Thursday, September 16, 2010

Paris take three :) and the REAL adventure begins

Tuesday was my last chance to run around Paris and get a few more sights in and boy did I ever!! I planned to go straight to the Eiffel Tower first thing and then added a few other ideas to my list to be completed as I had time or felt like it. I'm very much a laid back wanderer and not so much a "must see EVERYTHING" kind of sightseer. I made my leisurely way to the general area of the Tower and popped in a couple of stores to pick up some snacks and some more souvenirs for family members and friends. I had a good time shopping and picking things out and when I'd felt like I'd done just about all of that I wanted to for the day I went to the Tower.

I happened to come around the back side and was pleased to see that was the smart move. For some reason all the tourists coming in the front all went to the first two entrances and the back two had much smaller lines. Despite the shorter line it still took quite awhile to get on the lift to go up. It seemed like we had gone forever in it but when the operator stopped the car she informed us this was the second floor, to go all the way to the summit we would have to get off this one and go around to another elevator. I was shocked because just the "second floor" had an amazing view! I didn't know how it could get any better than that but went all the way to the top. I have to say the safety wire they have at the top kind of ruins the view and pictures you take of yourself so I think I would have been just as happy to stay at the second floor. I did want to say I'd been to the top though and because I'm only 24 I could still get the "youth" discount. At 25 you begin being charged as an adult which is several euros more expensive. Wow did I time this trip perfectly or what??

After spending a sufficient amount of time taking photos and wandering around admiring the view I made my way down to the second floor and then took the stairs from there. That was fun but ow did my legs feel it the next day! A lot of people had warned me to be careful around the Eiffel Tower because apparently there are lots of pickpockets and most of them referenced the gypsies as being particularly troublesome but I didn't see any at all. As I came out of the Tower to head to the metro I noticed several people looking across the street and wondered what they were watching. I didn't see anything for a minute but as I passed a policeman on a bicycle one of the men who sells souvenirs off a blanket pointed at another guy running through the grass on the other side of the street and began yelling. I don't know what he said but all of a sudden the policeman snapped to attention and off he went on his bike towards the man who was running. Just as he caught up to him two more policeman joined him and a bunch of these souvenir guys all came running and shouting. I just did my best to take a wide circle around them (although they certainly made it difficult as they were right in the middle of the sidewalk) and walked quickly away. For Mommy and Mamma's I just want to point out right now that it was no more violent than when the Walmart security catches a shoplifter at the door of the store (which seems to happen every other time I'm at ours these days!). :D And there were lots of policemen so I never felt in any danger.

After that excitement I decided to find the Champs-Élysées and see if I could find a mobile phone store and get a French SIM so I'd have my own phone while Amy & Charles were gone. It just makes me feel better to be able to make phone calls/texts from my own phone! I was hoping to also get internet so I could use my GPS but no such luck. I tried SFR, Orange and Virgin and all of them said they don't do internet on prepaid SIMs anymore. Oh well. For €15 I got a SIM card from Virgin with €5 credit and since it's only €0.07/minute to call within France I'm sure this should be plenty for ten days. I hope to investigate if I will be able to keep it when I come back at the end of October.

By the time I was through wandering that part of town I felt like I needed to head back to the station because I wouldn't have much more time before my train to Chantilly. However when I got there Amy called and said I could stay an extra hour so I decided to dash over to Basilique du Sacré-Coeur. I did this but realized I wouldn't have time to go inside and see anything so I just took a photo from the bottom of the hill, but was glad to see it nonetheless. My food for the day was a crépe complete (eggs, cheese and ham) and some ice cream for goûter. Yummy yummy!

I made it safely home, we had dinner, and I went downstairs to listen in on Granny's services. As soon as I had got online my friend Jen IM'd me and told me she was so glad I was safe. I was a bit puzzled until I found out there was a bomb threat at the Eiffel Tower and the area around it had been evacuated. This didn't happen until 8 PM local time however and I hadn't even been in Paris since 6 or so, and had left the area the Tower was in around noon. It was kind of spine-tingling to think about but it turned out to be nothing. I did hear though that it was the same evening that the anti-burqa law was passed so I have a feeling the two might be related.

Being able to listen into Granny's service was so very special. I didn't know but they had planned to read my last blog post and due to some technical difficulties I picked up right in the middle of it. It was kind of a shock and I felt bad for not having proofed that post really at all, they was just tearful midnight ramblings that I hastily wrote and posted as I needed to be in bed asleep.

Yesterday Amy asked if I could go to the grocery store and get the things we needed for while they were gone so she could tend to other things. I was more than happy to do it and a bit apprehensive about my first outing alone. Thankfully Cora is not very far away and I knew I could get there no problem but was wondering if I'd be able to figure enough out to find the right things at the store. There were a few things I wasn't sure about and those things I decided to wait until I consulted Amy or one of the kids. It's always difficult to grocery shop for someone else's family because everybody has their own favorite brand of this or that, much less to do it when you have another language/culture coming into play! There aren't as many recognizable brands here as you might imagine. Overall though I'd have to say the trip was a success as I got most of the things on the list and made it home by the time I needed to help make lunch for the kids. I was quite pleased with myself. :) The rest of the day was pretty much a zoo getting the kids to swimming lessons and then home to make dinner and get them in bed. Everyone was very tired and I felt sorry for Amy and Charles who I knew would still be awake for quite awhile packing and arranging things for their trip.

Today was bright and early but much easier than it might have been. Because of the excitement of getting Amy and Charles (and Audrey!) out the door the kids were up in plenty of time to get dressed and take their time with breakfast. We weren't rushed at all and got their shoes and things together and out the door to school. When Daisy and I got back it was so very quiet!! I keep thinking I hear Audrey fussing and have to remind myself she isn't here. :)

About halfway through my morning the mail lady came and what do you know, she had a big package for ME! I was so very excited to open it and when I did I started to cry. Dear, sweet Sarah had packed a whole box of all kinds of very special goodies for me! PJ pants that are super soft and my favorite colors (and actually quite needed as the only pair I brought are absolutely WAY too big for me now!), some beautiful purple jewelry, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, a BIG bag of Peanut M&Ms, gel pens, nail polish and remover pads, an iTunes gift card and so so so much more. What a very special treat to get just as I've become single mommy of four!! I just feel absolutely blessed beyond compare that God would give me such a precious friend who knows me so well!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you dear friend!!!!

Well it's about 11 so I think I'm going to do a few things in preparation for lunch. I'm very much enjoying having the house to myself and playing my music out loud. :) I have a feeling this downtime in the morning is going to be my favorite time of day!!

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