Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Our Day in Paris!

We left Dubai super late at night, intending to sleep on the plane.
As luck would have it, the seats on the plane we boarded for Paris were the most uncomfortable seats I have ever been on.
The headrest would not adjust, and tipped me far enough forward that when I would fall asleep, I feel off the seat, and woke myself up.
They also did not recline.
They just gave you an extended leg rest.
I swear, airplane seats are tested and manufactured for folks that are at least 6 feet tall.
If you are 5'4", eventually you long to curl up on the floor, or in an overhead bin.
I slept in spurts, face-down on my lap tray.

We arrived in Paris at about 6 am.
The night before, at Andrea's house, we booked an Ibis hotel. It supposedly had a free shuttle service, so we set off to find the shuttle, to ditch our bags, and also find the Metro.

One of our bags got lost.
We had to wait around for a bit for them to find it.
We asked the baggage claim lady how to get to the shuttle to our hotel.
She asked us what hotel it was, and then she told us it was in terminal three, and the Metro was also in terminal three.

We get to terminal three, and what do you know?
No shuttle service to the hotel.
Do you know why?
We had to go out a set of doors, and right into the hotel.
The first thing we noticed was how bitterly cold it was.

We just came from very comfortable weather, and Paris was about 20 degrees.
We checked into the Ibis, and started loading on layers of clothes.
We put on our pajamas, a couple of shirts, jeans, and sweatshirts.
Doubled up on our socks.
That was the best we could do.
We looked like homeless people.
Fat, shabbily-clad tourists.
In the fashion capital of the world!
I didn't care!
I was in PARIS!
We had a couple of maps, and my Mom had armed me with Rick Steve's guide to Paris (published in 2005, and still good).
(I love you, Rick. Your tips, trivia, and witty banter made our trip all the better.)
I had not dared to look at that book for fear it would jinx us, and we wouldn't ever make flights to Paris.
So I mapped some stuff out on the plane, and when we were changing clothes.
We bought everyone a day pass on the Metro, and hopped aboard.
This is us trying to figure out the Metro.
"Do you stick the ticket here? Will it eat it?"
"Oh, look! It pops back out over there! I get it!"

Everyone using the Metro was in a huge hurry, and seemed to know Exactly where they were going.
Except us.
I knew where we wanted to go, but we couldn't figure out how to get there. So we just hopped on a train.
Sam and I were trying to figure it out.
We were on a blue line, and needed a green line, and then a pink line...
The pink line connected only by the red line...
My brain shut down.
I told Sam he was on his own.
Bless him, he can figure things like that out, and I just get migraines and anger management issues.
I looked out the window, and this was my very first view of Paris:
Are you kidding me?
This place is a DUMP!
And not at all what I thought it would be.

Our first stop on the Metro, we thought, was supposed to get us to Notre Dame.
Although the signs didn't say Notre Dame, but said St. Michaels.
So we hopped off the Metro, and climbed some stairs to put us on the streets...of Paris!

HERE it was!

Not that back-alley ghetto that whizzed past us on the Metro!
You could rent bikes to sight-see!
Everywhere I looked there were charming buildings, uneven cobblestone streets, ornate wrought iron, everything steeped in history...
...detailed sculptures, snippets of french conversations, steaming cups of fragrant coffee.
(Check out the icicles on this guy...I told you it was cold!)
Hold up.
What is that in the distance?
It is!
I really think it is!
Notre Dame.
I wanted someone to pinch me, but I am sure they wouldn't find actual flesh for a few good inches what with all my hideous layers.
It was surreal to actually be IN PARIS.

We had to cross a bridge over the Seine to get to Notre Dame.
I still don't know how to pronounce Seine.
I called it See-yen.
I know it is wrong.
I was too overwhelmed visually to try to correct my pronunciation.
Hello, Charlemagne.
Beautifully carved Saints...
Pretty much the whole dad-gum city was a picture waiting to be taken.
And we haven't even ventured inside yet.
You want to go in?
Alrighty then.
Please remove your hat.
Thank you!
You may notice that the photos are a tad on the blurry side.
No flash photography.
I was amazed that this thing was built without any type of machinery.
The arches are perfect!
It was amazing. (I am going to look up some more adjectives in the online thesaurus.) I am using amazing too much.
Loved the stained glass windows:
I took lots more pictures, but we've got to move on...
Goodbye, Notre Dame.
Back to the Metro.
By this time, Sam somewhat figured out how the thing worked.
After a few connections, we thought we were at the Eiffel Tower.
We weren't quite sure, there were no signs stating "Here is the Eiffel Tower Exit."
But according to the maps we were close.
Jayden was the first one off the Metro.
We were going to go up top, and check how close we were.
I will never forget the look on Jayden's face when he turned around and said "Oh yeah....we are here."
And we definitely were.
We were several blocks away, but there it was large as life!
I was happy we saw it this way.
I am sure there are Metro stops that let you off closer in vicinity to the tower.
It was the coolest thing, to see it from a distance, and as you walked, it got bigger, and bigger.
It was a scenic walk.
Lots to take in.
Getting closer to the Eiffel Tower, We are still several blocks away.
Getting even closer, still a block or so away.
Now we are at the base of the Eiffel Tower.
The Eiffel Tower is massive.
I was not really expecting that.
I knew it was big, but it was really, really big.
This is one of the legs of the darn thing.
With an entire building underneath each leg.
I really can't describe the magnitude of the tower.
We had to walk a few more city blocks to even get it all into a photo.
Please keep in mind when viewing the next photo, layers man, layers. Lots of clothing layers here.
But also notice the smile on my face.
This little homemaker from Utah County is in PARISSSSS!
I will have these memories for the rest of my laundry foldin' days.
Who cares if I look like a stuffed walrus in the photos?

More cool crap, just randomly on buildings or street sides:
I swear, there is nothing ugly in Paris.
They don't even have normal door knobs.
Too bad, Home Depot.
Sam was now "Master of the Metro" and got us to the Arc de Triomphe.
Another one of the places on the list I made.
It was crazy big too.
Lots of impressive sculpture.
Although my girls were appalled to see so many wieners.
I had to explain to them that "those there sculptures was fine art."
I don't think they bought into it.
We're a cultured bunch.
And speaking of culture, by this time, we were getting kinda hungry.
We ate at McDonald's.
Yes, we did.
I am not even ashamed.
Sometimes a cheeseburger and a hot cocoa on a freezing day tastes right perfect.
Even in the land o' crepes.
We took a break for a minute and watched these fools break-dancing on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées.
More cool stuff:
Paris made me really want to go to Italy.
Without kids.
Mikayla and her melt down:
Poor kid. We had really been walking everyone's limbs off.
We were all tired, exhausted really.
But I knew we wouldn't likely be back, and wanted to see it all.
Suck it up, seven year old!
I am truly in the running for Mother of the Year.

We all needed a break, so we took a vote on two attractions.
We didn't have time for both of them.
Attraction #1 was a tour of the underground sewer system.
Rats! Poop! Jean Val Jean!
Attraction #2 was a tour of the underground catacombs.
Bones! Skulls! Creepy tunnels!

The Catacombs won.

It was pretty cheap, I think they gave us a school group discount. We were carting around so many kids that they just assumed.
We took this spiral staircase that went halfway to the center of the earth.
It was a long staircase.
I am not sure how far under the Paris streets we were, and I didn't really want to think about it for fear I would have a full-on claustrophobic attack.
Back in the late 1700's Paris moved several cemeteries worth of remains to old underground tunnels. They moved the bones by wheelbarrow across the city, and down underground.
While we were walking, I figured we had just been suckered into a tourist trap.
We didn't have flashlights, and really couldn't see much.
The tunnels were dripping water, and smelled like dusty rocks.
We walked quite a ways, and then Holy Crap.
When they emptied out the cemeteries, they left a marker, underground, to show where that particular pile of bones originally came from.
There were miles and miles of bones.
Rooms nine feet deep of bones.
I really wish I had worn a pedometer this day.
I bet we walked 25 miles.
The catacombs ended a really long way from the entrance.
We were kinda lost, but made our way back into town to see some more stuff.
We were seriously on our last fumes of energy.
Here is the inside courtyard of The Louvre.
No, we didn't go inside The Louvre.

We only had one day in Paris, and I am just going to go out on a limb here, and say that my kids would have been a pain in the keyster in a museum.

Across the street from The Louvre, they had the coolest bridge over the Seine.
Attached to the bridge were thousands of locks.
Upon closer inspection, all those locks were inscribed with the names and dates of people who had visited Paris, snapped that lock shut, and took the key back home with them.
Pretty cool, really.

The next thing we wanted to see honestly...was the back of our eyelids.

But...I insisted upon seeing the Eiffel Tower at night.
By this time, we were going on thirteen hours of non-stop walking, after not sleeping well on the plane.
We found a good old American Subway to eat at.
Don't judge.
My kids need familiar when they are on the verge breaking down.

Brendan, the King of All Things New and Gross, got Chicken and Thyme potato chips with his Sub.
Mikayla zonked into a coma.
We saw a few more cool things:
Then we waited around a bit for it to get dark, so I could see Paris at night, and particularly the Eiffel Tower.
(Cue U2 singing "City of Blinding Lights.")
The Eiffel Tower was even more impressive lit up.
Every hour on the hour, they have sparkly lights.
It looks like glitter, and it is the best thing I have ever set my eyes upon.
(Keep in mind, I am 25% squirrel. My grandma on my Dad's side was a squirrel.)

Before I could get in a good position for photos, the glitter turned off, but that was okay, since it was still bee-you-tiful.
And romantic.
Then, we hauled our weary bodies back to the Metro.

There was an orchestra playing in this section of the Metro. Quite a refreshing change from the usual begging homeless people we encountered previously.
There were definitely better sections of the Metro and worse sections.
Like vast differences.
Some smelled like urine and armpits, and made you long for a cleansing shower.
Others were nice, like a courtyard in a shopping center.
I bet if you lived there, you would know which ones to avoid.
As soon as that train pulled out, everyone feel asleep.
Strangers were laughing at my bobbing kids.
Jayden, my 14 year old, was drooling on my shoulder.
And THAT my friends, is how you do Paris in one day.

We shuffled into the hotel, were thrilled beyond words that we already had our pajamas on underneath all of our other clothes, passed out into bed and were too tired to even dream.

Our flight left the next morning.
Since we were already at the airport! we hopped aboard the flight to Salt Lake City and winged our way home.

Back to the land of ugly doorknobs.


Mag Family said...

Oh! your poor kids. But a what a day to remember. Beautiful. It makes me laugh cuz my girls would have also noticed the weiners. teehhee!

laura vegas said...

i am truely exhausted, just reading this post. lol! that was quite an adventurous day, and more walking then you'd ever get me to do. lol! you did such a great job sharing your trip with us, in photos and words ... i just lived it out thru you :)

Jenn said...

Aime voyant Paris! Vous remercier mon amie!!

Sara said...

You put tour guides to shame!! What an exhausting but amazing day! The trip sounds so exciting & the pics are just too amazing for words! Now I'm tired & need a nap...you exhausted me! ;)