Friday, July 11, 2008

Road Trip:Europe

Allen arrived Monday in Paris, where we spent a couple of days wearing out our feet.

The weather started off kind of crappy, cool and overcast, some rain. I took the train to Charles de Gaul airport, where I met Al as he arrived from Vancouver. We caught a navette to one of the main train stations nearer to our hotel, then took the Metro the rest of the way...well almost. We got out of the Metro station, and because of a poor map and streets that criss-cross each other, we turn the wrong way and instead of walking a block, we walked about 3 kilometres or more! We walked along, walked along, suddenly we were at the Seine! Oops. At least I now had a good landmark and found the hotel after walking all the way back again. Poor Al, he had his heavy suitcase and was VERY jet lagged.

We found our room and went searching for dinner. We checked a few places, and ended up in this little hole-in-the-wall place that turned out to be fantastic! It wasn't cheap, but I will admit that I have never had pasta that tasted that good before. Somehow, we ended up with a really good wine to go with it, plus some amazing appies as well. For dessert, we had home made Tiramisu, which floated down our throats as our taste buds fought to keep the taste going for ever.

So after our meal, we wandered a couple of blocks and saw the Eiffel Tower all lit up blue. One the one side, there was the gold stars of the EU flag, and with the tower blue, it was a nice tribute to France currently holding the presidency of the EU.

Back at the hotel, Al passed out right away, mid conversation. Jet lag sucks.

The next morning, we got up fairly early and went to Notre Dame Cathedral. OMG!!! That place was amazing! I am glad that I don't pay for film anymore, since I would be completely broke processing all those photos! (between Allen and I, over about 48 hours we took over 1300 photos)

After Notre Dame, we made our way a bit north, and wandered toward the Louvre. We didn't have any plans to go, it would just take too long to do, but we did enjoy the exterior of the buildings that house it.

Next was a quick ferris wheel ride, to get some elevation on the city for photos. This kind of started the obsession with the Eiffel Tower that lasted the rest of the time there.

By now, we were getting tired and hungry, and we though that we would head back tot he hotel for a quick rest, shoe change and then get some dinner and go see about getting up the tower at night. Along the way, we thought about taking a short cut through the Hotel d'Invalides. The short cut ended up keeping us a few hours longer. We took some time and went into the museum which houses a lot of old medieval suits of armour, ancient weapons, etc. This took a lot of time, but the highlight was seeing Napoleon's Tomb. Yes, that Napoleon...the short dead dude. He was something of a "local hero" I guess. =P

After seeing the dead, we had some Chinese food (yes, we ate Chinese in was cheaper than other places) and then went out with the camera's to see the tower again at night. We managed to get up to the second level of the tower, but we were to late and the top deck was closed. Still, we got some wicked shots and had a great time.

The next morning, we tried to get up early (we were both quite worn out) and get to the tower before the crowds. Ummm...didn't happen. We slept in too late, and then by the time we got to the tower, the line up was hours long. Oh well. So we walked up to the Arch de Triumph instead. It wasn't quite as exciting as the tower, but still fun to watch the madness that is the traffic circle around it. Cars just going everywhere, with no lines, not direction, just madness.

After a walk down the Champs Elysse, we grabbed our bags from the hotel, then went to Gare de Lyon to catch our train to Aix. For some reason, the train was over an hour late to leave the station, so we got home too late to do much that night.

Next day, we took the rented BMW 318 TDI and took the slower, more scenic route to Geneva, with a lunch stop in Annecy. It took most of the day, but the drive was quite pleasant. Annecy is much like every other time I have been there, but this time I managed to get up to the church above the town, and I got at least part of my body in the lake (we cooled our feet for a few minutes there.) Then it was off to Alex and Leanne's for the night.

Today, we made a stop in Geneva for a couple of hours, then went off to Bern. In Bern, we went down and saw the poor bear in the bear pit, the last one out of many that lived there for years. It is sad to see him, stuck in a stone pit, with no friends. We wandered a little bit, Allen bought some touristy things (new Swiss shirt for instance), and we had a nice salad lunch.

Now we are sitting in a hotel room in Interlaken, staying inside from the rain. Tomorrow we changed our plans and are going to be taking the rack railway up Jungfrau, then heading toward Zurich. After that, we are not sure. We might just head back to Alex and Leanne's, or take a run through Italy. Not really sure.

But, we are having a total blast doing all of this!


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