Saturday, May 01, 2010

Why stereotypes exist

(Written about 4 p.m. Friday Paris time)

This is a long update, be prepared ... (Finally posting this ...)
We (Mom, Fred, Curt and I) arrived in Paris on Wednesday in the afternoon. We took the Eurostar from London to Paris via the Chunnel.
We checked into our hotel and then took a stroll. We are about a 10-minute walk from the Eiffel Tower. We relaxed in the grass and looked at the magnificent view. The we headed back to our street, Rue Cler, and looked for a cafe for dinner.
My bother, John, wasn't able to come on this trip. So his gift to mom was a dinner in Paris for her and friend. So the first meal in Paris was on John. We had wine and beer and good food. It was a wonderful and delicious dinner.
After dinner Curt and I came back to our room for a little rest and then headed out for a show, Nada Surf. It was a pretty good show and we enjoyed the area.
Thursday morning Curt got up early and headed to the airport to meet his parents who flew in that morning.
Mom, Fred and I headed to Versailles. We got on a rather crowded train. We climbed into two seats over two guys who didn't bother to to scoot to let us in. As I was getting to my seat I kinda feel over on Mom. She kinda pushed me into my seat and I said, Sorry! Then the guy sitting next to Mom started yelling at me because apparently I stepped on his foot and he was wearing sandals. I told him I was sorry. He said, you say sorry to your family but not to me. And he went on. I eventually just gave up. I really wanted to call him a French a-hole and tell him that maybe next time he shouldn't wear sandals on a crowded train and he is the reason why rude French stereotypes exist. But I didn't. The guy sitting next to me rolled his eyes and shook his head. As he left the train he said goodbye. (The sandal dude was the only bad experience I have had with the people here. Most people are kind and helpful. Even when you can't speak their language.)
We arrived at Versailles with no problem, bought our tickets right away and were in pretty quick. The palace was pretty magnificent. We walked around the palace for about two hours, looking at the amazing paintings, rooms and ceilings. About noon the three of us met for lunch and we had a nice lunch at a cafe.
After lunch a tour of the gardens. We took a little shuttle that drives you around the gardens and stops if you want to get out and walk around. We did at one stop. We toured an area that Marie-Antoinette had built. THere were cute little houses and an area with lots of animals--chickens, rabbits, sheep, horses, cows, etc. We had the shuttle drop us off near this amazing pool of water and we took a little break and just looked at the view for a bit. Then we headed back toward the palace and on to the train station.
Once on the train I texted Curt that we were on our way back. He told me that he and his parents had been walking around and would head back toward our street and either be at a hotel or at a particular cafe. Once we got back we decided to chance it and check the cafe ... and they were there. So we had a good visit and meal. (Ed and Marilyn got in about 7 a.m. and Curt had them busy walking around to keep them going until at least about 8 p.m. So I am sure they were delirious at that point.)
After dinner we walked back toward the Eiffel Tower. Curt, Ed and Marilyn had visited the tower while we were at Versailles. So Mom, Fred and I decided to visit it Thursday evening. Mom wasn't sure if she could go all the way to the top. From the time we got in line to the time we were at the top was less than an hour. (That's pretty quick.) There are three levels of the tower. When you first go up in the elevator you go directly to the second level. We got off there and Mom was so excited. She was so happy to be there. I was so happy that Curt and I were able to make that possible for her that I got rather emotional and started crying. After we took a few pics she said, OK, let's go to the top. I was surprised and impressed. So we got in line for the elevator to the top level. We walked around, ooohed and aaahhed, took some pics. Then we saw people with champagne. So Mom bought the three of us champagne and we sipped it while looking at the amazing view.
Eventually we started to head back down. We took the elevator to the first level and did a little shopping at the gift shop. By the time we got out of the Eiffel Tower it was almost dark and the tower was lit up. It was absolutely gorgeous. And luckily our new camera took some pretty awesome pictures of the tower at night.
This morning the group met up and headed out for breakfast--which was an interesting experience with out server only speaking French. Curt came to breakfast later. I found it funny that I was looked at for guidance for how to say things. I said, my French is just as good as yours. :)
After breakfast on to the Louvre. We spent about an hour and a half or so looking around. We went to the Mona Lisa first. And we were able to take pictures. Last time I visited (four years ago) they wouldn't let us take any pictures. People were told not to use their flashes--but apparently people don't care about preserving art for others.
After the Louvre lunch at a cafe, which, of course, was another tres bien meal. After lunch we kinda went our own ways. I didn't sleep well last night so I needed a nap. So Curt and I came back to our room. Curt did a little wandering around. And now we are just relaxing in our room and trying to figure out where we want to eat dinner.


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