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Saturday, July 10
Five thirty in the morning sure is early. :-( But we made it to our first train in time. Oh, did I mention that our room last night had a balcony . . . and a ~great~ view? That was really neat to wake up to. Anyway, we rode trains for a long time. We didn't get to Paris until after 1:00. While on the train I mapped out what to do in the city for the rest of the day. Our book even had a subway map so that we could figure that out ahead of time. Reading so much made my head hurt, though. The super-fast train sure rocked on the tracks a lot. Oh, short annoying story: we had originally been told that this train was full so we had to make other plans. Well, in making those plans I wasn't thinking straight and put us on the same train just from another city. That time we got seats just fine. All the way to Paris there were empty places on the train. I was angry that some idiot ticket person told us it was full. Back to the train ride; most of the scenery was pretty dull except for a forest we went through early on.
Once into Paris, it took us ~forever~ to find the place to buy subway tickets. We went straight to our hotel and left our bags there. The room was pretty small, but we had our own shower at least. Then we tried to make it to Notre Dame by 2:30 for the English tour. But on our first metro it stopped at a station and a lady made everyone get off. Apparently they were working on the tracks ahead, but didn't bother to announce this ahead of time. Even while we left they were selling tickets to unsuspecting people. Very rude, I thought. Greg and I walked to the next station and continued from there. However, this made us super late to Notre Dame. There were so many tourist there! The bottom 2/3 of the front is covered in scaffolding, too. :-( It doesn't look all that big from the outside, but it sure feels huge inside. Aside from the rose windows, though, there wasn't much else that was remarkable. We walked around the outside and stopped to buy postcards and a book. We finally spotted the famous gargoyles; they're these tiny, tiny things way up high. It'd be so easy to miss them. I'm not sure why they're famous. Greg really wanted to climb inside the tower, but it was closed for renovations. After that we went to the Rodin museum. About the only thing I liked there was "The Thinker," which was smaller than I expected. Everything else was these erotic poses of couples that I can't believe were made in the 1800's. Maybe I would have liked it better if I had done an audio tour that explained more. Afterwards we took a bus ride through a lot of expensive shopping districts. We got off near Sacre Coure, which is a big church in the north part of the city. We couldn't find the stupid place for a long time. Once we did, they had closed the towers we wanted to climb. The view from the square in front of the church was still pretty good, but it was very crowded. Then we took the metro to a restaurant that was highly recommended by our guidebook. When we got there we had to wait in line for maybe fifteen to twenty minutes. It was apparently a really popular place with tourists and locals both. Not to mention that it was Saturday night. Once we finally got inside, I was really mad when we found out there was no English menu. Our guidebook should at least have mentioned that! How was I supposed to order anything? I was ready to leave after waiting all that time to get in when another American lady came over and translated the menu for us. That was so sweet of her. :-) Greg got duck and I had chicken. I was a quarter of one and mostly dark meat. After a bit I got disgusted with picking off the meat and let Greg finish the rest. The french fries weren't even that good. For dessert I ordered something with chocolate and vanilla ice cream . . . and it came out in a wrapper! I could have paid half the price for that down the street! Greg's chocolate mousse was really good, though. The waitress was really rude the whole time and took ~forever~ to let us pay. We didn't get out until thirty minutes after we were done eating. Then we went to the Hard Rock Cafe that was practically next door. I wanted to get a little $5 pin, but ended up getting a $20 t-shirt instead. It was really pretty with the Eiffel Tower on it and stuff. Greg said I was succombing to peer pressure, but that's okay sometimes. Finally we went to the Eiffel Tower, which is truly awesome. Especially at night. We were only 3 Franks (50 cents) short of being able to buy two tickets to the middle level, so we had to settle for first level tickets. They didn't separate the different groups, though, so we rode on up to the second level. I felt really bad, but we did it anyway. I told Greg that I wanted to mail them some money and he laughed but said okay. Anyway, the view was amazing even though it was hazy and about to rain. It was kind of chilly too. Somehow, it was all sort of romantic in an odd way. We went down sooner than Greg wanted to, but I wasn't comfortable being out in the cold when I might be sick. It sprinkled a bit on us, but not too much. We didn't get back to our hotel until after midnight.
All in all, it was a weary day. The subway system in Paris is so infuriating. It's pretty quick, but there's ~so~ many stairs you have to climb up and down and around. It's truly crazy. It's also hot and stuffy. Tomorrow we're going to the Louvre, so that will be neat.
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