Monday Morning July 31, 8:00 AM,
The plan was to stop in Paris on the way home for a day of sightseeing. It seemed like a good idea because it added no expense and, as long as we're in Paris we may as well see something. Our plane trip to Paris went off without a hitch - well, it was an hour late but we got over it. The hitch came when we got to Paris and had to find our way to the hotel. Neither of us speak or read French so we struggled to figure out how to get on the train to go downtown. We had a pretty good idea where our hotel was and we had a pretty good idea where the stations were. However, we had no idea really how to get change for the machine to get our ticket or how to make sure we actually got on the right train.
After a few false starts we found the right train and thought we knew what we were doing. We got on the train headed to downtown Paris. Aside from seeing some of the French countryside we were serenaded by an accordion player on the train (playing in the hope that the passengers would throw a few Euros his way.) He played in a stereotypical French style which made a wonderful soundtrack to our trip. I think he played a medley of sorts – I’m not sure exactly what it was but I know I heard “Those Were the Days,” that old Mary Hopkin song.
After negotiating the train transfer without any problems we went one stop too far but managed to get back to our stop and emerged from underground to see the Arc de Triomphe. We walked the five or so blocks to our hotel in the rain. We had a couple of room issues but they got settled and we left our bags and headed off to find a café in which to have lunch. It was about 3 PM. We ate lunch pointing to the menus to communicate and then headed off toward the Louvre. It’s a long walk to the Louvre and we walked the Champs-Elysées and saw the amazing square trees and the Jardin des Tuileries. It really is a beautiful walk. It rained but we didn't let that bother us. Finally we got to the Louvre. The building is larger than you can imagine and the IM Pei pyramid which is the entrance is also really cool. When we bought our tickets we realized that we had only 45 minutes before closing so we hustled to see the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. It was a little strange seeing these both in person. I certainly knew what to expect and you can’t get real close to the Mona Lisa, for example, so in some ways it was a lot like seeing a picture. However, there certainly is something about it that is cool. Both pieces really were spectacular.
Then we left and walked along the