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 European Vacation - 6/22/04 - 7/9/04

Italy | Switzerland | Germany | The Netherlands | Belgium | France

Paris and Versailles - Thursday 7/8/04:

Unfortunately I seemed to have pooped out on writing my journal at this point, because all I left myself for the last few days were a couple notes on where we went. Here I sit, several months later, trying to recall our Parisian memories... So this section is not going to be nearly as entertaining as the rest, but bear with me... I'm sure I'll get the general point across!

Anyhow, the day began early no doubt, with a lovely city tour. I think we started off at Notre Dam, but I'm not entirely sure. We hopped off the bus a few blocks away and walked our way to the cathedral. I loved the gargoyles and flying buttresses. So cool! After listening to our guide (er, Joe? Hmmm, now I can't remember who was walking us around there!) we took a little walk around to soak up the sites and gardens before heading back to the bus.

Once we were back on the bus we continued our tour of the city. We headed over to the Opera House where we were able to get off the bus again. Some people decided to go into the Opera House at this point, but we instead went to Lafayeta Galeria which is a shopping mall. We took the escalator straight up to the food court area, found a spot close to the windows and had a bit of lunch.

At this point we headed over to the Palace of Versailles. It was cold and rainy, poor Patti was sick, Mom's umbrella kept turning inside out and I was so brilliantly wearing knickers and flip-flops. But the Palace itself was as gorgeous as I remembered. I actually like the gardens better then the tour through the actual structure, but it sure was warmer in the building.

That evening we got all fancied up and head out to the Cabaret show. FUN! It wasn't Moulin Rouge, but near there and apparently better and less expensive. It is called Nouvelle Eve and was a great time. The seating was very close and cramped, but the atmosphere was awesome and the food, drink and entertainment were great. They even pulled Rick up on stage and made him part of one of the comedy acts… oooooh, it was so funny. My favorite part was when the guy mussed up his hair and pulled it out on the sides so he had the Bozo the Clown do going on. After the Cabaret I have no doubt we went straight back to the hotel and crashed out.

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Paris - Friday 7/9/04:

We woke up early this day and put our comfy walking shoes on. This was going to be the day of walking… though I don't think we knew it yet. After a good sized breakfast we head out for the Louvre. Poor Patti was still very sick so she actually stayed at the hotel today.

The Louvre of course was amazing, as it was last time I was there. There's this huge glass pyramid emerging from the large courtyard area that actually mirrors itself below in the louvre. There are so many amazing things to see and learn about in the Louvre... I only wish I had more time to just wander around in there by myself.

Our guide was lovely and the tour hit all the hot spots like Venus di Milio and the Mona Lisa. On our way to the Mona Lisa Cathy somehow got locked in the women's bathroom. Apparently she could hear us on her earphones trying to figure out where she went, but she couldn't do anything about it! Fortunately though someone checked there and we were able to get her out in no time. We also stopped by these funny paintings which were portraits but the faces were painted in fruit and vegi's... if that makes any sense. Like the nose would be a cucumber, etc. I was pretty happy that we got to see a few different things from the first time I visited the Louvre.

After the Louvre we started our journey. It started out as a "Hey, let's walk through the Tuileries Garden" and even though it had started to rain (fortunately I wised up from yesterday and had long pants and tennies on) we decided to keep on truckin' instead of taking the metro. We walked all the way down the Champe de Elesyee to the Arc de Triomphe and it was at this point that Al got wise and decided to take the metro back to the hotel. But first we all decided to pay some money for even more of a workout and climbed the stairs to the top of the Arc. WOW… what a view! It was awesome to walk all the way around the top and see a 360 degree view of Paris.

As if the few hundred stairs to the top wasn't enough we decided to keep walking. We found this cute little café on the way back to the hotel. It looked like the kind of place all the business men would go on their lunch break. It was small but the sandwiches we good and the service was friendly. After refueling we continued the journey back to the hotel. It was a long long while and we were starting to wonder if we even knew where we were going, but right as we were about to lose steam we saw it off in the distance. Thank god… my dogs were definitely barking.

At this point we all took a nice long rest and then got all spiffed up for the final dinner in the Eiffel Tower. A sad but sweet evening I must say. The bus took us to the base of the Eiffel Tower where we stood in line waiting for the elevator. It of course was still sprinkling and chilly. When we reached the top (well, not really the top… just the bottom platform actually, but it still seemed very high) we had plenty of time to walk around and shop in the little gift store. I thought I would actually have the guts to go to the top this time, but I still chickened out.

Dinner and drinks were good, and it was good to get together with everyone for one last dinner. Carla gave us each a brass Eiffel Tower Xmas tree ornament as a parting gift. After dinner we waited in line for the elevator as some people (including Terry) decided to climb the stairs down. I was actually going to do it, but the wet metal steps and my slick high heel shoes told me a broken ankle wouldn't be so hot the night before our flight home.

When we reached the bottom we all made haste to the field beside the Tower. We were waiting for it to get dark because it was at this time that the tower started in with its strobe light show. Very sparkly indeed. After oohing and aahing for a while we hopped back on the bus and went back to the hotel. Time to pack up… this was our last night in Europe.

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Paris and Going Home - Saturday 7/10/04:

This morning we head downstairs for one last breakfast before loading our luggage onto the bus. We got to the airport, did our little check-in thing and then got to wait. This airport was a dump… really pretty gross. The chairs were all dirty and torn, the foam was coming out of the cushions, etc. but at this point I didn't really care. I just wanted to go home and see my kitties!

We flew from Paris to London where we got on a different plane and started our long journey back to the States. This unfortunately had to be the worst flight I had ever been on. Not only was I 100% cramped (had a big fella next to me) I seemed to be coming down with that flu bug Patti had. So I was all achy, skin hurting, air so dry my nose felt like it was gonna flake off… UGH! But I made it home alive and thank god we got that limo.

The ride home in the limo was better than the plane, but I still was feeling pretty punk. The trip was wonderful, and I enjoyed it tons, but it was definitely good to be back home.

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