Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Eiffel Tower and The Louvre

Well, it's Saturday and taxes are done so now I have some time to blog about our trip.  It is April 1, and this is our first full day in Paris.  We let the kids sleep a little this morning because of our extremely long travel day.  We got up, got dressed and headed out to find some breakfast.  We walked across the Ile de Cite over to the Left bank where we were told were lots of restaruants and such.  We finally decided on just getting crepes at a little sidewalk shop.  We tried all different sorts - nutella, strawberry jam, ham and cheese and just plain cheese.  Lizzie decided she didn't want a crepe so she had a ham and cheese sandwich on a baguette.  It is a rare treat for us to have ham lately so we truly enjoyed it!

From our hotel window

From here we decided that we were going to head over to the Eiffel Tower.  Mark didn't yet have a SIM card for his cell phone (and GPS).  We tried to purchase one but his iPhone has a micro-SIM and and the little shop nearby had only regular ones.  So we had no idea how to walk there (because who can get anywhere without GPS nowadays) but we did have a nice little app that would help us with the train to get there.  We headed to a close train station and purchased our three day city pass.  If I remember correctly, we made it to the correct station pretty easily and soon spotted the Eiffel Tower.

We got in line for tickets to go to the top and soon headed up in the elevator.  Megan was not excited about going all the way to the highest point, but we convinced her that she needed to go.  How many times would we have this opportunity - so up we went.  First you head up an inclined elevator to what I think is called the 3rd floor.  There is a level below it that connected by stairs that contains stores and a restaurant.  Then you head up another elevator to the top. 

You are warned at many turns to be aware of pick pockets!

There is an indoor viewing platform and then you can head up the stairs to the highest level which is outside.  The view was spectacular even though it was kind of a cloudy day but it was very windy and cold!

Spencer and Alex under the USA flag

Rachel, Alex and Lizzie under the Saudi Arabia flag

Mark and Lizzie trying to stay warm at the top of the
Eiffel Tower

Alex is checking out the sights

Here are some views of Paris from the very top of the Eiffel tower.

So once we had our fill of the view of the city, we headed away from the tower so that we could get some pictures of the kids.  When we were making our decision whether we would move to Saudi Arabia or not, travel was probably the main thing that enticed me into making this move.  I'm sure I've told many of you that the picture in my head was a picture of my kids in front of the Eiffel Tower.  These are some that we took the first day.  I think they turned out okay but my favorite is one that we took later in the week.

We didn't think that it was going to be that cold while we were in Paris.  The forecast had said that it would be in the low 60s, but without sun and with a little wind, it was very chilly.  It could be that we're just getting used to our low 80s always sunny Saudi Arabian weather too.  So our next goal was to find some lunch and some jackets for the kids. 

We found a little place at the Champs de Mars which was called (surprisingly) Champs de Mars.  It was probably a little touristy because it was right on the corner - and when I say touristy, I mean expensive!  I think it was our most expensive meal of the trip and the food really wasn't that great.  We found a cute souvenir shop after lunch and bought the kids some sweatshirts and some little trinkets. 

At this point, we decided it was time to head back to the hotel and get a little rest before we head over to the Louvre.  This is where the train fun starts.  We have come to find out since we've returned from our vacation that the metro stop near our hotel, the Chatalet - Les Halles station, is the largest station in Europe.  We get back to the station, there are 11 exits and we have no idea which one is the closest to our hotel.  So basically we pick one, come up onto the street and don't reconize anything.  We did happen to see a mobile phone store so we popped in to see if we could get Mark a SIM card and voila!  we could get one!  We got it installed and with the GPS determined the way back to the hotel.  We ended up walking down a street with some very interesting stores so we were happy to make it back to the hotel.

After a little rest, we hopped back on the train and headed over to the Louvre.  Anyone who has seen or probably heard of this museum knows how large it is.  I don't think that you could possibly see everything without spending a lot of time.  These next 2 pictures were taken just outside the "inside" entrance to the Louvre.

So our main goal was to see the Mona Lisa of course.  We spend some time looking around just enjoying some of the truly amazing art that is here.  Lizzie still pointed out (just like in Athens) the nakedness of many of the statues.  But after what seemed like a fairly long walk, we made it to the room that housed the Mona Lisa.  Well, it was a little underwhelming....for all the fuss - you'd think that it would have been bigger!  It was very cool to see it though!

Megan probably won't like that I posted the picture
but it gives you an idea of how big the Mona Lisa
really is.

Alex was extremely bored during this whole adventure (and really let us know it) so we finished up and headed outside to see the pyramid.  We enjoyed watching the people and enjoying the scenery.

We had headed a bit away from the museum and crossed the circle towards the big arch when we noticed that there were these military guys walking around.  We came to learn later that they often have military presence at a lot of their monuments because of the happenings in the world.  But the odd thing about this that as we started to walk back to the train station, they started blocking off the road and moving people away from certain areas.  It was kind of disturbing so we headed off back to our hotel.

Because they headed us off in a different direction, we couldn't get to our original station, so we walked along the Seine River for a while.  We passed the Pont des Arts which is a pedestrian bridge across the Seine.  If you can see, the side of the bridge has all of these things hanging off of it, these are padlocks - the padlock is hung by sweethearts and it symbolizes their love.  Kind of cool!

So it's dinner time and again we're trying to determine what to have for dinner.  We opted for an exciting dinner at Pizza Hut near our hotel.  Kind of pathetic for Paris but we were tired and hungry and it was close and open.  We enjoyed our first day in the City of Lights and are excited for our next one to begin....but first we all need a good night's sleep!

Thanks for reading!

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