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Trip to Europe 2005 - Munich

Day 8 – May 27th, 2005

Paris and Night Train to Munich

Morning Goodbyes

Today I woke up early, since Obi was leaving, I had to get up and say my good-bye to my roommate for the past 7 days, I have to say, Obi was a great roommate. It was a pleasure traveling with him on the tour. Well, after another hour of sleep, I got up and went downstairs to get some breakfast. I saw Laura, Jim and Mary Anne while I was in the Restaurant, I found out that Mary Anne is not feeling well, she has a fever, they both decided to see a Doctor in Paris. Laura came down to the restaurant before she flew home. I was hoping that Jim, Mary Anne and I would be able to spend the day together, but no such luck.

Paris l'Arc de Triomphe

So I went up to my Hotel room, after a few hours of packing and working my travel diary, I decided to check out of the hotel. On the way out I was able to say good bye to Laura, Jim, and Mary Anne, I hope that she really does feel better. It would be a shame for them to have to cut their trip short and return home. On my way out, I did get to see Eddie and Aimee as well as Stan and Alisa before heading down the elevator to spend the day sight seeing before I board my train to Munich, as I exited the Hotel, I knew that it would be a Hot day I would consume about 5 liters of Liquids before the day was finished.

Opera and beyond...

As I walked down the stairs to the Metro station, I was hoping I would run into Maggie, she said that she was going to stay in Paris for a few days, instead of traveling back right to London Right away, she has another tour that she is assigned to in two days. But no such luck, I ran into Stan and Alisa on the metro, we chatted for a little while, and then parted ways when our stops came.

I spent the day walking around Opera, and got a few nice shots of the Palais Garnier, I walked down to the Louvre to get some shots of the Pyramid entrance. Once I was finished with that I traveled down the Jardin Du Carousel and the Jardin Des Tulleries to the Place de la Concorde to get a picture of the Luxor obelisk, once done I walked around Av des Champs Elysees to the Place Charles du Gaulle, but I whimped out, I ended up taking the Metro over to Place charles du Gaulle to see the Arc de Triomphe. I was hoping that the weather would cooperate and cause this heat wave to disappear but no such luck. I was able to find the tunnel leading under the streets to the central square where the Arch was located, I spent a few minutes wondering if I had to pay to go up the stairs to see the Arch, after a few minutes of being indecisive I went up the stars had a great time walking around the arch, checked out the eternal flame under the arch, and headed back down the tunnel to the other side of the square. After waiting for a large group of young girls to get their pictures, I finally was able to get the picture that I always wanted, it was hard to find a good angle to get a picture, there was lots of construction around it.

Les Halles

After a short walk down the Champs Elysees i took the Metro over to Chatelet Les Halles, to find the Centre Pompidou, I got something to eat and drink on the way, so that I could have a meal later, I ended up at the shopping mall called the Forum de Halles, it replaced the hold open market that use to exist here. I walked around the shopping mall and though what a dreadful place, but that's progress I guess, but on the flip side the park up above looked like a nice place. I continued to explore Les Halles, I wandered the streets checking out the shops and cafes along the streets, watching all of the tourist sitting outside with their maps of Paris wondering what to do next, after what seemed like an eternity, I finally found the Centre Pompidou, the building is Magificent, but the square it sits in is hardly inviting, I chose not to go inside, but instead I headed back to the forum de Halles, and ate my lunch. I spent about several hours there watching the people bath in the sun light, and the other people in the shade eat their lunch, on the other side I heard what sounded like a clap of thunder, but it was a bunch of stone masonry work crashing back to earth.

Paris Basilique de Sacre Coeur

Montmatre and Basilique de Sacre Coeur

Website for information about Montmartre:

http://www.montmartrenet.com

Website for list of famous names burried in Cimetiere de Montmartre:

http://www.findagrave.com/php/famous.php?page=cem&FScemeteryid=639013

Once lunch is finished I decided to take the Metro over to Montmatre and Pigalle, I want to see the Basilique de Sacre Coeur, and wander the streets of this part of Paris. I had no trouble getting over to Montmatre and the Abbesses Metro Station; I had to change Metro lines several times, but arrived at my destination safe and sound. Montmatre is the dictrict of Paris where many writers, painters and poets settled during the late 18th to early 19th century, the movie Emelie was filmed here in this district of Paris. I always wanted to get a fell for how Paris use to be like, Montmatre to me, still has all of it’s old charm, lots of narrow winding streets that to up hill. Very charming and beautiful, but getting there could be hard or easy depending on what you want to do.

The station that I got off has a staircase that goes up, or elevators that take you up to the entrance of the subway station. I chose the elevator, better choice that at the Russell Square Underground station. I tried to make my way up the stairs in London but gave up after a few minutes, I was carrying my suitcase and going up the stairs. I had to go back down, and take the Elevator at the Russell Square station, this time I made the right decision, the elevator the first time…

I spent what must have been several hours exploring the winding streets of Montmatre,, I was heading to the Basilque du Sacre Coeur, but ended up at the Cimetiere de Montmatre. I thought to myself, “it is hot, and I do not want to go in. Besides it is the wrong cemetery in Paris”; well big mistake, this is the cemetery where all of the famous poets and writers are buried in. People like Zola, Dumas the younger, Stendhal, Offenbach, Degas, Truffaut, and Nijnsky are buried here. I whimped out and turned around, later in the day, I realized to late that I missed a real treat. Well, may be next time.

I finally found the place that I was suppose to go, I followed the streets up hill, and arrived at Place de Tentre, the square next to the Basilique de Sacre Coeur. This place is a total tourist trap, full of souvenir shops, restaurants, and cafes. I bought a bottle of water, and it cost me 3.50 Euros. I did not have any choice but to pay the money, I was sweating like a dog, and really hot and thirsty, so no complaining from me. I rested at one of the parks near by, and took in the panoramic view that the hill has to offer. Once rested I walked over to the Basilique de Sacre Coeur, the place was packed with tourist on the outside, so I had to negotiate my way around the sea of fellow tourist. I went inside to check things out, I had to be quite, there was a sermon taking place, I do not know who the priest was, but he was speaking to the assembled group of people. After walking around I exited the building and took a few pictures, I was hoping to run into a few of the people who chose to stay in Paris after the tour was finished, but no luck, I spent the day by myself. On my way down the hill, school is out; the streets are now filled with children and their parents heading back home. It is so cool to watch everyone carry on with their lives in these old streets of Montmatre. I am glad that I took the time to walk through this section of the city.

Pigalle to Champs Elysees

Paris-Arc-de-Triomph-de-Car.jpg

I passed through Pigalle on the way to the metro station, by day the streets are full of people buying things from the stores and doing their shopping. Most of the stuff is cut price fashions, the merchandise does not have any designer labels on them, by night Pigalle is the red light district of Paris, the Moulin Rouge is in this area, further down the street are the sex shops, and strip clubs. I am sure the Ladies of the Night do their business in the alleys of the Red Light District of Paris. Eventually I found the Metro station Pigalle, I headed to Assembly Nationale Metro Station, I wanted to walk around the National Assembly building and check things out.

After a brief walk around the National Assembly I walked down the Seine River crossed Pont Alexandre III to the Grand Palais and La Pette Palais. The National Assembly was closed to the Public when I went by, so there was no point in staying around the area, both of the Palaises were closed for Renovation, so I found a park bench and watched the world go by, while I updated my travel Diary, and read through my guide book to Paris. After about a hour, I wandered down the Champs Elysees to the Place de la Concorde, I got something to eat along the way, then worked my way down to the Louvre one more time, I wanted to take one last look at one of Paris’ famous land marks before I headed back to the Hotel via the Metro station.

To the Munich night train

Website for information about train information;

http://www.raileurope.com/us/index.htm

After changing my shirt, and collecting my luggage, I waited until the appropriate time to head over to the Gare De L’Est train station. I had trouble figuring out what which train station it was, my ticket stated Paris EST, the maps I had stated Gare De L’Est for the train station, there was a sign inside the station that said Paris EST. While I waited at the Hotel, I saw another Contiki Tour group, this one looked like it had mostly Australians. As one of the elevators opened, I heard a voice that sounded like my Tour Manager - Maggie, I could not be sure since I could not see who was inside.

Paris would not be exciting with out another small adventure, after carrying my luggage into the Metro station, I unexpectedly had to change trains. Apparently the line that I wanted to take to the trainstation was shut down, when I got to the Metro Station Republique the one direction of the Metro 5 line was closed down for some reason, I tried to get over to the other platform, but no luck, in a Panic I thought OH NO!!!! I am going to MISS MY TRAIN!!! :-< I took a look at the Metro Map and found that I could get to the Gare De L’Est Train Station by another two Metro lines. Once at the train station Gare de L’Est I boarded my train to Munich, at around 8:45am I would be in Munich, my Contiki Tour, and all of the great fun that I had, and our Great Tour Manager Maggie would all be a memory. Sobbbb… I am so sad…

Munich here I come.

Thoughts:

I have to say that the Contiki Tour total Rocks!!!! I had a lot of fun, Maggie you are a Goddess and a great tour manager, It was totally my pleasure to get to know you better as we traveled through London, and Paris. I would totally recommend it to any body who is between 18 to 35 years of age.

I had a blast in London, after the sticker shock wore off, I had a great time absorbing the day and night life in London. Paris, is a beautiful city, there is no other place like it in the world, the city of lights, the city of romance, and a city of culture and Beauty, it is all of these things. But the French people will take a lot of getting use to, they are a bit of a turn off for me. I had less of a problem with the French than some other members of the tour group.

Learned enough French to get around, and order, so it was not so bad. But I was really sad to have all of the gossip and rumors about the French being rude to non French Speaking foreigners proved to be true. But the city is so beautiful, glad that I went to the Moulin Rouge, wanted to see La Defense and the Catacombs, may be next time.

I would love to visit Paris again, Thanks Contiki and Maggie, your the best, thank you for showing me around London and Paris. It is to bad, I will be turning 36, Sobbbb…. :-(