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  • Day7

    Seine River Tour

    June 19, 2018 in France ⋅ ⛅ 72 °F

    We pulled into Paris around 3 PM. My first view of the Eiffel Tower was from the highway as 14 came in from thre south. To get to our hotel, we had to take the Blvd. Peripherique and it was all normal until...

    You see, French road signs are a little different and take a little getting used to, but we had been on open highways in the country side and small village roads. However, nothing can prepare you for the rotary, or what the U.S. refers to as a roundabout. The rotary allows for an intersection without traffic lights and that is fine as long as there is three or four two lane roads emptying or exiting.
    When you roll into the rotary around the Arc de Triomphe, road signs do not matter. All that you need to enter is courage, internal fortitude, and to exit physically unharmed, basically you need luck. I say physically because you will not emerge without emotional scars of some sort.
    As you are probably aware, the first vehicle to enter the rotary has the right of way, but when their are twelve separate multiple lane roadways pouring into one large circle, the right of way disappears quickly.
    It is pure chaos. Somehow city buses push through the masses, while mopeds and motorcycles wind thier way through the ever changing maze like aunts. And the French are not afraid of using thier horns. I don't how accidents aren't regular occurrences here but I never saw a one and we passed by here many times since our entrance to the metro was right there. My last night there, I stood on a 1 ft wide median on the edge of the circle taking video.
    We were driving a large 9 person van to accommodate the 6 of us and our luggage and we dwarfed most other vehicles around us. French roads and parking lots in towns are not made for vehicles of this size, so as a result, the only parking garage where the van would fit was over a mile away from our hotel.

    The bags were unloaded and Bob took the van to park. Michelle would receive a call a little later that Bob needed my help because he could not find the garage, so I jumped in the van and we found that it was farther away than we anticipated.
    It was all a little frustrating, so instead of trying to figure out to navigate the metro to get back to the hotel, I hit up my Uber app and got us a ride. Thankfully the driver knew exactly where we were going, because we were not communicating well. Once we confirmed our destination, I exhausted my French speaking capabilities exchanging pleasantries with the driver. He must have thought I was fluent, because he started talking so fast and asking questions that neither Bob or I could pick out one word. Bob finally heard the word opera...so he says.
    We were back to the hotel safely but quickly emerged for dinner. We ate at the Sheraton because we were hungry for one and it was next to our metro stop.
    From there we went underground to catch the metro. We obviously looked like tourists trying to purchase our tickets. First, trying to figure out the kiosk, then trying to figure out which train to take, and then which of the many tunnels would take us to the desired train. By the time I had it all figured out, it was time to leave.
    The tunnels of the Charles de Gaulle station was the first place that the overwhelming smell of urine came upon us. I wish I could say that was the only time we experienced that, but alas, it was too frequent.
    We were on the 6 line soon enough and headed to the base of the Eiffel Tower.

    Actually, it was a bit of a hike to get to the base. The top was taller than I imagined. All I had to compare it to was the orange oil derrick at Six Flags.

    The area around the base was a disappointment. There were tall corrugated steel walls around the entire perimeter that were not aesthetic to say the least. I am not sure if this had anything to do with the construction on the road by the tower, but I don't think so.
    There were probably more than 50 vendors selling Eiffel junk from the time we got off the metro to the time we got to the tower. The vendors were all immigrants from an African country and did not appear to speak French or English very well. They set up their wares on mats on the ground one after another and they all sold the exact same junk.
    There was a security checkpoint with metal detectors that are unfortunately necessary these days. Due the hour and the long line, we opted not to go through at that time and instead walk over to the Seine river and catch a river tour.

    The tour took us by many interesting sights, some of which we would see up close the next day. By the time the tour was over, it was getting dark and the city of lights awoke.

    It was back through the sea of vendors to the metro and the hotel. We arrived back about 11 PM, tired as usual. The time really sneaks up on you because it doesn't get dark till 10.
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