Ah Paris! We have just finished a budget busting week in this amazing city and I don't regret it one bit. We have feasted both figuratively and litterally and are leaving heavier and happier and glad for our splurge.
Our plane trip from Lisbon went without incident, but it cost us a disconcerting 55 euro to get transport from the airport into the city. Wilder wanted to know if that meant we couldn't eat that day. As it turned out it was both late in the evening and raining when we arrived, and so we ducked into a very attractive restaurant on the corner. It was our first of many fabulous meals, quintessentially French, complete with gingham curtains, a chalkboard menu, and food we were excited to tuck into.
The sun came out the next day however and we had fabulous weather for our entire stay. Our apartment was a small but charming studio in the 9th district complete with a great little patio that we enjoyed while eating many of our fabulous take out meals. Have I mentioned that we LOVED the food? On our first day we began with croissants and pan au chocolate but then were thrilled to find really wonderful Chinese take out that we had for lunch.
Which meal was the best is a matter of hot debate among the four of us, but my vote goes to a recommendation we got from our dear friend Andrea. It turned out to be a place with a line around the corner that only serves one meal - steak and frites (fries) drowning in some description defying amazing sauce - as much as you want. We had to quit after two servings but we saw others manage more. Another highlight was when we met a wonderful French woman that I knew from when she was an exchange student in Phoenix when we were both 15 years old. She treated us to a wonderful French meal and then hosted us in her apartment for a night cap. Thank you Beatrice! Other meals in hot contention included wonderful french onion soup, beef bouginoine and our usual (but especially fabulous in Paris) pizzas and pasta. The kids were very fond of the wonderful hot chocolate (not remotely like what we call that at home.) The only thing we didn't find was Mexican food (Peyton sorely misses Mission Burrito). I told her there is an outside chance we can locate some in Germany.
Well, you may be wondering if we did anything in Paris besides eat? We did! In addition to climbing the Eiffel Tower (43 stories) and the Arch de Triumph, visiting Sacre Coure, the Louvre and the D'Orsey museums,
we also spent what turned out to be a magical day at Versailles. It was our last in Paris and the kids fought me because they thought it would be just yet another museum. The incredable opulence of the palace won them over though, and I think they even enjoyed learning much of the history of the French monarchs and the times leading up to the revolution. The best part of Versailles however is the amazing gardens and grounds that surround the palace, and it was a perfect day for enjoying them. The highlight for me was being rowed around one of the bucolic lakes by my romantic husband and strapping son.
Yet another highlight of our trip was locating (after an hour and a half of walking and many wrong turns) a local Church of Christ that had an English service on Sunday night. There were 18 souls present (including ourselves) and when the song leader was late and the preacher asked for a fill in, we volunteered Wilder. It was only his second time to lead a full service and it was a lot of pressure with not too many folks to ensure he wasn't singing solos, but everyone sang out and he did a great job.
As I write this we are sitting on the train to Frankfurt, looking forward to seeing our friends and having someone to talk to besides each other. That turns out to be the biggest downside to our nice apartments in local neighborhoods, we are very isolated from any other travelers and so occasionally long for English conversations with anyone else. I'm also looking forward to visiting Heidelberg where I studied for a summer while in college and first developed my travel wanderlust.