATM after we arrive in Paris and will probably continue to do that in the future.

Only twelve more days to go......

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Planning, packing and repairs...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The trial run on rolling the clothes as opposed to folding was a great success! Hardly any wrinkles and I can get more in as there are fewer wasted pockets of space! I've found another shirt I can tuck in that is nylon; easy to wash and dry, and red for a change of color from black.

We spotted a leak in the street in front of our house last week; on the city side of the water meter so it was their nickel that made the repairs yesterday. And, we found a leak in a supply line to one of the toilets that could have been a major problem while we were gone. That's one reason that I like to invite friends to stay in our house while we're gone. Nothing worse than coming home to a water damaged house!

Today I worked on estimating how often we would be hitting the ATM for Euros; that required guesstimating the amount of Euros we'll be spending each day and also the anticipated ratio of the Euro to the Dollar. Then I entered all of the hotel bills into my accounting system; again an estimate not knowing the exact amounts and the conversion rate. But after several hours of diligent work on the computer, I now have a good idea of what we'll need to finance this adventure. Our plane tickets are "air miles" and that takes a big hunk off of the bill. When you're gone for two months those bills arrive and even though everything is set up for auto pay you still have to have the right funds in the right accounts. Good thing that I enjoy accounting!

I heard from our friends who live just outside of Paris; I met them while in Australia. We're meeting them for lunch on our first Saturday. They have a little three year old girl and a new baby boy born last fall; we're excited to see both of them!

We have four children who live nearby and since we'll miss the traditional Easter Brunch at our house we've been having each "family" over for dinner separately. The last one is scheduled for March 23rd. It's been a nice change and wonderful to sit around the table together for a meal. It's always buffet style when the family gathers as there are too many of us...we number twenty five with just the local ones! Add San Diego and there is another eight if everyone comes. Then we have four more in San Francisco and another three in New Jersey. But it is delightful when they all come for Christmas and sometimes for Easter!

For those who enjoy reading blogs, my twin sister Mary has resurrected her old blog from our twin trip in 2009 to Europe. She and her husband are leaving the end of March for a thirty day cruise (two back to back) to celebrate their thirtieth wedding anniversary. They fly to Sydney Australia for a few days and then leave from there. To follow Mary and Phil's trip you can log on to

Only 18 more days......

Friday, March 2, 2012

March 8, 2012....Suitcase is packed....maps are done...

The preliminary suitcase is closed. Trying to see how wrinkled things are with rolling each item as opposed to folding. It's zipped up and next week I'll open the case and shake things out. Yes...packing is never really finished until you leave; if there's an inch you'll find something to tuck in until it's so full you put a luggage strap around to keep it from bursting!

The planning phase of our trip really came together when we visited Terry & Linda in Indiana. Terry and I had a high school reunion...our 55th...and it was the perfect opportunity to work together on renting the car; selecting least getting started...while we stayed at their home for a few days.

The work continued for several months until we finally had our last hotel reservations secured and everyone was comfortable with the plan. Below are maps of our progress:

I've finished mapping out our Paris adventures for the first three weeks; a benefit from doing this is that I have learned Metro stops, street names and oh so much about the geography of the city of Paris. Even though I've officially finished I still find myself penciling in additional items as I find them on the Internet. Thought you might enjoy a view the the Arrondissement Map of Paris:

A new item that we added is that we're meeting (for the first time) a second cousin of Jim's from Illinois....she saw this blog and contacted us. She is taking a Trafalgar Tour of France in April and will be arriving and leaving from Paris while we are there. She's staying in the La Defense area so we've added that to our schedule! It's outside the Peripherique but definitely something we want to see. There are three arc's in Paris and they line up across the map; now we'll finally see the third one and send you a photo of all three from there (I hope)!

Only 25 more days.....

One Month To Go!

February is finally over and we leave one month from today! Plans are moving along but I'm really anxious for the trip to begin. I've been researching daily on the computer about all the things to see in the twenty arrondissements that make up the city of Paris. By breaking them down into twenty sections we've got manageable lists of so many different things that we'll never get to see all of them. But, I've printed maps and located everything for each day so that we can easily find where we're going. Now to plan which arrondissement (love that word!) to go to on each many decisions.

Little museums are high on our list: Musee du la Vie Romantique, Edith Piaf Museum, Tapestries Manufacturing Museum, Musee Jean Moulin (a French Resistance Fighter in WW II) and list goes on and on. Parks and private gardens we've found in a book called "Quiet Corners of Paris" have all been found and marked on the maps. We've been told it's okay to open gates that are unlocked to peek inside of these quiet corners.

Our travel friends are in the midst of the terrible storms in Indiana today and we're keeping them in our prayers. Tornadoes can be deadly but then we live in earthquake country! So until next week...stay safe everyone.