Friday, December 17, 2010

Paris: Day 7

A little surprised with ourselves, we woke up around 9am this morning at our bed and breakfast in Rouen. Agnus, the owner, told us breakfast would be served between 8-9:30am so we hurried downstairs before it was too late. Our breakfast was perfect. She served fresh croissants and baguettes, cereal and toast. I seriously can't get over how flaky and wonderful the bakery is here. I ate a croissant with minimal butter ... and that should say something!

We said good-bye to Agnes and walked to the train station. It had snowed here overnight (a light dusting, mind you) and we thought it looked beautiful. Heck, I much prefer a light dusting of snow to heavy wet puddles of rain. My shoes do at least. But, people here don't exactly feel the same way. Apparently they had 2cm of snow last week (not sure of the conversion, but I think it's basically a few inches) and all movement was at a stand still. Over breakfast, Agnes told us her daughter slept in her car for 8 hours during that storm because all cars, trains, planes, etc. were halted. There's no ability to deal with winter weather here, even though they have it a fair number of times each winter. The snow had basically melted by the time we arrived at the train station and everything was on time for our ride back to Paris.

We'd a hotel room in Paris for our last two nights. The downside of Priceline is you can't exactly choose what hotel, only the price, so we navigated our way to the closest Metro stop and walked a few blocks to Le Meridian. It looked nice and we were glad we'd found it with little trouble. Andi went to the front desk to check in and walked over to me a few minutes later to tell me we were leaving. Apparently we were looking for Le Meridian Etoile. Who knew there was a difference?

We hopped in cab (because screw this, we're not getting back onto the Metro and trying to navigate our way to another hotel) and arrived a Le Meridian Etoile a few minutes later. Turns out, this place is in much better "tourist" position anyway, as it's very close to the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre. We checked into the correct Le Meridian and went up to our room. We opened the door and it seriously looked like we stepped into a Motel 6 (no offense to Motel 6 lovers). The room was decorated in all brown and smelled like moth balls. "We can't stay here," I told Andi. I couldn't imagine laying in that icky bed. We went back to the reservation desk and asked for an upgrade. Although, apparently, Parisians aren't much for haggling. The lady said she'd upgrade us for 50 Euro/$70 just after another employee told Andi it was 30 Euro. He negotiated with her for a while and finally the manager came out. No such luck. 50 Euro for an "executive room" or moth ball city. We weren't sure an upgrade was worth $150 (we booked 2 nights). We went back up to the moth ball room and I said to Andi "no way, we're not staying here. It smells!" So we went back down to the reservation desk and told them we wanted the Executive. It was an awkward ride in the elevator with the front desk worker (I'm sure she thought we were whiny Americans) but our new room is so much better. I wish I would have taken photos of the "before" room but I only have "after" .... and it was worth every penny.

After all that drama, we were famished. We set out for the Metro with intentions for dinner and a visit to the Louvre. Luckily, it was just a few stops away from our hotel. We walked by a few restaurants near the museum and my stomach started growling. "How about this?" I asked Andi. He wanted to keep walking (down a dark road with no restaurants, mind you). But I wasn't in the mood for the "let's hunt around for the perfect restaurant until we walk in circles forever" game so I put my foot down. I was hungry. So we ended up eating at what I'm sure is the Paris equivalent of TGIFridays and I didn't care. I ordered a club sandwich and Andi had roasted chicken. We also ordered what we thought was a cheese plate that actually tasted like yogurt in a cup. (Not sure what that was, but we didn't eat it).

Next we went to the Louvre. Even though it's a museum and we have a strict "we are not museum people" agreement in our marriage, we were excited to go. And, we drank a bottle of wine at dinner to help get us in the mood. The Louvre is massive and a former royal Parisian palace.

Once inside, we bee-lined for the Mona Lisa because we weren't sure how long we'd last. We also rented an audio guide so we could learn a little about the pieces of art we were viewing. Many people had warned us about the size of Mona Lisa before our trip, so we weren't disappointed when we saw the small-sized painting. It was neat, mostly because it's so famous.

Andi and I concluded we must not be "art people" because we thought there were other sculptures and paintings inside the Louvre far cooler. There was this one - the angel without any wings (which has a famous name, but I can't remember what it is)

... or this sculpture, my favorite, the Sphnix

The ceilings inside the Louvre were beautifully painted and we spent quite a bit of time admiring them ...

... and there were a few other sculptures and paintings we enjoyed too.

Afterwards, we hopped onto the Metro and back to our hotel. This trip is really catching up to us, and our feet and legs were KILLING us by the end. Tomorrow, our goals are to see Versailles, watch the sunset at Arc de Triomphe and finally eat a crepe!

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