Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The LONG last day that turned into 2 days

 Our last evening in Paris was spent on a night time tour of the city on top of a bus.  It was quite chilly but we enjoyed every minute of that last evening.
 Pictures are hard to take of the city at night but I tried to capture some of the beauty.
 The rivers and bridges
 The lights along the river
 The majestic Eiffel Tower where we had our lunch on our first full day.  That seemed like a long time ago, lots of memories in that short week.
 Our last morning started very early so we could catch our taxi to the airport. 
 We waited outside our door.
 Up above our apartment that we spent our nights.  It was a great location and a wonderful apartment for us to use.
 We fooled around while waiting for our taxi.  The Beatles we are NOT but it was fun.
 Last photo shots were taken.
 And still we waited.  Finally we realized that the taxi would not be coming.  We decided it was time to find our own.  We walked down to a near by busy street and hailed 2 taxis.  It was a very quick farewell as Diana and Sara took off in one taxi and Eva, Jessica and I took off in the other one. 

We kept in contact through texting and knew that everyone had managed to find their planes and make it through on time.  It was nice to have 2 phones and be able to communicate with each other, reassuring knowledge of everyone's safety.

When Eva, Jessica and I made ti to Toronto we found out that our plane was cancelled to Grand Rapids and that was the only one going that night.  We had to spend that night in Toronto.  We were all quite disappointed but bounced back.  Some faster than others (check the previous text)  We arrived home in Grand Rapids after being rerouted through Chicago on Monday morning.  Doug came and picked us up.  We separated our various belongings and I took off north.  The drive was uneventful but I was tired when I got home.  Bud was out so I just brought in my bags and crashed for about 2 hours.  I am back on track this morning but glad that I don't have to go to work.  I will have a slow day of laundry and such. 

It was a wonderful experience and I am going to treasure those memories forever. 

Monday, May 30, 2011

Toronto Plus

Up early and at the airport.  We have a flight to Chicago and then on to Grand Rapids which will arrive about noon or so.  We slept well and I am in a less grumpy mood.  I am sorry that I won't be able to attend the Memorial Day services in Coleman.  I understand they were going to honor Uncle Elmer for his service in WW11.  For those of you that may not know, he was a POW toward the end of the war.  He never received his medals for being a POW.  My cousin Denny has been working on getting those medals and having them presented today at the new memorial in Coleman.  I was looking forward to seeing family and honoring his service in our family name.  Maybe I will send a card instead.  He doesn't get out much but it is a special day for him and his family. 

We have reconnected with family back home and they will be waiting for our arrival. Doug will pick us up at the airport and I will go back to Eva's house to pick up my car before heading home, facing that traffic coming south.   I hope to leave as quickly as possible so that I beat most of the traffic.  Jessica has managed to use our time here to download pictures from everyone except Eva (she went to Paris camera free, knowing everyone else would take pictures.)

The sun is rising over the airport, I have a book to finish and another one still in my bag.  We will use our time to unwind and maybe I will treat myself to a Dairy Queen on my way home. 

"It doesn't get any better than this".  That is an Uncle Bud quote.  I am thankful for such an optimistic husband.

Give us safe passage to our final destination.  (I don't mean the FINAL, FINAL, destination just to our homes.)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

All's well that MAYBE ends well

Well, we all managed to get out of Paris on time.  Our taxi didn't arrive at our apartment but we did flag down a couple taxis on a nearby street.  We said our 'quick' good bys on the street.  Sara and Diana took off in one cab.  Jessica, Eva and I left in another one.  Our taxi driver whisked us through the streets of Paris to the airport.  We were dropped off at the wrong terminal because he had the incorrect information.  We had a lot of time to find our flights so we were at our gate. Our flight was a little late but not too bad.  It took a little longer on the flight across but we landed here in Toronto just fine.  We went through customs and found out that Sara and Diana made it home safely.  HOWEVER, as we were waiting at our gate out in the 'hinderlands' for our flight to Grand Rapids, Jessica noticed that our flight was cancelled.  YES, YES, #$*T it was cancelled.  It was the only flight to GR tonight and there were storms which would not allow our little plane to go into the airport.  So, we are suppose to stay in a Holiday Inn Express tonight and take an early flight to Chicago and then on to GR.  Everyone is disappointed.  We had our hearts set on getting home tonight.  Jessica was planning on going on the river for the day tomorrow, I was planning on going to Coleman and participating in the Memorial Day activities. Eva was planning on working on her flowers and we were all planning on sleeping in our own beds. Disappointments all around.  I am trying to keep in mind my mantra from the beginning of the flight, "it is all part of the adventure"  I am sitting here, curbside at the airport, WAITING for the shuttle for the hotel, It doesn't seem to want to come and get us.  I am blogging so that I don't swear at the people around me.  Eva is 'chatting up' all the fellow passengers that are in the same boat as us.  Jessica is making friends with this older couple.  I am going through my grumpy phase of this evening and wanting a drink.  

It was a WONDERFUL  trip with Eva, Jessica, Sara and Diana.  We enjoyed Paris and our time together.  I will let go of my 'gripe' and sign off.  Hoping the hotel van arrives SOON.  I am glad that this happened on our way home not the way there.  I think this may also be my punishment for wanting to go to Coleman tomorrow wearing my Paris t-shirt so that people could ask me  'what have you been doing lately' and I could respond with 'Well, I just got back from Paris yesterday'  A boastful person almost always gets punished. 

It was a terrific trip and we will all  be home tomorrow. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011


 Today was our trip to  Versailles.  We are at the gates ready to go in.  It has been nice that we have found friendly people willing to take pictures of all of us.  It was a chilly and sometimes rainy day but we had lunch while it was raining and then were able to spend the afternoon inside  Versailles.  The train ride was about half an hour out of the city but it takes us a little longer to find our way around.

 Hall of mirrors where the treaty of Versailles was signed ending WW1 in 1919.

 The audio tours are very helpful.
 Diana next to the statue of Diana the hunter.
 The king and queen would eat here.  People could come and watch but not eat with them here.

 The gardens are in their early stages and not all planted.  I liked this picture of Eva so much I uploaded it twice.  :):)

 Beautiful view.
 Beautiful group.
 We came back to our apartent and relaxed for a while so that we could go out for a truely 'European' dinner which means that we didn't start dinner until about 8:30.  We found a lovely little place near here and tried a few new treats.  The surprise tonight was mashed potatoes with some kind of cheese in them.  It was a hit with the crowd,  Of course we decided to taste the desserts tonight since we are being 'local' .  We took the recomendations from our waiter.  I forgot a 'before' picture.  But we did finally take a breath and stop eating and moaning so that I could take a couple of pictures.
 This is Sara with her cheese potatoes.
As you can see, we liked the desserts.  We decided it wasn't a good idea to lick the plates but it was tempting.

One more full day which includes an evening tour of Paris by Night.  Maybe no more posts since we will be pretty busy from here on.  I will catch you when I am home.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday morning in Paris

 Our nearby market is full of fresh food and vegetables.

 It stretches for at least a long block.
 Eva was going for the "glam" look.
 In the afternoon Sara stayed behind at our apartment to work on her paper for her class.  Jessica navigated us around for the afternoon.  Did I mention that she and Sara are GREAT navigators???  Our phrase is "they are IN THE MAP"  They are doing a wonderful job of helping us find our way around this beautiful city.  I am so thankful for their skills.  It is making this trip so nice and relaxing for me since I am so directionally handicapped.
 We found a small quilt shop and did a little shopping. It was fun.
 In the evening we had dinner at the home of a friend that Sara met in Sri Lanka through the ICRC.   It was a wonderful dinner full of great conversation, fun, and laughter.

Jessica is fixing us breakfast.  We have done a good job of finding markets nearby.  Yesterday we spent the late morning/early afternoon back at the market that is just around the corner.  YES, it is really just around the corner.  We slept in late and while I was still sleeping Sara and Jessica went out and braved the bakery with the local people.  They brought back fresh croisaonts (frnch pasteries, sorry but spell check is in French) we enjoyed a great breakfast before braving the markets and shops.  We managed to find a LOT of little treats for ourselves and a few choice others.  It is fun just to watch the people.  It is a very international market so things are from all around the world. 

Must go now, breakfast is waiting for me.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

new out of town experience

 Yesterday we braved the Metro and trains to go out of town to Chartres Cathederal which has the most beautiful and oldest stain glass windows.
 Sara abd Jessica are great navigators.  Sara and Diana are refreshing their French language skills.

 The windows are spectacular, the pictures really don't do them justice.
 We walked around this lovely little town.  We found this beauty in a shop, both the hat and beautiful lady.
 The evening we went to the Louvre.

 It was dark when we got out.  We walked the LONG way home on tired feet.

Today we (ME) slept in and Sara and Jess went out to gather a Paris breakfast.  Markets and some shopping today. Dinner with Sara's friend here tonight.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Day 3 and another tour, disregard the letters following abitger

This picture is for Brookelynn.  She is thrilled that we are riding on the top of a bus.T

 We learned to use the street level bathrooms,
 We had crepes for lunch.  We watched the man make them.
 Then we went up the hill to Sacre Coeur to enjoy the sunshine and the food,
 This is Sacre Coeur behind us.

The view from the top
 Ice cream for our reward after having climbed all the steps.
 THEN we had pasteries later in the afternoon to go with our coffee
 We did a great job of cleaning our plate.
 The flower market was nice,
 One more stop at Notre Dame
Finally, dinner and a walk home.  We are having a good time.  The weather has been terrific.  The food is wonderful but most of all the company is fantastic.   AND  WE ARE IN PARIS so what's not to like.