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Trip to Europe 2005 - Paris

Day 5 – May 24th, 2005

Trip from London to Paris

Journey to Paris the city of Lights

Today is the big road trip from London to Paris, after we all ate breakfast, it was time to load our luggage onto the coach, and say good by to Merry Ole England, and head for Paris. On the way to Dover Maggie explained a few things about the rest of the tour, we had to pick and choose the Paris Optional excursions, I chose the Museum Card, Group Photo, and the Moulin Rouge. Other People made different choices, but at this point I do not know who chose to got to the Moulin Rouge, but I am glad that I made this decision later on in the trip. The rest of the trip to Dover was spent filling out paper work, the same thing that Maggie did on Day 4 when the rest of the tour group was exploring London.

Eglise du Dome

Before we knew it we were at Dover, I got to see the Dover Castle from a distance, it would have been nice to be able to see Dover Castle even for just one hour or so. Once we arrived at the Dover Port facility the bus drove into the customs facility, it really is a big Bus Garage, and the close both doors so that no one can leave the facility until after everyone passes through French Customs. Once the tour group got their passport stamped everyone boarded the ferry and we are off to Calais, France. The voyage across the channel took 90 min longer than expected, several people got sea sick and spent the trip in the rest room, I got a nice photo of the White cliffs of Dover, and a nice photo of the other members of the tour group who where on deck. The Seas were very stormy, and I had to go below to the bottom most deck us passengers are allowed to access to prevent myself from being sea sick.

Once we arrived in Calais, France, we had a very nice orientation about the French, bottomline – the French are not very nice to non-French Speaking foreigners. I have heard this before from many people who have visited Paris, I can confirm that this is 100% true. More on this later, my French professor had some useful advice “When you accept that the French believe that France is the best nation in the world, then you are halfway to understanding the French”. Well there is no rest for the weary, after a long trip across the channel we arrived at the Rest stop, which had restaurants and a ATM machine, some of us got some thing to eat, but we ran out of time, and our French was very bad, I got down greeting in French, Hello – bonjour, Goodbye and Thank you is Av our followed by Merci. The rest of it will have to come along as I pickup some phrases and learn to use them. I have to admit, I was scared out of my mind, even if I did not show it.

Eiffel Tower Champs de Mars

Arrival in Paris

Website for information about the Police Nationale:

http://www.interieur.gouv.fr/rubriques/c/c3_police_nationale

Website for information about the city of Paris:

http://www.parisinfo.com/

Finally, we are in Gay Paris, we can arrive in the outer suburbs of Paris, and soon we are at the Hotel, but just before we get there, we come across a car fire, and a member of the Police National directing traffic around the car fire, he sees everyone standing up in the bus, and with a blow of his whistle we are ordered off the road, Dave our Bus driver turns so fast that the bus almost jack knifes. Since France is governed by Napoleonic Law, you just do what the police tell you to do. All I know is that he checked our paper work, and let us go, I though we were going to be fined, I now know that standing inside of a moving bus is illegal in France.

Now that we have arrived at the hotel, Obi and I check out our room, it is small, but the beds are much better in Paris than in London. We are staying at the Hotel Campanile Hotel Paris Porte de Bagnolet (Barnolet is next to 20e Arrondissement, the metro station Galieni is right next door to the hotel.), since we had a hour or so before dinner, we spend the time before dinner watching Liverpool vs Milan in Champions League Finals, Obi was upset over Liverpool winning the Penalty Shoot out, the golly was out of position, you could clearly see it on the TV.

The dinner was ok, we ate the meal that Contiki provided for us, it was much better than the meal in London, it tasted much better. I have to say that overall, the food is much better in Paris that in London. French food is much richer than food outside of France, so I am not surprised that everyone did not eat to much of it that first night. After the dinner, we all went out for our Night time tour of Paris, but since sunset is not until about 10:15pm or later in the eventing it is not possible to see the city with all of the lights on, I am so disappointed. :-(((

Paris Night Tour...

The night tour started out with us driving into Paris and our first experience with the crazy Parisian drivers, we drove past the Latin Quarter, Notre Dome, the Palace of Justice, and Pont Neuf. We did get to take some pictures of in front of the Eglise du Dome, which houses Tobeau de Napoleon 1 er ( Napoleon's Tomb), later we drove past the Ecole Militaire, the Parc du Champs de Mars, to see the bed room that Napoleon stayed in when he was at the Military Academy. Maggie distracted us from our real reason, both Dave and Maggie were taking us to the Eiffel tower, well I have to say... !! It worked !! I along with most if not all of the tour group was completely fooled. We took our photos and headed towards the Place du Varsovic and Cimetierre de Passy, we are on our way to the Place de Charles du Gaulle where you drive at your own risk, all insurance policies are in valid in this part of Paris. The Arc de Triomphe is located.

After a few harrowing trips around the Arch de Triomphe, Dave drove us down the Champs Elysees to Place De La Concorde, then we drove past thePlace de la Madeline (Eva use to live near), and Palais Garnier on our way to the Louvre. Where Dave drove the Coach through the narrow entrance scaring everyone as he made it through with a few inched to spare on each side. I was not paying attention to the road ahead at the time when Maggie or tour manager yelled out to tell Dave not to drive through the narrow entrance on North West side of the building. After the harrowing experience, the coach dropped of Part of the tour group near the Latin Quarter, and the rest of us were taken back to the Hotel. Jim, Trisha, Eddie, Aimee, and I went to the McDonald's next to the Hotel to get a bite to eat. I have to say, the McDonald's in Paris cook much better than in London, sorry to sat that Uncle Richard. After that, it was time to call it a day.