Tag Archives: europe 2007

Day 1: London

(2014 Note:  These pages are transfers from my original site so I can better view the many pictures I have from that trip and so it’s searchable within WordPress Search.  Here’s a link to the original page!)

Day1

Before we jump right into Day 1, I have a little secret to tell you. There was actually a Day BEFORE Day 1, which was the day we spent traveling to London from Denver International Airport. It takes quite a bit of time to go overseas, as anyone who has crossed the Atlantic can attest to (don’t you love how it sounds like we’re taking an ocean voyage or something?).

But anyways, on Monday, 26 March, Jeff, Susan and I embarked upon this awesome adventure herewith known as the London Paris 2007 Escapade….or you can just say we went to Europe. However you call it, we went on this trip initially to accompany Jeff as he was going to re-enlist one of his best friends out at Normandy in France. Well, from the time that plan came into being and when we got on a plane, the plan changed dramatically. At first, we had a very (VERY) ambitious travel schedule, with us first hitting London for a few days, then flying to Paris for a night, a train overnighter to Bayeux/Normandy, then back to Paris for a few more days, and THEN flying to Rome for about two days. It would have been ridiculously crazy. So, the first change was that when we finally actually sat down to plan the finances and itinerary, it quickly became apparent that we were trying to do too much. Rome was dropped. Italy in itself is its own trip, and to try to rush London and Paris in order to accommodate Rome is doing us a disservice. A few weeks before we went on the trip, we then found out that Jeff’s friend, Brian, was going to be unable to be reenlisted at the beaches of Normandy due to bureaucratic policies and an unwillingness to waiver it. So that part of the trip was dropped as well – so it became the London-Paris 2007 Escapade! Which ultimately worked out great, as you’ll see we were quite able to fill the time in with LOTS of sightseeing, laughter, fun, and good times.

So now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the trip journal!

day0_header

So on Monday the 26th, we drove up to Denver International and began the epic journey flying to London Gatwick (didn’t go through Heathrow this time). Our flight left at around 2pm, which got us to Cincinnati. There was an hour layover there before we then flew direct to London for about 7 hours. I had bought some Anti-JetLag pills (all natural, of course!) and so I used those. Amazingly, I was able to sleep pretty decently. That flight was not full at all, so we were all able to spread out and get our own row, if we so desired. I was able to move from the central seating section to my own row by a window, which was awesome. Dreamgirls was the only movie that I stayed up to watch, and then it was sleepy-sleep time. As you’ll see below, we eventually arrived at Gatwick, with it being sunny and surprisingly warm (~50-60s! Sweet).

March 26, 2007: Denver to Cincinnati to London Gatwick

26-Mar-2007 18:25, EASTMAN KODAK COMPANY KODAK CX7430 ZOOM DIGITAL CAMERA, 2.7, 5.6mm, 0.017 sec
Me and my suitcase were ready to go!
Me and my suitcase were ready to go!08-Mar-2010 08:43, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.4 sec, ISO 141
08-Mar-2010 10:27, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.005 sec
 
Catherine was parked at CC2.  A good thing to remember when coming back.
Catherine was parked at CC2. A good thing to remember when coming back.08-Mar-2010 11:34, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.003 sec
Me and Jeff patiently waiting at the long term parking shuttle stop
Me and Jeff patiently waiting at the long term parking shuttle stop08-Mar-2010 11:37, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.008 sec
Reflected in Jeff's glasses
Reflected in Jeff's glasses08-Mar-2010 11:41, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 4.9, 23.1mm, 0.002 sec
 
08-Mar-2010 11:59, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 141
08-Mar-2010 13:59, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 141
Me at Denver, ready to go!
Me at Denver, ready to go!08-Mar-2010 13:59, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 141
 
Susan and I in a patented self-shot picture
Susan and I in a patented self-shot picture08-Mar-2010 14:13, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.01 sec
Adding Jeff to the mix
Adding Jeff to the mix08-Mar-2010 14:13, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 122
There's my view out the window on the flight from Cincinnati to London
There's my view out the window on the flight from Cincinnati to London08-Mar-2010 17:58, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.025 sec, ISO 141
 
View from my row on the plane to London
View from my row on the plane to London08-Mar-2010 01:32, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 800
 

day1_arrival

And 7 hours later, we were there! I had a fair amount of sleep (not exactly a lot, but a lot more than Jeff or Susan I learned) but still it is exhausting to fly that much. We got to England right at the beginning of the morning, so there really wasn’t much in the way of time to recuperate – once we got to our hotel and settled a little, it was time to go see London!

We took the Gatwick Express train from Gatwick Airport into downtown London at Victoria Station. From there we took our first of MANY Underground/Tube trips around the city over towards Paddington Station, which is sorta near where our hotel was. We stayed at the London Guards Hotel in the Bayswater/Kensington Park area, and for the price, we got a great deal with our triple room and a nice, quiet location. But I jump ahead, as it was kind of an early adventure just finding the Hotel. While we did have a few maps from Venere.com and the hotel website on how to get to the hotel, the maps that they provide are highly stylized and don’t exactly leave in all the little streets and such. So about a half-hour walk ensued from the Paddington Tube Station as we walked around the area. In hindsight, I think walking around like that gave us a little bit better of an idea of our environs, as well as letting us walk by a much closer Tube stop (Lancaster Gate) to our hotel. I know that at that point, Susan has said that she was getting annoyed, but we made it!

We arrived at the hotel around 11am or so, and understandably they said our room wasn’t ready yet. So we prepared to leave our luggage there and get ready to find something to eat until we could come back when it would be ready. While we were splayed out on the reception area’s couches, the heavenly voice of the desk clerk piped up to let us know our room just became available. Thank God. While I wasn’t as bad off for sleep as Jeff or Susan, I certainly wanted to take a shower to get refreshed. So we spent some time getting cleaned up and THEN embarked out into London. Our first goal was to find the ITT (Information, Tickets and Tours) office – which we knew the location of but really not where it was. So we made it out to the Oxford Circus area where it was supposed to be – this is a pretty busy area of town with lots of businessfolk and tourists – I think it may be a 5th Avenue of sorts. As we got to the location where it was supposed to be, our confusion was self-evident, as a friendly Brit informed us that the Navy Building no longer was inhabited; which also meant the ITT office was not there. Damn. Funny enough though, we were right near the American Embassy, so we headed over to check it out. It was a proposal to see if we could actually go inside and ‘check-in’, but as we rounded the building to the entrance, we saw the ridiculous line to get in. I don’t know what they all wanted, but I certainly didn’t feel the need to check in anymore. So it was definitely time for food, and we went to the closest pub we had walked by, which turned out to be pretty damn cool. It was very gothic inside and the bathroom in the basement was hidden behind a fake bookcase. Cool. After that much-needed pub stop (got authentic English fish and chips…and peas. Not sure who came up with that melding of foods.) we then went on to the Baker St area (I dug deep in my mind to try to remember where the Bus Tour was when I came here in ’02 – and I was amazingly right) to find the Big Red Bus Tour – ended up finding the Original Bus Tour instead, but honestly, it’s six in one hand, half a dozen in the other.

March 27, 2007: Getting into London; finding our hotel; eating at our first pub

On our way to England
On our way to England08-Mar-2010 01:32, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.005 sec
Gatwick Airport's innards
Gatwick Airport's innards08-Mar-2010 02:14, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.002 sec
Everyone was a bit jet-lagged
Everyone was a bit jet-lagged08-Mar-2010 02:14, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.013 sec
 
08-Mar-2010 02:14, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.013 sec
08-Mar-2010 02:40, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.005 sec, ISO 400
08-Mar-2010 03:02, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 141
 
Jeff and Susan at Victoria Station
Jeff and Susan at Victoria Station08-Mar-2010 03:26, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.013 sec
Susan and me amid the hustle and bustle at Victoria Station
Susan and me amid the hustle and bustle at Victoria Station08-Mar-2010 03:27, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.01 sec
Victoria Station - craziness
Victoria Station - craziness08-Mar-2010 03:27, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.01 sec
 
Looking outside Victoria Station
Looking outside Victoria Station08-Mar-2010 03:28, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.01 sec
Double decker buses!
Double decker buses!08-Mar-2010 03:29, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.005 sec
08-Mar-2010 03:36, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 141
 
08-Mar-2010 03:36, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.167 sec, ISO 141
08-Mar-2010 03:36, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.04 sec, ISO 800
08-Mar-2010 03:38, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 3.5, 12.523mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 800
 

day1_touring

Now if you’ve been reading this site for a long time, and by long, I mean since 2002, you’ll probably have seen these pics before. They’re obviously not exactly the same, but I did the exact same thing my first day in London when I got here back in ’02. I must say though that it is a great way to see the city and to get an overview of just where everything is. Plus, you get a chance to just sit back and take everything in without having to worry about which Tube stop to go to or how hurt your aching feet are.

Anyways, we jumped on the Original Bus Tour at the Baker St area, which is right next to Madame Tussauds wax museum. Again, I didn’t go to it as it costs nearly $50 to go to and the line to get in is ridiculous. For wax people? I’ll pass, thanks. The bus tour from this point winds its way around central London, taking you by Regent Street (a very fancy and hoity-toity shopping street) and many of the more esteemed playhouses first. You then head over through Picadilly Circus (London’s Times Square) and over to Trafalgar Square (where they built the monument to Wellington who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo – it’s also got those really crazy-big lions and a ton of freakin’ birds on the ground). Then you head over to Parliament and Big Ben in the Westminster area, cross the Thames and drive by the London Eye, see St. Paul’s Cathedral, and then drive over to the Tower Bridge area, drive over Tower Bridge (such a cool bridge), pass the Tower of London, and then head through the business part of London and finally over to the Embankment area and back near Westminster. We got off the bus at this point as it was getting late and we wanted to go on the ‘free’ river cruise that comes with your bus fare. If you continue on the bus, you eventually drive by Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, St James Palace, and Kensington Park, among other things.

It was recommended to us that you could use your bus fare as a means of getting around London – and while that’s a decent idea, in practice I think it would try your patience, as at every stop, it seemed there were tons of people getting on and off. And with it seeming to be France’s week to send all its bratty children to England, it took FOREVER sometimes for the bus to leave a stop. I’d much rather take the Tube, and Jeff and Susan readily agreed with that sentiment as well.

The Thames circular cruise is another great and relaxing way to see the parts of London from the Thames perspective. You get to see Parliament from a dramatic angle, and with the sun heading down, it was a beautiful way to see those buildings illuminated with the golden sun. You then turn around continue up the Thames past the London Eye and then under all the many bridges that cross the River. With the weather we had, it was pretty perfect timing as it was very comfortable being out on the river at that time. You go under Tower Bridge and then head back to where you started. Our river guide was a great guide, and unexpected, as he said that normally the tour is automated. But he had one of those amazingly cool British accents so it made the excursion very nice. Unfortunately, he mentioned and pointed out to us that there was a Coat of Arms place that contains all the Coat of Arms from the world. He also implied that one could visit this place – and perhaps get your own coat of arms? At that time Jeff knew he had a mission – that mission was to find that place. More on that much much later. On the boat ride, we passed many of the river restaurants contained in ships, and we saw the Queen Mary one and decided that would be a good place to walk to for dinner afterwards.

Picture Note: Jeff, Susan and I took MANY pictures. Combined, there were nearly 1000. Because I am not a masochist, I am not putting up every..single..picture. Mainly I’m putting those up that contain pictures of us or good pics of scenery and landmarks. But not every single one. I do have a limit to my patience and I think so do you. So consider what you see on these pages those that I thought were the best. Some more may go up in a few months if I feel they deserve inclusion. (2014 Note:  Since it’s much easier to use Shashin and Picasa together, I’m putting up pretty much all my pictures; even those of Jeff and Susan together, which at the time I did this site, things were a lot more delicate)

March 27, 2007: Taking the Original Bus Tour and the River Thames Circular Cruise

Susan and Jeff on the top of the double decker bus
Susan and Jeff on the top of the double decker bus08-Mar-2010 07:58, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.002 sec
View of Madame Tussaud's as we waited to depart
View of Madame Tussaud's as we waited to depart08-Mar-2010 07:58, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.006 sec
Keeping it real, yo
Keeping it real, yo08-Mar-2010 07:59, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.008 sec
 
A great pic of the 3 of us
A great pic of the 3 of us27-Mar-2007 03:41, EASTMAN KODAK COMPANY KODAK CX7430 ZOOM DIGITAL CAMERA, 5.6, 5.6mm, 0.004 sec
27-Mar-2007 04:13, EASTMAN KODAK COMPANY KODAK CX7430 ZOOM DIGITAL CAMERA, 5.6, 5.6mm, 0.003 sec
08-Mar-2010 08:07, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.002 sec
 
08-Mar-2010 08:10, SONY DSC-W100, 5.6, 7.9mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 125
08-Mar-2010 08:11, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.004 sec
08-Mar-2010 08:11, SONY DSC-W100, 5.6, 7.9mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 125
 
08-Mar-2010 08:11, SONY DSC-W100, 5.6, 7.9mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 125
Near Picadilly Circus
Near Picadilly Circus08-Mar-2010 08:14, SONY DSC-W100, 5.6, 7.9mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 125
08-Mar-2010 08:18, SONY DSC-W100, 5.6, 7.9mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 125
 
The big boards at Picadilly Circus
The big boards at Picadilly Circus08-Mar-2010 08:13, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.005 sec
08-Mar-2010 08:20, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.006 sec
Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square08-Mar-2010 08:22, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.005 sec
 

day1_eye

To conclude this VERY busy sightseeing day, we wandered over to the Queen Mary for a great dinner, and then we walked back over to the London Eye area, crossing the Thames and strolling up to the London Eye, as it’s not a visit to London without taking this breathtaking ride. It wasn’t very crowded by this time of the evening, but unfortunately we did find that there were, alas, more masses of schoolkids there. I think these were English, but still, more kids. My only hope was that we wouldn’t be trapped in one of the Eye’s pods with them, as that is a LONG time to be subjected to that. Of course, what happens? In line, we are surrounded by legions of schoolchildren. What we didn’t know at that time was that these kids had been grouped together into groups of 25, which is the max each pod is supposed to carry. So us being right in between these groups meant that as we stepped into the pod, that was it – the school kids had to wait for the next one. Hallelujah. And even more cool – we had our OWN DAMN POD. That is not something that happens very often. So we totally got lucky in that regards. And our timing was pretty cool – it was hitting maximum twilight time and all the pretty lights of the city were on or coming on. London truly is a beautiful city at night, and the pictures below confirm that. After a very enjoyable time aboard the Eye, we finally headed back to the hotel – the long way…as once we got out of the Lancaster Gate tube station (which only has an elevator up and down to the tracks – no stairs), we looked for the hotel we’d have to go to tomorrow for our Day trip, and after finding that, I thought I knew where I was walking to. Nope. Shortcuts and me are bad news. But we found our way and eventually got back, and promptly passed the hell out. Which was a common theme for most of the trip!

March 27, 2007: London Eye Awesomeness

Crossing the Thames by Charing Cross
Crossing the Thames by Charing Cross08-Mar-2010 12:05, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.008 sec
Parliament in the background
Parliament in the background08-Mar-2010 12:11, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 4.0, 15.599mm, 0.006 sec, ISO 400
Strolling towards the London Eye
Strolling towards the London Eye08-Mar-2010 12:12, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 3.2, 9.028mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 400
 
KD's Blue Trees?
KD's Blue Trees?08-Mar-2010 12:15, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 400
Looking at the Eye's loading station
Looking at the Eye's loading station08-Mar-2010 12:32, SONY DSC-W100, 2.8, 7.9mm, 0.125 sec, ISO 200
08-Mar-2010 12:31, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 800
 
Me and Jeff - in our pod!
Me and Jeff - in our pod!08-Mar-2010 12:31, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 800
Looking at our neighbors ahead of us
Looking at our neighbors ahead of us08-Mar-2010 12:32, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 644
08-Mar-2010 12:32, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 542
 
There's the amazingly stylish Charing Cross train station
There's the amazingly stylish Charing Cross train station08-Mar-2010 12:34, SONY DSC-W100, 5.2, 23.7mm, 0.125 sec, ISO 400
08-Mar-2010 12:33, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 630
Me and Susan in our pod
Me and Susan in our pod08-Mar-2010 12:33, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.025 sec, ISO 800
 
08-Mar-2010 12:33, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.025 sec, ISO 800
08-Mar-2010 12:34, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 4.0, 15.599mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 800
Looking up
Looking up08-Mar-2010 12:34, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.02 sec, ISO 800
 

Day 2: Salisbury, Bath, Stonehenge + London

(2014 Note:  These pages are transfers from my original site so I can better view the many pictures I have from that trip and so it’s searchable within WordPress Search.  Here’s a link to the original page!)

Day2

Our next day in London! We had to wake up early because this was our ‘Day Trip’ day. We all slept pretty damn well that night because of the whole time change thing so it was still a little difficult to get up early – the bus tour operators, Gray Line, were picking us up at a neighboring hotel and we had to be there on time. Go figure. That was a nice hotel by the way – I can’t even imagine how much that place cost in American Dollars. But anyways, the Gray Line trip we booked was to take us first to Salisbury, followed by the amazing Stonehenge, and finally the Roman city of Bath – afterwards a 2 1/2 hour drive back to London. So we weren’t going to be back in the city until about 7pm – yes, it was a very long day, but definitely scenic.

day2_salisbury

So after our shuttle bus picked us up, we were taken to the main tourist bus area where we transferred on to our tour bus – and it was definitely a full bus. I ended up sitting alone for a little bit, but as the bus filled up more and more, it was inevitable that all seats would be filled. I ended up sitting next to a really cool Native American woman who was also with much of her family on vacation. And they liked to talk and talk and talk and laugh and laugh – it became annoying much later on the final drive home, but in the meantime, it wasn’t so bad.

It takes about an hour or so to drive up to Salisbury, and the weather was amazing. I’ve been to Salisbury before but it’s definitely not something you can get tired of seeing. Salisbury is a beautiful small city/village which has as its centerpoint the amazing Salisbury Cathedral. As you’ll see in the pictures below, the cathedral itself is quite breath-taking. In fact, it’s the tallest cathedral in ALL of England, and is approximately 450 feet high, about as high as the London Eye.

As we found out, the tour bus guide was mostly there to provide a running commentary while the bus was driving to places, but at each location, we were allotted a certain time to explore on our own, which was cool in a way, but I honestly thought we’d get a bit more ‘guidance’. So anyways, we had about 45 minutes or so to look around at the cathedral grounds and inside – pictures below show all that – and needless to say it’s pretty amazing. We then met up for lunch at a nearby pub called the Cloister – and had some pretty decent beef stew and met some of our fellow travelers. We started talking to the couple sharing our table with us and to my surprise, the guy was involved in the home audio/video installation business. SWEET.

So here are the pictures from the morning and up through Salisbury and the Cloister. Stonehenge awaits!

March 28, 2007: Leaving London, Salisbury, and lunch at the Cloister

Susan and Jeff prepare to take the bus tour
Susan and Jeff prepare to take the bus tour28-Mar-2007 00:53, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 141
I am SO ready
I am SO ready28-Mar-2007 00:54, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 141
28-Mar-2007 03:57, SONY DSC-W100, 5.6, 7.9mm, 0.013 sec, ISO 125
 
Cool coat of arms in Salisbury
Cool coat of arms in Salisbury28-Mar-2007 04:02, SONY DSC-W100, 5.6, 7.9mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 125
Susan stands at the gate to the Salisbury cloister
Susan stands at the gate to the Salisbury cloister28-Mar-2007 04:02, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.005 sec
28-Mar-2007 04:02, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.005 sec
 
Looking back towards the gate
Looking back towards the gate28-Mar-2007 04:02, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.005 sec
Looking back on the street towards the cathedral
Looking back on the street towards the cathedral28-Mar-2007 04:03, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.008 sec
28-Mar-2007 04:03, SONY DSC-W100, 5.6, 7.9mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 125
 
Ah, there it is. So small.
Ah, there it is. So small.28-Mar-2007 04:04, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.005 sec
28-Mar-2007 04:05, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.004 sec
This mo'fo is huge
This mo'fo is huge28-Mar-2007 04:05, SONY DSC-W100, 5.6, 7.9mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 125
 
There's me and Susan in the background
There's me and Susan in the background28-Mar-2007 04:05, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.005 sec
Jeff and mini-Susan
Jeff and mini-Susan28-Mar-2007 04:05, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.006 sec
28-Mar-2007 04:06, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.004 sec
 

day2_stonehenge

And after lunch, we were back on the bus and on our way to the amazing ruins of what is possibly one of the world’s greatest and oldest mysteries – the rock formations of Stonehenge! I won’t try to pretend and make it seem as if I know lots and lots about Stonehenge – but you can click HERE to read about Stonehenge at Wikipedia. Regardless, Jeff and Susan were extremely excited to see Stonehenge – I saw it back in 2002 so while I was still completely ready to see it again, the first time (like so many things) is always the time that has the most anticipation and excitement associated with it. So about a half-hour later, our bus crested the hill of the English rolling hills landscape and there was Stonehenge! It is still funny to see that Stonehenge is literally right off the side of the highway, just like those stone dinosaurs outside of Palm Springs. Okay, bad analogy. But still, you’d expect Stonehenge to be in a more grand environment. Allegedly it is still in the works to reroute the highway into a tunnel so that the environment isn’t tainted…but they were saying that back in ’02, so I’ll believe it when I see it. Anyways, below are the pics from our 2nd stop of the day trip – Stonehenge!

March 28, 2007: Shots at Stonehenge

The British countryside from Stonehenge
The British countryside from Stonehenge28-Mar-2007 05:58, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.004 sec
28-Mar-2007 06:03, SONY DSC-W100, 5.6, 7.9mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 125
28-Mar-2007 06:03, SONY DSC-W100, 9.0, 18.7mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 125
 
Stonehenge!
Stonehenge!28-Mar-2007 06:05, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.003 sec
28-Mar-2007 06:05, SONY DSC-W100, 5.6, 9.2mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 125
28-Mar-2007 06:05, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.004 sec
 
28-Mar-2007 06:05, SONY DSC-W100, 5.6, 9.2mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 125
Closeups of the stones
Closeups of the stones28-Mar-2007 06:06, SONY DSC-W100, 8.0, 16.7mm, 0.005 sec, ISO 125
Looking across - 5 years ago I have a pic of me through this same arch
Looking across - 5 years ago I have a pic of me through this same arch28-Mar-2007 06:07, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.008 sec
 
center stage
center stage28-Mar-2007 06:07, SONY DSC-W100, 5.6, 7.9mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 125
Me!
Me!28-Mar-2007 06:07, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.006 sec
Jeff!
Jeff!28-Mar-2007 06:08, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.01 sec
 
28-Mar-2007 06:11, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.004 sec
28-Mar-2007 06:11, SONY DSC-W100, 8.0, 16.7mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 125
Widescreen photo time begins!
Widescreen photo time begins!28-Mar-2007 06:11, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 3.5, 12.523mm, 0.001 sec
 

day2_bath

We had about an hour to walk around Stonehenge, which when you consider it’s a creative stacking of rocks, is probably enough time. After that, we then boarded the bus again for about an hour’s drive to the city of Bath. I hadn’t mentioned it earlier, but during the previous driving segments, it had been obvious that our bus driver’s primary job was actually as a NASCAR racer and this job was just secondary. But it provided him a chance to still practice his skills while driving the bus….. and oh yes, we found that out as the bus was rounding the corners and driving the highway. The man LOVED to drive fast. Well, on our way to Bath, he was driving in that ‘zone’ and apparently didn’t notice the traffic stopped ahead of him – well, we all soon realized it as he slammed on the brakes and sent all of us lurching forward in our seats (fortunately, it had been a tour bus company requirement for us to all buckle our seatbelts up) and the squeal of brakes accompanied many gasps as we all looked forward to see the rear of a truck in the front window. We didn’t stop in time. Sure enough, we hit the back of the truck in front of us – amazingly, not as hard as it could have been. The damage to the bus was only a broken window – the truck suffered dents to its rear loading doors, which you might be able to see in the pic below. Our trip was delayed a half hour or so as the proper paperwork was done, but eventually we were back on our way towards Bath.

As you approach the center of the city, you see the massive settlements that look like giant walls on the hillside. They’re a bunch of houses, I assume, and not where we were headed, but it was still an impressive sight to witness as we were driving into town. Once in Bath, the bus dropped us off in the middle of the town, which sits on the river Avon. The city is a major attraction because of the discovery a few decades ago of the Roman bath ruins that had been built on top of by apartments. Apparently some apartments kept repeatedly getting flooded basements…with warm water. Sure enough, excavations revealed that the apartments were built on Roman ruins that had been the site of where the Romans, when they had occupied England, had built a temple and bath on natural hot springs situated in the city. Obviously the Romans had their day…and of course that day ended, and history and time served to mostly erase their presence. Amazingly though, much remains of the temple, even with all the development on top of it, which you can see in the pics below. It was a pretty amazing thing to see, and the springs function to this day. You’re not supposed to touch the water though…so much for the healing aspects? Here’s a Wikipedia link to Bath if you really want and need to know more!

March 28, 2007: Bath, England

The truck our bus hit
The truck our bus hit28-Mar-2007 07:30, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 4.9, 23.1mm, 0.01 sec, ISO 141
28-Mar-2007 07:33, SONY DSC-W100, 5.2, 23.7mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 160
You can see the massive settlements on the hill in the background
You can see the massive settlements on the hill in the background28-Mar-2007 07:49, SONY DSC-W100, 5.2, 23.7mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 125
 
28-Mar-2007 07:50, SONY DSC-W100, 5.2, 23.7mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 125
The church that sits next to the Baths
The church that sits next to the Baths28-Mar-2007 07:51, SONY DSC-W100, 5.6, 7.9mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 125
Not a good shot of the broken window - I was a bit embarassed to take this
Not a good shot of the broken window - I was a bit embarassed to take this28-Mar-2007 07:55, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.002 sec
 
28-Mar-2007 07:55, SONY DSC-W100, 5.6, 7.9mm, 0.01 sec, ISO 125
28-Mar-2007 07:58, SONY DSC-W100, 5.6, 7.9mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 125
The sign to the Roman Baths
The sign to the Roman Baths28-Mar-2007 08:00, SONY DSC-W100, 5.2, 23.7mm, 0.077 sec, ISO 400
 
Looking down at the main pool from the upper deck
Looking down at the main pool from the upper deck28-Mar-2007 08:06, SONY DSC-W100, 2.8, 7.9mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 125
Again
Again28-Mar-2007 08:07, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.003 sec
28-Mar-2007 08:07, SONY DSC-W100, 3.5, 12.1mm, 0.005 sec, ISO 125
 
28-Mar-2007 08:07, SONY DSC-W100, 4.5, 16.7mm, 0.006 sec, ISO 125
Who's that good looking guy?
Who's that good looking guy?28-Mar-2007 08:07, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.002 sec
There he is again!
There he is again!28-Mar-2007 08:08, SONY DSC-W100, 2.8, 7.9mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 125
 

day2_return

About two and a half hours is what it took to get back into London – and in that period of time, Susan nearly committed murder. This was because the Native Americans I mentioned earlier had decided (well, some of them) to get utterly trashed. And they talked, loudly, the entire drive back. My seatmate was fun to talk to, but the others were just really loud. And if you thought you were going to get some sleep before getting back into town, you were wrong.

Anyways, a long time later, we got back into town and got dropped off on…Regent Street? I can’t remember, but it was on the street that runs straight towards the London Eye yet also Parliament and Westminster Abbey. And at night, that’s one helluva view. We were on the hunt for the Sherlock Holmes Pub, and boy were we in the wrong area. But we had a great walk down to the Thames, at which we then found out that the pub was closer to Charing Cross Station – and amazingly we did find the pub, as it is quite different in appearance from the office buildings around it. Unfortunately, it was a little blah and expensive and limited in the menu, not to mention the service consisted of exactly one waiter. My impatience showed and I convinced Jeff and Susan to go elsewhere. We then consulted the bible..er, I mean Rick Steves’ London and discovered that another pub was somewhat nearby – called the Pub of the Moon (or something like that) right near Trafalgar Square, which somehow we ended up near. That’s an awesome sight to see at night as well! After that it was time to go back to the hotel and crash for the next day – as while we had another full day in London, that next evening we’d be headed out to PARIS! Or so we thought!

March 28, 2007: Walking in London at night upon returning from Bath

Amazing view of Westminster Abbey, Parliament and the Eye
Amazing view of Westminster Abbey, Parliament and the Eye28-Mar-2007 12:59, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 4.0, 15.599mm, 0.2 sec, ISO 800
Again
Again28-Mar-2007 13:00, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 4.0, 15.599mm, 0.2 sec, ISO 800
Westminster Abbey - and Jeff taking...
Westminster Abbey - and Jeff taking...28-Mar-2007 13:02, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.077 sec, ISO 800
 
...this picture
...this picture28-Mar-2007 13:03, SONY DSC-W100, 2.8, 7.9mm, 0.125 sec, ISO 400
28-Mar-2007 13:03, SONY DSC-W100, 3.2, 9.2mm, 0.4 sec, ISO 125
Closer to the Abbey
Closer to the Abbey28-Mar-2007 13:05, SONY DSC-W100, 2.8, 7.9mm, 0.5 sec, ISO 125
 
Me and Susan, scandalous!
Me and Susan, scandalous!28-Mar-2007 13:02, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 800
Jeff and Susan in front of a building that changes colors - cool!
Jeff and Susan in front of a building that changes colors - cool!28-Mar-2007 13:05, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.167 sec, ISO 800
28-Mar-2007 13:06, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.077 sec, ISO 800
 
Big Ben and the Eye at night
Big Ben and the Eye at night28-Mar-2007 13:10, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 3.5, 10.487mm, 0.1 sec, ISO 800
I had to get a picture of me drinking a Guinness in England!
I had to get a picture of me drinking a Guinness in England!28-Mar-2007 14:16, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.3 sec, ISO 800
Susan and Jeff at the Charing Cross tube station
Susan and Jeff at the Charing Cross tube station28-Mar-2007 15:24, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 141
 
28-Mar-2007 21:51, EASTMAN KODAK COMPANY KODAK CX7430 ZOOM DIGITAL CAMERA, 2.7, 5.6mm, 0.017 sec
Me reviewing the day's events
Me reviewing the day's events28-Mar-2007 21:52, EASTMAN KODAK COMPANY KODAK CX7430 ZOOM DIGITAL CAMERA, 2.7, 5.6mm, 0.017 sec
 

 

Day 3: More London + Flying to Paris

(2014 Note:  These pages are transfers from my original site so I can better view the many pictures I have from that trip and so it’s searchable within WordPress Search. Here’s a link to the original page!)

Day3Compared to our London arrival and then the day-long English countryside trip from Day 2, this day actually was going to be low stress. Sorta. As the day progressed, and as you’ll read below, this day proved to be one of the more stressful days we actually had during the trip. But first things first!

day3_abbey

We had to check out of the great London Guards Hotel (while expensive, it’s actually a fair amount for being able to stay in London) this morning because tonight, we were taking a late evening flight from London Luton Airport over to Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport. So after getting ourselves up and ready for today’s last London excursions, we left our luggage at the hotel and then headed out to see some of the essential London sights. First up today was taking the tube over to the Westminster part of town and then of course, going to see Westminster Abbey! I actually did NOT see the Abbey during my last trip here – go figure. But since Westminster Abbey played such a prominent part in the DaVinci Code, Jeff and I had to see it. Plus for me, after having read a few of the biographies of the Tudor family, especially those focused on Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Mary I, and King Henry VIII, well, I HAD to see their tombs.

Unfortunately, you can’t take pictures inside Westminster Abbey. Figures. Every other church or cathedral it seems you can, but this one…NOOOOOOO! So here’s a link to the Wikipedia entry for Westminster Abbey – hopefully there’s some pictures from inside the Abbey. But well worth it was having Rick Steves’ book on London, as it has many self-guided tours within it, including one for the Abbey. We got to see the tomb of Elizabeth and Mary (the irony is that Elizabeth is buried ON TOP of Mary – and these two DESPISED each other; Mary actually almost had Elizabeth executed because Elizabeth was Protestant and Mary was Catholic; and if you know your English history, those two religions really didn’t get along back then); the tombs of many very famous authors, actors, artists, and scientists; the processional aisle where the new monarch assumes the throne; it’s truly an amazing place to visit. And with all the history it’s witnessed, you truly feel it all around you. I can’t believe I missed it the first trip here!

Afterwards, when we exited the Abbey, it started to rain, which is not an unsurprising event in London. And the fact that was really the first time it did that is quite remarkable! We were too late to make it to the Changing of the Guard in front of Buckingham Palace, and as we needed to get going by around 4pm on our van to Luton Airport, we made the choice to hit up visiting the Tower of London next! So off we went on the Tube to the Tower Hill Underground station. The story continues below…

March 29, 2007: Departing London Guards and Visiting Westminster Abbey

Movin' Out!
Movin' Out!29-Mar-2007 07:51, EASTMAN KODAK COMPANY KODAK CX7430 ZOOM DIGITAL CAMERA, 2.7, 5.6mm, 0.017 sec
Jeff gets ready
Jeff gets ready29-Mar-2007 07:51, EASTMAN KODAK COMPANY KODAK CX7430 ZOOM DIGITAL CAMERA, 2.7, 5.6mm, 0.017 sec
Someone doesn't look happy
Someone doesn't look happy29-Mar-2007 09:42, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 141
 
Susan's ready!
Susan's ready!29-Mar-2007 09:42, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 141
The side (main) entrance to Westminster Abbey
The side (main) entrance to Westminster Abbey29-Mar-2007 10:43, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 283
Here's the side chapel to Westminster Abbey
Here's the side chapel to Westminster Abbey29-Mar-2007 10:43, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec
 
Me and Jeff
Me and Jeff29-Mar-2007 10:44, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 141
Jeff and Susan
Jeff and Susan29-Mar-2007 10:44, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 141
Very ready to go inside! Notice: NO LINE!!! That's a shock.
Very ready to go inside! Notice: NO LINE!!! That's a shock.29-Mar-2007 08:43, EASTMAN KODAK COMPANY KODAK CX7430 ZOOM DIGITAL CAMERA, 2.7, 5.6mm, 0.017 sec
 
29-Mar-2007 12:04, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.013 sec
Jeff at the front of the church (also the Exit)
Jeff at the front of the church (also the Exit)29-Mar-2007 12:04, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.01 sec
There's me, buttoning up. It was cold!
There's me, buttoning up. It was cold!29-Mar-2007 12:05, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.008 sec
 

day3_tower

The infamous English Prison from the Middle Ages. Royal dynasties were toppled and wives were ‘divorced’ here. Heirs to the throne were imprisoned and killed here. The tragedy of the Lady Jane Grey occurred here (she was Queen for about 13 days – not by her ambition but by treacherous family members – and the unforgiving Queen Mary, aka Bloody Mary, eventually had her executed for treason). Yes, this place, just like Westminster Abbey, is literal history.

So of course before you go immerse yourself in history, you have to eat! So we ate at one of the nearby cafes first and then headed in. Again there was no line – it may have been because of the weather, but I certainly wasn’t complaining. We timed it right too, as we joined right up with a group being led by one of the world-famous Beefeaters! They’re an extremely lively group and they live in the Tower of London. Their job is primarily ceremonial now, mainly in order to preserve the Tower and take visitors around the grounds. They also guard the royals’ residence in the Tower (not that it’s used, but again, ceremonial) and of course ceremonially protect the Royal Crown Jewels. Anyways, during the tour with our Beefeater (you would probably recognize their uniform – it’s that Scottish bright-red outfit that can be seen on Beefeater Vodka bottles!), we were taken around to all the infamous sites in the Tower, including the Traitors Gate, the Bloody Tower, and the Castle Green. Here’s another Wikipedia Link to the Tower of London, so you can see even more information on this amazing place. The tour is anything but boring, with the Beefeaters obviously schooled in dramatic storytelling – so when any of you get the chance to go to London and the Tower, make sure to take the tour. You will love it.

After the tour is over, you are then free to walk around the premises. One thing that HAS to be visited is the home of the Crown Jewels – you can see that basically these Jewels are housed in a giant walk-in safe. And awesomely, there was again very minimal lines so we were able to walk right in to the viewing platforms. Basically the jewels are enclosed in glass on a long rectangular island; there are then two moving walkways on each side of the island that shuffle you past the jewels. You are free to go back to the beginning of the walkway if you want to catch the other side of the jewels; I did that this time because it truly is amazing to see some of these diamonds – the Star of Africa (I think I got that right – hopefully that’s not the name of that jewel from the movie Titanic) is 550 CARATS! Good God.

We then walked into the White Tower, which is the castle within the Tower of London. It’s now an Armory museum – and while that would have been cool to visit at any other time, unfortunately during this visit, we were fortunate enough to again find literally ALL the French schoolchildren in the world. I kid you not, France Had to have exported them all here for the week. Because as I recall now, I don’t remember seeing any children at all in Paris when we got there! So it was quite annoying to be walking around when all of a sudden you got overwhelmed by shrieking, annoying schoolchildren, talking in French! with French accents!!!! Needless to say, that sucked.

Anyways, here are our pics from the Tower of London. Not too many, unfortunately. It was a dreary day but I got a couple good ones. You can’t take pics inside the Crown Jewels location, so that sucks!

March 29, 2007: The Tower of London

Our Beefeater at the beginning of the tour
Our Beefeater at the beginning of the tour29-Mar-2007 07:00, SONY DSC-W100, 2.8, 7.9mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 125
29-Mar-2007 14:56, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 228
A cool shot inside the Tower's Armory
A cool shot inside the Tower's Armory29-Mar-2007 14:56, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 800
 
Here's the White Tower (also the Armory museum)
Here's the White Tower (also the Armory museum)29-Mar-2007 15:18, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.002 sec
The Tower Green (alleged royal executions occurred here!)
The Tower Green (alleged royal executions occurred here!)29-Mar-2007 15:18, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.002 sec
Looking towards the Tower Bridge - definitely close to each other
Looking towards the Tower Bridge - definitely close to each other29-Mar-2007 15:18, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.01 sec
 
Susan and Jeff nervous at the Traitor's Gate
Susan and Jeff nervous at the Traitor's Gate29-Mar-2007 15:20, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 107
Me, loving the Tower
Me, loving the Tower29-Mar-2007 15:27, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.002 sec
29-Mar-2007 15:28, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.002 sec
 
Susan and Jeff ready for Paris?
Susan and Jeff ready for Paris?29-Mar-2007 15:28, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.003 sec
 

day3_depart

Our flight to Paris was to leave from Luton Airport sometime between 7 and 8 pm – and based on our research before coming to Europe, we found that there was a regular shuttle bus, run by EasyJet (who we were flying with to Paris), that takes you from near the Baker St area of London (close to the Madame Taussaud’s area) to Luton – that’s about an hour drive, yet from what we had been hearing, there was large amounts of construction going on in the outer London highways, especially in the Luton direction. So while the objective was to get on a van near the 4:00pm timeframe so we’d get to Luton Airport around 5 or 6….well, that didn’t quite happen. First, getting back from the Tower of London to our hotel to get our luggage and then to get to the Baker St area takes a bit of time. Not a huge amount, but certainly it takes more time than you hope it does. We got to the bus station around 4:45pm – and didn’t prepay for a fare, so it was possible that if the van got full with pre-purchased fares, we’d have to wait. Oh yeah, another snag in the journey: Susan’s name on her passport did NOT match the name on the tickets. We discovered this snafu when we were flying out of Denver – amazingly, the awesome ticket agent there helped us out, but as you may be aware, in this heightened security world we live in, you just can’t change names on tickets that easy. So in Denver, we got lucky (I like to think it was my very conversational and charismatic handling of the ticket agent there – she totally loved me). In Europe, we didn’t. Jeff had been trying during these days in London to get in touch with EasyJet, but the phone systems there were weird – you can’t be on hold for more than 15 minutes or so. It cuts you off. So we were unsuccessful in changing her tickets those first few days. And now it was crunch time, as we were now ON THE WAY TO THE AIRPORT. While waiting for the EasyJet van, my nerves started getting antsy about even getting to the airport; fortunately when the van did get there (after my initial shock at realizing that it was just a van had wore off), there was only a few pre-payers and there was enough room for all 3 of us. So Stress #1 was done. Back to Stress #2: Susan’s Last Name Strikes Back. We had an hour or so of driving until we reached the airport – Jeff had his cell phone. GO! And Jeff made his call and finally got in touch with the EasyJet ticket office. They were okay with changing the name on the tickets…but for a cost. The initial cost of the ticket equated to about $140/each – the cost to change the name on the ticket became what the cost of the ticket would cost if you bought it TODAY + a name change fee – this came to around $500 MORE. Ridiculous. But it was paid, and Susan now had a ticket.

So we got to Luton Airport and processed in at the EasyJet counter – it’s like Southwest, and since we were there about an hour before departure (read: LATE!), we were put in the last boarding group. Fine, whatever, we’re gonna be in Paris one way or the other tonight. We’ll arrive in Paris around 10:00 Paris time (+1 hour London Time), have enough time to get on an RER train (their suburban commuter trains) into the city before the trains stop running at 11pm and get rested up for the next awesome leg: PARIS!!!!!!

 

…………………………….<sound of brakes screeching!>………………………………………………….

 

HOLD UP! Huh? Wha’? What’s going on here? Oh, you mean things didn’t go exactly as planned? You mean we had to test out having a positive attitude while travelling? Yes, that’s EXACTLY what is going on here.

So we’re literally waiting in the Boarding Group C line at the departure gate…oh wait, I forgot another funny story at Luton before I continue! So we’re going through the security checkpoint, right? I went through first, no big deal. Susan comes a short while after me, as I had jumped to another line. But Jeff doesn’t show up, and he was right behind Susan. So me and Susan are just hanging out, excitedly talking about something or an other. We finally see Jeff coming, about 10-15 minutes later. He lets us know that indeed security works here – he was stopped because he had been trying to bring two daggers with him in his carry-on luggage! Rewind just a bit – earlier that day at the Tower of London gift shop, he had bought a pewter coat of arms with two real crossed mini-swords that you could remove. Very cool. But also weapons. And yes, Jeff was trying to bring them on the plane. Not maliciously obviously, but just obliviously. It was awesome. He ended up losing the daggers and entertaining the security staff because they literally could not believe those were in his bag!

But back to waiting at the Departure Gate – about 20 minutes before departure, the gate staff start exchanging nervous, annoyed conversations. Turns out that EasyJet had a BAD day with their jets, and many of them are broken. Including the jet that was to arrive for us that we’d get on for Paris. We’re instructed to go back to the departure lounge and wait for the electronic marquees to tell us more. So we all go back, grudgingly. And everyone is staring at the signs, whether you’re at the cafe or the bar or just sitting in the chairs. And we wait. and wait some more. About an hour and a half goes by and all of a sudden our flight DISAPPEARS off the marquee. Doesn’t say cancelled. Doesn’t say delayed. Just gone! I decide to go walking back to the gate we had been at originally to talk to anyone/someone. A few others had the same idea, and we talk to one of the gate agents who says that the flight isn’t cancelled – so don’t worry – but they’ll post more information on the screen as soon as they have it. So back to the departure lounge where everyone is now aware of the fact that our flight was eliminated – and this girl and I tell everyone what we heard. Over at the EasyJet counter, there’s no information to be found there either, but we’re told that we will get a drink voucher! woo hoo! So another hour and a half is spent waiting, and watching other delayed flights get gates and sadly, not ours. Eventually it gets past 11pm Paris time so that means the train into Paris option is gone. Then I start to worry – will our hotel reservation get cancelled because we didn’t show up on Check-In day? So we try to find a phone number for our hotel – and there ISN’T one! At least not one found easily. We asked friends back home (literally who were at work at the time) to search the Internet for it – nothing. We called directory assistance – nothing except a fax number. So Stress #4 showed up (with Stress #3 being are we even going to Fly to Paris tonight?). Finally, FINALLY, our flight shows up on the signs at around 11:30 pm and we all high-tail it to the gate, where amazingly, we actually get on the jet and take off!

It’s only an hour flight or so to get to Paris – and on the way in we saw the Eiffel Tower do its sparkle thing (you’ll see more of that in the following pages) and realized, WOO HOO, we’re in Paris! Like I said, the train option was now gone, so after processing through customs, we got in the long taxi line, which didn’t really take that long after all. And 45 minutes or so later, through driving rain, our taxi driver dropped us off at a hotel in Paris! It was now about 2:30 in the morning so as we try to open the door, we discover it’s locked. Fortunately the concierge lets us in and after his hellos, says that all his rooms are full and questions if we had reservations. Stress #4 was realized – our room was gone. We showed our reservation print out to the concierge and he starts laughing – we were at the wrong hotel. Fortunately, it was the same hotel chain, just the wrong branch. And our branch was just a block away! So we straggle over to the REAL hotel and check in – our room was ready for us and waiting! And after exclaiming how cool our room was, it was time to go to sleep! It had truly been a LONG day!

March 29/30, 2007: Leaving London via Luton Airport and Going to Paris!

Me and Jeff in our tube journey to get our stuff
Me and Jeff in our tube journey to get our stuff29-Mar-2007 10:26, EASTMAN KODAK COMPANY KODAK CX7430 ZOOM DIGITAL CAMERA, 2.7, 5.6mm, 0.017 sec
Non-stressed me - stress would come later
Non-stressed me - stress would come later29-Mar-2007 13:41, EASTMAN KODAK COMPANY KODAK CX7430 ZOOM DIGITAL CAMERA, 2.7, 5.6mm, 0.017 sec
Susan and Jeff in the van to Luton - notice Jeff's happy face
Susan and Jeff in the van to Luton - notice Jeff's happy face29-Mar-2007 17:32, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 100
 
There's me and Susan - ready for Paris, yo!
There's me and Susan - ready for Paris, yo!29-Mar-2007 17:32, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.167 sec, ISO 141
The Evil Sign of Doom - our flight, EZY2461, with the blue status still. It hadn't disappeared yet.
The Evil Sign of Doom - our flight, EZY2461, with the blue status still. It hadn't disappeared yet.29-Mar-2007 20:03, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 4.9, 23.1mm, 0.167 sec, ISO 141
29-Mar-2007 20:03, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 4.9, 23.1mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 800
 
The table of desperation - a muffin was all I had for dinner that night
The table of desperation - a muffin was all I had for dinner that night29-Mar-2007 20:04, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 200
Frustrated Jeff
Frustrated Jeff29-Mar-2007 20:06, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.077 sec, ISO 200
Ferocious Susan!
Ferocious Susan!29-Mar-2007 20:06, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.1 sec, ISO 200
 
Calmer Susan
Calmer Susan29-Mar-2007 20:06, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 200
Jeff eats his dinner too
Jeff eats his dinner too29-Mar-2007 20:06, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 200
And there's our room in Paris
And there's our room in Paris30-Mar-2007 01:38, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 800
 
Jeff welcomes you! Stay tuned for more pics in the next page
Jeff welcomes you! Stay tuned for more pics in the next page30-Mar-2007 01:38, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 800
 

Day 4: Paris & Nighttime Taxi

(2014 Note:  These pages are transfers from my original site so I can better view the many pictures I have from that trip and so it’s searchable within WordPress Search. Here’s a link to the original page!)

Day4Oui Oui, we were in Paris! (If you read that with a French accent, it totally rhymed). As you may have read from Day 3’s recap of events, we spent most of the night before traveling from London over to Paris, and didn’t get to sleep seriously until about 3:30am. So would you want to wake up at 8 or 9 the next morning? Yeah, didn’t think so. Unfortunately, we really needed to get our asses out of bed at that time, as we were meeting up with Jeff’s friend Brian (the one who was supposed to get reenlisted on the beaches of Normandy) and his wife Shannon that morning. They had decided to just come to Paris for the weekend so they could still visit with Jeff (and Susan and I, by virtue of us all being a group) anyways, and they were taking the Eurostar train in from London that morning. The plan had been to meet up at the Gare du Nord (which is the train station that services the UK) when their train arrived…. and when we finally woke up around 12 noon, well, yeah, it became obvious that we had missed that meeting. Oops. So we scrambled to get ourselves up and ready, with Jeff getting up first so he could go and meet up with them downstairs in the lobby. We all eventually got our act together and the day began, albeit late!

day4_notredame

So once Susan and I went on downstairs to the lobby, we met Brian and Shannon. They’re both very cool folks who are stationed in England now. Obviously meeting new people can be hit or miss, but as the next few days revealed, we would get along great and I definitely think that I made some good friends, even in only a few days. Anyways, back to the travelogue (just be aware that in addition to Susan and Jeff, I’ll be tossing out the names Brian and Shannon!).

We ended up finally getting out to the streets of Paris around 12:30 or so, and needless to say, the three of us were STARVING. So first order of business was finding a place to eat – fortunately in Paris, you can’t walk very far without walking by a cafe or restaurant of some sort, and about a block away we saw a place that had meat, so that won! We did find that the staff spoke minimal English, so it was time to break out the French phrase guide – and amazingly, I didn’t do that bad a job of getting the bare French essentials out. Eventually, both Jeff and I were pretty decent at communicating the basics, which is a true testament to the Rick Steves’ phrase book. Again, that man rules.

After having lunch and the ability to get to know Brian and Shannon a bit more, it was time to see some Parisian sights! We first walked down to Gare Saint Lazare (in English, that’s St. Lazare Train Station), sort of the long way in, as we managed to walk right into the main train platforms of the train station. After finding our way to the central lobby of the Gare, we then picked up our 3-day Metro Paris Visite card and headed on the very efficient Paris Metro system over to La Cite, which is the little island in the middle of the Seine. It’s also where the world-famous Notre Dame resides!

We made our way over there and got in, and of course, Notre Dame never fails to impress. Click here for Wikipedia Notre Dame goodness, although if it’s pictures you seek, look no further than below. It truly is a magnificent cathedral, both from the outside and once you go inside. The amazingly gothic construction and the fantastic stained glass, particularly the Rose, are wondrous. During this visit, we also were there during a mass, which is always an amazing thing to witness, especially in such a historical, ancient structure. What was cool, specifically in Paris, was that Rick Steves created some iPod Podcasts that you listen to while walking around certain attractions (Notre Dame, Versailles, the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay), which I did while in Notre Dame. It adds a little bit more to the whole experience, and it provided me more justification for buying my new iPod. Anyways, after seeing the inside, we decided to also go up to the towers of Notre Dame; unfortunately for us, by this time it was just about 4:00pm and that’s when they cut the line off. Bummer – it’s quite a view and to see the gargoyles up close is pretty cool. Instead, we went to the nearby cafe and everyone but me got crepes! I tried one of the Nutella ones that Susan had and I after the second bite, realized that I am ALLERGIC to Nutella. While my throat started closing up, I started drinking tons of water to wash out my mouth, and eventually my allergic reaction subsided. Crepes no more!

One thing I didn’t know about the plaza in front of Notre Dame: it has what’s called the Zero Point of Paris, which is basically the geograhical center of Paris. See pics below! And then we visited the Archaeological crypt right in that same plaza, thinking it was the same crypts that Melissa had told us were a ‘must-see’. This was the wrong one. Still kinda neat, but kinda eh.

Anyways, here are the pics. There are lots for Day 4, so pace yourself.

March 30, 2007: Meeting Up with Brian & Shannon; Notre Dame and Environs

Shannon and Brian at the lunch cafe
Shannon and Brian at the lunch cafe30-Mar-2007 14:25, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 141
Susan and Jeff
Susan and Jeff30-Mar-2007 14:26, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 141
Me at the Gare Saint Lazare
Me at the Gare Saint Lazare30-Mar-2007 15:01, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 187
 
There's the gang walking up ahead in the Gare
There's the gang walking up ahead in the Gare30-Mar-2007 15:03, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 141
Here's the La Cite Paris Metropolitan station - so French
Here's the La Cite Paris Metropolitan station - so French30-Mar-2007 15:33, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 283
30-Mar-2007 15:33, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 800
 
30-Mar-2007 15:41, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 3.5, 10.487mm, 0.002 sec
Widescreen view of Notre Dame
Widescreen view of Notre Dame30-Mar-2007 15:42, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.005 sec
Ah, Notre Dame!
Ah, Notre Dame!30-Mar-2007 07:42, SONY DSC-W100, 5.6, 7.9mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 125
 
30-Mar-2007 07:43, SONY DSC-W100, 5.6, 7.9mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 125
30-Mar-2007 07:43, SONY DSC-W100, 5.6, 7.9mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 125
Susan and Jeff
Susan and Jeff30-Mar-2007 07:43, SONY DSC-W100, 5.6, 7.9mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 125
 
Pointing - see, there it is!
Pointing - see, there it is!30-Mar-2007 15:42, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.006 sec
It truly is an imposing cathedral
It truly is an imposing cathedral30-Mar-2007 15:45, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.01 sec
Looking from the plaza away from Notre Dame - French and tourists alike
Looking from the plaza away from Notre Dame - French and tourists alike30-Mar-2007 15:46, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.008 sec
 

day4_leftbank

After the impressive sight that is Notre Dame, we all headed along the Seine next to Notre Dame, which is where you can truly get a great sense of the gothic architecture and the flying buttresses (heh heh). We then veered across the bridge to the Left Bank of Paris, which is where the more artsy, hippie, and basically fun part of Paris resides. It’s here where we had a great dinner, followed by going back to the hotel. We then had a chance to rest up before embarking upon what was to be one of the coolest things we did during the trip (and an awesome recommended trip idea by Rick Steves – and next time you’re in Paris, you HAVE to do it): a chartered nighttime taxi trip around Paris’ most amazing sights.

March 30, 2007: Strolling Past Notre Dame and Over to the Left Bank; Dinner!

The heavily gothic Notre Dame
The heavily gothic Notre Dame30-Mar-2007 17:15, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.004 sec
Notre Dame
Notre Dame30-Mar-2007 17:15, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.004 sec
ME
ME30-Mar-2007 17:16, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.004 sec
 
The Rose window from outside
The Rose window from outside30-Mar-2007 17:19, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.006 sec
30-Mar-2007 09:20, SONY DSC-W100, 2.8, 7.9mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 125
Jeff and the Rose
Jeff and the Rose30-Mar-2007 09:20, SONY DSC-W100, 2.8, 7.9mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 125
 
Iconic shot of Notre Dame's rear
Iconic shot of Notre Dame's rear30-Mar-2007 17:23, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.003 sec
Getting the point
Getting the point30-Mar-2007 17:24, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.005 sec
The WWII imprisonment memorial
The WWII imprisonment memorial30-Mar-2007 17:31, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.002 sec
 
Shannon and the beautiful Left Bank
Shannon and the beautiful Left Bank30-Mar-2007 17:39, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.008 sec
Found a purple shop - had to take a photo with Susan!
Found a purple shop - had to take a photo with Susan!30-Mar-2007 17:40, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.02 sec, ISO 141
Me and my heritage
Me and my heritage30-Mar-2007 18:16, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 141
 
I'm not the first to pioneer pointing as this restaurant ceiling glass shows
I'm not the first to pioneer pointing as this restaurant ceiling glass shows30-Mar-2007 18:32, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.04 sec, ISO 400
Self portrait of the group eating dinner
Self portrait of the group eating dinner30-Mar-2007 19:12, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.125 sec, ISO 400
30-Mar-2007 19:12, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.125 sec, ISO 400
 

day4_taxi

In the Rick Steves Paris book, he suggests an awesome thing to do: charter a cab for 2 hours and have the cabby drive you around Paris, at night, and stop at all the beautiful monuments when they’re illuminated. And let me tell you, after doing it, I can only say that you HAVE to do this. But since this isn’t just a photo journal, of course I’ll have to tell you the story of everything!

First, it was ‘fun’ to just get a damn cab. Not many cabs are going to be able to fit 5 people – unless you charter a limo or something. Fortunately our concierge took a liking to us and helped me order a cab big enough. He got in touch with a cab company that definitely caters to tourists who want to do something like this. Rick Steves advocated for only an hour or so, but based on this experience, that is FAR too little time. We actually didn’t even make it to all the stops he suggests and we chartered the cab for TWO hours. Anyways, I jump ahead. It was well worth the price to charter the cab though, as if your cab driver is cool, as ours was, he will usually stop right at the monument and let you get out and just wait for you. These guys aren’t afraid of no meter maid! So our guy came and picked us up at the hotel in a minibus and off we were! I’ve modified a hella-ghetto map to give you an idea of what our route approximated. On the map are 5 numbers indicating where we stopped and to also help identify where we took pictures in the sections below.

paris_city_map-mod

The route begins at the spot marked “OUR HOTEL” and follows the light purple path (in honor of Suzanne – Susan’s French name given to her by our taxi driver!) first. So where did our cab driver (whose name I can NOT remember now!) take us first? Well, we first worked our way through the Montmartre section of Paris down to the Champs Elysees, the grand Boulevard of Paris. There’s quite a bit of history to this street in addition to it being the premier shopping area of Paris. Read more about the Champs Elysees here if you’re so inclined. With it being a Friday night, this street was pretty crowded and hectic, but it made it that much more exciting to drive down it. We were headed towards the Arc de Triomphe, which you can’t help but see as you drive in its direction. One thing that I had not yet done in any of my trips was actually drive around the Arc in its ridiculously huge traffic circle – I think it’s 12 lanes wide, which is if you actually could see lanes. The traffic here somehow knows how to function, which is good. Our driver helpfully stopped on the perimeter of the traffic circle for our first stop (#1 above) and where we took our first set of pictures!

Nighttime Taxi Tour Stop #1: The Arc de Triomphe

Driving down the Champs Elysees towards the Arc
Driving down the Champs Elysees towards the Arc30-Mar-2007 21:40, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.077 sec, ISO 800
30-Mar-2007 21:42, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 315
There's the Arc
There's the Arc30-Mar-2007 21:43, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 800
 
30-Mar-2007 13:45, SONY DSC-W100, 2.8, 7.9mm, 0.077 sec, ISO 400
ME at the Arc
ME at the Arc30-Mar-2007 21:43, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 800
Susan and Jeff
Susan and Jeff30-Mar-2007 21:43, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 800
 
Shannon and Brian
Shannon and Brian30-Mar-2007 21:44, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 800
Our group shot
Our group shot30-Mar-2007 21:45, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 800
The magnifique Arc de Triomphe!
The magnifique Arc de Triomphe!30-Mar-2007 21:45, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 800
 

From the Arc our cabby then drove us back along the Champs Elysees (on the map it’s the cerulean blue color) in the opposite direction and towards the end of the boulevard, which is the giant intersection called the Place de la Concorde. In the middle of this mass of road collusion is an ancient Egyptian obelisk which is hard to miss at any time of day. Our cab driver then stopped right in the middle of the ‘island’ and let us off at the obelisk. Pretty sweet. We also could see the Eiffel Tower doing its sparkly thing from here, but of course more on that later. I’ve also included a mini-video I took while out there. Did I mention that this idea was ridiculously cool?

Nighttime Taxi Tour Stop #2: Place de la Concorde

The Concorde's Obelisk
The Concorde's Obelisk30-Mar-2007 13:56, SONY DSC-W100, 2.8, 7.9mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 400
30-Mar-2007 21:55, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 800
Me and the Obelisk
Me and the Obelisk30-Mar-2007 21:55, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.04 sec, ISO 800
 
Looking down Champs Elysees towards the Arc
Looking down Champs Elysees towards the Arc30-Mar-2007 21:55, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.125 sec, ISO 800
Viewing the fountains on the island
Viewing the fountains on the island30-Mar-2007 21:56, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.125 sec, ISO 800
30-Mar-2007 21:56, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.02 sec, ISO 800
 
Looking north towards the Opera House
Looking north towards the Opera House30-Mar-2007 21:56, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.077 sec, ISO 800
30-Mar-2007 21:56, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 4.5, 18.776mm, 0.2 sec, ISO 800
The Eiffel Tower!
The Eiffel Tower!30-Mar-2007 21:56, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 4.5, 18.776mm, 0.25 sec, ISO 800
 
More fountain goodness
More fountain goodness30-Mar-2007 21:57, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 4.9, 23.1mm, 0.25 sec, ISO 800
A really great shot of the Arc taken by Jeff
A really great shot of the Arc taken by Jeff30-Mar-2007 13:59, SONY DSC-W100, 5.2, 23.7mm, 0.333 sec, ISO 125
Another great Eiffel Tower shot
Another great Eiffel Tower shot30-Mar-2007 14:00, SONY DSC-W100, 5.2, 23.7mm, 1.6 sec, ISO 125
 
30-Mar-2007 21:59, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 4.9, 23.1mm, 0.25 sec, ISO 800
 

So after getting back into the cab, our next destination (shown by a lighter blue path) was one of the world’s most famous landmarks: The Eiffel Tower. Need I say more? Okay, I will. Our cabby drove us to the back side of the Eiffel Tower (nearer to the Rue Cler area) and parked and we all walked up to the Eiffel Tower at night. There’s something amazingly incredible about the Eiffel Tower at any time, but at night, and forgive me for saying this, but at night, the Eiffel Tower is magical. It now does a whole ‘Sparkling Diamond’ effect for the first 10 minutes of every hour, and where it was purely magic before, your jaw drops when you see this. And it doesn’t get old, no matter how many times you see it. I hadn’t had the chance to really explore the Tower at night before (dusk, yes, but true night? No.) so this was awesome. I could go on and on so I’ll stop. Here are some pics below!

Nighttime Taxi Tour Stop #3: The Eiffel Tower

Ah, beautiful Eiffel Tower
Ah, beautiful Eiffel Tower30-Mar-2007 22:11, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.077 sec, ISO 800
Dramatic Eiffel Tower shot
Dramatic Eiffel Tower shot30-Mar-2007 22:13, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 800
30-Mar-2007 22:14, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 283
 
Me
Me30-Mar-2007 22:15, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 283
Susan and Jeff
Susan and Jeff30-Mar-2007 22:16, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 283
30-Mar-2007 14:14, SONY DSC-W100, 2.8, 7.9mm, 0.25 sec, ISO 125
 
30-Mar-2007 14:17, SONY DSC-W100, 2.8, 7.9mm, 0.167 sec, ISO 125
Looking up its underbelly
Looking up its underbelly30-Mar-2007 22:17, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.077 sec, ISO 800
30-Mar-2007 22:18, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.1 sec, ISO 800
 
There's the second level way up there
There's the second level way up there30-Mar-2007 22:18, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.1 sec, ISO 800
 

Although there were only six pics here of the Tower, don’t think we didn’t spend a long time here – in fact we did. But I knew we’d come back at night to actually go up in the Tower, so be prepared for an onslaught of Eiffel Tower pics in the Day 5 page. After gawking at the Tower for a while, it was time to go back in the cab….so we could get an even BETTER view of the Eiffel Tower. And there’s nowhere you can get a better picture and vantage point of the Eiffel Tower than from the Trocadero, which is where the Palais de Chaillot sits across the river from the Tower. It’s elevated just enough to give any amateur and professional photographer the dream to take the most beautiful pictures. See below for some beauts.

Nighttime Taxi Tour Stop #4: The Trocadero / Palais de Chaillot

I told you it was a view to...a kill
I told you it was a view to...a kill30-Mar-2007 22:36, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 3.2, 9.028mm, 0.2 sec, ISO 800
I LOVE this pic - the crowd silhouette in the front makes it for me
I LOVE this pic - the crowd silhouette in the front makes it for me30-Mar-2007 22:36, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.2 sec, ISO 800
30-Mar-2007 22:37, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.25 sec, ISO 800
 
30-Mar-2007 22:37, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.2 sec, ISO 800
Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower30-Mar-2007 22:38, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.125 sec, ISO 233
Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower30-Mar-2007 14:40, SONY DSC-W100, 3.5, 12.1mm, 1.3 sec, ISO 125
 
Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower30-Mar-2007 22:39, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.125 sec, ISO 233
Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower30-Mar-2007 22:39, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.125 sec, ISO 233
30-Mar-2007 22:39, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.167 sec, ISO 800
 
30-Mar-2007 22:40, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.125 sec, ISO 233
Me and the E.T.
Me and the E.T.30-Mar-2007 22:41, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 3.2, 9.028mm, 0.125 sec, ISO 233
30-Mar-2007 22:41, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 3.2, 9.028mm, 0.125 sec, ISO 233
 
Shannon and Susan
Shannon and Susan30-Mar-2007 22:41, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 3.2, 9.028mm, 0.125 sec, ISO 233
Susan and Jeff
Susan and Jeff30-Mar-2007 22:42, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 3.2, 9.028mm, 0.125 sec, ISO 233
30-Mar-2007 22:42, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 3.2, 9.028mm, 0.125 sec, ISO 233
 

Our last stop, unfortunately (because it would have been awesome to have hit Notre Dame and Sacre Couer at night, but alas, our two hours were almost up because we had to include taxi time back to the hotel as well, and on a Friday night, that takes a while) was the Louvre. We didn’t make it inside the Louvre, obviously, but looking at it at night, especially the dichotomy of the modern glass I.M. Pei pyramid vs. the ancient Louvre architecture, illuminated at night, is breathtaking.

Nighttime Taxi Tour Stop #5: The Louvre

The Louvre Complex
The Louvre Complex30-Mar-2007 23:00, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.167 sec, ISO 800
30-Mar-2007 23:00, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.167 sec, ISO 800
The mini-Arc in the Tuileries
The mini-Arc in the Tuileries30-Mar-2007 23:00, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.077 sec, ISO 800
 
The right side of the Louvre
The right side of the Louvre30-Mar-2007 23:00, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.077 sec, ISO 800
Left side
Left side30-Mar-2007 23:00, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.125 sec, ISO 800
and closer to the Arc so you can see the Eiffel Tower
and closer to the Arc so you can see the Eiffel Tower30-Mar-2007 23:01, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 3.5, 10.487mm, 0.077 sec, ISO 800
 

I must say it was a truly awesome trip, and we made it right back to the hotel two hours after our trip started, meaning we got back about 12:30 in the morning. Not bad for timeliness! Like I said – if in Paris, I highly recommend you do this! Afterwards, it was time to get some sleep as we did have some rest to catch up on – and tomorrow we were headed to Versailles first thing in the morning. But more on that on the Day 5 page!

 

Day 5: Versailles & Eiffel Tower

(2014 Note:  These pages are transfers from my original site so I can better view the many pictures I have from that trip and so it’s searchable within WordPress Search. Here’s a link to the original page!)

Day5

So it took me quite a bit of time (a month or so) to continue the recap of the amazing European trip…from over 2 months ago. Yes, I suck. But I endeavor to get these cranked out sooner than later, as hell, I’m beginning to forget just what it was we did! Part of my delay has been the fact that there are a TON of freakin’ pictures to go through…still. This page and the next have a fuckton of pictures to look through so persevere with me!

Let me bring you back into the vacation mode though – that’s the least I could do. The night before, we all (me, Jeff, Susan, Shannon and Brian) had gone on the kick-ass nighttime taxi ride through Paris. I must reiterate what a fantastic thing that is to do. Do it, if you are ever in Paris. We got back around midnight or so, but had to make sure to get some rest because we were going to get up first thing in the morning because it was time to beat the crowds to Versailles!

day5_versailles

To get to Versailles, you actually have to take a train out to it from Paris, as it’s not exactly right in town. We planned for this endeavor by making sure to leave early enough to get to Versailles shortly after opening, so we all met at our hotel lobby first. This morning, we added another to our crew, Mike. Mike is a friend of Susan’s and is currently stationed over in Germany so he took the train over. He is a pretty cool guy and got along well with the existing group of us.

I ended up using some more of my admittedly limited French skills to buy a Versailles Rail Pass which gets you a round-trip ticket on the RER AND a ticket into Versailles, allowing you to bypass the ticket line there, which is a definite plus. Easily enough, we got there and walked the brief journey from the train station to the palace gates, which you arrive at and immediately are overwhelmed by the sheer grandiosity and Size of the Palace of Versailles. It was the retreat from Paris politics and hubbub that the Sun King, Louis XIV, built – and it’s freakin’ amazing in its scope and over-the-topness. It definitely earns its reputation as Europe’s Top Palace, because while the palace itself is huge, when you actually get to the back of the palace, you see the immenseness of the palace grounds – which you’d need a whole day to walk around and explore on your own.

Anyways, we were able to walk right in and begin the self-guided tour throughout the palace. Jeff and I had downloaded the Rick Steves iPod walking tour which was very informative and fun to listen to – Rick Steves is kind of a dork. But it was a good tour, although the recording was based on an old tour route, as you see, Versailles’ tour path has been reorganized because they’ve finished restoring some sections that you weren’t able to visit before, including the Hercules grand entrance hall and, most exciting, the Versailles Opera House. It was amazing to see that, especially since it was featured prominently in the recent movie by Sofia Coppola called Marie Antoinette (boring movie, but beautiful). There was plenty to see in Versailles, but it mostly served to illustrate how much freakin’ money was spent on lavishness. Incredible. Oh, but if you really want to know more about Versailles, here’s a Wikipedia entry all about it! We finished the tour, walked around the top portion of the gardens briefly, but then headed soon enough back on the train to Paris, which was good timing on our part, as the place got PACKED by the time we were leaving. A Saturday is definitely not a ‘light’ tourist time for one of the biggest attractions in France!

March 31, 2007: Journey to and Exploring Versailles

Jeff and Susan are ready for their French breakfast
Jeff and Susan are ready for their French breakfast31-Mar-2007 07:38, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 141
Keeping it real, yo
Keeping it real, yo31-Mar-2007 07:38, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 141
Guess I'm trying to keep things in control here
Guess I'm trying to keep things in control here31-Mar-2007 07:44, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 192
 
31-Mar-2007 07:45, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 141
The map of Paris on the wall of our hotel's restaurant
The map of Paris on the wall of our hotel's restaurant31-Mar-2007 07:48, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 9.0, 10.487mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 141
Us in line to buy our Versailles passes
Us in line to buy our Versailles passes31-Mar-2007 08:42, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 315
 
Walking the long plaza to the palace gates of Versailles
Walking the long plaza to the palace gates of Versailles31-Mar-2007 09:38, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.002 sec
The Hercules entranceway
The Hercules entranceway31-Mar-2007 09:55, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.025 sec, ISO 800
31-Mar-2007 09:58, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 800
 
A better view of the Hercules' ceiling
A better view of the Hercules' ceiling31-Mar-2007 09:58, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 800
Golden something or an other
Golden something or an other31-Mar-2007 10:00, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.04 sec, ISO 800
Me lounging in the halls of Versailles
Me lounging in the halls of Versailles31-Mar-2007 10:01, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 141
 
Jeff and Susan
Jeff and Susan31-Mar-2007 10:03, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 644
31-Mar-2007 10:03, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 800
Hanging out by the windows
Hanging out by the windows31-Mar-2007 10:14, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec
 

day5_arc

What visit to Paris would be complete without visiting a few choice sights: the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Champs Elysees …. and of course, the Arc de Triomphe! This was built to commemmorate the many victories of Napoleon Bonaparte – and it certainly has one of the premier locations in Paris to be situated in, as it is directly at the end of the Champs Elysees away from the Tuileries and Louvre museum. And it is amazing to see it as you travel up the Champs Elysees. Here’s some more info on the Arc de Triomphe from Wikipedia.

We got back from Versailles and hopped off the Metro at the Champs Elysees in order to walk up it a bit towards the Arc. You have to approach it in order to really get a good look at it. The weather started to turn a little dreary and when we were up on top of the Arc, it actually did start to rain. But even with the dreary weather, there’s nothing like being on the top of the Arc and seeing all of Paris in 360 degrees. It’s amazing to see the crazy road turnabout that lives around the Arc but you can also see every main tourist landmark from the top as well. So here are some pictures from our time atop the Arc!

March 31, 2007: Living Large at the Arc de Triomphe

The Arc from the Champs Elysees
The Arc from the Champs Elysees31-Mar-2007 14:04, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.008 sec
An even closer view
An even closer view31-Mar-2007 06:05, SONY DSC-W100, 9.0, 18.7mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 125
I had to take another picture that was similar to one I took in 2002...
I had to take another picture that was similar to one I took in 2002...31-Mar-2007 14:16, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.003 sec
 
Looking up at the Arc from the ground
Looking up at the Arc from the ground31-Mar-2007 14:26, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 116
More detailed shot
More detailed shot31-Mar-2007 14:26, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.02 sec, ISO 141
At the top and looking out
At the top and looking out31-Mar-2007 14:32, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.005 sec
 
There's Sacre Coeur in the distance
There's Sacre Coeur in the distance31-Mar-2007 14:32, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 4.9, 23.1mm, 0.006 sec, ISO 100
Looking straight down at the turnabout
Looking straight down at the turnabout31-Mar-2007 14:34, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.01 sec
Looking toward the modern Paris business downtown
Looking toward the modern Paris business downtown31-Mar-2007 14:34, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.005 sec
 
You can see La Grande Arch - the hollowed out square building in the middle
You can see La Grande Arch - the hollowed out square building in the middle31-Mar-2007 14:34, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 4.0, 15.599mm, 0.005 sec
A view of the rainy Arc roof
A view of the rainy Arc roof31-Mar-2007 14:35, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 4.0, 15.599mm, 0.006 sec
More Paris scenery
More Paris scenery31-Mar-2007 14:35, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 4.0, 15.599mm, 0.008 sec
 
The Eiffel Tower!
The Eiffel Tower!31-Mar-2007 14:36, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.003 sec
31-Mar-2007 14:36, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 4.0, 15.599mm, 0.004 sec
31-Mar-2007 14:36, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 3.5, 10.487mm, 0.003 sec
 

day5_sacrecoeur

So a part of Paris that I had always wanted to see was more of Montmartre, especially after seeing the movie Moulin Rouge. Within Montmartre, I’ve always wanted to see the cathedral of Sacre Coeur, mainly after seeing it in Amelie and just having seen it in the many guidebooks of Paris. So while we were strolling around the Champs Elysees in the rain, and everyone was kind of like “What Do We Do Now?” (and at the same time, driving Susan insane…), I suggested going to the Montmartre area and seeing not only that eclectic neighborhood but the Sacre Coeur cathedral. So off we went on the Metro to Montmartre!

Arriving there, you get to street level and are immediately enveloped in a sense of exciting activity and ‘alive’ness. It is a very interesting neighborhood to say the least. Lots of vendors and lots of people. To get to Sacre Coeur you have to walk uphill through the area, eventually getting to the main plaza below the cathedral. And then you have even more uphill walking to do to just get to the cathedral, but it’s well worth it, as the view from the top of Montmartre is stellar, just like from the Arc. Unfortunately the weather was still gloomy, so while the view was still great, it could have been better with some clearer skies. A few of us toured the inside of the cathedral, which is amazing in its own right, but in a town full of ancient landmarks, this one is almost a baby: it was built in the 1800s, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at it. Again, more information to be found at Wikipedia.

After visiting the cathedral, we met up with everyone and started walking along the main street in Montmartre, which takes you through the red light district of Paris (where all the sex/porno shops are) and to the illustrious Moulin Rouge! It is certainly interesting to see all those strip clubs and stores – interesting things that are sold there!

Finally, it was dinner time and we found a cool restaurant in the area that served us great food, but most importantly, red wine and chocolate mousse (our first round of chocolate mousse for the trip – but rest assured, there would be more chocolate mousse, let me tell you!).

March 31, 2007: Exploring Montmartre and Sacre Coeur; having dinner in town

The bustling neighborhood of Montmartre
The bustling neighborhood of Montmartre31-Mar-2007 16:35, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 133
There's Sacre Coeur atop the Montmartre hill
There's Sacre Coeur atop the Montmartre hill31-Mar-2007 16:39, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 100
Closer view
Closer view31-Mar-2007 16:40, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 3.5, 12.523mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 124
 
ME
ME31-Mar-2007 16:40, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.006 sec
The carousel at the bottom of the hill - it was in Amelie too
The carousel at the bottom of the hill - it was in Amelie too31-Mar-2007 16:42, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 111
The cafe at the bottom of the hill - and Susan crossing the street
The cafe at the bottom of the hill - and Susan crossing the street31-Mar-2007 16:43, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 4.5, 18.776mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 400
 
The same curvy walkway up the hill to Sacre Coeur as seen in Amelie
The same curvy walkway up the hill to Sacre Coeur as seen in Amelie31-Mar-2007 16:48, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 209
Sacre Coeur
Sacre Coeur31-Mar-2007 16:49, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 4.0, 15.599mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 100
31-Mar-2007 16:50, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.006 sec
 
31-Mar-2007 16:50, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.002 sec
There's Mike hiking up the hill
There's Mike hiking up the hill31-Mar-2007 16:54, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 204
Jeff and Susan making their way up too
Jeff and Susan making their way up too31-Mar-2007 16:55, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 4.5, 18.776mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 400
 
Looking down the hill to Montmartre district
Looking down the hill to Montmartre district31-Mar-2007 16:59, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 151
31-Mar-2007 17:02, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 265
looking right close at the cathedral
looking right close at the cathedral31-Mar-2007 17:05, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.002 sec
 

day5_eiffeltower

After dinner, I invited myself along with Brian and Shannon to go visit the Eiffel Tower at night – it was time for Jeff and Susan to have some alone time….

We Metro’d over to the Rue Cler area and proceeded to walk to the Eiffel Tower from the L’Ecole Militaire section, so you get a good long approach to gaze at the wonder that is the Eiffel Tower at night. As you’ll see below in the pictures, the Eiffel Tower is truly amazing to see at nighttime with all its lights on. We also went and walked up the first two levels of the Eiffel Tower via the stairs which is always a fun experience and I think Shannon and Brian enjoyed doing it. To get to the very top though, you do have to take the elevator, which is not exactly my favorite thing to do…but at least at night, it’s not nearly as scary as it would be during the day. The night we were there, it was still a bit murky out there, so the view wasn’t as crystal clear as it sometimes as (see Jeff’s pics from the next day).

Well, there are lots of pics to see, so no more blathering on by me…this has been a lot of freakin’ webpage to write. To say the least. And there’s still THREE MORE DAYS to write about!

March 31, 2007: Journeying to the Eiffel Tower at night with Brian and Shannon

Looking at the Tower from the Ecole Militaire area
Looking at the Tower from the Ecole Militaire area31-Mar-2007 21:27, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 3.2, 9.028mm, 0.2 sec, ISO 800
There's Brian
There's Brian31-Mar-2007 21:28, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 3.5, 12.523mm, 0.3 sec, ISO 800
We would soon be walking this distance to the Tower
We would soon be walking this distance to the Tower31-Mar-2007 21:30, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.2 sec, ISO 800
 
31-Mar-2007 21:30, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.3 sec, ISO 800
Shannon poses with her umbrella
Shannon poses with her umbrella31-Mar-2007 21:30, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.125 sec, ISO 233
A WWII memorial at the end of the lawn
A WWII memorial at the end of the lawn31-Mar-2007 21:33, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.077 sec, ISO 800
 
Getting closer to the Tower
Getting closer to the Tower31-Mar-2007 21:33, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 4.0, 15.599mm, 0.2 sec, ISO 800
So cool - even with the spotlight
So cool - even with the spotlight31-Mar-2007 21:35, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.2 sec, ISO 800
Different flash settings of that same pic
Different flash settings of that same pic31-Mar-2007 21:35, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.125 sec, ISO 233
 
Here's the Tower again (notice the theme)
Here's the Tower again (notice the theme)31-Mar-2007 21:35, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 4.0, 15.599mm, 0.2 sec, ISO 800
Doing my impression of the Eiffel Tower
Doing my impression of the Eiffel Tower31-Mar-2007 21:37, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.125 sec, ISO 233
Brian and Shannon sing a happy French song for the occasion
Brian and Shannon sing a happy French song for the occasion31-Mar-2007 21:38, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 3.5, 10.487mm, 0.125 sec, ISO 233
 
Even jumping to show their joy
Even jumping to show their joy31-Mar-2007 21:38, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 3.5, 10.487mm, 0.125 sec, ISO 233
31-Mar-2007 21:39, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 3.5, 10.487mm, 0.125 sec, ISO 233
Getting real close
Getting real close31-Mar-2007 21:47, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.077 sec, ISO 800