Day 16. Water, water, water, fish.
Monday was an active day. We were up and out of the apartment at a reasonable time, but not necessarily an early time.
We bought tickets on the big green "hop on, hop off" busses that trundle through town. Beau is enamored of these open topped beasts. We rode from the stop near the apartment around the Eiffel Tower and through the area south of the Seine (St. Germain, Montparnasse). Then switching to another line at a shared stop to go north around the military school, opera house, and the Grand Palace.
We stopped for a bite to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe around 1:00 PM. The temperatures were in the low 80's (27C) with intermittent clouds, so a good day to sit on the patio. Every cafe in Paris has a patio and it's a great place to sit, so long as you don't mind a little bit of cigarette smoke.
From the Hard Rock Cafe, we headed to Notre Dame cathedral. There were a lot fewer people on a working Monday than the day before, but still a lot. We stood in a fast moving queue for about 30 minutes until we could enter. Aside from the tourists, it's a beautiful building. The stained glass here is the best I've seen. This photo doesn't even come close to capturing the beauty of it.
From Notre Dame, we crossed the Seine at Pont au Double and stood in line to get on a river cruise. The wait was about 30 minutes and it was warm in the middle of the afternoon. Everyone sat down on the quai to wait. A man, possibly from India, walked past every few minutes with a galvanized bucket filled with ice and bottled water. His call was "Water, water, water, fresh water". With his accent, I thought he was saying "fish water" and so then the kids started saying "fish water" and laughing.
The Paris boat ride on our tickets was pretty underwhelming compared to the London Thames ride. Then again, the Seine is a calm river and it's mostly down in a ditch. Also, the boats on this particular package had windows and little fresh air went through, so we all got a faint taste of diesel. The view from the river is beautiful, but after a while I got sleepy from the combination of sunlight, lack of cool air, and diesel exhausts. We decided it was time to get off the boat at the next stop.
The stop on the line was an area south of the Eiffel Tower called Beaugrenelle. There is a largish mall beside the river, so we took advantage of the cool air for 2 hours. We had an afternoon coffee and then wandered the mall. Elijah and I found some nifty chairs on the basement level that are shaped like an Adirondack chair without the foot rest. We sat down for a while and I dozed off while Elijah connected to wifi and played games on his phone.
By 8:30 PM, the sun was down a bit and we decided to go to the Louvre and look at the Pyramids. The next day would be La Féte Nationale (Bastille Day) and the Louvre would be free to enter. We knew that meant a lot of people would be there, but we are hoping if we get there early we can beat the crowds.
The area north of the Louvre is where Jackie and I stayed in 2009. We stopped by to see the hotel in new light and we decided we're much better off where we are now. For essentially the same amount as that hotel, we have a much larger space and better amenities. The only downside is everything requires a ride on the Metro.
By now, it was 9:30 and we were famished. We sat at the same café where Jackie and I first ate in Paris. It was during a quick spring storm that I took this shot 6 years ago. When we finished supper, the clock read 10:45 and the western sky was just now a light blue of twilight.
We decided to walk through the Tuileries gardens because Beau saw the Ferris wheel and wanted to see what it costs. When we got to the gardens, we found a full-bloom summer carnival with games, rides, and fried food. Hundreds of people strolled along, laughing and watching the kids play games.
Beau thought she wanted to ride the Ferris wheel until she saw the spinning ride. It's one of those "strap into a seat and we'll spin you about, 50 ft (15m) in the air. She loved it. She's the one at the top by herself (she was the only solo seat on the ride, as Elijah decided he was full and didn't want to send quiche Lorraine in 360 degrees.
A bit later, we came upon a hamster ball ride/game. In this one, you get inside a 6' (2m) inflatable ball and the carnival worker attaches an air hose to fill it up. Then he disconnects and pushes the ball into a water tank. You and 10 of your new best friends try to play bumper balls while trying to stand up in a six foot hamster ball. It's quite amusing to watch. Elijah thought it looked fun, but decided not to. Beau, of course, was game and we were happy to let her wear off some of that energy.
The walk to the Metro station took a few minutes and 15 minutes later we were walking up the last street to our apartment. As we rounded the last curve, we could see the Eiffel Tower sticking up down the opposite street. I made everyone stop to look. Jackie asked what time it was and I said "11:55 PM". She suggested we wait a few minutes and I knew what she meant. Here's someone's Youtube video (the magic starts about 0:45).
With that, we finished the final 50 meters and all crashed. Early morning tomorrow to beat the crowd, but a good day to be in Paris.