Monday, May 19, 2008

Day Five - Transition Day

April 27. We said our goodbyes to Bordeaux in the morning, and figured out how to take the streetcar to the train station rather than take a taxi. It was a Sunday and evidently the streetcars were not running as frequently as they had been during the time we were there. We ended up waiting 22 minutes for a car. Why do I know how long it took, because there are signs at each stop indicating how long the wait is for the next and even the car after that. These are also at all subway stations in Paris. I love it. I wish we had that system in Boston. It was easy to take the streetcar since there was only one step to go up and Ken was the one handling the suitcase, anyway. The ride took about 20 minutes and cost us only $4. If the Paris subway was as easy, we would have taken that instead of a taxi.

This time the train left on schedule at 12:30 a.m and arrived at Gare de Montparnasse on time at 4 p.m. After being on the train for 3 1/2 hours I needed to find a ladies room. In Paris as well as much of Europe, many of the toilettes are pay as you go. Usually there is a woman who will take your half Euro to let you in, but there are also automated toilettes in Paris which consist of a closed room with a steel door. Well the only one I could find was an automated one. Ken jumped into it before I had a chance to get my money out. Then I discovered that the only change I had were 2 Euro coins and the toilette only cost .30 Euros. So I thought since it was unisex, I would jump in after Ken got out rather than overpay. WARNING--Don't ever do this! After the door closed I noticed that water was coming out of the wall in back of the toilette, then it started spilling over the toilette and on to the floor. My shoes were getting wet which made me look for higher ground. I tried to open the door, but it would not open. The water kept rising. I banged on the door yelling to open it, but Ken was not outside. I had visions of headlines back home saying "Local Woman Drowns In Paris Toilette". The water reached a level of a half an inch at the highest corner of the room, thank goodness, then started to drain out. There must has been harmless chemicals in the water because I did not smell and my feet survived the ordeal. Anyway, I used the facilities, but I guess I screwed up the automated system and while on the commode, a young mother had put money in the system and opened the door. I could hear her put the money in, but she could not hear me telling her the place was occupied. Well, the door opened and she screamed with surprise something in French, then closed the door. I guess her putting money in the system is what got me out when I tried to open the door the second time. Of course, Ken was no where to be seen. When I did finally find him, I told him about my adventure, but of course, he found the engineering of the facility fascinating and just overlooked my ordeal.

After I dried off, we took a taxi back to the hotel. The weather was lovely, in the 7o's, the sun was shining and everyone was out for a walk. We arrived at our hotel, unpacked, then went down to the concierge to see about tickets to the Louvre for the next day. Getting tickets to the Lourve was easy, and the tickets purchased at the hotel allowed us to enter the Lourve through an entrance that did not have long lines. We also wanted to go to Follies Bergere since it was the subject of one of my favorite Manet paintings. The concierge advised against it and instead suggested the Lido, which is locate on the Champs-Élysées . Then he talked us into dinner there, too. We knew this would be expensive, but it turned out to be much more than we had planned. My advice, skip the dinner and save a fortune. We also wanted to visit the Musee D'Orsay, but they were out of tickets. However, we could purchase them at FNAC just across the street. FNAC is like a Barnes & Noble/Circuit City that sells theatre tickets also (one-stop entertainment center). We bought some for Wednesday.

Since my husband worked for the local transit authority, he wanted to see if we could go to the Lido by subway. So we did a dry run and found it quite easily. The concierge suggested a taxi, but we had already spend enough. Since the day was so lovely we walked around the area and ended up at little bistro on a side street just off the Champs-Élysées. This place had only four outside tables and another dozen inside. We had a lovely dinner outside watching the people, and since Ken spoke German, trying to figure out what the German women at the table next to us were saying. After dinner, we took the subway back to the hotel.

1 comment:

Karen said...

Isn't that just like a man to be fascinated with the engineering while his wife could have drowned? But everyone needs one of those stories - they last as long as the vacation memories. Sounds like you had a great time.