Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Paris Trip and More

We wanted to post a bit about our trip to Paris and share with you some of the highlights. The weather wasn't what we would have picked, especially as it rained lightly the entire second day. But overall the Parisians were extremely friendly people and really enjoyed Stephen - tho we didn't know everything they were saying about him!

We got in on Tuesday to navigate through a maze of escalators, then a bus, then a train, then the subway, then a descent to the street level of a very large station. Though our hotel was only a block away, we walked much farther since we didn't know which side of the station we needed to exit.

That first night we went on a cold walk and ended up eating at a small Italian restaurant - salmon pizza. On the way back we walked along the Seine River.

I got up Wednesday morning to go to the grocery store and managed to get most of what we needed to eat. The wine was so unbelieveably cheap! Ryan got a bottle of merlot for 1.29Euros, which is less than 2 dollars. At a coffee shop, I tried to order a cup of regular coffee from someone who spoke no English. I soon realized that he only served espresso, and because I didn't want to be rude I let him serve me a cafe americano (espresso with hot water).

We took a bus to the Eiffel tower. It was the longer way to get there but I wanted to see the city and you can't really do that from the subway. Much of the drive was along the river but we also went through some neighborhoods and shopping districts.

We got off the bus across the river from the Eiffel Tower and enjoyed the view as we walked across. The line looked long but only took about half an hour - and Stephen slept the whole time in the baby carrier. To get up to the top, you have to take an elevator to the 2nd level and then another one to the very top. We were bumped to the front of the 2nd line when the workers saw that we had a little baby. The view from the top enabled us to see many of the city's sites, though a cloudy sky kept us from seeing any further than that.

We set out to take a bus to the Champs-Elysees, but ended up walking the whole way there (Stephen was still asleep). Once there we tried to go to the top of the Arc de Triomphe but there was an entrance fee and it was raining, didn't seem worth it. I was sooooo tired from carrying Stephen all day (he is 20 lb now!) so my wonderful husband put on the baby carrier (brown side out :)) and carried him from this point on. We took the subway back to the hotel and Ryan practiced the saxophone at the hotel.

On Thursday morning, we got up and took a subway ride to Sacre Coeur. It was a long walk up a steep hill in the rain with a broken umbrella. But the cathedral was pretty spectacular. Then we spent the rest of our day in the Montmartre neighborhood. Ryan found a store that sold a wide variety of saxophone sheet music. We enjoyed some crepes in a local cafe. I hid out in a hotel's ground floor so Stephen could nap in peace and quiet while Ryan did some digging through sheet music.

We decided to go to the area around Notre Dame, and after a quick walk through the cathedral found a restaurant where we ate our Thanksgiving dinner (coincidentally next to another American family). Neither of us ate turkey.

After dinner we hopped on the subway to see the Eiffel Tower light up (which it does every hour for 10 minutes). Stephen did seem to really like it! I'll see if we can put up a YouTube video sometime.

Then it was an early morning getting back to the airport and finding our gate. After getting back to Frankfurt we enjoyed a lovely drive to Bonn where we got to spend some more time with family and see Heather's new apartment. It's a nice place for the two of them, just a few blocks away from the Rhine River.

We had to come back on Saturday. Finding our terminal at the Frankfurt airport proved to be a chore, and even more challenging was navigating the many escalators with 9 people and 3 luggage carts! I'm surprised the airport allows the carts on the escalators - we had several close calls ourselves.

It's been 3 days now and I think Stephen is finally back to this time zone's sleeping schedule. I'm afraid I'm coming down with a slight cold but I've been taking ZiCam and drinking lots of water. So far it doesn't have me down.

Today is Stephen's 5-month birthday and I put him in a dog costume for this picture. I intended for him to wear it when he was old enough to know what a dog is, but since he has grown so quickly I put him in it already. He measures 29 inches and weighs exactly 20 pounds. I put a bunch of 6- and 9-month clothes away today.

I just found out yesterday that a girl from Des Moines that I knew died on Sunday following a car crash. She was only 16 years old. It is a sobering reminder about the fleeting nature of our life here on earth. And I feel for her family and close friends and the loss they are experiencing.

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