Friday, October 30, 2015

It's Where Rhett Bought Scarlett's Hat

Our European adventure is underway!  I flew into Paris early Thursday morning (2:30 stateside) and met up with Alex at the airport.  He was over in Switzerland the previous week for a work conference which was the impetus for our extending his time overseas and my joining him. 

Random observations about the Charles de Gaulle airport:  There is plenty of English signage and I had no trouble finding my way out. The bathroom stalls are excellent.  The door goes completely to the floor, no gaping crack for lookie-loos, and secure locks.   French toilets: two thumbs up.  Finding public toilets once out and about in Paris-- a bit more tricky.  Those are my bathroom thoughts.  I hope they are edifying to your day and life.

We took a cab into the city and remarked that a Parisian cloudy day looks suspiciously like an American one.  Construction looks like construction, and people, well, look like people.
Folks is folks and #ItsASmallWorldAfterAll.  

Our hotel.  Is Awesome.  We are staying on the Rue du Paix in the Opera district at the Park Hyatt Vendome.  It is a financial district and houses several famous jewelers.  All I knew before we got here is it's the street where Rhett bought Scarlett the bonnet that she tied on backwards as I like to make cross-cultural associations.

Because I married The Points Master, we are staying in a 5 star hotel solely on points.  When we entered the hotel, we were immediately greeted in English and ushered into a reception area.  It felt like a warm cocoon for the dum-dum American traveler who doesn't speak the language. The place is all white marble floors and orchids and soft lighting. As we arrived hours before check-in time, we were offered complimentary refreshments and I was reminded how amazing fresh pressed orange juice is.  Is is a simple pleasure I need in my life from now on.

The food? As exquisite as you've been lead to believe.  The architecture?  As grand as you'd imagine.  Gold leaf statues and scroll work everywhere.  And the amorous behavior the city boasts?  Yes.  Lots of the double cheek greeting and the slow-in-public-making-out-ing. (Not us, people.)  A street hustler who hustled me into "holding a knot" engaged me in conversation and before I realized it, I had the great fortune to buy a 10 euro "love knot" bracelet--basically one of those penny string bracelets girls made in grade school. He asked how many babies I had and if we were going to "get crazy" at the discotheques and in our room later.  Erm.  No.  I will be sleeping from jet lag.  But thank you, stranger, for inquiring! 

I guess if you eat, live and recreate in such an atmosphere, you generally feel good about life.

We later ate at our first cafe and I had  a wonderful Croque Madame and a ridiculous chocolate mousse that was almost the consistency of frosting, but much tastier.  We finally were able to check in and I tried not to fall asleep sitting upright waiting for our bags to be brought up.  After getting some sleep-of-the-dead, we played with our room's amenities.  It has a button to automatically raise the window's shutters and a luxurious bath, so are are set.  The soaps and lotions in the room are lovely as well.  To top it off, we received complementary macaroons at check-in and they will be a new favorite.

Today was our first full day and we made the most of it.  Our first stop was the Louvre.  My high school Humanities class and lifelong membership on a Sunday School roll helped me have a greater appreciation for the grand scale paintings and sculptures we saw.  Many were religious scenes--the largest paining in the entire museum is a full scale depiction of the Wedding of Cana, Jesus' first recorded miracle.  The docent I overheard said the painting's measurements were larger that his entire flat!  We did see the Mona Lisa, but honestly, I was more impressed by the large scale frescoes and paintings we saw.  We spent several hours there today, and by the time we left, it was all this is a piece of art made by some famous guy about some famous thing in history a long time ago. Moving on.

We definitely have had fun amongst ourselves donning exaggerated redneck speak--referencing a shocking lack of sophistication per Jeff Foxworthy.  We ate at another cafe; I had the special of cabornara and the tarte tarin (apple tart).  Coupled with the chocolate pastry I had this morning, all I can do is lift up holy hands in thanks and try to skip a big dinner.

We toured the bottom floor of Notre Dame, which is still a working place of worship.  We didn't want stand in line and pay extra to tour the towers, so we walked along the river, made our way back to the Louvre-- we have 4 day museum city passes and I at least knew I could use the facilities-- and limped back to our hotel around six tonight.  We hope to visit the Eiffel Tower at night, but it's about 25 minutes on foot from the hotel and we've been too exhausted to make our way back out once the sun sets.  I know we'll see it before we leave, but we might just shell out the euros to take a cab.

I'll end it here with some pictures of the day.  I wore full make-up with a scarf and boots to compensate for my dyed-in-the-wool Americana.  God did bless the U.S.A., but he surely created a beautiful language and culture here.

Redneck Fancy

In front of the Louvre entrance

Christ before Pilate

Wedding at Cana

Louvre gardens with the Eiffel Tower in the distance

Arriving at Notre Dame

Aisle view

View from the river

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