Friday, June 24, 2011

Paris 2011

22 Juin (Mercredi) - Bonjour de Paris!

We took the car over to Steve's last night so he could start it for us.  We don't want to go through the whole replacing the battery thing again.  We gave our apartment and mailbox keys to Dave, our neighbor across the hall.  He promised to pick up our mail.  The apartment key is just in case and we really hope he doesn't need it.

We had finished packing also last night, so we only had to put in our shaving stuff and we were ready for the taxi, which I had called last night, too.  He arrived right around 13h00, loaded our stuff in and off we went to BIA (Broward International Airport).  I have never before heard it called that, and I don't think it's "official", but that's what the taxi drivers are calling it.

The guy at the outside check-in area couldn't find our tickets in his machine, even though it brought up our names.  He told us that happens all the time and we should just go inside to the regular counter.  We had no problem checking in at the inside counter and headed to the gate, which luckily for me was only about a hundred yards from the counter.  I say luckily because the wheelchair that was supposed to be waiting for me, was not.  We boarded right on time and settled into our seats.

Then it all went to hell.

The first announcement came just before our scheduled take-off time; 15h15.  Apparently, there was a bad weather situation over the Atlanta airport, and planes could not land, nor take off.  It was supposed to clear within a half hour.   We weren't worried because we had a three-hour window until our flight to Paris at 20h30.  We finally took off around 17h30 and got into Atlanta around 19h45.  Again, the wheelchair that was supposed to be waiting, was not there and we had to call for one to be brought down.  It was a good thing I insisted on waiting for it, because the gate at which our plane was waiting was the very last one in the airport and there's no way we would have gotten there (once we found where it was) in time.  As it was, we just made it.  Or so we thought.  Again, because of the bad weather that had finally cleared just before we arrived, had caused eveything to be backed up, and our plane didn't take off until around 21h30.
We thought we were flying Delta to Atlanta, where we would board an Air France plane to Paris.  We were wrong.  We flew Delta all the way.  I'm not complaining, it's just that although Delta was nice and the stewardesses were friendly and efficient, it lacked the ambience of Air France.  For instance, with dinner you could have wine, but you had to ask for it.  And, unlike Air France, there was no champagne at all.  When I saw our seats, I was a happy camper.  We were just next to the bulkhead, which of course, means we had extra room.  The only problem was that Robb was on one side of the aisle, and I was on the other.  There was a French woman with a 20-month-old child sitting between us.  The kid was very active and a bit annoying, but within an hour or so he fell asleep in his mother's arms.  That brought up problem number two; we had not yet been served our dinner and she couldn't hold the kid and eat at the same time.  Her solution was to lay the kid on the floor in front of her (and me).  Robb gave her his blanket and I gave her my pillow for his head.  He slept contentedly for almost the entire flight.

23 Juin (Jeudi) - When we arrived at Aéroport Charles de Gaulle at around 11h30, there was a wheelchair, but sadly it wasn't for me.  It took almost an hour for them to bring me my chair.  Again, it's a good thing I insisted, because it is a long, long way through customs, baggage claim and to the taxi station and I was extremely tired.  While I didn't mind the French kid sleeping on the floor in front of me, it meant I couldn't really sleep because I was worried I might accidentally kick him if I fell totally asleep.  I managed to doze off for a few minutes at a time, but it definitely wasn't restful.  My wheel man was very nice and even made sure I got a taxi ahead of the other passengers standing in a long line.  I'm sure they were pissed when they saw me just hop into a taxi and take off.

We got to the apartment around 15h00, and were met by Olivier, the representative of Ah Paris, through whom we had rented our apartment at 7, rue Saint-Claude in the 3e (le Marais).  He showed us how everything worked and got us signed onto the internet.  He went on his way and we acclimated ourselves.  The apartment is a lot bigger than it appears in the pictures on the website. We were both so tired, we did something we ordinarily would not do; we napped for several hours.  It was cold in the apartment even though it was about 19°C outside.  Well, 19°C is around the mid-sixties in Fahrenheit.  That's cold for me.

As tired as we were, we had no choice but to walk to the Franprix on Blvd Beaumarchais.  We needed coffee, milk, bread and wine.  But as we always do, we bought a few other things also.

A bit after 21h00, we decided (okay, I decided) we could walk to dinner at Fontaine Sully.  We walked down rue Saint-Claude to rue de Turenne. We turned left and walked down rue de Turenne.  I had done this walk digitally on Google Street View and I knew there are a lot of men's stores, but when you walk it for real, the number of stores is somewhat overwhelming.  And of course, we had to stop at so many to have a look.  We finally made it to rue de San Antoine, just a block past Place des Vosges and Fontaine Sully was about a half block to our left.  The first thing we ordered was a picher du vin rouge (a small pitcher of red wine) because the house wine at Fontaine Sully is quite good.  For dinner, we both had filet mignon de porc (pork fillets) accompanied by a large portion of linguini.  After eating, we had un coupe de champagne (a glass of champagne) and finsihed with un café (a coffee).  It was amusing to remember how we used to think we had to order a café noir (black coffee), when all that's really necessary is saying simply "café, s'il vous plait".  Just after we ordered the champagne, Katy recognised us and came over to say "bonsoir" and do the French kissing thing.

After leaving the restaurant, I wanted to walk up to the Place de la Bastille and walk back to the apartment by way of Blvd Beaumarchais.  The Colonne de Juillet was all lit up and I took a picture of it with my phone. Considering how tired and cold I was, it's not a terrible picture.

It seemed to take much longer to get back to the apartment than it had taken to get to the restaurant, but we finally made it.  It was well after 02h00 when we climbed the short staircase (8 steps) up to the bedroom which contains only a double bed and a small night table.

À la prochaine, mes amis. 


Virginia said...

So you are in le Marais? Excellent. I can follow you! rue de Turenne is where my cute little Nepalese shop is where I buy felted wool flowers etc. On the corner. It's not got a sign.

Have a great trip.
Hugs to you both,

Megan said...

happy return to Paris! I agree, Air France is one of the best airlines. Have fun.