Girls Trip to Europe Day 1 - Travel and Paris
Super excited for my travels, I took the 9:00 flight to LAX from the Reno/Tahoe airport. Our Paris flight wasn't scheduled to depart until 3:45 and so I originally thought I would have lunch with friends in LA until the furlough went and messed up my plans. Ari joined me early at the airport so indeed I did have lunch with a friend. I took some time to write a little note to each of my children and husband to be mailed before we left the country. Ironically they arrived only one day before the Paris post card I sent many days later.
We were way early for our flight so what better way to spend our time then taking photos with pay phones...like a museum of archaic technology.
Riding in style...our plane was an Air France Airbus A380-800. This thing had a spiral staircase in the rear and as the flight attendant said, "Everything on Air France is free." Tons of movies, alcohol choices and well, I guess that's enough to be pretty cool in my book.
We settled in after some minor discrepancies with the man sitting in our seat. Uh, no, we don't want to trade you for the center seat. Everyone was happy in the end after a couple adjustments were made and Ari and I "moved in" for the night. Notice the two masked passengers behind us? They kept making me wonder if they knew something I didn't.
For the duration of our flight I was able to amuse myself with the view from one of three cameras positioned on the outside of the airplane. Fantsy Pantsy this aircraft was awesome...but I guess when you are sitting in the same seat for nine hours anything can rock your world.
We flew into the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris where a couple artsy items really captured our photo lenses. This curved wall had tiny panels of wood on the wall and ceilings. Apparently they have a whole art gallery available to passengers past security.
Wall o plants. I know! This is like my dream wall.
After waiting at the wrong baggage terminal for longer then I would like to admit, we took a 52 Euro cab ride to our hotel, Mercure Arc de Triomphe Etoile. It was quite nice and perfectly located in the middle of a nice shopping district, a couple blocks from the metro. Turning the lights on required inserting our room key card into a slot on the wall. You retrieve the card upon leaving, turned off all lights. Love it.
We freshened up a bit and set off to find a cafe. It had long been decided that we would eat our way through Paris and Barcelona so eating remained our top priority.
May 1st is Labor Day in Paris so most shops were closed. There were however flower stands set up on nearly every corner where they sold Mugeut des Bois, Lilly of the Valley. Also known as "Ari's birth month flower" they are the special symbol of love that French people give to their loved ones every May 1st. Airport greeters gave these to us when we arrived in Paris.
Our first cups of coffee in Paris. I ordered an espresso and then proceeded to ask for cream after it's arrival. Tsk Tsk...don't do this. Our waiter widened his eyes and cocked his head, followed by some french word for "after???" I quickly learned to order correctly, my drink of choice is a cafe au lait which honestly isn't really a cappuccino and it definitely isn't an American Latte. For the sake of argument I'll just translate it as "pure heaven."
The cafe we decided upon, Dada, was located directly across from our hotel. We ordered a Croque Madame and a Croque Monsieur. Ari has strolled down the Croque path before however I honestly had never heard of it. It was delightfuly tasty. (And thankfully most subsequent menus during our stay had an English translation).
Cafe seating consists of little tables and chairs that all face outward towards the sidewalk. Ari and I enjoyed all kinds of people watching, especially this sweet lady that almost had us abandon our meal to assist her in crossing the busy street.
Bicycles were available to rent at little public kiosks on the roadside, called Velib'. They were located all over the city and you can rent and then drop off at another location.
Compact cars were also available to rent from a domed shape sidewalk kiosk called Autolib'. It took us a whole block to figure out this little building's purpose. ATM? Phone booth? Wha?
I'm not sure what our pay phone obsession was all about but we felt inclined to photograph them. We never saw anyone using the phone itself, but the booths were sometimes storage facilities for bags and bedding owned by the homeless.
Crazy American photographing cigarette butts.
And another crazy American is photographing someone photographing cigarette butts.
Beauty was everywhere.