1st April - Paris and beyond.
Back in my favourite place, Paris! Yippee!
Before checking out of the Ibis I went and complained at the front desk about the lack of wifi. Ibis promise that if there is a problem in your room they wll fix it in 15 minutes or your room is free. Turns out that this only qualifies to things that they actually can fix in 15 minutes. I undertsand that wifi is a little out of their control buy they sell the room with free wifi, I believe I paid for wifi and therefore should have at least gotten a discount. All the dude behind the counter did was shrug his shoulders, he couldn't have cared any less. I asked to speak to the manager who was polite but her suggestion of going to a nearby hotel and using their wifi, I believe, was a totally ridiculous suggestion.
A bit later when I was checking out, the dude with the shrugged shoulders looked at me and took off. Two other people were fiddling with paper work so I walked up to one of them placed the key firmly on the the counter and said I was checking out and walked off. I hope I get the Ibis 'How Did We Go" survey for this visit, like I did last week. I got the survey for EasyJet today, will do that one with passion, actually might get Ryan to do that one as he was far more annoyed at them than I was. TripAdvisor needs to know about these two as well.
We retrieved our rental car and headed off into that dreaded place...... Paris!
Ryan drove us to Père Lachaise Cemetery, one of the city's most visited tourist attractions. Rayls and I have visited many cemeteries over the years. Kind of interesting to be close to famous people who are no longer with us. Our main aim was to visit the gravesite of Jim Morrison, lead singer of the Doors, who died in Paris in 1971. The gravesites at Père Lachaise range from a simple, unadorned headstone to towering monuments and even elaborate mini chapels dedicated to the memory of a well-known person or family. Many of the tombs are about the size and shape of a telephone booth, with just enough space for a mourner to step inside, kneel to say a prayer, and leave some flowers. It is still an operating cemetery and accepting new burials. However, the rules to be buried in a Paris cemetery are rather strict: people may be buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery if they die in the French capital city or if they lived there. Being buried in Père Lachaise is even more difficult nowadays as there is a waiting list: very few plots are available but people are still dying to go here. We also visited the gravesites of Frédéric Chopin, Édith Piaf and Oscar Wilde. Wilde's monument is viewed by thousands of visitors every year. A tradition developed whereby visitors would kiss the tomb after applying lipstick to their mouth, thereby leaving a "print" of their kiss. In 2011 a glass barrier was erected to make the monument 'kiss proof' but we still saw hundreds of 'kisses' on the monument today. All in all an intersting couple of hours.
We drove on through the narrow streets to Porte de Vincennes Metro Station where, after much diffculty, we parked the car. We decided to be adventurous and caught the number 86 bus into more central Paris. Traffic sure is tough and people do what they have to do so that they can go to where they need to go. I admired Ryan's courage as he drove with one hand whilst the ther hand scratched his head in wonder at what other motorists and pedestrians were doing. Same goes in London, we saw one car pulled over by the police there and you couldn't help but think what the hell could he have done as anything goes! People park anywhere, in an intersection, on the footpath, anywhere!
Once off the bus we walked alog the Seine to the Notre Dame a cathedral which is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture, and it is among the largest and most well-known church buildings in the world. Nearly $40 to enter Westminster Abbey, free to enter Notre Dame. Very interesting inside, it's 850 years old. Amazing.
We mulled taking a cruise on the Seine but it was getting late and we were tired and cranky - not like me to be cranky!!
We caught the 86 back to where the car was parked and got the hell out of Paris.
We stopped 40K's out of Paris for a very nice dinner at the Buffalo Grill in Les Mureaux and then moved onto Chaufour-les-Bonnieres, where we are staying in a lovely little hotel called Les Nympheas.
31st March - London to Paris
Today we travelled back to Paris.
We started out at Blackheath, packed and ready to go. It was a OK place, the only Airbnb place we had that we sort of shared but our host Sophie was away so we had the place to ourselves. It didn't have a shower but a bath. Now for one minute I don't want anyone to imagine me in the bath but it was tough going getting in and out. It was deep and with my weight and sore shoulder I struggled. I can see how people have accidents in the bath. Easy to slip.
After breakfast we drove to the The Royal Observatory in Greenwich which is the home of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and the Prime Meridian of the world. Longitude 0º. Every place on Earth is measured in terms of its distance east or west from this line. The line itself divides the eastern and western hemispheres of the Earth - just as the Equator divides the northern and southern hemispheres. There are spectacular views over London and the buildings include a museum of astronomical and navigational tools, which is part of the National Maritime Museu, notably including John Harrison's prize-winning longitude marine chronometer, the H4, and its three predecessors.
After the Observatory we headed towards Gatwick Airport, very early for a 6pm flight. We got there around 1pm. After returning the rental car which Ryan had driven so well we made our way to the Northern Terminal. We were flying EasyJet. We lined up to check in but were told we were too early and to come back in half an hour. We did that were told to come back an hour later. Annoying. We succeeded at the thir attempt and went through security where a sewing kit that Rayls had bought caught the attention of the x-ray machine but was passed after inspection.
EasyJet are firm on check in times but don't announce their departure gate numbers till about 35 minutes before deparure. So it's a rush to get there - with 35 minutes before scheduled departure we got the gate number, 107. Rushed there and after 10 minutes were told the gate number had changed to 104! Another rush, only to see our plane not yet at the gate. It was just a disaster at the gate with no information and mis information from the 'authorities'. We finally boarded at 6:25pm and it would have been closer to 7pm before we took off. Gate at Gatwick to gate ay Charles de Gaulle was 44 minutes.
Once off the plane immigration was a boarded dude who stamped our passports, then a short wait for the bag and n sign of customs. We landed at terminal 2 and for convenience I had booked the Ibis Hotel at terminal 3, we stayed here a week ago. The Ibis is OK bt tonight had no wifi. No way to update this web site. I rand front desk to be told it would take an hour or so. We slept on it...... long day. Never say never but I hope never again Gatwick Airport, EasyJet an the Ibis at CDG.