Friday, September 21, 2012 – Arrival in Paris

First stop in Paris: a pit stop

After the final announcements, including a second recognition of our group, we touched down at Charles de Gaulle Airport at around 10:30 in the morning.  Our first stop in France was a pit stop, followed by a tortuous walk following Becky’s red umbrella to the customs and baggage area.  We got through quickly, since some of our members qualified the whole group for Priority Service. We found our bus driver, Chabanne, who was holding up a KPBS sign. During most of the 45 minute drive to our hotel, Tom Karlo was downloading a guide to Paris into his iPad. It completed

Rebecca’s red umbrella and her aunt Karen

successfully and we will now expect him to be a major authority on things Parisian. We also had a major discussion of how to pronounce “vin rouge”. There were many participants in the discussion and I never knew there were so many ways to pronounce something so basic.

Lunch at the Bar Lindbergh, where his celebrated his arrival in Paris.

While we waited for the hotel to convert our twin beds to a double, we had an early supper at the “Bar Lindbergh”. This was where Charles Lindbergh celebrated his solo flight from New York to Paris many years ago. Teresa successfully tried her first major French of the day: “Qu’est-ce que la soupe du moment?”  (Soup of the Day) It turns out French vegetable soup is tasty but totally puréed. I had Croque Monsieur because it was the most French thing on the menu. It’s ham and cheese on toast but tastes much better than it sounds. Maybe that’s because we’re in Paris.

As we finished our meal, Pat introduced us to the final members of our tour group, Chris and Kath Allen. They had arrived in Paris almost a week ago.

We headed back to our room with its converted bed and had a welcome nap. After a while I decided to make my first excursion, easily finding an ATM and after a couple of false moves finally found an Office Depot where I bought a perfect little “Moleskine” notebook to take trip notes.  My spiral bound pad was falling apart.

I hadn’t been able to get on the Internet with my computer, so the hotel gave me a free hour of Internet time on their computers at the business center. I was glad of that but it wasn’t as great as it sounds because the French keyboard is different from an American keyboard in several ways. For example, the W and A keys are in different locations, and the < key appears where the shift key is on my computer.  I did get most of what I had to do done but it was a struggle.

Folks waiting in line at the Comedy Club next door to the Restaurant Elise where we had supper.

Fully refreshed, we set out for an evening walk down Boulevard Houssmann. We headed left, or East, and soon came to a Parisian version of San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter. There were nightclubs and restaurants one after the other and the kids were out in force. We needed a little snack, and we had our choice of food from every part of the world. We settled on Restaurant Elise, which advertised Anatolian cuisine, and was next door to the Comedy Club, where there was a long line. The line didn’t move for almost an hour while we ate, so I guess the show was worth waiting for. Teresa had yogurt with raisin sauce and I had baklava shaped like rounded cookies.  Both were delicious although the service was unbelievably slow.  What was even worse was that I miscalculated and tipped him excessively for bad service.

We had a pleasant evening walk back to the hotel.

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