Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Relaxing Day in Paris

Slept in this morning…about 9 am I walked down to see the concierge about the shower.  Dina came right up with her plunger and within minutes had cleared the drain of too much hair from previous tenants.  We now have a shower that works well; we’re happy campers!   About 10 am we walked out  
to the shops and found an Orange Telephone Shop and put time on my French cell phone from last year and purchased another disposable phone for Jim.  Now we can each go places alone and still keep in contact with each other.  Calls within France are free we’ve been told. 
Then we were off in search of a large grocery store to lay in supplies for the next ten days.  A very nice Frenchman gave us directions; his English was perfect.  Said he’d lived in San Francisco in the past and wanted to give back some of the help he’d been given when he was in America.  He went several blocks out of his way to walk us to the store.   Soon we had filled both backpacks and the bags we’d brought with us.  Fifty Euro’s worth of breakfast items, wines, snacks and all kinds of good things to eat.  Luckily we were only a few blocks from home as the bags were heavy. 

About 2 pm we headed out to walk to Notre Dame Cathedral.  We made several stops along the way:  Arenes Des Lutece, a Roman Ruin that was made into a sport field in 1892; The Institute du Monde Arabe; and finally the Seine River.  Soon we were strolling on one of our favorite street, rue Saint-Louis En L’Isle, where we stayed during our first five years of visiting Paris back in the 1990’s.   Crossing the bridge to The Cite and Notre Dame Cathedral we enjoyed watching the street artists.  

Jim was surprised at the front of the Cathedral; they are celebrating 850 years and have built a large structure in the square for viewing.  They also have twelve new bells installed and the sound of them ringing is beautiful. 
On we walked along the left bank all the way to the walking bridge that has all of the locks attached to the wire fence.  We tried looking for our lock but there are probably five times more here this year.  And we saw some that are in the shape of a heart and about 4 inches across. 

 We’ll have to look up more information for the next trip over to see if we can find our lock.
The sky was threatening but it didn’t rain, only a few drops came down.  Soon we were over to Rue Rivoli on the other side of the Louvre and headed for the Metro Station.  We arrived home about 5 pm; we got turned around when we came out of the Metro but finally found our way home.
By 7 pm we were dressed and headed for our dinner reservation down the street at Au Vietnam Restaurant. 

 What a fun evening to put on fancier clothes, real shoes instead of the sandals and enjoy an evening out in Paris.  Jim enjoyed Peking Duck and I had stuffed crabmeat.  Delicious!
Afterwards we walked over to the nearby Rue Monffetard, made famous by Julie Child as her favorite place to shop.  Most of the shops were closed but restaurants were just opening.  Two trumpet players entertained as we strolled several blocks up the street. 
Soon it was time to call it a night.  A wonderful and relaxing day in Paris.
Hope you enjoy the slideshow below:

Friday, August 30, 2013

Traveling to Paris

It was another long travel day.  We enjoyed the morning, leisurely getting ready for the plane trip.  Check out time was 11 am.   We stored the luggage in the lobby and then explored some of the nearby areas that we hadn’t seen.  We found one really nice area that we were sorry that we hadn’t found earlier.

At noon they called a taxi for us and he took us to the airport; very modern and new on the outskirts of town.   We couldn’t check-in until two hours before the scheduled flight with easyJet so found a spot at the CafĂ© and had some lunch.  Since we were headed for Paris we each had a Croque Monsieur…it’s late and I’m not sure of the spelling.
This was our first time on easyJet, a budget airlines; interesting experience.  They were serious when they said only one carryon item.  I’d packed my purse but they made me take the backrests and neck pillows out of the bag I had them in.  We stuffed the bags into my backpack and they let us carry the items on the plane.  But the price was very good!
Arrived in Paris on time at 6 pm but it took nearly an hour for the baggage to arrive. Since we came from an EU country…no Customs to go through.

Easily found the train to Paris, purchased our tickets and headed for the city.  When we arrived at the Luxembourg Station we got off and then found a taxi to take us to the studio apartment that we rented for the next ten days.
Not quite what we’d expected but we’re going to make the best of it we hope.  It’s after midnight and we just found that the shower is not draining properly!  Too late to call the manager so we’ll see what happens tomorrow.
We did get out and walk the area after we settled in.  Lots of restaurants that were all full of people enjoying the evening.  We’re near the Place d’Italie; a new area for us to stay in while in Paris.

Hope you enjoy the few photos that I took today.  It’s good to be in Paris.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Hop ON & OFF Bus and another Concert in Budapest

Took our time this morning and finally started putting our expenses into an Excel Spreadsheet; that will help when I get home and start to figure out what we’ve spent!
By 10 am we were at the Square where we caught our Hop Off and On Bus for today.  We rode nearly all the way around listening to the narrative about what we’ve been seeing for the past several days.  When we reached the boat dock about 12:30 we got off and boarded the boat for a one hour tour that was included with our tickets.   Not many people on the boat and we had time to get a hotdog and beer for lunch plus some ice cream.  It was a beautiful day and fun to be floating down the Danube River.  We even saw one of the buses that they can also use for a boat during our ride.  About half way through the boat ride the rain that had been threatening all morning finally arrived.
By the time we docked it was coming down pretty good so we got out the clear plastic rain ponchos to add to our umbrellas.  We walked towards the area where we thought the bus would be for the Pink Line; we’d done the Green Line this morning.  Missed the bus and the Information Person for the bus line talked our ears off while we waiting and waited and waited for the next bus.
Finally about 3:30 pm I said…”you know, the Pink Bus does the same route on land that we just finished on the boat, I think it’s time to cut it short and find the Metro.”   So off we went..yes the rain had stopped…and found the Red Metro that took us to the Blue Metro and soon we were back at the Hotel.  It must be time to leave as we’re comfortable on the Metro!
A nice break for phone calls and resting before we dressed up and headed out for our evening concert.  For dinner we stopped at the TGIF…yes…the USA restaurant…and enjoyed a very tasty Hungarian style food with an American slant. 
While we were eating dinner we used their WiFi for my smart phone and made some calls home plus checked emails and Facebook.  And…sure enough…it rained all during our dinner and stopped before we had to leave to walk the three blocks to St. Stephen’s Basilica for our concert that started at 8 pm.

Beautiful church and wonderful music.  The Organist, Miklos Telski, is an international award winning performer.  And we had an Opera Singer and Flute Soloist who performed with him.   The hour flew by and soon we were walking through the night crowds of young people enjoying their evening as we headed for the Metro and home by 10 pm.
The Metro:  It was excellent; the escalators are very fast and long as the Metros run deep underground.  There is always a spare so that you are never without a working escalator.  Our Hotel and our friends all said that seniors ride free… probably only if you are a resident of the EU but everyone said not to get tickets and just walk on.  We braved the gauntlet day after day and never got stopped; there are guards at every entrance.  We didn’t smile, didn’t crack jokes and definitely didn’t ask for directions.  And, we rode the whole time in Budapest on Metro, trams and buses without tickets!
But…one thing that was very different was that no one ever got up and offered us their seat as we’ve seen in all the other countries that we visited on this trip. 
Tomorrow we pack and head for the airport for our flight to Paris.  It’ll be like going home because we are so familiar with Paris.  But, it is to a new apartment in a new area.   So until we are in Paris…Au Revoir…
Hope you enjoy the slide show below….