Mom Wants A Diabetes Cure

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Paris Was Not What I Expected

I felt like I was escaping Nazi occupied France. The Frenchman with a heavy accent was telling us to sneak on the train and hope that no one checks to see if we have a valid ticket while on board. If we were approached by the authorities, we were to say that we are Americans and must catch a flight out of Paris the next day and that because of the strike, we must board the train today before the strike starts.

The Frenchman was Yann and his approach was to scam our way onto the train to Paris.

Corey's approach was to be truthful and simply tell the conductor that we'd like to get on the train before the strike starts.

The train employees were on strike all over France. It was due to take place on Tuesday, the day before we were supposed to leave for Paris. We were going to go to Italy on Tuesday, but, we had to leave that day in order to make it in to the city. (boohoo...poor me...heehee).

Weeks before, Corey bought tickets online for around $60 per ticket. She was required to cancel them in order to change the date of the trip. On Monday, we saw the prices rise to $250 on up. They were taking advantage of the people trying to get into Paris before the strike took place.

We got to the station and Corey convinced Yann to simply tell the conductor that we'd like to get on the train being that we have paid tickets for later in the week, but that we need to leave today in order to beat the start of the strike.

The conductor allowed us on and we breathed easy.

We streaked through the French country side at 200 mph. It was picturesque the whole way through with ancient farm houses dotting the landscape and mountains along the horizon. What is normally a 7 hour drive by car took 3 hours by bullet train.

When you think of Paris, what do you picture?

I pictured clean streets, snotty, mean Parisians, shop owners, and inattentive waiters. And lots of B.O.

What I experienced was dog poopy littering the sidewalks and streets, very nice Parisians and shop owners (who smelled nice), and inattentive waiters...until you asked for their attention. Waiters will not come to you throughout the meal the way American waiters do. The reason is because they don't want to disturb your dining experience. But, if you want something and hold your hand up to get their attention, they are very accomodating to your needs.

EVERYONE has a little dog. And they poop on the sidewalks, but the owners don't clean up after them. You'll see poop all over the place and foot prints dotting a trail along the walkways. Dogs are seen in restaurants, bakeries, supermarkets, on the train (they're kind enough to not poop in those places).

I witnessed one dog off it's leash, stop to sniff a car tire. He growled at it, lifted his leg and peed on it. I was afraid that maybe he had dementia and would attack me next, but luckily he paid no attention to me as I passed by.

We stayed at a hotel in the middle of the major Parisian attractions. Corey lived in Paris for 4 years and knew all of the little ins and outs of the area.

The first night we arrived, it started drizzling. We pulled out our little pocket umbrellas and walked around a bit. After getting something to eat, we walked around some more.

Suddenly, a torrential downpour with high winds came through and crumpled my umbrella to pieces. I had to drape it over my head in order to maintain some sort of elusive dryness.

My hands were ice cold, I was soaking wet from head to toe, but the city absolutely mesmerized me and I enjoyed every minute of being in Paris that night.

Everyday for 4 days, we walked from 9 a.m. and didn't return to our hotel room until 11 p.m. at night. My feet had blisters and were sooo sore. I was reduced to hobbling.

One night, I came up with an idea. Corey and I were laying in our beds, and she said it was good to put her feet up.

I said, wouldn't it be nice to tour Paris while rolling along on a gurney?

Or even more practical, we could tour the city in wheelchairs.

But then I thought about how blistered and sore our hands would get.

So I suggested that we hitch the wheelchairs to motorbikes and get dragged around from site to site.

I started laughing hysterically at the thought of it...and then I fell asleep

Anyway, the experience was better than I could've hoped for. I saw so many things, yet I barely touched the surface.

You too can see just a smidge of what I saw (I'm bummed that I never took pictures of Notre Dame):
Mona is really so small and lonely.

The train employees were about to start a strike parade through the streets of Paris.

The view from our room.


  • I have a very similar shot of the Mona Lisa and was also shocked by how small she is!

    Did you have to run through the Louvre to get such as clear shot first thing in the morning like I did?

    By Anonymous Sara, at 11/18/2007 3:45 PM  

  • There were people crowding around it, but they had ropes up so that you couldn't get right up to the painting...probably so that you could get a clear shot for photo opportunity.

    By Blogger Shannon, at 11/18/2007 4:03 PM  

  • Hi Shannon,
    I think my favorite picture is the one of the trees in a row that are trimmed in a straight line (I'm not sure how else to describe it). That's very interesting.

    I can't believe no one cleans up after their doggies. Oooooo!

    Sorry to hear you got blisters. But I'll bet they're well worth being able to have such a cool experience in a far away place.

    By Blogger Donna, at 11/18/2007 4:46 PM  

  • I'm glad those blisters were worth the great experience. I have a friend who went to Paris and all she talked about was how gross it was. I'm glad to know there are finer points to the city as well. Lovely pictures, my favorite is the one of the Louvre.

    By Blogger Jillian, at 11/18/2007 5:28 PM  

  • Hi Shannon

    Reading this makes me happy sad.. Happy because I met you, sad because you live so far away!

    The first time you saw the Eiffel tower was in that down pour you mention (in this post) about, we were standing on Pont Neuf crossing the bridge to the left bank and your umbrella went wild and broke in the wind.
    At the point I knew we would were going to have a good time together..because in the down pour with a broken umbrella you were smiling and laughing and acting as if Paris just handed you a dozen roses!
    You are a trooper!

    By Anonymous tongue in cheek, at 11/18/2007 6:23 PM  

  • Wow, I've enjoyed catching up on your posts today. What a great trip! The scenery is gorgeous and the pictures of the food are making me drool! That cucumber-wrapped salad thing looks amazing. I'm glad you took the time for yourself. Travel is exhilarating & mind-blowing. I miss it!!

    I hope you have time for a pedicure so you can pamper those tired toes!

    By Blogger Naomi, at 11/18/2007 8:06 PM  

  • I love the pictures :) Dog poop everywhere, huh? Ewwww. I'm not big on dog poo .... LOL. I'd probably be stepping in it and be tracking it all over the place.

    Sorry to hear about the blisters - but most definitely worth it!

    By Blogger Jamie, at 11/18/2007 9:03 PM  

  • The Mona Lisa is so teeny and I remember seeing it and being so unimpressed.

    I read your friend's comment (tongueincheek) and thought she said something about you seeing the eiffel tower for the 1st time and breaking wind, knowing you were going to have a good time and paris handing you roses. ahah...don't read so quickly next it.

    i loved this post--so great to see some photos and learn about the strikes. They like to strike in France. I sometimes think our workers deserve to strike and should (just read Nickel and Dimed).

    By Blogger Amylia, at 11/18/2007 9:14 PM  

  • Wow, thanks for the tour of Paris.

    By Blogger Shannon, at 11/19/2007 3:06 AM  

  • Shannon, I smile every time I think of you having a great time in France! I've added it to my list of places to see before I die. ;) They just better clean up that dog poop before I get there.
    You know, if you were taking the Commuter Rail into Boston, the conductor would not be as nice as the one in France!

    By Blogger Lea, at 11/19/2007 9:57 AM  

  • stepping in dog poop in Paris with your left foot is good luck - that's why they leave the land mines all over the city - how this is good luck I'll never know

    By Blogger Wingman, at 11/19/2007 11:35 AM  

  • dog poop and dogs in restaurants.. sounds like typical Paris!! the reason why people don't clean up after their dogs is b/c they pay so much in taxes they expect the state to clean it up..

    nice pictures, hope u had a great time :)

    By Blogger Cindy, at 11/24/2007 10:09 AM  

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