Friday, August 2, 2013

Luxembourg Gardens and rendezvous

Thursday August 1st
Having arrived at the apartment at 4am the morning after our rental bike fiasco, we woke at the ripe time of noon. After taking care of some chores around the apartment, we decided to make our way across the city by bike to the  Paris catacombs.  When all is said and done however, by the time we got there we were too late to join the line which, we were told, would take several hours. Not being discouraged, we made our way to the Luxembourg Gardens which were quite lovely. In wandering around the grounds, we stumbled upon some modern art on display in the L'orangerier

By this point in the day, it was time to make our rendezvous with our friend Jojo who stayed with us in Korea as a couch surfer. We met him at the Opera area and proceeded to walk to one of Napoleon monuments of himself, insert name of phallic monument here. From there we went to a really cool outdoor bar restaurant next to a modern art museum. It was called Tokyo Eats. We chatted until Jamie realized that he was starving because it was 9 o'clock! We hadn't realized it was so late because the Sun sets at 930.
As it was so late and Jojo said it might be hard to find a place that was more "Parisian" we decide on Korean as was our original meeting place,  we thought it for appropriate to have Korean food! The side benefit of this was that we got to see one of Paris' is Asian districts, and of course we got to enjoy some extremely authentic Korean food. Interestingly enough, since we don't speak much French our Korean skills came in handy when ordering.
Jojo had to work in the morning, so we left him and took the subway for the first time to our apartment. One of the stations that we connected from was designed to look like it was under the sea, it was really cool!
Upon emerging from the subway station near our apartment, a boy of about 13 or 14 approached us and asked us in English with a German accent if we knew where a particular supermarket was.  He obviously looked very distressed and had missed his meet up point with his parents. Luckily we exited the subway with a person who was nice enough to volunteer to help I find the rendezvous point. So the four of us walked through our district and came up on the boys hotel within 10 minutes.   Feeling very much like heros, we congratulated each other and then Jamie and I had to ask the man to escort us back to the train station because we had no idea where we were. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

En Velo!

July 31 Wednesday Day 2
Before sleeping last night Jamie had gone online and bought us a membership for Velib. The public access bike service they have here.   Throughout the city there are stations of bicycles.  You check one out, ride to your destination and check it in there.  It's pretty awesome and we thought it would be a great way to get around AND see things AND get some exercise.  Perfect!  

As you can imagine, we were very jetlagged so we were both asleep by 9pm.  After 14 hours of sleep we woke up ready for adventure so we stepped out the door at the bright and early time of 12:30p. Armed with our veblib confirmation numbers we went out in hunt of a velib station and found one after a very short time.  Considering they are about 300 meters apart throughout the city, it wasn't that hard. After bumbling around and encouraging the assistance from a man dining at the nearby restaurant we hopped on our bikes and rolled away.  (With many cautions about Paris drivers from our helper)
With plenty of time to get to our tour we didn't feel bad about stopping at every street corner to check the map.  However, coupled with having the check our bikes back in every 30 minutes to avoid  the fees we quickly got stressed about missing our deadline.  Thankfully, we found the river and it was like a highway We flew down the Seine toward the Eiffel Tower.

The tour.  We booked a bicycle tour with a company called Fat Tire Bicycles.
In fact, we booked two back to back.  We toured with Fat Tire for 9 hours! The morning tour took us past the Eiffel Tower, Champs de Mars, the Ecole Militaire,  through one of the first of Napoleon/Haussman planned neighborhoods, down to the Hotel des Invalides, over the Pont Alexander III, past De la Concord, and into the Jardin de Tuileries for a rest and a snack.   After this we rolled past the Musee du Louvre and then made our way back over to the office.  Upon arrival at the office, we popped right on into the 7pm tour (coincidentally with the same tourguide) and off we went again! 
For this tour we went farther across the city, through the Latin section and over to the Notre Dame. Before continuing on we fortified ourselves with ice cream.     Jamie had grapefruit and Shannon had Caramel with salted butter.  It was the most expensive ice cream we had ever eaten, but also the most delicious.   After ice cream we were off!  Through the islands on the seine, past the Saint Chapelle,  St Michele, through the Louvre again, past Lady Di's tunnel, along the river and to a boat.  We hopped on the boat and took a ride down the Seine, complete with wine, a sparkling Eiffel Tower and people all along the banks of the Seine.   After the boat ride, we went back to the office and by then it was midnight. 

Wanting to be daring and bicycle back across the city we went in search of a Velib station.  And while they are indeed only 300 meteres apart that does not guarante that it has available or acceptable bicycles. By this point in the night the bicycles are all taken out or have missing pedals, flat tires or broken seats.   After finally hunting one down and starting to ride, we decided we were hungry.  Stopping to eat, unfortunately in a very posh area of town we paid 42 euro for two hot dogs, a plate of french fries, a water and a beer.  RIDICULOUS.             Also, we had to suffer through an unbelievably drunk lady.   When we finally left dinner, but the velib station near us had no bikes so we walked on.  And on.  And on.  We made friends with a man also looking for a velib station.   And when we found a station 1/2 hour later we discovered that Jamie's bike was not properly "returned"  and we couldn't take out another.  UGGGGGGGGGGGGH.   So, we decided to walk the 3 miles back to the apartment during which time we fretted that we would be charged 150 euro.      Arriving back at the apartment finally at 4am, we showered and climbed into bed.