Joined April 2018 Message
  • May31

    Au Revoir, Paris. A Bientôt.

    May 31, 2011 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 7 °C

    We were up early at 6:30 am. We had a quick breakfast and then cleaned out the fridge. We took the garbage to the street. It was cool and drizzling. We went to the Hotel D'Abbaye next door for our final coffee. There were so gracious, and served our coffees on a silver tray.

    Mme dos Santos, the caretaker for the building, did a quick walkthrough and returned our damage deposit. A cab came at 9:30 a.m., just as Mme dos Santos had arranged.

    The cab already had 16 Euros on the meter. In Paris, the costs start when the cab driver drives to pick you up. Our driver was good but fast. We got in line at the airport around 10:10. Although the Air Canada attendants were at the gate, they did not even look at us until 3 hours before the flight. The people in line got very impatient.

    After about 8 people were checked in, the luggage conveyor stopped and everything ground to a half for another 20 minutes.Finally we got checked in. We were very glad we had come to the airport early.

    Security was another frustrating line. Cranky, we searched for coffee afterwards with no luck. We went to a cafeteria and each had a sandwich before boarding.

    Again, there were long lines to board buses which took us to our plane. We finally got on board. The flight took 7 hours, 40 min. - perhaps because of winds.

    We went through customs in Montreal and then transferred our luggage. We felt pretty good, in part because of the No Jet Lag pills we had taken. We found a Starbucks and all was well.

    We arrived in Calgary and both husbands were there to greet us. A great, great trip.
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  • May30

    Paris by Tour Bus

    May 30, 2011 in Canada ⋅ 🌙 5 °C

    Highlights: Hop On, Hop Off Open Tour Bus, Jardin des Plantes

    We had a beautiful breakfast with strawberries, yogurt, multigrain bread and delicious butter. We took pictures of the apartment and began to pack. We went to Cafe Flores for a great coffee and then waited for the Open Tour bus.

    The bus was a great idea for our last day. We stopped at Jardin des Plates and enjoyed poppies and the rose garden. We ate in a neighbourhood cafe. We then finished the Open Tour blue, yellow and green routes. It was a great way to travel and see places like the Champs Elysees. We finished with coffee at Cafe Madeline and took the metro home for the last time.

    Belinda bought two scarves and we enjoyed wine and cheese on the balcony before completing our packing. We went to Cafe Cassette for a very late dinner. Then off to bed.
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  • May29

    Bad Coffee and a Dodgy Neighbourhood

    May 29, 2011 in Canada ⋅ 🌙 3 °C

    Highlights: Raspail Market, Les Deux Magots, St. Martin Canal, Seine Boat Ride, Sainte Chapelle concert, Crepes

    We were up at 8:00. Belinda did a laundry. We stopped at a brasserie next to the Raspail Market and had our worst coffee, made with evaporated or irridated milk, and day old croissants.

    In the market, we bought bread, strawberries and muffins made by an American who had a story written about her introducing muffins to Paris. We walked along a nice fashion street. When we returned to the apartment, we learned Belinda's laundry did not spin dry so we rested a while while she attended to her clothes.

    We walked to Les Deux Magots, a famous cafe, and got a great table in the shade. We people watched and had croquet monsieur with chicken and coffee. Then we took the metro to Republique. We were looking forward to walking along St. Martin canals. But we started feeling very wary. It was a poor area. We got lost and retraced our steps back to the canal but there were lots of men drinking in door ways and urine soaked mattresses on the pathways. The walk got a little nicer but we cut the trip short and went back to St. Michel where we caught a one hour boat tour on the Seine. It was really nice to be on the water, but it was hot and sunny.

    We went to a cafe near Notre Dame for oily French Onion soup and wine, followed by ice cream at Berthillion. We headed to Sainte Chapelle for the concert. This time we got to walk through the Justice Building to the concert and did not have to climb the claustrophobic stairs.

    The six musicians played Pachebel and Vivaldi's Four Seasons. The main violin player was amazing as was the light pouring though the beautiful stained glass windows. Afterwards we headed to St. Michel and spotted a crepe stand. We had nutella and banana crepes - incredible. We caught the metro home. We sat quietly on the balcony for a while. We were in bed by 11:00 pm.
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  • May28

    A Day for Gazelles

    May 28, 2011 in Canada ⋅ ☁️ 4 °C

    Highlights: Des Invalides, Pantheon, Jardin Luxembourg

    We both rose at 8:30 am. We were tired. We had our usual breakfast and had coffee near the Raspail market. Belinda's coffee was cold ; we didn't get the promised cookies or spoons, and the waitress ignored us. Not a good start to the day.

    We took the metro to Les Invalides. We asked a lady at the information booth for instructions to the Pantheon (our next stop). We are stunned with her very helpful service (after our coffee experience). She printed off instructions.

    Les Invalides is huge. We went first to the church to see Napolean's remains. Then we were hungry but Belinda refused to eat in their cafeteria, and thank goodness she did. We walked for several blocks trying to find a reasonably priced cafe. We ended up at a patisserie and had a meal of tuna and egg baguettes, cheesecake and water. Then we returned to Les Invalides and saw an amazing special exhibit of armour.

    Then we caught a bus to the Pantheon. We stopped for coffee on Boulevard St. Germain and watched a market being taken down for the day. It was a hot, uphill walk to the Pantheon but at least it was open. We decided that it was a day for gazelles. We had been bouncing up the metro stairs, climbing the hill and now, inside the Pantheon, we decided to climb 206 stairs to the rooftop. What a view! We were proud of ourselves.

    We enjoyed a glass of wine at Cafe Luxembourg and headed into the gardens. There were people everywhere but it was so peaceful. We found the miniature Statue of Liberty, the pond with boats for the children, palm trees and many alcoves with green lawn chairs and statues. We walked slowly home. We were very happy, warmed by the sun.

    We rested and decided to go out for dinner. We walked in the direction of a restaurant that had been recommended to us but we couldn't find the street or the restaurant. We found an Italian restaurant La Girara on Rue Madame. It was tiny and a bit claustrophobic, but had very good food and was half the cost of Pizza Diva. We sat next to Marianne and Jan from California, both of whom were big shoppers. I had lasagna and Belinda had lemon veal. We were exhausted by the time we got home and were in bed by 10:00 pm.
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  • May27

    Museums and Gardens

    May 27, 2011 in Canada ⋅ 🌧 4 °C

    Highlights: Jardin Luxembourg, Musee Cluny, Place de la Sorbonne, Louvre

    We both woke at 7:00 and had our usual breakfast. It was chilly so we took our coats as we left for the day. We walked through part of the Luxembourg Gardens. We saw lots of joggers and gendarmes. We had coffee and croissants at Cafe Swisse. There was a drooly St. Bernard next to us eying our pastries.

    We walked to the Pantheon but it was closed for a staff meeting. We had another coffee while we made new plans. A young woman showed us the way to the metro behind (far behind) the Pantheon. We came out of the metro at the Musee Cluny. We went in and really enjoyed the venue and exhibits, especially the tapestries. We walked to the Place de la Sorbonne for lunch. I had Croque Monsieur and Belinda had a quiche. I took a quick picture of Hotel de la Sorbonne where Gary and I had stayed.

    We tried to tour the Sorbonne but they did not offer tours anymore. One guard allowed us a two minute peek and then we visited their small gift shop. We walked through the beautiful Cluny Gardens. It was such an oasis, just off busy St. Michel.

    We headed to the Louvre. We bought a two day pass at the Cluny Museum so we were able to skip the line. We arrived at 2:00 and agreed to meet up at 5:00 pm. I took it very easy watching a movie, enjoying a Starbucks coffee and touring the Renaissance section. I couldn't stand the thrum of so many people and my feet were protesting the walking and stairs. I was craving the peace and quiet of a green garden.

    We both had had enough so we headed home, thinking about a picnic dinner in the Luxembourg Gardens. We found 2 more grocery stores and replenished our supply of fruit and wine. We hobbled home and did our accounting. I did another laundry. It was so nice to have a washer and dryer in the apartment. We decided to eat in. We headed to bed around 9:30 pm. Another great day.
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  • May26

    Ritzy Day

    May 26, 2011 in Canada ⋅ 🌧 8 °C

    Highlights: St. Sulpice, Ritz Escoffier Cooking School, Louvre, Ballet at L'Opera Garner

    I woke at 8:30 am feeling guilty but happily discovered Belinda was still asleep. The sun and heat at Versailles definitely wore us down.

    We had breakfast on the balcony with a view of Sacre Coeur and St. Sulpice. If only we could have had big Starbucks coffees delivered. We needed a lie in that day.

    We walked towards St. Sulpice and spotted a great cafe. We people watched and then walked through the church which was in the DaVinci Code movie. We then headed to the Ritz with a quick Starbucks stop. We were early so we walked past amazing store windows for Channel, Cartier, Jimmy Cho and others.

    We entered the Ritz through the employee entrance. We were a class of 10 people including employees from the Louvre who were using this class for team building. Our instructor was professional but clearly had a lot to cover in one hour. We learned a lot and then sat down to a very nice lunch with wine, coffee and dark, milk and white chocolates. Belinda befriended a Japanese Home Economics teacher and I talked with Sophia from Bulgaria.

    Afterwards we bravely walked to the grand entrance of the Ritz Hotel. We were approached by staff and we told them about our class and that we wanted to go to the gift shop to purchase Ritz aprons. We were escorted past gorgeous flower arrangements, incredible showcases of items for sale and "secret" outdoor patios. We bought two aprons, peeked in Hemingway's Bar, and headed outside, only to find a movie shoot.

    We decided to go to the Louvre for an hour to make use of our museum pass. Belinda headed to the Egyptian exhibit and I went to see the French painters - Ruben and Rembrandt. Mostly I was happy to sit.

    We raced home, had wine, cheese and crackers on the balcony, and changed into dresses for the Ballet.

    The Opera house was stunning with gold statues on the roof, a grand staircase and ceiling painted by Chagall. We had seats 5 & 6 in Box 37 centre stage. The box seats were cute with red velvet walls but it was hot and stuffy. The ballet was called "Rain". It was modern with 10 dancers. The music was live with 6 percussionists and others on xylophones. Two women sang, or rather, made accompanying sounds. It was hypnotic and hot, and I almost fell asleep.

    We caught the metro home around 9:00 pm. A nice card was waiting for us from our lovely landlord, Olga. It was a great day.
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  • May25

    Versaille

    May 25, 2011 in Canada ⋅ 🌧 4 °C

    Highlights: Versaille

    We were up at 7:30 and excited for our day trip to Versailles. We bought two ham and cheese baguettes at the corner boulangerie, and then looked for a cafe near D'Orsay. We ended up on St. Germain de Pres and paid 16 euros for 2 coffees and one croissant. I was very cold and realized I should have worn a coat as the morning was cool.

    We went to RER C under D'Orsay, used our Navigo pass and paid the small difference for our return trip to Versailles. I thought we were heading out of the City but learned that Versailles is inside the City boundary. As soon as we got off the train, we headed to Starbucks where we had the best coffee so far and a bathroom break.

    Versailles was huge - 88 hectares. The internet service centre where we thought we would pick up our tickets was closed so we waited in a huge line with thousands of people. It seemed there was no advantage to booking in advance. Once inside, we received a free audio guide that was very good as we toured the Palace for 2 hours.

    Thank God we had brought our own food. For lunch, we sat on a stone bench in the shade and thoroughly enjoyed our sandwiches. It was hot and sunny, and my feet were sore. We walked slowly down the gardens to the Grand Canal and Grand Trianon. I couldn't and wouldn't go any further so Belinda left me in the shade, and continued off to the Petit Trianon. Thankfully there was a little tram for 3 euros to take us back to the Palace. Belinda had another coffee and then we took the train home. We walked to our apartment and crashed on our beds.

    For dinner we went to the Pizza Diva on the corner. They made fabulous wood fired pizza and had unbelievable pistachio and chocolate hazelnut gelato. The bill was 91 euros which was a shocker but it was our first dinner out.

    Belinda's suitcase finally arrived at 10:30 pm. Ironically, it had a "rush" sticker on it.
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  • May24

    Museums and Concert

    May 24, 2011 in Canada ⋅ 🌧 3 °C

    Highlights: Musee D'Orsay, Sainte Chapelle, Shakespeare and Company, Jazz Concert with Robin McKellee

    We had a good sleep again. The apartment was quiet even with the windows open. We had breakfast with yogurt, fruit, bread from the market and orange juice. Belinda got a call that her suitcase was in Paris - finally - and she made arrangements to have it delivered the next day. We put in our first laundry and went for a coffee at Cafe Cassette. We had a sunny table for two. I was startled by the waitress and we had a round of Bon Jour!, Bon Jour! Then we did a bit of shopping and went back to the apartment to hang the laundry.

    We headed out and picked up two pain au raisin and viennoise chocolat. We walked easily to the Musee D'Orsay but discovered the line up to get in was at least 1/2 hour. We shared the pastries and took pictures. A quartet played music for the people in line.

    We were in awe once we got inside. The museum was so grand and majestic and yet comfortable and accessible. We went straight up to the Impressionists - Monet, Manet, Degas, Van Gogh, Gaughin and others. Belinda's system was to choose a side, go all the way down and return. It worked well and we took a leisurely pace. There was a sweet, well-dressed Italian couple who spoke in such an animated manner to each other about the art that I felt like crying.

    We went for coffees and shared a ham and emmenthal baguette in the museum cafe and had a great conversation about Belinda's retirement plans.Time stood still.

    Then we toured other areas of the museum until around 4:00 pm. We planned to take a scenic bus route #96 home. We crossed a pedestrian bridge covered in love locks. We discovered the #96 was packed so we changed our plans. We impulsively walked to Sainte Chapelle. I was better prepared than Belinda for the claustrophobic stairwells because Gary and I had climbed them on our trip to Paris. Belinda loved the stained glass and we decided to buy Vivaldi tickets for Sunday night.

    We hopped on the metro home and got some OJ for Belinda who felt a cold coming on. We rested up for the jazz concert.

    It was quite stressful figuring out the bus system to get us to the Institut Oceanagraphie so we flagged a taxi. We got to the concert with half an hour to spare but there was a long line as it was open seating. Inside was nice but really just padded pews. Robin McKellee was very good but her keyboard player was incredible. The concert was very loud at the end.

    We walked home easily within 10 minutes. We had cheese, crackers and some wine and were in bed by midnight. Such a great, great day.
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  • May23

    Shopping and Sight Seeing

    May 23, 2011 in Canada ⋅ ☁️ 10 °C

    Highlights: Printemps, Fouchon, Hediard, L'Opera Garnier, L'Orangerie, Eiffel Tower, Rickshaw

    Belinda was up at 6:30 and I was up at 8:00. It was another beautiful sunny day but already hot. We got our transit pass with our picture (Navigo). We had coffee around the corner which was a mistake - the coffee was expensive, smokey and bitter. Then we headed to St. Sulpice station where we had some laughs trying to use our transit pass. We went to Madeline square which is full of great food shopping. We were delighted to see Fauchon and Hediard, two of our destinations, as we exited the metro.

    We walked all around the square and realized not every store was food-related. Then we strolled down a boulevard to Printemps, a "department store". We stopped in one store to buy necklaces for me and a scarf for Belinda. Printemps was three separate stores - one for men, one for women and one for housewares. It was like Holt Renfrew and we quickly realized Belinda was not going to be able to replace the clothes in her suitcase there.

    We went to the rooftop which had fabulous views and realized it was a cafeteria. I made a mistake and got a barely cooked burger. Belinda chose better with a quiche. We took a few pictures and then headed to L'Opera Garner. Belinda got the run around with respect to the timing and price of tours. Instead of a tour, we spontaneously decided to buy ballet tickets for Thursday night. We walked slowly towards Concord. We spotted a Gap store and Belinda was thrilled to buy 2 pairs of pants, 2 tops and ballet shoes. Time for a cafe.

    The waiter said I could only have Badoir, not San Pellegrino if I was not eating. This felt like the rude French service of olden days. So I ordered a cafe au lait which was awful. We walked to Concord and worried that L'Orangerie might be closed. We saw a lineup but our museum pass took us to the front.

    The two rooms with floor to ceiling water lilies were nice, but the basement held the biggest surprise of paintings by Matisse, Renoir, Picasso and others. We took the metro home and stopped in a plastic shop where Belinda bought a plastic champagne bucket for the flowers. We trudged home burdened with bags and rested before going to the Eiffel Tower.

    We found the St. Sulpice bus with no problem but I got flustered trying to find my Navigo pass. I finally paid 2 euros and then had a mini freak out thinking I had lost my glasses too (which was not the case). We got to the Eiffel Tower and sat in a park watching young men dancing in the park. At 8:15 pm, we got closer to the Tower and saw 5,000 - 10,000 people in line. I was so happy Belinda reserved on line.

    We walked right in and took the gondola to the second floor. We got some good pictures and watched the sunset. Then we tried to take a boat trip back to our apartment but there were only 2-3 hour return trips available. We trudged back to the Tower planning to take a bus, but Belinda spotted a bicycle rickshaw and we took it. It was a nice half hour ride along the Seine. We got home at 11:00 and headed to bed. We could still see a strobe light show from the Eiffel Tower.
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  • May22

    To Market, To Market

    May 22, 2011 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    Highlights: I'lle St. Louis, Flower and Bird Market, St. Berthillon Ice Cream, Tuilerie Garden, Raspail Organic Market

    We woke at 7:30 and enjoyed our breakfast of fruit, yogurt and bran buds (for me). We headed to the organic farmer's market on Raspail. It was incredible - four blocks long with vendors on both sides. We bought strawberries, bread with figs, brie, tomatoes and dried fruit. But my favourite experience was buying butter which they cut from a big block with a garrotte. I also impulsively bought a scarf for 20 euros.

    We stopped for a coffee on the way home. The bathroom was up steep stairs and was tiny, on an angle. We had a cheese and tomato tart for lunch and then took the metro to St. Michel. We tried to buy Navigo (transit tickets) from a rude, impatient clerk, Then we spent a fortune trying to get the right sized picture for our transit pass in a photo booth. We finally surfaced from the metro and walked to I'lle St. Louis. We bought an ice cream at the world famous Berthillon, and walked all around the island before we realized the flower and bird market was on I'lle Cite. However, Belinda found a great purse which she bought along the way. We stopped near Notre Dame for coffee and water and got conned by the waiter. The bill was 21 euros!

    The flower and bird market was disappointing - small, no cut flowers, birds grouped in tiny cages. We decided to walk to L'Orangerie along the Seine, taking a few breaks along the way. In the Tuilerie Garden, sand was blowing in our faces like crazy. We got to L'Orangerie at 5:30 pm and the guards were locking up. We felt like crying. We pulled ourselves together and walked all the way home.

    Belinda found out her suitcase was in Geneva - poor thing. We were exhausted.
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