Training it to Paris - The Graduation Adventure Day 9
Friday, May 30th
Our time to London is coming to a close. There's something strangely comforting about the city. Something familiar. I'm sure it could be the vast amount of Sherlock and other BBC/ITV programs that make it across the pond and make me feel like I know the city. It just feels nice. Cardiff was almost sweet. I really did enjoy the time spent in Wales, short as it may be, there was something almost adorable about it. But Paris...there are a few things that make Paris just a little different.
Yes, the language. 100% the language. I obviously don't speak French. And even if I did, I think I would have troubles actually speaking it. There is something about my brain at this point, be it age or just the lack of experience, where I just can't get my mouth to make the words in another language. I can cobble together Bonjour or Merci, but that's about all. Last time I went to France with Adele I kept wanting to say Gracias. And, that's not gonna work.
It's not only the language, but there isn't that "feel" of Paris that I have of London. I've been to Paris once before, in the dead of winter. This trip has been cold and rainy in the UK. The weather channel app shows a different story in Paris. Fingers crossed. I mean, we've lived through the awfulness of Chiberia. And the never ending winter. We deserve some nice weather, dammit.
But Paris is just so...Paris. It's romantic and lovely and surprising and everything you want it to be. Even in the cold of the winter, it was magical. I expect it to be again.
So we are heading out on a train. To Paris. From London. The Eurostar has been in operation for years, but this still seems like a foreign concept - to take a train from one country to another...with a body of water separating the countries. But who am I to question at this point?? Let's do this.
Really, though...I'm not going to go through the day in London. There's really no need. We woke up, got ready, had a sub-standard breakfast. Ok. Actually, here's where I want to go on the record with a "Seriously??" Cause, Seriously.
About our free breakfast situation in our hotels, I actually have a very low standard for breakfasts. Juice, coffee/tea, some pastries, maybe some fruits, some hot breakfast foods here and there, you're golden. We have now had two hotels (ok, three hotels...I'm writing this the day after we made it to Paris. Umm...Spoiler Alert...we did make it to Paris) with breakfasts that even make me go, Meh. The first hotel had the best breakfast. Eggs, sausage, pastries. It was just a bit blah. The second hotel said we didn't have a free breakfast. I bet that was the best breakfast ever. In the entire world. The third hotel had a few things to pick up at the buffet, then they brought you the pieces of an English Breakfast (toast, egg, sausage, bacon), which was fine in theory, but the waitresses were overworked and the food was not good. The fourth hotel...massive disappointment in the breakfast situation. We are holding out hope for the Disneyland Paris Hotel we booked, but we have three more days before we learn about this.
Our luggage was dragged (by us) from our hotel to the Hammersmith and City Line train at the Paddington station. We (I) carried bags up and down stairs and in general, tried to make ourselves take up as little space as possible on the train. But two big suitcases and several additional bags made it difficult to do. Luckily, we were traveling prior to noon. And we were going to an international train station, so we wouldn't be the only ones on the trains with big bags.
We arrived at the Kings Cross St. Pancras station to find...more steps. You'd think in an international train station there would be more lifts. But whatever. If I kept this up, I could have arms like Michelle Obama one day. Signage was plentiful and we found the international terminal without a problem. First step, scan your ticket to go through the turnstiles. Then, passport control. You guys, I am in love with this new stamp. There's a train on it. Look at the adorable train on it!!
Once we got through passport control, we waited for an hour in the waiting area. Cause we are always early to everything AND because Eurostar told us to be there no later than 45 minutes prior to departure. So, we were there. Just waiting.
Soon enough, they announced our gate and everyone in the station started heading in the same direction. Here's my advice...if you have a piece of luggage larger than a carryon, get to your destination quickly. The luggage space does fill up rather quickly. When I got in, there was maybe one or two spots left. Elias brought a carryon size, so I could hoist that over the seat.
I was always concerned about the underground portion of the train ride. Cause I don't think human should be traveling through bodies of water without protective gear. But honestly, we couldn't even tell we were under anything. And we were only in the "water" portion for 30 minutes or so. It's just another train. I do enjoy the trains.
We arrived at Gar du Nord a little over two hours later. It was the moment of truth. Two moments of truth actually. #1 - Paris. We were finally in Paris. And #2 - Getting a cab.
I always knew we'd get a cab from the train station. There were too many Metro changes from the station to our hotel. Plus, we don't know where we are going. And we are lugging our crap. I honestly don't care the cost. We are getting a cab. There are signs. There are queues. And a cabbie was easy to find. We had to pay by each piece of luggage. And I probably overtipped him, but it didn't matter. We were in Paris and had made it to the hotel.
The decision to stay at the Hotel Regence Etoile was an easy one. It was ranked highly on TripAdvisor and it was much less expensive than I had expected a hotel to be in Paris. The hotel is a small one, located on one of the spokes coming out of the Arc de Triumphe. Our room is tiny. Which is to be expected from Paris. There is just enough room for two bags and ourselves. But there is one thing we are thrilled about. The lighting in the bathroom is epically good. Then there is a window that let's in even more light. I've seen freckles on my nose and cheeks that I haven't seen in years. And my eyebrows...really need some threading. And what about those wispy hairs on the side of my...maybe the lighting is a little too good.
We dropped our luggage and made a beeline for the first stop on our journey in Paris. We were going to the Louvre.
It was starting off as a carbon copy trip of my Paris journey a few years ago. Adele and I did the same thing. The Louvre at night. On an evening with a late opening. Perfect.
One thing Elias has been good for is that he can be both an adult (beer) and a kid (tickets) depending on the scenario. Some tickets, he gets in free or gets a heavy discount. That is helpful. For the Louvre, he was going to be under 18, cause Free. And I don't need any crap from anyone about that. I could use a few breaks on this trip. Plus, Elias thinks he likes museums, but I'm not sure he 100% does. I mean, he goes in and looks around, but he doesn't do a lot of reading and exploring. And we don't ever spend a ton of time inside, so I accept him as a kid on this one.
Our issue with the Louvre was that it was hot (what was I wishing for earlier??), there was construction happening, so things were out of whack, and we were really hungry. We saw a few sights. Mona. Liberty. Venus de Milo. And we were out. Time for food.
The TripAdvisor City Guide has been a freaking lifesaver. This is the app that keeps on giving. And we have been using the guide and map all over the place. We found a lovely little cafe near the Louvre that was a great introduction to our Paris dining. The Cafe Saint Honore was around the corner from the Louvre. Our waiter was fine, a little hurried, but honestly, I didn't need overly friendly. Just food and wine, thank you. But it was a typical Parisian restaurant. And a great start for our trip.
We didn't stay out too late today. Though dinner was over after 10p. We had traveled many miles today and had grand plans for tomorrow. Because we are in Paris!!
5/28 - 12,500 steps, 5.5 miles