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Our Magnificent Journey
Chapter 6
Europe 2005
London, Paris, Normandy, Prague


Carol and David  
Day 9

We slept great in our little sleeping compartment aboard the Berlin to Paris train. This 12-hour ride has been wonderfully relaxing. The friendly and helpful German porter had left a 7:30am wake-up call for us, then served us delicious warm croissants, rolls and coffee as the sun came up through the mist over what appears to be the French countryside.


Arrived at Paris' familiar and bustling Gare du Nord about ten minutes ahead of schedule. Carol purchased tickets for tomorrow's adventure to Normandy while I stood near the tracks watching a few pickpockets size up individuals in the crowd (including yours truly). Having been near-victimized in this city on two different occasions, we have learned to become vigilant.


Took a quick cab ride from Gare du Nord, past the Louvre, across the grand Seine, to the Crystal Hotel in St. Germaine des Pres. The weather is spectacular – sunny, clear blue skies and warm temperatures. No scarves today.


The Crystal is in a great location (just around the corner from Les Deux Magots.) Bruno, the concierge could not have been friendlier or more accommodating. The miniscule elevator (just barely enough room for Carol, me and both overnight bags) took us to the fourth floor and from there we walked two short flights to the fifth and found our room - #22. Very charming, very clean, very small and very French. After a nice soothing shower, we dressed for a day of fun in sunny Paris.


Carol in our room at the Crystal Hotel


Walked out of the hotel and up to shady St. Germaine des Pres. Passed popular Les Deux Magots and the ancient Church of St. Germaine des Pres. Turned left onto familiar, narrow, shop-lined Rue de Buci and located the same café at the busy intersection of Rue de Buci, Rue Mazarine, Rue Dauphin and Rue de L'Ancienne Comedie where we sat in '03 and enjoyed the same vibrance. It is so wonderful to be back in the City of Light. Carol is in heaven.


Carol at Les Deux Magots


The dog who joined us for lunch


After our short respite, we walked across the street to Le Cudule, the Indian silver store we frequent on each trip to this magnificent city. As usual I bought another silver bracelet.


Cudule - great place to find Indian silver jewelry


Shopping in Paris


Then down to the River Seine and my favorite edifice on this planet, the grand Notre Dame. Again, we took a fast tour inside (free), then out to Isle St. Louis where we parked ourselves at a café for a cold beer and some excellent people watching. It has become warm but not uncomfortable.


Carol at Notre Dame


Roller skating at Notre Dame


Statues adorning Notre Dame


Statues adorning Notre Dame


Votive candles inside Notre Dame
David inside Notre Dame
The vaulted ceiling at Notre Dam


Gargolye of Notre Dame
Gargolye of Notre Dame

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

Notre Dame


Shopping in Paris


Shopping in Paris


Artsy-fartsy shot - iron rings along the Left Bank of the Seine


We walked around Isle St. Louis and Carol, not to be outdone, bought a nice bracelet.


Then we bought Batobus (river bus) tickets for later. At the Batobus Notre Dame stop we listened to a young fellow playing some beautiful classical guitar.


Street musician (nice classical guitar) on the banks of the Seine


Then past Notre Dame to Rue D' Arcole where we had Kronenburgs in the shade under the awning of Aux Tours D' Notre Dame and spent an hour people-watching. We have seen/encountered very few Americans since arriving in Europe . We see/hear mostly Italian, German, British, French and Russian.


Note: The French waiters, by far, are the best, most personable anywhere, bar none, period. Our waiter at Aux Tour D' Notre Dame was a star – made us laugh and provided excellent service.


We jumped on the Batobus (after Carol set a record 7 visits to the toilette within 1.5 hours) and sailed up/down the Seine playing tourists. We jumped off at La Tour Eiffel. It is a spectacularly gorgeous last day in April and it seems that all of Paris is outside enjoying the sunshine. We sat on the grass on Champs du Mars behind La Tour and Carol played with some young children. This city is eternally alive and vibrant. There is a pulse we feel each time we visit. And each time we visit, it is as if we have never left, and we like it that way.


Carol and David at Le Tour Eiffel


The Champs du Mars has a lazy, carefree air, and all around us lovers embrace, kids play, dogs chase balls – life goes on.


Carol playing on the Champs du Mars

The Batobus took us back down the river and we jumped off at St. Germaine de Pres and freshened up at the Crystal Hotel. Bruno, as usual, was a wealth of information and made several suggestions regarding dinner. We decided to walk across the narrow Rue St. Benoit to Le Petite Zinc, where we ordered the Grand Royale Seafood Platter for two, and ½ bottle of crisp white wine. Dinner consisted of several types of oysters, clams, mussels, snails, shrimp, crabs and some things we just guessed at but were delicious.


Apres dinner we strolled towards Boul' Mich and found a lively café and sat and savored red wine and chocolate mousse (great combination) and enjoyed some stellar people-watching at 9:30 pm. Very, very smoky.


Called son Ryan – great to talk to him as usual – then decided to stroll up St. Germaine des Pres to the hotel in order to sleep, wake, pack and catch the 10:30 train to Normandy.


It is now 10:30 pm, and Paris is thriving and pulsating. Every street in our neighborhood is packed with Saturday night revelers. The cafes are overflowing. Everything is so alive. But we need sleep so back to the hotel we go. Along the way, very close to the Church of St. Germaine des Pres, we spy a wonderful display of art for sale. The messages most definitely caught our attention – “life is short - enjoy it ”. For years Carol has been begging me to cut back on my work hours (average about 12-15 hours per day, ) and so we bought a colorful piece called “Le Monde est Beau” – “The World is Beautiful.” This sums up in one short sentence our own personal philosophy. The artist, a very charming Indian named Yaseen Khan, spoke to us for a while. His peaceful grace and vibrant energy were contagious and we enjoyed talking to him. We feel honored to own one of his works of art. We wish him the best.

Carol and artist Yaseen Khan
Le Monde est Beau

No air conditioning at the Crystal Hotel, so we had no choice but to throw open the windows. Delightful air cooled us, but brought with it the familiar late-night Paris street buzz. Not really a problem for us, and we drifted off dreaming of the magic of the City of Light to the strains of a would-be Edith Piaf somewhere nearby.


Pedometer reading for today - 7.5 miles

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