Monday, July 17, 2017

Au Revoir, Paris! (Paris #5)

After a day of waiting in long lines and exploring the city, we returned to our hotel to rest and get ready for the evening. We'd planned on dressing up and going to dinner somewhere and then seeing the sunset at the Eiffel Tower, but since we hadn't planned on a four hour line (still not over it, probably won't ever be), everything we did that day had happened later than anticipated. So we went back to the hotel and sat like bumps on a log (I did, I think Jaime was a little more spritely) for a little bit to recover from heat exhaustion and then we got ready to head to the Eiffel Tower. 

Google Maps had us transfer subways and we got a little confused on the directions, so we ended up walking from the subway near this bridge (Alexander Bridge or something?) to the Tower. It took us about 30 minutes because we stopped to take pictures.

The sun was juuuuust setting when we got there a little before 10pm, so we barely had enough light to get a few pictures. They're okay, but we wished we'd had slightly more daylight!

We sat down on the grass in front of the Eiffel Tower, where there were hundreds of other people doing the same thing. Families had picnics, children were running around. I'm not sure that this is a favorite spot for locals, but there is some good people watching. All around there are vendors selling light-up Eiffel Tower models, bottles of champagne, beer and wine, and there are pedal taxi drivers going past trying to convince us that we wanted to take a ride somewhere. We decided that since our night was NOT going to look as planned, we'd splurge on a bottle of champagne and drink it while sitting on the grass, looking up at the glittering structure in front of us. Jaime is a really great haggler and we didn't really splurge after all. We sat there for almost two hours, talking and enjoying the view. 

Finally, we decided that we should probably get back to the hotel and also grab something to eat. There was a(n overpriced) crepe stand across the street, so we walked over there and I had a ham and cheese crepe, while Jaime got a giant hot dog with cheese. It looked delicious too!

After we'd eaten (have you noticed that we are not good at feeding ourselves and ate about four times total in three days in Paris? I mean it makes for a cheap trip, but I don't advise it. I'll also note though that we DID buy bottled water the whole time, so we were at least hydrated), we made our way to the metro. Once we were down there and had transferred one time, we realized that we'd missed the last one heading up to our hotel area. It would have been an hour and a half walk back, and that sounded like it wasn't a wise idea for two girls to pursue alone. I was surprised that the metro shut down so early, but maybe that's normal on a weeknight! We ended up calling an Uber. I've never done that before, but it was a fun experience and SO cheap! We did an Uber carpool (it has a proper name but I don't know it!) so it took a little longer, but it gave us the experience of seeing the city at night, and getting above-ground context for where we were!

Here's where we waited for the Uber. Not too shabby.

It was a late night, and morning came too early (those words could sum up my entire life). Our train back to Frankfurt left at 9 in the morning, but we were tired of not having time to eat, so we left with ample time to walk to Gare du Est, and were rewarded with time to sit and relax before the train.

We also had a visitor in the form of several birds, who prey upon messy passengers.

The ride to Frankfurt was uneventful, although my trip back to Münster was NOT. We got back and had lunch at the station, and then I had to wait two hours for my next train, which was supposed to be a three hour direct train back. That train was cancelled, and I was told to get on one going to Cologne and transfer, so I did. The train from Cologne was held so that we could get on it, and I thought all was well, but when we got to Dortmund, they announced that the train would not be stopping in Münster, Osnabrück, or Bremen for some reason (I think they said the reason, but I didn't understand those words). So about half of the train had to get off and wait for a tiny regional train that was only going to Münster. Then that train was 40 minutes late, and when it arrived, didn't have enough seats, so everyone was standing on top of everyone else. Finally, we made it to Münster, a little over 3 hours later than we were supposed to arrive! 

I did make "friends" in the Dortmund train station while we waited though. There was a Polish woman translating the German announcements into English for her Pakistani husband. I asked her to clarify something about the times, and then a Nigerian couple who overheard us speaking English came over and we all chatted. They said two things that I thought were funny: The Polish woman commented "You look pretty nice - I thought all Americans were fat!" and I wasn't sure how to respond to that. Then the Nigerian man told me that I "speak English VERY well", and I wasn't sure what to say then either, since it is my native tongue. It was fun talking with all of them though on their various reasons for being in Germany and their thoughts on living in the country (all positive, except the Polish girl thought that Polish trains were more reliable). So there was a silver lining in the whole situation, since I wasn't all alone waiting!

About Paris though - it was amazing. I'd definitely go back sometime, and I hope to, with Carson in tow. Even though we did get to see a lot of things in a few days, I didn't really feel like I'd been there long enough! Maybe next time I'd like to wander around more and get a feel for the city, whereas this was more of a "check things off the list, we're just hitting the high points" kind of trip. I'm so glad I got to visit Paris though, and Jaime was a terrific travel companion! 

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