After a very pleasant flight on Malaysian Airlines we arrived in Paris at 6.40am. We didn’t book a transfer this time preferring to take taxi to the hotel. Unfortunately we didn’t even think about peak hour traffic just getting to the hotel for a shower. One hour and 20 minutes later we arrived at the hotel to be told our room wasn’t ready, someone was in it. ‘How can that be?’ I asked in the most polite voice I could muster after a long flight and at least 30 minutes crawling through a smelly road tunnel, “We booked in from the night before”. The receptionist shook her head and said ‘sorry, it is already booked” as she headed towards the office. Within 5 minutes she returned and in her limited English said ” Sorry, we had checked you in yesterday so it is you who is in your room!’ Thank goodness because I was becoming just a little annoyed, everything was good again and we could shower.
Our room was on the 6th floor of a typical Parisian building…with a tiny lift. I placed my bags in the lift and went up to our floor. The lift was so slow and kept stopping for a couple of seconds…..not something I was keen on especially on my own. I waited outside the lift for Ty to come up with his luggage. The photos on the intranet were supposed to be a shot of our room…..unfortunately the bright airy room I saw on the intranet was not the room we walked into. Paris hotel rooms, as such, are small, as are many hotel rooms throughout Europe so we had no expectations of a spacious room, thank goodness I had decided to book the duplex room, we could keep our luggage downstairs and sleep upstairs. The room also had air conditioning, a benefit Ty won’t be without, as well as a balcony.
Showered, and feeling reenergised, we were ready to step out of the hotel to get our bearings and find the closest metro. Unfortunately the lift had become uncooperative and after waiting for at least 10 minutes we looked at the spiral staircase and said “well looks like we have no other option” and proceeded to take the stairs. In the time taken to transfer our bags and freshen up the lift had died…..of course we weren’t aware of this until we reached reception, we just thought it was busy.
The hotel lift had indeed broken down and apparently the technician that came to fix it had it working but it broke down again after he left. We thought they should find another technician. Lesley has knee problems so couldn’t negotiate stairs very well and certainly wouldn’t manage with luggage. I was becoming annoyed with myself for believing photos and reviews on the hotel. However, It was very clean, reception staff were very friendly and obliging and it was central to everything but so are many hotels in Paris. Walking up 6 flights of spiral stairs is not much fun I can tell you. The internal staircase was hot, stuffy, narrow in parts and steep. Luckily we didn’t have serious knee and leg issues – I didn’t fancy being a prisoner in our room.
The metro, Grands Boulevard, was a 3 minute walk around the corner on Blvd Montmartre. Every trip to Paris I’ve stayed in a different arrondissement and have always been lucky with the proximity of the metro. We were in the 9th arrondissement this visit. I’ve always stayed in a private apartment as well but as this was a short stay an apartment wasn’t practical.
We decided we should walk today, we had several friends and relatives arriving this afternoon and this evening so we wanted to stay awake as long as we could and, as you know, it can be difficult fighting those feelings of jet lag. I fancied lunching in the Tuileries with a crepe or baguette….of course it was only 10.30 so thoughts of lunch had to be parked for a while!!
We wandered through the streets in the general direction of the Louvre and the Tuileries. It was already a warm morning so we stopped in the Tuileries for a cold drink….’Should we sit under a tree or should we take away the drink and keep walking’ I asked Ty “We can sit if you like’ he replied. So we sat and ordered 2 soft drinks ….the waiter duly arrived and requested payment immediately….12 euro 64 cents…..rather expensive soft drinks!!! Obviously one of the places where it costs more to sit under a tree!!
Moving through the Tuileries we arrived at Concorde, crossed the wide street towards the Champes Élysées where walking was becoming a little difficult as the footpaths were being set up for the end of the Tour De France on Sunday. Many deviations were already in progress and security was high.
On our return stroll we stopped at a van that sold crepes, hot dogs, cold drinks and other assorted foods….a banana and chocolate crepe sounded yummy but we opted for a limone and sucre crepes and headed into Marigny Square, a small park with bench seats and a grassy area. No seats available in the shade so we found a patch of grass under the shade of a massive old tree. Sitting amongst the workers, on their lunch break, and other tourists I noticed a Fabio lookalike had sat down beside us and was listening to our conversation. This meant I couldn’t tell Ty to look over his shoulder. Fabio was smiling away at whatever was amusing him and now lying on the grass with his head resting on his suitcase. I assumed he had come to town for the Tour de France, he certainly didn’t look like a vagrant.
Lunch over and Ty still saying he was hungry we headed off towards the Tuileries again. All through the gardens there were chairs where you could sit and enjoy the gardens or just sit and relax part way through the walk. Young men were playing Boules dressed in their suits, people were sunning themselves soaking up the amazing weather. Others were sitting around the fountains in the direct sunlight, a number of men had removed their shirts in order to take in Vitamin D and getting some colour, women slouched with their legs hanging over the armrests of the chairs. We sat again for a short while to watch the passing parade of strangers. We also listened to the screams and laughter coming from the rides in the fairground which had been closed when we came through earlier in the day.
We wandered into the fair and were almost at the end when I saw the Ferris wheel said to Ty “Let’s” “Ok” he replied….he went off to purchase a bottle of water whilst I lined up to purchase the tickets for the ride. It was not as impressive as the ‘bubble’ cabins of the London Eye just a giant Ferris wheel but we were the only 2 in our ‘cabin’. It was a clear sunny day and the views were impressive. Sacre Coeur sat majestically above one section of the city, the Eiffel Tower over another….well worth the 10 euros each.
We had walked at least 10 kilometres and by the time we reached our street we were both hungry again so we stopped at a small cafe for a baguette and cold drink which cost just under 8 euros. Of course, dear reader, the suburbs are much cheaper that the main tourist areas for eating and drinking.
Back at the hotel our friend Lesley had arrived around 4.30 pm, Clare and Richard arrived at their hotel about the same time. My niece, Kathleen and her husband, Mick were not due to arrive till 10pm tonight as they were staying quite a distance from us on the other side of the River Seine. We probably wouldn’t be seeing them till tomorrow morning.
Clare contacted us when they arrived and we set about organising a rendezvous for this evening also including Lesley and her friend, Liz, knowing Lesley couldn’t go too far with her damaged knee. Clare and Richard decided it was easier for them to come to Blvd Montmartre to meet us for dinner. We were all dining together but due to the number of smokers taking up the tables outside we were relegated to a table indoors so missed people watching opportunities on this busy boulevard. I understand smoking is not illegal and it’s an individual’s choice but it would be great if the eateries in France and many other parts of Europe could have one side of their alfresco area for non smokers. It’s disappointing to have to sit inside a restaurant on fabulous evenings, we love dining alfresco. Lesley and Liz went back to the hotel at 11.30pm. However, the wave of jet lag I’d been feeling had dissipated again and I was wide awake so we kicked on. The four of us headed to another bar for more drinks. I’d already had a vodka and orange, which was quite strong so I thought I should have water or soft drink….no, no, not allowed, “have a wine” Richard insisted. ‘Oh, ok then I will’ it didn’t take much to convince me. I looked at the wine list and saw the word Zinfandel and I quite like the white Zinfandel so ordered a glass. When it arrived it was red not rose ….. Totally different and very woody with a dry flavour. Damn, obviously the vodka earlier had affected my judgement and eyesight. Clare had ordered a lemonade with her wine to make a spritzer so I added lemonade to my heavy red….a little odd but better than the dry taste. I can see all you dedicated red drinkers screwing up your faces and tut tutting!!! Just as well Rumpole wasn’t nearby. For those of you who don’t know Rumpole ..one word..’Google’.
The waitress also dropped off 2 bowls of olives and 2 small bowls of nuts. Olives were very nice….. The four of us were deep in conversation, and not people watching, when a hand reached over the table and took one of our toothpicks and picked up an olive, by the time we realised what was happening the hand was starting to reach over again for another olive. We assumed it was a street dweller although she didn’t appear dirty or unkempt. Clare quickly moved the olives and told her to go away from our table. She wandered off with a smile. Some of these people are so cheeky. She had placed the toothpick from her mouth back into the olives so Clare pushed them aside….we wouldn’t be eating anymore of those!!!
As is the norm when I have a second alcoholic drinks I tend to become more animated , oh, and louder I think, and for whatever reason my hand holding the wine glass seemed to rise and tip slightly over my arm between elbow and shoulder spilling the wine. Luckily the wine landed mostly on my clothing and not the people seated behind me. That could have become a nasty scene if it had….Ty may have had to apologise profusely to defend his wife against an angry couple of diners……..
By 1.30am we felt it was time to head home to bed, as usual I had organised another busy day for tomorrow. Plus I’ll never get over the jet lag. So, in true Two Ronnie’s style it’s goodnight from me and goodnight from Ty. Don’t know the Two Ronnies? Google will help!! Oh, and the lift still hadn’t been repaired so it was a long hard climb to the top at this time of the morning. Between Ty pushing me up the stairs and me laughing it was a wonder we made it to our room at all. I have the feeling we may have disturbed the guests on every floor as we made our way to the top floor and eventually our room. I heard that Lesley had to be helped up to the 4th floor by the night reception man.