27 Novembre, 2005 - We had planned to have Thanksgiving dinner with Robb's niece, Wendy, but Wednesday night, Geoff was at our place drinking a bit of the juice of the grape. He mentioned that he was going to Paris on Thanksgiving. Then, almost like thinking aloud, he said it was too bad we couldn't go with him because we know our way around Paris. Then he mentioned something about getting us into business class (which used to be first class) and before we knew it, we were booking the flight.
Geoff had said we could stay in his room, but we didn't think that was such a good idea, because if he had been caught smuggling us in, it could have resulted in very bad circumstances for him. I got up Thursday morning and booked a room for Robb and me at the same hotel the airline uses (Sofitel Paris Forum Rive Gauche in Montparnasse).
So on Thanksgiving evening (6:00 PM) we flew to Paris.
We arrived Friday morning around 9:00 AM Paris time (3:00 AM US time). Robb and I took just a carry-on bag with one change of clothes, so we only had to clear immigration and leave the terminal. Goeff, of course, was taken to the hotel in the employee shuttle. Robb and I decided instead of a taxi, we would take the RER since we had only one little bag each (The RER is a train that runs through the city and goes to some of the outlying areas like Versailles and the airport. There are five lines in Paris, the "B" line is the one that goes to the airport.) . I had been wanting to do that for a long time. It was really neat. Just as we approached the outskirts of the city, Sacre Coeur appeared in all its glory. What a beautiful site on a clear, crisp morning! I had checked the weather on the internet before leaving and snow had been predicted. Although it was very cold, it did not snow.
We got off at the Denfert-Rochereau stop and walked down Boulevard St. Jacques to the hotel. It was really, really cold. As you know, we were here for Christmas and the New Year one time, but it wasn't as cold then as it was today. Still, it's Paris! It wasn't that far to the hotel from the RER station and once there, we signed in, prepaid our room, got our key and went up to our room on the sixth floor (seventh floor in the US). It was an interesting turn of events, because we were in 655 and Geoff was in 628 at the opposite end of the building. He had a great northern view while we had a view of another section of the building. We cleaned up a bit and walked down to Geoff's room.
We spent a while discussing what we wanted to do and it was decided that we wanted to go to a nice store to buy some wine and other stuff to bring back with us. We also wanted to go to lunch in a real french place. We decided to have lunch at a nice little bistro that I knew on Avenue d'Italie, Le Canon de Tolbiac. From the bistro, we could walk down the street to Monoprix, a large super market/department store. The Glaciére métro stop was only about a block from the hotel. We took the line 6 to Place d'Italie where we got the line 7 to Tolbiac. At the bistro, we had moules et frites (mussels and fries). There's something about the way they make fries in France. I think it's because they use fresh, real potatoes. Robb and I drank wine, Geoff had a french beer. We walked down to Monoprix, stopping to check out a few places on the way. In Monoprix, we bought some wine, some tea and some chocolate. We made our way back to the métro and rode back to the hotel. We were all pretty tired after the long flight and the shopping trip, so we decided to get some sleep before deciding where to go for dinner.
After a nice, but short nap, Robb and I showered, dressed and walked down to Geoff's room. Originally, we had thought that we might go to one of the oriental restaurants on Avenue de Choisy, but it was so cold that none of us wanted to walk that far. We decided to check out the area around the hotel. There was a restaurant in the hotel, which I thought looked great, but neither Robb nor Geoff wanted to go there. There was a pizza place right next door (although pizza was their speciality, they did have regular stuff also). We walked a bit further and found a really nice looking Italian restaurant and went in. The owner actually was Italian. I had Penne alla Arrabiata (lord it was spicy), Robb had Veal Marsala and Geoff had the Viande Plat du Jour. Everything was great. Robb and I ordered a bottle of Italian wine and, again, Geoff had a beer. Desert was Panna Cotta for the three of us. Robb and I finished with our usual café noir.
We walked back to the hotel. Geoff wanted to go the the airline crew room and check on the number of available slots for tomorrow's flight back to Miami, but when we got there, there were only two computers. One was tied up for quite a while and the other was not working. Since we couldn't use the computer, we decided to spend the rest of our time in Nellie's bar. It was nice, but it was all I could do to keep my eyes open and we finally called it a night around midnight.
Saturday morning, I woke up, looked at the clock and let out a shout. The alarm had not gone off and we were forty-five minutes late getting up. Somehow, we managed to get ourselves ready and got a taxi to the airport only twelve minutes later than we had planned. It was total pandemonium in the aiport. I've never seen so many people in one place. To make matters worse, the airline ticket counters were not clearly marked like they are in most airports, so we had to look for little signs to know where we were. We finally got our boarding pass and made our way to the security check point. Our plane was to begin boarding at 10:35, at which time we were still in a long line waiting to be checked. But the security check point is near a window and I saw that it had begun to snow pretty hard. The last time that happened in Paris, the flight was delayed by seven hours. This time, it was only four hours. It was an extremely bumpy ride. But thanks to the lovely stewardesses and several glasses of champagne, it was a good flight.
We arrived in Miami at 9:00 PM, five hours later than scheduled. We got through passport control and customs in pretty good time and met Geoff just at the door from customs to the transportation lobby. We all boarded the employee bus and rode to the parking lot to Geoff's car. We were home by 10:00.