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Willie and Sheila's European Adventure Part 11

Off we went riding the streets and sidewalks of Paris zig-zagging thru traffic and pedestrians on our mighty mechanical steeds

By Willie Qui??ones, Contributing Writer
Published on LatinoLA: June 29, 2014

Willie and Sheila's European Adventure Part 11

Hello again,

Well we are certainly busy checking out Paris on foot and it ain't easy for a couple of old timers. By the time we return to the haven of our cozy room our dogs are tired and we quickly take off our shoes to a huge sigh. But by the next day we are reinvigorated and ready to hit the streets one more time. Becausedid I mention how beautiful this place is? We have seen many of the places we were familiar with, but even better, we discover new ones at every turn.

Yesterday it felt good and catch up on our sleep since we had a tour scheduled in the afternoon on our favorite mode of transportation, Segways (those two wheeled vehicles like the mall cops use). We went early because we first wanted to find the rendezvous place for our tour. Once we found it, then we had three hours to kill before it was time so we went cruising in the immediate area. First a typical Parisian petit d?®jeuner (breakfast) of coffee and a croissant at a small outdoor cafe. Then a couple of blocks to the magnificent and imposing Eiffel Tower. But alas, the place was packed. They have elevators going up each of the legs of the tower and each had a long line with at least an hour wait. But we had a nice time just to sitting in the large park next to it an enjoyed the tower's beautiful elegance while whiling away our time people watching.

Finally it was time for our tour. There were eight of us plus our guide Claudia from Cuba who is a student at the Sorbonne. After a half hour of instruction on the machines, we were ready to go. So off we went riding the streets and sidewalks of Paris zig-zagging thru traffic and pedestrians on our mighty mechanical steeds. Riding a Segway is easy-peasy and you can turn and stop on a dime.

We visited several attractions and monuments and stopped as Claudia gave us mini-lectures and inside tidbits on what we were seeing. She is very intelligent and speaks English, French and Spanish and really knows her stuff. Needless to say, she filled us in on Louis XIV, XV and XVI plus Marie Antoinette and Napoleon. Segways are really fun to drive, but the 3-hour tour and interesting history were bonuses. Riding also saved us a lot of walking. We were sad when it ended, as we had to turn in our fun machines.

Today the weather report said 60% chance of rain so we scheduled inside stuff. So, we started off two blocks away at Notre Dame de Paris (Our Lady of Paris) Cathedral. On our last trip here we saw it several times as we sat on shady benches to enjoy a snack, people watch and enjoy its beautiful facade, but strangely we had never been inside. Probably because of the long queue because of the free admission.

Today was no different as the line snaked a half-block or more. But it went surprisingly fast and we were in by 10 minutes. All the time I kept wondering how the heck all those people would fit in. Well they did because the place is immense! I've been in hundreds of churches in my travels but never one so big, imposing and awesome! Wow! The statue of Our Lady that is the centerpiece of the altar is beautiful and large, but the space is so big that you cannot see it well because people are not allowed that close. But there is another side altar where I was able to pray to Mary and light a candle on all our behalf's.

I was disappointed about one thing though. I wanted to go up on top of the church to get up close to the gargoyles and yell down, "Sanctuary...Sanctuary!" like Charles Laughton did in his role of Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre Dame. But, I was unable to do it because of the line that snaked around the block and especially because of the 452 stairs to the top. Man, I could have croaked in the stairwell from a heart-tack.

From here we walked to the Musee d' Orsay. Talk about a huge imposing structure! This art museum used to be a train's immense also. And it houses the largest collection of impressionist art in the whole world. We spent four hours and skipped three of the five floors. We did make it a point to see the impressionist art work as we were exposed to pieces by Van Gogh, Cezanne, Renoir, Manet, Monet, Gauguin, Degas, Serrat, Pissarro and many more. The highlight was a special exhibit featuring about 100 pieces by Van Gogh.

Needless to say we were dead tired from our long day so we took the train back to our hotel digs. Off came the shoes as we both crashed soundly until dinner time. We have to get our much needed rest as tomorrow we take the early train to Versailles to check out what was Louis the XVI and Marie Antoinette's palace before they met up with Robspierre's guillotine.

To be continued...

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