Originally published 21 March, 2012
Our ride from Munich to Paris
We blew into town this morning on the TGV bullet train from Munich. They hit all the marks on this one....leaving Munich on the minute and arriving Paris the same way. The train ride was easy, one of the easiest trips we took. We left the hotel before 6 a.m. this morning and walked the half a block to the train station. The hotel we stayed in was chosen for it's location. When you're getting up that early to catch a train ya wanna get close. We got a few sandwiches in the station for breakfast, boarded the train, and off we went towards Paris!
View from our hotel
The train actually didn't go that fast through most parts of Germany. It had stops to make, and was traveling through highly populated areas. It was faster than the other trains but not the rocket you expect with a bullet train. Then they got out into the open farmland of central France....and they lit the rockets. We cruised the rest of the way into Paris at around 200 mph, arriving exactly on time.
Laurie overcome by culture!
We had researched the subway before we hit town so we knew which trains to take, got to our subway stop, climbed up the stairs into the neighborhood we are staying in and sought out our hotel. We are staying about 2 blocks from the metro in an old time in town hotel. It has an elevator the size of a phone booth and 6 floors of stairs if ya wanna climb! It's clean, well taken care of, and simple. Good internet connection. The neighborhood is a mish mash of all different ethnic groups with all kinds of restaurants. The 11th arrondismont (bastille) is primarily a residential area, so we're mostly around Parisians, not other tourist.
Booksellers along the Seine
We dumped our packs and headed out. Our first stop was a neighborhood phone store to get sim cards for our phones. In Europe, the phones are quad band GSM phones, unlike the US phones. We bought used phones off of Ebay before leaving the states. When you get somewhere, you get a sim card. They're usually free or a couple of bucks for the card, and then there's a call credit. It's a pay as you go phone, and you can stop almost anywhere and buy "top up" minutes to add to your phone.
A decidedly French vehicle
We're using Skype to call the states, but if we use our cell phones, it's not expensive. In the UK, Amsterdam, and France, we used "Lebara" sim cards. These were painless, easy to use, and we can call back to the states for around 10 cents a minute. It makes it easy for Laurie and I to keep up with each other as well and calls between the two of us are free.
And a decidedly French building
Our next stop was the Jewish quarter. Laurie visited a synagogue she wanted to see, we passed kosher butchers, falafel shops, jewish book shops, etc. We then headed over towards the Seine, checked out the book sellers along the river who sell books out of these locked stands. We walked down the Seine and had a super cheap dinner of savory crepes (cheese and tomato) and I bought some Paris hotdog baked into a fresh bun with cheese. With drinks it was a 12 euro dinner for two. We really didn't want to slow down to sit and eat. We'll do that in Normandy.
View from below...you know where it is
We wandered through the courtyard of the Louvre. What an amazing building. We were there at dusk and the lights were just fantastic. We then hopped a train to the Eiffel Tower. We figured it was night and it would be a nice view. Apparently about 40 percent of the people in the city of Paris thought the same thing. The line to go up in the tower was around 3 hours long.....and it was already after 9 pm.
Louvre at night
We scratched on going up...but saw the tower. It was truly an amazing sight at night. We may or may not come back and try again....but the Parisians are not as efficient as the Germans....so they only had one elevator running at the tower. I don't want to burn that much time in Paris sitting in a line. At the top of the hour, the tower is rigged with strobes and started flashing. Thousands of people all started clapping when this happened....which we though was pretty cool!
More than one photo was called for. It's Paris!
We also used a public toilet on the streets of Paris. They are about the size of a news stand. You go in, use it, and then come back out. When you come back out, the doors lock down and water jets spray the entire interior to clean it. Then the next person can use it! High tech!
Headed to bed. Lots went on today....and I expect more tomorrow. Laurie is excited about all the museums and famous art she will get to see the next few days!
I'm Bill. My wife Laurie and I love to travel and share our stories. We especially love it when we have been able to motivate our readers to start traveling on their own, and making their own stories.