27 June 2009

We woke at 8:30 am. The beds in our hotel room just aren't comfortable, but we need the rest from being out to 11 pm and midnight every night. We grabbed cafe creme and toast at Cafe Ruc, where we had our evening meal the night before. We had toast because they were out of croissants! I think that's something close to a crime in Paris. A young man sat at the table next to us and rolled a cigarette. I never smelled it, even though he was less than 4 feet from me. I don't know what tobacco he was using, but if more American cigarettes put out so little smoke, I wouldn't complain about them so much.

We crossed the Pont Royal to the Orsay Museum. This museum is more to my liking than the Louvre, with it's collection of Impressionist paintings. We saw plenty of Dagas, Reniors, Cezannes, Gaugins, and of course Van Gogh.

From the Orsay, we went to l'Orangerie, which is only a couple hundred yards away on the north side of the River Seine. We crossed a pedestrian bridge where dozens of young men were selling bottled water and trinkets. All the young men appeared to be Algerian, but I'm not sure about that. Crossing the bridge, we saw dozens of padlocks on the bridge. A little research shows that it's a popular activity of young lovers to write their names on a lock and attach it to a fence in a public place. Toward the Orangerie, underneath the bridge, was yet another sax player. I'm not so sure it wasn't the same guy from the Louvre 2 days ago.

As we approached the museum, a young woman walked toward us and as we passed her, she reached down and said "Excuse me". We turned around and she said "I think you dropped this", showing us a small locket. I had read that this is a classic scam and that after we say it's not ours, she says "I am a jewelry student and I know this is solid gold. Would you like to buy it." When you get home, you find out that your solid gold is gold plated.

The Orangerie is where Monet's Water Lilies are located. I've seen these paintings online and in books, but I was not aware of just how large they actually are. There are two very large rooms in the Museum, at least 80 feet long, where the paintings are housed, 4 to a room. The paintings are at least 8 feet tall and some of them are 50 or 60 feet long. The rest of the Orangerie was interesting, but we didn't really see anything else that was famous.

We had our lunch at a place called Angelinas. Angelinas was recommended by my boss, who is a chocoholic. The meals were good, but the desserts were what brought us there. We had their signature dessert, called the Choc Afrikan. On top of a cup of Chaud Chocolat Blanche, it was absolutely sinful.

At this point, we got on the Metro and headed to the south of the City. A request from Jackie's aunt Cheri led us to the only Harley shop in Paris. We watched a man make a puppet show to 50's rock and roll on the Metro train as most of the people ignored him. We bought a couple of Harley shirts for her and went looking for the Gray Line tour bus to take us back to the Eiffel Tower. We waited at the bus stop for a while. And waited. And waited. After about 30 minutes of waiting, I called the Gray Line number on our tickets and asked where their bus was. The other folks at the bus stop started watching me. The woman asked where we were and I told her. She replied "Oh, that line is closed today for the Gay Pride parade." D'oh.

So, we got back on the Metro and rode it back to the Champs Elysees so that Jackie could do some shopping at the Disney store. I sat in a nearby backstreet pub and enjoyed a pastis. Jackie joined me and we enjoyed the time, just resting our feet. Then, back on the Metro toward the Eiffel Tower.

While waiting for the train at the Concorde station, we had some fun. Another Sax player was doing a good job down in the cool tunnels. There were lots of people on the platform waiting on the train, some listening to him play and others lost in their own thoughts. A group of 6 to 8 black girls showed up, having a great time. They started clapping to the sax players beat and then started singing. The sax player picked up their beat and suddenly we were in the midst of a concert. I had no reservations tossing him a couple of €2 coins for his efforts.

We disembarked the Metro across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower and walked across Pont Bir Hakiem. After waiting on a group of Chinese women to take dozens of silly photos of them holding up the tower, we got our opportunity from the north side of the Isle of Swans.

At this point, Jackie wanted to go to the south end of the island to take a picture of the small Statue of Liberty. My feet were tired and I managed to make her mad. An argument ensued–the less said the better.

Over to the Eiffel Tower as the sun was setting. We had a really mediocre meal at a nearby cafe. As it got dark, we went to the park near the tower, where thousands of people were congregated. They were playing drums, hackysack, and just hanging out on the grass. Around 10:30 PM, the tower lit up and everyone went crazy. We took some photos and Jackie got some funny videos on her camera. At one point, a group of firemen showed up, parked in the street and everyone bailed out. They took a group photo in front of the tower and then headed on down the road.

Back on the Metro, with a connection at the Arc d'Triumphe and into our hotel after midnight.