England and Paris, August 1999
Page Four

Now at some point on Tuesday or so, Ian asked what we were doing at the end of the week and I answered, vaguely, that we were going into the country south of London. That happens to be true, it just doesn't happen to be all of the truth. He had really wanted to go to France rather than England but (a) the flights United had to France were all RIDICULOUSLY expensive and (b) the coupons he had from being bumped off that flight last summer had to be used on United.

What he didn't know was that I had gotten some info about the Eurostar high speed train between London and Paris and had gotten a terrific deal on an excursion rate. So we got up early Thursday morning, got over to London's Waterloo station, and Ian still hadn't caught on when we were headed down an escalator into the ticket area. I finally said I hoped he would forgive me but we weren't exactly going where he'd expected, but rather, "You're going to Paris." You should have seen the look on that boy's face. He wavered back and forth between "you're kidding me, right?" and "oh, please, tell me it's true." Absolutely priceless. (Even if I'm not sure he really believed me until we were actually on the train.)

Paris is a delight -- cooler than London, thank heavens, which was really terribly hot -- and very pretty. Especially at night:
The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower
Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel
The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel
Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe

Notre Dame The Eiffel Tower is bigger than I'd thought it was, Notre Dame [photo left] smaller than I thought it was, the Louvre [photo right] bigger than any museum has any reason to be. And no, I'm not a fan of the pyramid. It looks jarring, out of place. The Louvre
Ian's wine And it would not be France without the food -- ah, the food. Ian was in seventh heaven when I simply sat back and let him order (including being able to order wine at 16 in France!). I got him to try escargot (snails) on the theory that if he didn't like them in Paris, he wouldn't like them anywhere. To his enormous pleasure, he also got to order the wine for each of three big meals -- one red, one rose and one white -- and he drank at least half of each bottle!
At the last restaurant where we were (on the Champs Elysees, just down from the Arc de Triomphe, which is also bigger than I thought it would be), they brought us dessert -- chocolate mousse -- in a stemmed bowl that must have held at least a half-gallon of the stuff. I can only imagine the looks on our faces, because the people next to us burst into laughter and one of them ended up taking our photo at the table with the dish. the mousse
The waiters usually worked with him, though a couple were snotty and didn't really give him much of a chance before they switched into English. (The French really can be such snots. Excuse me. My German heritage gets the better of me every so often. You do know why there are trees along all the streets, right? So the Germans can march in the shade...) But he got to order things he'd only read about or been told about in his classes, and bought a Monopoly game all in French, and was able to figure our way around the Metro because his teacher had given them info on how it worked, and...

Sacre Coeur We went to the top of the Eiffel Tower (well, I did, at least; Ian wanted to walk up and didn't get past the second level), rode a tour bus all over the heart of the city, saw Notre Dame (cool gargoyles), a gorgeous church called Sacre Coeur [photo left ] on a hill overlooking the city, and walked all over the Latin Quarter (Left Bank) area [photo right]. Left Bank fountain
Venus de Milo Saturday morning, we spent several hours in the Louvre. Everything is simply stunning. From the Mona Lisa, to the Venus de Milo [photo left], to the Code of Hammurabi, to Cupid and Psyche [photo right]. We managed to get there before it opened, and by doing that beat all the major crowds. I hear it's a beast if you try to go later in the day. It certainly was wall to wall people by the time we left around noon. Cupid and Psyche
Back to London Saturday night, spent the night near Westminster and flew home on Sunday.

And I'm still jet-lagged and I could use a few days off to let my feet recover from the beating they went through last week....

-- August 11, 1999
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