Our satelite server has been down for about 36 hours, so I was not able to post the rest of the story of our trip yesterday. Here is what happened on Saturday, August 12.
One of our supporters wrote and reminded us of the phrase, "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade". That is exactly what we did on the this day when we were stuck somewhere we hand't planned to be.
9:30 a.m. Paris time (six hours ahead of EDT)
I wake up after a decent night's sleep. Fortunately, I didn't have a drug overdose or a drug interaction during the night after all the medications I had taken (see the previous blog). I thought of that just before going to sleep.
It is raining. When I walk down to the lobby (we are on the sixth floor, or if you live in Europe, it's called the fifth floor), I am told the forecast calls for occasional showers. Not the best day to see the city, but we'll make do with what we get. First, I go and find the Sauers and Jeremy at their hotel around the corner. We go out to find a place where we can exchange some dollars for euros without getting robbed. When I get back to my family, Nancy goes out to a local grocer to find some food.
The nine of us head for the Gare du Nord (train station). We buy an all-day pass (Mobilis) which allows us to ride any of the city transport systems for one whole day. We will use these passes a lot during the rest of the day, getting our money's worth out of them. We first head to the Ile de la Cite (the Isle of the City), the center and oldest part of Paris. Notre Dame is on the Ile de la Cite, but I tell my tourists that the best church in the city is la Sainte Chapelle (the Holy Chapel), a "tiny" Gothic cathedral built in the 1240's for the royalty of France. It is just around the corner from Notre Dame. When we come up out of the metro, it is raining, and we get soaked waiting in line to enter la Sainte Chapelle. The cathedral was built to house the supposed crown of thorns which Jesus wore, but today it is best known for its 13 spectacular stained glass windows (including the rose window), two-thirds of which are original. They cover 6,458 sq. ft. of wall space and tell the story of the entire Bible, including the Apocrypha. The dominant colors are reds and the blues, and the celing seems to disappear in light. No picture can adequately capture the heavenly vision, but here is a shot of one of the windows.
By now the rain has stopped, and we head out of la Sainte Chapelle and around the corner to Notre Dame. Since the line is long, we decide not to go into the cathedral, but instead walk around it and admire the architecture. We also see the Seine River, which bisects the city. Here I am with the back side of Notre Dame behind me.
We reboard the metro and head over to la Tour Eiffel (I don't think that needs any translation). We have to change trains once and take a different line. It is fun trying to find your way around Paris and push your way through the crowds! When we get to our station, we have to walk about four blocks along the Seine to get to the tower. Daniel, Suzanne, Luke Sauers, and Jeremy have the energy to climb the 700 steps to get to the second level (to get from there to the top, you have to take an expensive elevator, and we didn't have the money for that). The rest of us stay at the bottom and rest on the benches in the partly sunny weather. It is cool, but pleasant. We watch the tourists and policemen and pigeons walking around under the massive iron tower. The architect is the same man who designed the Statue of Liberty in New York.
We retrace our steps and board a train for the north side of Paris. We have to change trains again, but this time our first train comes to the end of the line. At the end of the line, you can get out on either side of the train, and the Sauers and Jeremy, riding in the car in front of us, get out on the wrong side of the train. We wait for the next train to come into the station, and they walk on and walk right back off onto the right (left) side to join us. Are you confused? So are we. We board another train and take it to one of the most visible and interesting sites of Paris: le basilique de Sacre Coeur (the Sacred Heart Basilica). The church stands on one of the few hills in Paris and is known by its distinct shape and color (white). It is really pretty in the setting sun, as you can see. We don't walk up the hill to the church as our feet are getting pretty tired (especially those who climbed the Eiffel Tower), and we're also hungry, so we do decide to eat our supper in the plaza at the base of the hill. We find that most delectable of French "fast foods": a croque monsieur (a sandwich with ham in between the slices of bread and French cheese roasted into the bread on the outside). Some of us also have crepes with nutella sauce. We watch the pigeons in the plaza and try our hand at feeding them. Suddenly, a wild cat jumps out the bushes on the plaza and clamps its jaws on one of the pigeons. The pigeon barely manages to escape, but at the cost of losing most of its back feathers. There is an explosion of feathers and the cat is covered with them. We all have a good laugh.
We head back to our hotels just a few metro stops away. We are tired but glad we got the chance to spend some time seeing the city. Jeremy goes out and sees more of the town during the later part of the evening. I wake up after an hour and a half of sleep, but this time I don't have a headache and get back to sleep fairly easily. I don't take as many medications as the night before. It rains heavily in the night.
I will post the last phase of our exciting saga tomorrow. Until then!
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