Place de la Concorde and Pont Alexandre III (Day 5)

DSC_8711

The last and final entry of our October 2010 journey to Paris. View some of the 700+ photos I took in my Flickr collection.

We awoke late in the morning – no surprise after a full and relaxing late day/night before. After a brief morning nibble, we wandered the Marias for a bit, souvenir hunting for family and friends and generally determined to enjoy our last full day in Paris. Being a Sunday, there were few people out and about, save the various cafes and brasseries around us.

We stopped for a lingering brunch at a cafe near the Centre Georges-Pompidou. It was probably the first meal I had that was only so-so; my chicken was rather dry, though the coffee more than made up for it. We then took advantage of the few remaining Metro tickets we had left and headed out to the Place de la Concorde where the Luxor Obelisk stands at the entrance to the Tuileries. Roughly a kilometer away was the distant Arc de Triomphe, a straight shot down the Avenue des Champs Elysées. The sky was a perfect blue for photographing. Continue reading

St. Germain and the Arc de Triomphe (Day 4)

DSC_8646

Already halfway through our stay and we’ve seen everything we wished to see, save the Arc de Triomphe – something we planned on doing at night. So today was a morning of leisure and rest. When we were finally refreshed, we headed out to the Batobus and rode it to Faubourg Saint-Germain-des-Prés under a glorious autumn sky. (We had awoken to rain, so the clearing weather was a blessing.) We managed to shoot a few more photos of the Tour Eiffel with the gorgeous blue sky as the boat wound its way to St. Germain. Continue reading

Tour Eiffel and the Louvre (Day 3)

DSC_8309
After a leisurely morning, we headed out towards the Seine to get passes for the Batobus, a river taxi relatively new to the city. We stopped by a boulangerie for a mid-morning snack, which we partook of while sitting in the large courtyard of the Hôtel de Ville. Our destination today was Tour Eiffel; rather than brave the Parisian Metro or walk the 2.5 miles, we opted for the river taxi which was a pleasant ride.

It’s hard to believe we were actually at the Tour Eiffel. If you couldn’t believe it, the multitude of souvenir sellers made sure you didn’t forget. With their wares dangling on large rings or spread out on blankets, they were EVERYWHERE. My wife remarked later that there was no “official” souvenir shop in the area, unlike in DC where the National Park Service has a shop at practically every single memorial and monument. Continue reading

Paris – The Journey Begins (Day 1)

DSC_8188
(In the fall of 2010, my wife and I made our first trip to Paris, France in celebration of our 15th wedding anniversary. What follows is an electronic version of the journal I wrote while on the trip, liberally sprinkled with photographs taken during our Parisian visit. For the full collection of links, stay tuned to this page as I post my thoughts on our excursion.)

Long flights are exhausting.

“Red-eye” flights across the Atlantic (or anywhere overseas, for that matter) seem to serve nothing more than to completely disrupt your body clock. In hindsight, of course, it’s a good thing.

There wasn’t anything really wrong with our Air France flight. I’d had a difficult time sitting comfortably since only a couple weeks before I’d bruised my back and hindquarters from a short fall down some stair s in our home. I ended up sleeping maybe a total of an hour during the 8 hour journey. My wife slept comfortably beside me. Continue reading

It’s Not a License to be Stupid

On a recent drive to and from Pittsburgh, I’ve come to realize that residents of certain states have a typical driving style.

Illinois:  Hell-bent on getting there as fast as possible.  Adept at maneuvering in and out of lanes with scant clearance between cars.  Able to dodge lane-changing trucks without incident and arrive at the nearest Starbucks ten minutes before time.  [This form I am intimately familiar with, considering I grew up driving in Illinois….]

Florida: No concept of “fast lane.”  Just as competent at going 40 mph in the left lanes as they are in the right, all while driving with one turn signal fused in the “on” position.  Slow to change lanes and utterly scared of more than two semi-trucks in line-of-sight, prompting immediate pressing on the brakes and slowing down another 10 mph.  Deathly afraid of hills and tunnels, often slowing down before entering and exiting.  The mere hint of water on the roadway prompts nightmares of immediate skids ending in flaming wreckage.

Maryland: No regard for “safe car length distance”.  Tailgating is a state sport, with the closer one gets, the more points they win on their license.  (What exactly they win, I’ve no freaking clue.)  “Speed limit” is a euphemism for “minimal safe speed.”

Virginia: Safe drivers, except when a Maryland plate is spotted.  When an “enemy” plate is discovered, every attempt is made to block said car and make said driver’s life miserable.  Has acute radar-detector envy, usually seen when drafting an out-of-state car going 20 mph above the speed limit, only to back off suddenly when state-implanted chip warns of VAHP vehicle / helicopter nearby.  This move, incidentally, is called “sacrificing the out-of-state loser.”

Pennsylvania: See Florida, only younger.  Because when they retire, they go to Florida.  And then move back to PA when the heat and mosquitoes aggravate them.

So, I’m sure you all have some stereotype state drivers.  Please, share.  That way, I know what to expect when I see their plates on the road…