Sunday, July 6, 2008

One final trip around Paris

We had an early start today because it was Eiffel Tower day. Usually the traffic from our hotel to the Eiffel Tower is absolutely horrendous but since it was Sunday, we flew through the city and ended up getting to the tower 30 minutes before it opened. Our group decided to save some Euros and take the stairs. It was a very cool morning and we started the hike a little excited so by the time we got to the first level we were a little exhausted. We took a walk around the first observation level and decided to hike to the next level. 668 stairs later, we made it to the second level for an amazing view of the city. It was fun to say that I have climbed at least halfway up the Eiffel Tower, even though my chest was on fire. My legs felt fine, just the cold air got to me a bit. We decided to take the lift back down to the bottom and took several more pictures of the Tower down there. We wandered around the neighborhoods but most everything was closed since it was a Sunday morning, good for lines, bad for shopping.

The view from the bottom

Making my way up the 668 stairs to the second level

We then made our way to Sacre Coeur and Mont Martre, which are both on a hill over looking the city. Sacre Coeur is a basilica that is gigantic and white and sits on a huge hill. There were many more stairs to climb to get there and I think my kids were a little bit over climbing stairs by this point. It was worth it though because the view was breathtaking. It was a little bit stressful getting up there b/c we had to keep 300 kids and staff together all while avoiding con artists and gypsies that would approach our kids for money or put rings on their fingers that they had to then buy. We made it through and were able to break down to our small groups at the top.

Looking up at Sacre Coeur

We traveled through the church, which was packed. It is pretty amazing inside and those large churches never cease to amaze me in their grandeur. We then headed to Montmartre which is an artist colony with a bunch of street artists and cafes. We of course had crepes for lunch and walked around looking at the artwork. My goal was to by something an artist had done, but one tiny paining I liked cost 180 Euros, or about 270 US dollars. A couple of kids had their portraits done by a corner artist so some of us took advantage of the available artists.

the top of Sacre Coeur as seen through one of the streets of Montmartre

We then headed back to the buses for a bus tour of the city. This was nice b/c we got to see some of the sights that we didn’t get to see before. The landmarks in Paris are a little too far to get to by foot, it could be done, but we didn’t have a lot of time. This bus tour was great to get everything in. Unfortunately our guide had the perfect voice for an NPR host and pretty much everyone ended up falling asleep during the tour. It didn’t help that we had been running from place to place for two days or that I can’t stay awake on a bus.

One of the sights on our city tour the Arc de Triomphe

We had dinner and headed back to the hotel a little early. This gave the kids some pool time and some much needed time to decompress. We have been running full speed for almost a week so the kids were grateful for that time.

Tomorrow we’re back on the bus and heading for my most anticipated part of the tour the Alps region! We’ll be in Switzerland tomorrow for a few days and I cannot wait. I hear the bus ride can be a bit scary in the mountains but we have the best Austrian drivers and if they can maneuver London and Paris with ease, I’m sure the mountains are a piece of cake for them.

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