This morning it was densely fogged in around our house. You could see maybe a block away, but that’s it. The streetlights glowed like something out of Dickens’ and it was cold. When I reached the top of the hill, however, it was clear and the waning moon lit up the sky full of stars. By the time I reached my office, dawn was just beginning. The sky to the south was perceptibly lightening in shades of progressively lighter blue. To the West the moon was beginning its descent. It was clear enough that I could see the wedge of Mt. Rainier visible behind the office building down the street from me.
As I watched, the sky grew lighter, and wisps of fog/clouds began to turn pink and gold. The water in the sound reflected the growing light like a silver mirror. There’s a strong wind from the East and I simply enjoyed the light, the movement, the beauty that is Seattle.
Because we were meeting Gretchen at 9:00am in front of the Rodin Museum, we asked for a wake up call for 8am. To our horror, the phone rang at 9am – there was no way we were going to make it in time if we were going to shower and dress fancy for lunch. Friends are more important than food, so we canceled our lunch reservation and got with the moving. We were out the door and into a taxi and in front of the museum at 9:30, no later. And no Gretchen! It would have been weird for her to have left, even if we had made her wait for 30 mins in the cold. But when it was 9:45 and still no sign of her, we went in.
As with everything else, the work was amazing. But we’d barely got started when Gretchen arrived! It seems she’d missed her train and it was an hour until the next one. Yay! We wandered through the incredible talent that was Auguste Rodin, and admired his work. It was fun meeting her and sharing stories of the trip. Afterwards, we wandered over to Les Invalides, where Napoleon is buried. I was feeling a bit peaked, so they went on in without me and I just people watched for awhile.
We bid a farewell to Gretchen and meandered our way back to the hotel room. Both of us were tired and we just couldn’t cope with seeing any more sights, or eating any more elaborate meals. We were ready to go home.
J stopped by a boulangerie and for about $20 got us croissants, quiche, sandwiches, and hot drinks. So we had a nice picnic together. At that point we realized we hadn’t had a chance to mail our postcards and we didn’t have stamps. J had an adventure buying stamps from the Tabac – which is sort of like a neighborhood mini-mart (with no food). For dinner we ordered in again, this time it was pasta and hot sandwiches with salads. J stopped by Café Soufflot and picked up a bottle of wine for me, so it was a lovely picnic for us both. Very relaxing, and a nice way to end the trip.
Our day began at the Eiffel Tower around 11am. Two of the elevators were being renovated (apparently they were actually being modernized) and we aren’t fans of heights, so we decided to skip the lines. Today was the first day we had sun – the sky was clear and bright blue, the city looked very different.
Which was especially fortunate since today was our lunch/tour aboard the Batueax Parisiens which left Pier 3B at 12:30, packed with tourists from all over. We were seated on the port side of the boat, right at the window, and given a glass of kir royale. As we slowly moved up the Seine from the base of the Eiffel Tower we went past Les Invalides (Napoleon’s Tomb), the National Assembly (city hall), Le Musee d’Orsay (more on this later), L’Institut de France (responsible for the lack of changes in and correct usage of French), Notre Dame, La Bibliotheque Nationale (a library containing more than 12 million books), L’Hotel de Ville (the original town hall), La Conciergerie (former palace, used as a prison during The Revolution), the Louvre, Le Palais de Chaillot and then the Statue of Liberty (a much smaller copy of the one found in America).
We planned to wake up early, see the Louvre and then go to lunch at a 3-star (the highest appellation possible in France). Not so much. We slept until 11am and that meant that lunch was our breakfast. So as to not completely lose out on sightseeing, we took a taxi to a point about ½ way up the Champs Ellysses and from there walked up to the Arc d’ Triomphe.
In retrospect, I’m not sure what the big deal is about the CE. Oh, I know it has a history and is grand and all of that. I dare say we both thought it was pretty ugly. It’s just a street lined with stores (seeing the car dealerships reminded me of Van Ness Street in San Francisco) and not even particularly great stores at that. I mean, if we’d seen Chanel’s place or any of the great designers at least we’d understand. But this was more like Target and Macy’s than anything impressive.
The AdT was also a so-so sight. It’s big. Very big. And interesting. But nothing I’d specifically recommend to a tourist. Maybe if I was more into history than I am . . .