The first thing we did in Paris was ride along the Seine on our loaded bikes past almost every great monument. It was a great way to enter the city. When we stopped to see Notre Dame Cathedral, (which was amazing and surrounded by throngs of people) we were approached by a woman from Vancouver about to depart on a bike tour with her family and I just happened to ask if she knew someone, and sure enough we both know Marnie and Denise in Vancouver. It was great to share stories and tips, and it felt as if we were passing the torch.
Paris is like a museum. I'm sure the inside of the museums are fabulous, but the outsides, and all the monuments, squares, and old apartment buildings are just as interesting. Although Paris has 20 times the population density of New York (and that doesn't include the tourists) they have enormous squares like football fields and lots of green space. We did a day trip on the train to Disneyland and had some good rollercoaster rides, but it did not live up to all the hype, far from it. We perhaps saw another side of Paris. We camped in Bois de Bologne, an expansive park only 20 min bike ride from the Eiffle Tower, shopped at the grocery store in the neighborhood across the Seine and rode our bikes all over Paris just looking at everything. On our trip to find the Catacombs (old limestone quarries now under the streets where 6 million parisian bodies were deposited in the 1800s in order to clean up the cities overcrowded cemeteries) we came upon a community market that they hold only twice a year and it was 10 blocks long, full of antiques and junk and music and all sorts of people. Caleb and I loved it, and it drove Marty crazy! We did not actually go into the Catacombs as the lineup was hours long. Like I said, the sights of Paris are overcrowded with tourists, and the lineups frightened us away from most places. We did perservere with the Eiffle Tower, giving up one evening, but returning the next morning. We walked up the stairs to the second level and then went right to the top on the elevator and it was spectacular! It is 1000 feet tall, and was the tallest building at the time (around 1889). Mr Eiffle built it for the Paris Expo, and he not only designed it but his factory built it, and he financed it!
Biking in Paris is quite normal. Men ride in their fine suits with ties flying behind them, and women in their skirts and heels fly long in the bike lanes (shared with the buses), or on the bike paths. We figured out how to bike everywhere, and to navigate the traffic circles, only resorting to the cross walks on some of the bigger ones, like Arc d'Triumph (I would love to see the last part of the Tour de France when all the bikers come towards the arch with the crowds roaring). We ate croissants every morning, watched several of the World Cup games, and were excited to be going home.
Our last adventure was going to the airport where the cab that we had specially ordered was too small, and so Marty went to the airport with the first cab and our bikes and gear, and the kids and I waited for a second cab. It was morning rush hour, and there were none available, so we took the shuttle bus, and transfered to the airport bus. After 45 minutes on the bus I was concerned, and checked for the location of CDG airport and couldn't find the "I am here" dot. Because we were on the wrong bus going to a different airport. We raced back in a Taxi to the correct airport, but had missed the flight cut off. Marty had been waiting by himself, with no contact, for 3 hours thinking the worst. Oh dear... another flight 2 hours later.
So now we are Ontario bound, for a family visit, then Vancouver and driving home. It has been quite the journey. Jorja, loving being with her family, Caleb learning to live within it. We loved the biking, the old stuff, some of us loved the languages, but it was a long time to be away. We have missed family and friends and our projects and look forward to rejoining our communities and moving forward. Read more