Rome/Paris Day 6 - Arrivederci, Rome!! Bonjour, Paris!!

February 8, 2012

We knew going in (obviously) that our trip would be cut into two distinct parts. The Rome Part. The Paris Part. When I thought about the trip, I would tend to focus more on one part than the other. Then I would worry that the other city would become the red headed step child and just be ignored, so then I focused more on the first city. Paris was the city that I focused more on originally, then got sad for the lack of attention on Rome. Adele had her list of Paris broken out into three distinct categories - A (must do), B (want to do), C (would like to do). I couldn't mentally get to that point and I basically left on this trip knowing I would see what I could see. I know I won't see it all and don't want to try. Paris will happen more than once.

Adele and I talked about Rome last night. It was such a cool place. We saw a lot, but also didn't. The ruins of Ancient Rome - we saw them, but couldn't go inside. Pompeii - we went, but missed a lot. And those are the perils of travel during the off-season. The weather doesn't always cooperate. And for us it didn't. We will have experiences that not everyone has (snow on the Colosseum?? We saw it!!), but we also missed out on some of the basics. How much did we want to sit on the Spanish Steps?? Or sit outside of a sidewalk cafe with a gelato and limoncello?? Those experiences were not meant to be. But it makes me ready to come back...when it's not Winter. Not again in Winter...

Our flight to Paris was not super early, but we still had to prepare a lot. The alarms went off at 530a. Just way early. Adele still isn't sleeping well. I'm sleeping really well (like the dead...that's normal for me). She thinks her cold has changed slightly, hopefully for the better. So this morning, we had to finish packing, eat breakfast, then check out and call a cab. Easy enough. Unfortunately, we learned if the hotel isn't really full, you need to run the water for a while (long while) to get hot water. That put us behind schedule. Crap was thrown into the suitcase with the hope that everything would be fine. And I'm really hoping the limoncello is safe in there...really hoping...

The flight from FCO to ORY was only 1:30. We have the snoring man across from us. There's the cute Frenchman who should have been in the aisle seat, but weaseled his way into the window seat. I was supposed to be in the middle seat with no one in the window, but this dude bogarted that seat. So Adele moved to another aisle seat one row up and I moved over. We were sitting in "American Alley.". The guy in the Philly's baseball cap and his girlfriend are in front of us (we didn't care for them much). The LOUD big guys from Miami were behind us (they moved...thank god, cause they were very much the Ugly Americans). I didn't know if this was all done on purpose, but it was funny how we all ended up in the same general area.

Soon enough we were off the plane and on our way into Paris. One surprising feature...we didn't have to get our passport stamped. What the what?? But now how am I going to show others I've been to France?? I want a passport stamp, dammit!!

We found a bit of WiFi in the airport and figured out where our hotel was located. Take the train to the Metro stop, then change trains and walk and we'll be there. Well...in theory. We found the train from Orly to Paris. Done. And expensive. But whatever. Then we got off in the Metro stop (St. Michel - Notre Dame) and went to transfer trains. We were in the right area, but the trains were weird. And we weren't sure what train was ours. Finally, we did some scouring on the track and figured out what we were doing. It looked like these trains were also commuter trains to the burbs. There were many trains that splintered off into other directions, but still considered part of the same line. We found our train, hoisted our luggage up a large step (and a second set of stairs on the train) and we made our way deeper into the city.

The hotel was pretty easy to find. It was only a few blocks from the Metro stop and in a more residential area (both hotels now were located in mostly residential areas). The room itself...meh...it's pretty small (probably standard size in Paris). The bathroom is very tiny. There's enough room for us to sleep and that's about it. At this point, I'm pretty sure if Adele needs to use the bathroom in the night, she's going to have to wake me up to move out of the way of the door. I hope she can hold it in...

We dropped our luggage in the hotel and quickly made our way to the Louvre. During the research phase of the trip, Adele found out that the Louvre was open late on Wednesday nights. So when's the best time to go see works of art?? On the late nights where others aren't hanging around. Perfect.

I could have spent days at the museum, but we just don't have that kind of time. So we blew through chunks of the museum in about three hours. It was a checklist of what to see. Venus de Milo. Check. Napoleon's Apartment. Check. Miss Mona Lisa. Check. Here's the thing about Mona Lisa...she s actually bigger than I had expected. For years, I'd hear the stories. "The painting is just so small." "You'd be surprised at how small, Mona Lisa really is.". So I went in thinking she was very, very tiny. And she wasn't. She didn't take up the whole wall like some paintings, but she wasn't postage stamp sized either. There was a crowd of people around her, but she was pretty easy to get to and see. And...it's just a painting...

The paintings kept coming. The statues were next. Then there were some Egyptian items. Adele wanted to see the Code of Hammurabi. I had heard of it before (probably from Adele), but didn't entirely know what it was. She said it was the first recorded (or oldest recorded) set of laws. The item itself was very cool to see. What surprised me was that there were all of the labels for the items, but they didn't have listed the year(s) from which these came. That was always my favorite part. To see a bone fragment or a porcelain cup from sometime BC. It's just crazy history. Crazy!! But I didn't see many of these years. Disappointing.

We also had a bit of an interesting moment in the Louvre. All of a sudden, a voice comes over the loudspeaker asking for us to all go out towards the Exit due to "something.". We didn't know what was going on and most other people didn't move a muscle. Even the dudes working the museum. So we kept on. And suddenly, it was like we had the museum to ourselves. Very cool. I wondered if they had some kind of Thomas Crown Affair situation happening..

At a certain point, I realized I hadn't really eaten today. I know!! Usually I am up for 8 meals per day. But other than a carb-filled breakfast (I can't say no to baked goods in a buffet) and a few slugs of water and tea, I had pretty much not eaten much. I called Uncle and we left the Louvre to find some food. First, we saw the Eiffel Tower all aglow. It wasn't the first sight of the Eiffel Tower. No, I saw it through a dingy, graffiti-filled subway train. It wasn't how I wanted to see the monument for the first time, dang it. But now, it was all glowing bright. Tomorrow, I think we're going to see it in the light, then later in the week, we'll find it all lit up and take pictures of it up close. Fabulous!! And I also saw a ferris wheel all lit up too. I had no idea there was a ferris wheel!! I told Adele I wanted to go!! I think she's hoping I forget. Cause that's going to be money spent we would much rather spend on food or wine.

We were finally dragged away from the sweet glow of the monuments and wheels and sought out a place to finally sit and chow down. We ended up a block away from the Louvre. It was a nice enough place. We got a cheese and meat plate and some wine. Adele got French Onion Soup and I had Frog Legs. Then felt guilty that I had eaten both Kermit AND Miss Piggy. But they were pretty good.

It became clear that we couldn't do much more tonight. It was time to curl up and go to bed. Or at least curl up and write about the day. We've decided to make it a later morning tomorrow. We don't have huge plans, but we think shopping will be on the docket. For reals this time. Not like the Rome shopping, which just didn't happen. Now we just have to find a good area for shopping. We still have time to figure this all out. I just have to hope we haven't seized up about spending money on things other than food. Cause I'm pretty sure I need to bring back several bottles of wine to make up for missing a week of work...several bottles...

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