London and Paris, 1985, Part 6

Saturday, January 12, 1985

We slept in late, until 8:30. What a luxury! The Sisters invited us to go with them to see some kind of stained glass windows, but we decided to stick with shopping. We set out about 10:00 for the perfume place to pick up the Nina Ricci. The lady was there, but she was talking to someone from Givenchy. Sounded like they were playing let's make a deal. She told us to come back in an hour.

It was snowing again, so we wandered in and out of shops. Not too many were open. In one store, we were looking at magazines and a lady start yelling at me in French. We finally figured out that she wanted us to put the magazines back neatly. Okay, okay. We're neat anyway. Good grief. The French are sure not as friendly toward Americans as the English were.

We stopped in the Roman Musique store to "window lick," that's "window shop" to us, before heading back to the Constantinople for the perfume about 11:30. The woman told us to wait 5 minutes while she drove away to pick up the perfume. She left us standing outside. At least her dog was warm inside. Ha! She did give each of us three sample perfumes when I bought the Nina Ricci. We opened the bottle back at the hotel and found out it was the wrong bottle. It had a picture of the doves on it, not the crystal doves on the top. So much for communicating!

Totally dejected, we headed for the metro station to go to the Samaritaine department store, the French version of Harrod's. Our spirits lifted tremendously when we met a tall, dark, gorgeous American from Los Angeles who works for a bank in Paris. We never found out his name, but he was so friendly! He saw us pouring over the metro map and offered assistance. He gave us directions, made sure we got on the right metro line, and rode with us for a while on his way to work. We talked about our experiences in France. He thought it was amazing that we crossed the street to see the Arc de Triomphe and lived to tell about it! Too bad we had to say good-bye. I would have liked to bring that guy home in my suitcase!

More shopping. We bought a couple of sweatshirts for 145 francs, about $15. We saw another perfume store, but they sold Nina Ricci only in large, very expensive bottles. So, we went to the Samaritaine, which was a very interesting, but confusing place. Margaret tried to ask two salespeople where to find china and crystal. Ha! Neither of the ladies spoke English, of course. We were trying to use sign language, motioning eating from plates and drinking from glasses, but they thought we were hungry and wanted food. They would not make very good charades players. We found an information booth and tried to ask there. Ha! The guy told us that China's in Asia! Terrific. We gave up on that idea.

I did have some luck, though. I found seven Richard Clayderman albums that haven't been released in the US. He's a very famous French pianist that we enjoy listening to, so I bought four of the albums. I also found a small bottle of Nina Ricci perfume with the crystal doves on the top of the bottle. The set included a bottle of eau de toilette spray and cost only 320 francs. Amazing! I couldn't believe it! Success at last. I wanted to use traveler's checks to pay for the set, but we had a hard time communicating once again. The poor woman handling the sale was getting so frustrated. We think she was trying to tell us that we could get a better exchange rate at a bank, but I wasn't about to pass it up. She finally gave up, thank goodness and put the sale through.

We left the department store, walked in and out of more shops, and finally stopped at a little Italian restaurant for dinner. We decided on ravioli. We also ordered medium Cokes. They were huge! Imagine what the large versions would look like! The food was good. On the way to the metro station, we tried to find some china for Margaret's Mom again. The woman in one store told us to write the number of the china we were interested in down on paper and the bidding would start soon! Bidding? That place was too ritzy for us.

We made it to the hotel with only one mix-up when we took the metro in the wrong direction and ended up at the Louvre. We got off immediately and corrected our mistake. After defrosting at the hotel, we went to a little store right on the corner and bought Pepsi. I found a French beret for Eileen. We returned to the room about 7:00, packed, and watched some television. We watched the news and some tennis, the Masters tournament. We couldn't figure out whether Jimmy Connors or Ivan Lendl won. Hope it was Ivan. Then they showed John McEnroe and Mats Wilander, but we didn't stick with it long enough to see who won that match. We turned in early since we had to get up early for the return trip to London.

Sunday, January 13, 1985

We rolled out of bed at 7:30 and dressed up in skirts and blouses for Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral. After breakfast, everyone put their luggage in our room since it was the largest. We were supposed to check out by 10:00, but we wouldn't be back from Church in time to clear out the rooms.

Charlemagne, or Charles the Great, united Western Europe during the Middle Ages. His empire was the only one to ever unite France and Germany, except a few years under Napolean. This statue is across from Notre Dame Cathedral.

We left for Mass about 9:00 and arrived, via the metro, by 9:30. Jacques was waiting for us outside. Boy, was it cold! Jacques gave us a tour of the outside, explaining the stories behind each of the sculptures and decorations. It was very interesting, but we were so cold, we couldn't concentrate very well. We thought we would find some relief inside, but it was just as cold. It would be much too expensive to heat the place. Enough complaining! The service was worth it. Mass began at 9:00. Seven priests were leading the Mass, conducting the choir,
and conducting the congregation. The organ sounded incredible! I was seated next to Jacques and he kissed both of my cheeks during the sign of peace. After Mass, he finished the tour, this time of the inside. He asked each one of us to fill out postcards to let us know about the Mass he's having said for our group on February 2. That will be quite an honor.

We went back to the hotel about 12:30, changed clothes, drank some hot chocolate, and left about 1:15 on a bus bound for the train station. By then, it was snowing again! Some of the Europeans said this was their worst winter in years! Things went pretty fast on the return trip. There was hardly any waiting. The train back to the hovercraft dock left about 2:20. During the two-hour ride we all ate sandwiches that Harry had bought and admired the snow-covered countryside. It was very peaceful and pretty. We barely had time to catch our breath at the station before we boarded the hovercraft. This time our trek across the English channel took only 35 minutes, but it was a choppier ride. Luckily, it wasn't too bad. By the time we made it through customs, the bus was waiting to take us back to the Royal Scot.

At 7:30, we were in room 362. Thank goodness it was only for one night because there was no heat and the television wasn't working. Dave and Natalie talked us into going to an Indonesian restaurant (the Marati or something) in Soho for dinner. Not a nice neighborhood. We took a taxi and saw quite a few interesting people walking around. The food wasn't bad. There was chicken soup (better than in the Chinese restaurant!), spring roll, and chicken with tomato rice. Finding a taxi back was next to impossible and Dave and Natalie kept teasing us about being just a tad scared. Well, it wasn't pleasant walking around there so late. It was our first real sense of fear since the rest of London was nothing like it. Guess we can chalk it up to experience. At least we made it back by midnight.

Links of Interest:

Charlemagne Wikipedia

Charlemagne Facts and Summary
History of Charlemagne

Monday, January 14, 1985

Departure day! Europe was wonderful and quite an adventure, but it was time to return home. We had a wake-up call right after 7:00 AM. We dressed, ate our last continental breakfast, and put our suitcases out in the hall by 8:00. We were going stir crazy by 8:30 so we took our own luggage down to the lobby and checked out. Margaret finally mailed her postcards.

We left for the airport about 9:00 and arrived by 10:00. We had a little bit of time to shop. I bought a book to read on the plane and a bottle of 12-year-old scotch for Dad. We started boarding the plane at 11:30, but didn't take off until 12:40. What a long ride - 6 hours and 40 minutes. Lunch was beef tips with Dijon mustard. Not bad. Margaret bought a headset so we entertained ourselves with music for a while. One of my favorite singers, Rick Springfield, was on the play list with "Don't Talk to Stranger." Watched some of the movie, Robert Redford in "The Natural." It broke down right at the end. We talked to a man from the states who was sitting next to us (we had window seats) in the aisle seat and kept our eyes on the ocean below. We were sitting right next to the wing. It's so different looking out in the middle of the day and seeing nothing but clouds and water.

We finally landed on American soil at 2:40, New York time. Harry took my scotch through customs since I'm underage, but they didn't even check it out. We managed to get our luggage and called Salem limo by 4:00. They said they would be there to pick us up between 4:00 and 4:30, but didn't show up until 5:00. In the meantime, I called my parents to let them know we were back in the USA. Mom's first question was,"Did you get the perfume?" Ha!

The limo ride was very long and very crowded. There wasn't a seat left. The driver wanted to drop us off at the George Washington motor lodge. Sorry, wrong place. We made it to the Hilton about 7:30. My parents and Margaret's Mom were there to greet us. What a sight for sore eyes! We had such a wonderful experience and learned so much about two different cultures, but we also came home with more appreciation for the USA!