Paris culture

EuroTrip 2006

9 August 2006

Le Louvre

The desk clerk at Hotel Eber Mars lets us leave our bags at the hotel while we tour the city on our last day before we have to leave for Rome in the afternoon. First stop of the day is the Louvre. We each get another Metro day pass and are on our way.

We hit our first major crowd of the trip. We find the Mona Lisa and we can barely fit into the room. The barrier keeps you at least 15 feet from the painting and it’s covered in glass that reflects the light of the room. You get a better view from a post card! Venus de Milo is a much better exhibit because she rises above the crowd in her room.

I’m looking for the Etruscan sarcophagus and get us lost. We pass through the greco-roman room of statues probably three or four times. Kaitlyn takes the map and leads us right to the Etruscans. I decide it’s time to see some paintings, but the 4th floor 18th century French paintings don’t do much for any of us, so we decide to leave. We pass through the greco-roman room one more time and mom notices a sculpture of a woman lying strangely with her torso facing away and her head twisted all the way around toward us. I notice her name, the ‘goddess’ Hermaphrodite. I wonder, hmm, and walk around to the other side. Sure enough, there lies the hidden secret and perhaps the reason she is turned around that way. heh.

My feet are killing me by now, but next is more walking and shopping along the Champs Élysées. I didn’t think of it at the time, but I should have bought some arches or new shoes. Oh well, I survive.

Champs Élysées

Unfortunately, we only have a couple of hours to enjoy strolling along and shopping because we have to make our way back to the hotel and to the train station. It’s also drizzling a little. We do manage to squeeze in a meal and order some sandwiches and eat outside. We make it into a couple of stores, but I don’t think we buy anything. We see the Arc de Triomphe from a distance and head back to the hotel to get our bags. Mom leaves the hotel manager a nice tip. He’s been very friendly and speaks English really well, even without much of an accent.

Now we all have our bags in tow on the Metro near rush hour. We arrive at Bercy station and Gary cannot find the tickets—no Eurail pass, no reservations, the whole money belt is missing. Go ahead and laugh, but you try putting that pouch full of tickets and papers around your waist with 30 lbs. of excess fat hanging over your belt. The belt’s place is in my bag. I remember verifying that I had it when we picked up our bags, so I was afraid I had left them at the desk of the hotel. I run upstairs to a payphone and call the hotel desk. While he is checking, my phone card is a minute from expiring. He returns and tells me he doesn’t have the tickets. I don’t have time to recharge the phone, but am relaxed because for some reason I think I know that I have the tickets somewhere. I confidently mosey down the stairs, open the bag, reach to where they are supposed to be, and lo, there they are. I simply reached past them before, almost as if I expected not to find them. Kaitlyn smiles and says that she prayed. Perhaps it was while I was on the phone and felt that calm come over me.

I go to the counter to cancel the extra couchette bed reservation and get back €30. Woo-hoo! We’re off to Italy. But before we arrive, I have another scare when the controller asks for the passports and I can’t find mine. Again, I had it in my hand when I entered the train, so I know I had it somewhere; that is, unless it fell in the hallway as I stumbled on the train. No, it didn’t fall in the hallway, luckily, but it did fall out of my pocket through a crack in the seat and onto the floor underneath. whew What prompted me to look there? Logical place? I dunno, ask Kaitlyn.

The 3-person sleeper car is nice. It comes with its own sink of non-potable water, and some bottled sparkling water and other nicities in the medicine cabinet, including toilet seat covers, extra towelettes, and wet-napkins. Italian sparkling water is different than in Northern Europe. The bubbles are so fine that I can barely tell they are there. I like that.

Gary Faircloth
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