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


Carol and David  
Day 12
Normandy / Paris

We both had another restful night sleep, with the song of the frogs and the night birds accompanying the cool air coming in through the open window. The cool fresh Normandy air is delightful and invigorating yet soothing. We will miss it.


We met our fellow guests for an enjoyable breakfast – Allen and Arlene Flanders, from Washing DC/Mesa, AZ; Joanne and Bob Sullivan from Villanova, Pa; and Stephen, Helen and Stephanie Duer from Stillwater, OK. Stephanie is on an exchange student program, taking a year between high school and college where she will study sports medicine. What an incredible experience. Allen and Bob were both WWII vets. Lovely, wonderful, warm, intelligent people – we thoroughly enjoyed meeting them all.


A happy group at breakfast at L' Atre Fleuri


Great folks at L' Atre Fleuri


After another delicious breakfast (thank you so much for all your hard work, Margaret), we packed, checked out and then said goodbye to our hostess and our fellow guests/new friends, then drove a few meters to Malcolm Forbes' Chateau du Balleroy where we took a short walk through the ancient cathedral on the grounds.


Back in the Renault, we headed east toward Caen. The day is sunny, breezy and cool – scarf weather. As usual, Carol has everything so well-organized and compartmentalized.


We are prepared for any kind of weather and can get to what we need in seconds. I have said this repeatedly in our other travel journals, but it cannot be said enough. If anyone wants to learn how to efficiently pack and prepare for easy, light travel, contact Carol. She is the Goddess of Travel. Michelin ought to erect a statue in her honor. I could not do what she can do. Our trips are thoroughly researched (love that Internet), planned, prepared and organized, yet we always can be spontaneous. It is always “perfect” although our “go with the flow” attitude goes far towards making “acceptance” become “perfection.” Carol knows exactly what will fit where. She is an expert on today's suitcase and travel technology.


It also helps that Carol and I share the same philosophy regarding travel, people, places, history, food - in other words, LIFE. Every step of Our Magnificent Journey together is a cherished moment.


Here we sit on a bench at the Caen Gare (train station). We missed our 12;00 train to Paris and have an hour and a half wait for the next train. Perhaps many people would become flustered/annoyed but here we sit, enjoying each other's company, the cool air, some camembert and local bread. Life is short – we try to make every second count because life, after all, is truly a Magnificent Journey, no? It is soon to be our tenth anniversary, and we would not trade one step of Our Magnificent Journey together for all the wine in France, all the tea in China, or all the parts of Greece that now sit in the British Museum.


Waiting for the Caen to Paris train


The Journal


Express train to Paris


At 2:24 the Paris-bound (Gare St. Lazare) train pulled slowly out of Caen and we said au revoir to lovely Normandy. This is one area we definitely want to explore further. The apples, pears, cheese, wine, calvados, cider and bread were delicious. The verdant rolling green fields, forests and orchards and the ever-present scent of lilacs transported us to a time and place beyond the crazy, hectic, stressful world we know only too well.


Note: In our travels through Normandy, including our 3-hour drive from Bayeux to Le Mont St. Michele, then to Balleroy, through dozens of small villages and large cities, we saw no litter. The roadsides and streets were devoid of garbage, unlike the towns and cities of the U.S. Is it that the French take more pride in their beautiful countryside? We don't know. We saw grafitti everywhere, as we always do on our trips, and Normandy was no exception, although the amount we noticed was miniscule compared to what one finds in Paris, London or New York.


Arrived in the rain at Gare St. Lazare at 4:30pm and took a taxi to Hotel Delavigne on Rue Casimir Delavigne in the St. Germaine des Pres area. The driver was an amicable and street-wise Egyptian who transported us to the hotel through rush-hour traffic in no time. We enjoyed talking with him, wished him well, and settled into our room on the 5th floor, away from the potential night-time street noise. The room is small, but large enough for us. Very clean and the location is excellent.


Our room at the Hotel Delavigne


We planned to meet our dear friends Marc and Muriel Goldfeder this evening, so we went down to the lobby to leave them a note and there they were, checking in. It was wonderful to see them again.


Our travel buddies, Muriel and Marc
Carol gets her bearings


Marc and Muriel had just spent time in Belgium and Holland and wanted to be with us on May 6 when we renew our wedding vows. We were all quite happy to see each other and were anxious to catch up on travel tales. We gave M&M some time to check into their large, spacious room, then together we went out into Paris had enjoyed beer, wine and soupe a la oignon at a nearby café where we swapped travel stories. Then we walked into the Latin Quarter for dinner, where we decided on La Bourbon, which we highly recommend avoiding. My mussels were obviously bad but served to me anyway (I refused them,) and Muriel found an insect cooked with her green beans. The chocolate mousse was instant and horrible. We all just had to laugh, because as Marc pointed out, you can't win them all.


David and Marc


Boul Mich


Muriel discovers a surprise in her dinner


We walked back to the hotel at 10:30. It was chilly and a bit drizzly. We were very happy to see our dear friends again, and we made plans to meet for breakfast at the hotel in the morning. Great to be back in Paris, especially with such good friends.


The stairwell at the Hotel Delavigne


Pedometer reading for today - 4 miles

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