London and Paris, 1985, Part 4

Tuesday, January 8, 1985

Departure day for Paris! The time sure went fast in London. We got up about 7:30 and managed to get ourselves, and our luggage, down to the lobby. The coach left about 8:45 for Dover. The trip took two hours and fifteen minutes. We had absolutely no heat and we had to listen to some horrible soul music most of the way. As a music major, I love all kinds of music, but that was REALLY bad. Oh well, we survived.

When we arrived in Dover, I took a Dramamine in anticipation of the ride across the English channel. Lunch consisted of one piece of ham stuck between two slices of bread. That was the original sandwich, so we're told. Glad we put a bit more on it at home. The hovercraft was supposed to leave at 12:10, but was delayed until 1:00. While we were waiting, we bought British newspapers. The headline of the day was about Princess Margaret. She was in the hospital "under investigation." A sample of her lung was found to be "innocent." We speak the same language, yet use it so differently. We also cashed in a couple of traveler's checks. For $20 we received about 180 francs.

We boarded the hovercraft about 1:00. It's similar to a ferry, only it's inflatable at the bottom and can glide up onto land. Vehicles are loaded in the bottom and passengers sit in the upper deck in rows of seats. It's pretty neat. We saw the famous white cliffs of Dover which are beautiful. The ride was pretty smooth, just a bit bumpier than a subway. We were lucky the water wasn't too choppy. We also met a guy from South Africa named Roger. He was cute.

We were supposed to take a train to the station to meet the one for Paris. It was too full, so we ended up on another freezing cold bus! We arrived at the train station about 3:00 and waited for the 4:00 train to Paris. The train actually had heat! The ride took about 2 hours. I napped most of the time since the Dramamine made me pretty sleepy.

Our representative met us at the station at 6:00. Sister Edward Therese had already gone to look for her when she found us and talked to Sister Marie Albert. When the rep went to look for Sister Edward Therese, she asked if she was dressed like Sister Marie Albert. Cute. Anyway, we packed our belongings onto another bus and made our way to the Rochambeau Hotel, arriving about 7:00. After checking in, we got on the elevator which was an adventure in itself. The door opened like an ordinary door. We pulled it open, got inside, and pressed the button. They forgot to tell us that when you reach the correct floor, the lights go out. You have to push the door open again. We were a bit nervous when the lights went out. Anyway, we had room 31 which, we found out later, was the largest room and was supposed to be for the Sisters. Oh, well. LOL We offered to trade, but they said we could have the room. Another interesting tidbit, doorknobs were in the middle of the doors. Ours opened with a skeleton key with a bell holder. Different.

After unpacking some things, we went in search of dinner. Jacques, our porter, gave us directions to a little restaurant. He pointed to a place down the street where the lights go, "blinkety blink." "Of course, that is not it," he said. The restaurant was further down. Hey, at least his directions were better than those of the English people we had asked! At La Potiniere, we met Harry and Margaret McHugh, who helped us figure out the menu. We both decided on the steak frite (fried) with french fries and a Pepsi. It only cost 110 francs for both of us. It was hysterical trying to communicate with the waiter. Now we were in a country where hardly anyone spoke English. The meal, however, was delicious!

Afterward, Harry and Margaret talked us into going on a little adventure on the Metro, the French subway system. We went to the Champs Élysées, probably the most famous avenue in the world. There we were, walking down the street at 11:30 at night! We passed the famous Lido club on our way to the Arc de Triomphe, which honors those who fought for France, especially during the Napoleonic Wars. We almost got ourselves killed trying to get over there. The cars were just going around and around. Of course, we found out later that there's an underground walkway to cross. No one goes across the top, except those of us with Harry. Time to go back to the hotel, Harry! While we were waiting to catch the Metro, we saw an accordion player on one that was passing by. That was unusual. We stopped for some candy, chocolate truffles. They had so much rum in them, you could get woozy eating half of one! We got back about 12:00 and went straight to bed!

Wednesday, January 9, 1985

We woke up about 8:00 after our first really good night's sleep. We played cards almost every night in London, but couldn't stay awake in Paris. The room was cozy, as were the fluffy comforters on the beds. We went downstairs for our traditional croissant breakfast and left for our half-day tour of Paris about 9:00. We saw the Arc de Triomphe (this time in daylight!), the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral with its gorgeous stained glass windows, the famous Samaritaine department store, and the Opera House. What a beautiful city!

The Trocadéro is the site of the Palais de Chaillot. It is across from the Eiffel Tower and overlooks the Seine. It houses the National Navy Museum and the Anthropological Museum.

Margaret at Notre Dame Cathedral.

The tour ended back at the hotel about 12:00. Then we headed back out with Harry and Margaret - again! What a trip! First of all, they wanted to get money via their American Express card which can't be used in a regular bank. So we walked and walked until we finally found an American Express office. Since we were there, we decided to exchange our own traveler's checks for some cash. We also stopped to buy some nice, warm gloves at one of the stores. Margaret, remember, lost one glove in Harrod's. I lost one on Exhibition Road. At least we lost a matched set, one right glove and one left glove. Anyway, we found wine-colored pairs. The lady at the check-out was so funnyl. We couldn't figure out what she was trying to say. We finally figured out she was asking if we wanted to wear them now. She slapped her forehead when she found out we didn't speak French. Not more Americans! Ha! Harry bought a hat which his wife kept pulling over his eyes. He got so fed up, he took it off.

We went to the Cafe le Opera for lunch. We had strange ham hoagies with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and eggs. It sounds good, but our hoagies at home are much better. The bread was too hard. You probably need to dip it in some wine. They did give us huge Coca Colas with lemon. The meal cost about 37 francs each and the tip was already added in on the bill. The waiter made a mistake with the bill the first time and Harry had to correct him. What fun with the communication again.

After lunch, we went to the Louvre Museum. The entrance fee was only 6 francs. We bought maps, books, and postcards at the gift shop. It was hard to decide what to try to see, but we managed pretty well. Some of the highlights included the Venus de Milo, Victory at Samothrace, paintings by Rembrandt and various French artists, and the most famous painting in the world, the Mona Lisa. It's much smaller than we expected, but gorgeous! It's protected behind bullet-proof glass. We were able to take pictures as long as we didn't use flash. We also saw some Italian paintings and the crown jewels of France. I wanted to see a sculpture by Michelangelo and one of Cupid, but the sculpture section was closed for renovations. Figures.

We headed for the exit about 5:00, but were locked in by guards when an alarm sounded. Someone must've stolen the Mona Lisa! Only kidding! We never did find out what happened. We took the metro back to the hotel and collapsed for a while. Then we took quick showers and tried to figure out what to do for dinner. Harry and Margaret didn't go out until 10:00 and Natalie was sick, so we talked to our friend, Jacques, who gave us directions to another restaurant.

There we were, two petrified girls going out on our own at night. Luckily, the place was only a five minute walk away. It was Le Tavern Napoleone, an Italian place. We each had a small pizza and a Coke, which was served in the original Coke bottles. The waiter thought we were funny. Boy, we just provided entertainment and amusement for a bunch of folks in two different countries! The customers, however, were looking at us strangely because we were eating the pizza with our hands. We went right back to the hotel after dinner. It was hard to stay awake, but I wrote about the day in my journal and we went to sleep about 1:00.

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