Thursday, September 24, 2009

Arriving in Paris

Our plane left Cyprus at 3:55 am so we ended up getting sleep deprived again. The plane leaving Larnaka was not full so we each got a row to ourselves, but sleeping was still difficult. We were both very excited to be starting on the next leg of our journey and the stiff uncomfortable seats and plane noise did not help things either. We got into Vienna at about 6 am and had to catch a connecting flight to Paris leaving at 7 am. Our plane landed early and we made sure we knew where we were going so we got to the gate with time to spare. The flight to Paris was full. Alexia managed to crash out but Ellis only slept for an hour.

The decent into Paris was exciting to say the least. It was very windy so the plane was being tossed around side to side and dropped a few times. The landing was a heart stopper. The plane landed squarely on the back two wheels then got lifted off sideways by a gust and landed again on one wheel followed by the other three. It was jarring and everyone gasped. In spite of the scare, we made it to the gate safely and headed to the airport to figure out how to get into the city.

The French airport was small and easy to get around. We found the train depot and took a shot at the automated machines. They seemed simple enough but we checked with an info booth to make sure we were doing it right and headed in the right direction. We were! The train into Paris from the airport took about 30 minutes. Once we were in Paris we decided to find our hotel. We started with the map that Ellis had saved on his computer. We circled the area the hotel was supposed to be for a while with no luck. Then we looked to the guide book and it said that the hotel was in a slightly different location, so we looked there. Again no luck. We were so tired! We finally asked a French couple for some help. They gladly offered and even walked with us to help us find a better map. They had gotten off work for lunch and as a routine, took walks around the city. They were very nice and extremely helpful. They got us to within a block of the place and then continued on their walk.

Finally, a few hours after arriving in Paris, we found our hotel. We got our room, which was at the top of 6 flights of stairs, and dumped all of our stuff on the bed, changed out of our nasty travelling clothes and took a moment to get our bearings before we set off. The first place we went to was a creperie. Alexia had been craving crepes since half way through our time in Cyprus, but had decided to wait until we hit Paris. We found a cool little one just down the street from our hotel and ordered one savory crepe with ham and cheese and one sweet one with Nutella and bananas. They were very delicious.

After our first taste of French cuisine, we set off to see the famous Cathedral of Notre Dame. It was beautiful. Outside, the architecture and detail was extraordinary and on the inside, the stained glass, large rooms, and organ were breathtaking. The Cathedral was well maintained and still functioned for mass and other forms of worship. We didn't go to the top because we were so tired, but we enjoyed looking at it from the inside and circumnavigating while admiring the outside.

After the cathedral, we headed back toward the hotel and found a small bakery and bought a small lemon meringue pie and a baguette. We also found a small grocery store and bought some cheese and a bottle of wine. We brought this back to our hotel room and ate dinner and drank our wine and just took in this amazing city we'd arrived in. Ellis then crashed on the bed because he hadn't really had a chance to sleep on the plane on the way over, but Alexia wasn't that tired yet, so she decided to go exploring.

Alexia walked around the city and took in some of the sites. The city was amazing. The buildings were all made of stone and looked like they were built many years ago. The river Siene and the several cathedrals were picturesque. The streets were covered with people walking and window shopping. The city was filled with small stores such as bakeries, coffee shops, restaurants, tourist shops, boutiques, and super markets. There was much dedication to art including interesting statues, medieval statues, and many art museums. Alexia got tired and decided to visit Ellis back at the hotel. Ellis, who was going to try and get up at 7:30 that evening was out for the night. So Alexia crawled into bed. The was our first, and very long day in Paris.

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