Monday, October 1, 2012

The Girls Paris Trip: Bucket Lists and the biggest Fitbit day EVER (Day 4)

The night before each day we would discuss our game plan and talk about all the things we wanted to see that day. The night before Day 4 in Paris, we discussed taking the metro to the Eiffel Tower. I told the group I really preferred to walk there (for Fitbit steps and because I really dislike public transportation [better story on this tomorrow]). Everyone agreed to walk it, but I think they might have wanted to smack me once we got there…

We woke up early, met in the girl’s apartment and started our walk towards the Eiffel Tower. As we approached the Seine, Jennifer said she wanted to run to Notre Dame to light a candle for Bop (Courtney’s grandfather and Gay’s dad) as he was having surgery that day. I am clearly never one to miss a chance to go to Notre Dame, but this excuse was more than worthy. I announced that I would join Jennifer and go light a candle for Bop. It was a quick mission to be in and out of the church – no sightseeing. This stop was only for Bop.

Jennifer and I practically ran to Notre Dame. We got in, said a prayer for Bop and got out.

We walked quickly along the Seine and to catch the girls. We finally caught them at the short tunnel where Diana was killed. The statue of the torch was placed there before Diana died in the tunnel, but it has become a memorial for her.


We continued our hike to the Eiffel Tower and after almost 3.5 miles, we found ourselves in front of something else on my bucket list!



My Bucket List has Eiffel Tower on there in two ways:
1. I wanted to photograph it myself…CHECK!P6113113
2. I wanted to climb it.

When we walked up, I cannot even express how shocked I was with how long the line was. It was hundreds and hundreds of people deep.  IMG_0634(This photo does not do it justice. This is about one half of the line.)

I was discouraged by the extremely long line and immediately started looking to see if they were all in line to buy tickets to take the elevator or just to buy tickets to either take the elevator OR take the stairs. After a little recon, we figured out there was a separate line for the stairs. I rejoiced. We got into the 25 person line (such a far cry from the 2k person line) and bought our tickets to climb the Eiffel Tower.

The Eiffel Tower has three levels. You can only climb up to the second level. To go to the third, you must take the elevator. Climbing was my only requirement so I planned to climb up to the second level. Off we went up (about) 350 stairs to the first level. We had a little fun after we caught our breath:

After doing a little exploring, we ascended the rest of the 350 stairs to the second level. As we were climbing I got a photo that truly showed what it felt like after about 500 steps…
Courts and I hung out on the 2nd level while the rest of the girls went to the top. We rested, saw the trinket shop and took quite a few photos. Eventually it was time to head down to ground level.

We started the trek down (which is so much easier) and I realized that the elevator came RIGHT BY the stairs we were walking down. I then had a brilliant/funny idea. I told Courtney to slump over the banister and look exhausted as the elevator came down. It would look like we were climbing up and having a hard time. (They would not know any different because they did not know where people actually climbed up the stairs.) Finally an elevator was on its way down. We slumped over the banister, breathing hard and looked pathetic. As the double decker elevator went by people were cracking up. I almost started giggling while they were going by.

After the elevator was gone, I cracked up and laughed the rest of the way down. For some reason I thought it was the funniest thing. I wish I had video of it. It still cracks me up to this day.

Anyway…we headed to our next big Parisian landmark: The Arc de Triomphe!

One of the hardest parts is figuring out how to get to the monument as 8 lanes of traffic surround it (on all sides). Once we walked almost completely around it we found the secret passageway to get in. We walked through the tunnels and popped up in the center of the Arc. From there we found the secret door way and started our climb up 284 circular steps and sat down to breathe…
IMG_5236IMG_5238This level showed a live view of the crowd below. It as really cool:IMG_0648

Then we climbed a few more flights up and found ourselves on the top.IMG_5241P6113225IMG_5243IMG_5245

We soaked in the Paris view and entertained ourselves with photo taking. We descended the Arc and headed to Champs-Élysées and had lunch at Broche Dore. I am pretty sure we were all hangry (hungry and angry – not a good place to be) by this point. We window shopped down the famous street and went to the Place de la Concorde.  P6113239P6113240IMG_5254

It was actually quite somber knowing how many people lost their lives in this square. We did not stay long as we headed into the Tuileries Garden. (Another French garden you were not allowed to walk on grass :))

As soon as we walked in we took a sharp right and visited Musée de l'Orangerie, where all of Claude Monet’s water lilies are displayed. Once again we walked in front of 150 people in line with our Museum Passes.  There were two main rooms with Monet’s work. The paintings wrapped around both rooms. It was amazing. I am very glad we went to this museum.File:Monet Lilies Louvre 2.jpg

Upon leaving we strolled along in the Tuileries Gardens, I annoyed random dudes and relaxed for a moment…
Once through the gardens we found ourselves at the Louvre! I was pretty excited to visit this famous site.

We entered the building and made a plan of attack. Gay and QP had been in the Louvre before and headed to Café Marly to relax while we explored.   We saw the medieval moat, Winged Victory, and Venus de Milo before headed to Mona.

I got to see her with my own eyes (semi bucket list). At this point Courtney, Margaret, Elisabeth and I were ready to head out. Jennifer had been an art history major in college and was on a mission to see some of her favorites. So we split from Jennifer and when we tried to leave the wing, things went downhill…fast.

To surmise: we were given the wrong instructions 3 times to Café Marly, the building was intensely hot, there were too many people in small spaces, we retraced our exact steps 3 or 4 times and we got lost/trapped for an hour trying to escape. It was a terrible experience that I won’t harp on for long. I think it is safe to say I did not care for the Louvre. I am not saying I will never give it another chance or that I have sworn it off forever, but almost.

When we finally escaped the wing we were in  (it really was so terrible and I was having anxiety about being “trapped”) we found ourselves in the lobby running toward the exit. We literally ran up the stairs (pictured above) to escape the mouse trap of a building. When we finally reached the surface we took a moment to celebrate our escape, compose ourselves and go find a drink.

We found Gay and QP in the most peaceful, serene location you could imagine. They were sitting, relaxing and loving life in Café Marly…and then we walked in. We told them our woes and they gave us water/champagne/food/anything to make us calm down. (I am being only slightly dramatic in this story…it is mainly true.)

After 10 minutes or so we finally calmed down and all vowed we would one day give the Louvre another chance. We sat with QP and Gay gazing out the windows at the Marly Horses.

The Marly Horses are some of the most beautiful sculptures I have ever seen. If you do go to Paris, you must go to Café Marly to see them through their dining area.

After Jennifer joined us a bit later and recounted her fabulous adventure we started our hike back home. We stopped for a moment and shopped at Carousel du Louvre (an underground mall next to the Louvre), shopped and took these photos:

Once we got home, everyone except Elisabeth went to dinner at La Taxi Gal, a restaurant a block from the apartments. After about 30 minutes, I knew it would be a long experience as the waitress was slammed and had not even taken our orders. Margaret and I excused ourselves, had a light dinner at home and crashed.

When we arrived at home, I noticed my heels were not in a good place. I was concerned about walking for the next few days and hoped a good nights rest would help them. That is when I blew my own mind with my…

THE FITBIT UPDATE: 38,516 steps walked! 87 flights climbed! and 15.82 miles walked.

That was the best Fitbit day I had ever had. EVER! I told Doug how far I had gone and he said I should go get those last 1500 steps, but I was spent. I wish I could have! I bathed and crawled into bed. Talk about sleep like a baby.

The agenda for the following day was Versailles! I was so ready…or so I thought…

Love and Hugs, Lizzie

P.S. Here is Courtney’s Post on my past two blogs. Again, she is more concise. :)

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