Part 9 (Santorini, Greece) – Cruising Venice, The Greek Isles, and the Eastern Mediterranean

Santorini.  The most picturesque of all the Greek Isles, as I had been told over and over again by friends and family that had been there and loved it.  I will admit, my expectations were high heading into our third and final tour with The Travel Insiders.  We chose a tour called, “The Highlights of Santorini – The Black Pearl of the Aegean.

This was our only tender port so I did have a little heartburn about getting off the ship and up the cable cars by our tour’s assigned meeting time…I am a little, teensy bit OCD about being on time so I tend to get really crabby when I am late.

We did eventually get off the ship and to our meeting spot and we were about 10 minutes late…this means that I was almost in hives stressing about it, but I tried not to be too crabby!!!  (That only worked for part of the day!)

We got our tickets for the ride up the cliffside and hopped on the cable cars.  My mother is terrified of these things so I am pretty sure she kept her eyes closed the entire time, but if she hadn’t, she would have seen a pretty steep ride up the side of a volcano.

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Okay, it’s a little steep…but a quick 5 minutes and you are up to the top where you now realize that you are standing on the rim of a volcano.  From the town of Fira you can really see how the cone of the volcano used to look and you realize that your ship is parked right in the middle.  I know a bunch of really smart science and geology people have proven this volcano to be dead, but there is a minute when you look around at the throng of tourists and wonder which one you will toss over the side of the cliff in case an emergency sacrifice becomes necessary.

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We met our tour guide and she walked us around Fira showing us some lovely views and giving us the history of the caldera and how the island came to be so popular.  We wound through very crowded streets to get to our coach that would take us to Oia.

After a bit of a harrowing ride along sheer cliff walls, we arrived in picturesque Oia.  This is what everyone thinks of when they think of Santorini.   This is the white washed buildings with the blue domes, this is the endless vistas over the caldera, this is beautiful.

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In case you were wondering, yes I did notice the For Sale sign and yes, I do have that number written down!

Once in Oia, we were given plenty of free time to walk around, shop if we wanted and of course take pictures!

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You can see how incredibly close to the sheer dropoff these houses were built.  I know quite a few Greek nationals and I promise you, many of them are a schosh crazy…seeing how close to death these folks choose to live?  I get it a little bit!

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This may, in part also explain the abundance of churches for such a small island, between the cliffs and the volcano, I could certainly see wanting to stay on good terms with the Almighty!

After wandering around for a bit, shopping if we wanted, or desperately searching for a bit of shade, we meandered back towards the bus.  Our guide promised us a treat on the way back to the bus and she was not wrong!  Gelato!!

We stopped at Lolita’s Gelato and it is cute, kitchy, very greek.  BUT…and this is the most important part…the gelato is fantastic!  i don’t know if I would say it was the best I had on the trip, we did spend several days in Venice, but it was the best we had in Greece.  And we tried some in every port.  My son was on a mission to find the best gelato so he was certainly well equipped to make a determination.  We tried all the fun flavors, Cuban Lover: a blend of coffee and chocolate (my favorite); Zabaione, Stracciatella, and the flavor that they are famous for: Greek Viagra.  This is gelato flavored with honey and pistachios and it is fantastic.  If you can get past saying the name, it is totally worth it!

We then moved on to Pyrgos.  This traditional village is supposedly the least spoiled by tourism and still has many features of the medieval village such as narrow streets, fortified walls and secret passageways.

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Many of the houses are still inhabited mostly “as is,” small and built on top of one another.

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This village also has the best vantage point of the island.  It isn’t “untouched” by accident…the villagers could see an invasion coming for miles.  Remember those walls?  This is a fantastic example of a fortified city still around for us to see.

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Yep, you can see for miles and miles and miles.

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That’s Oia…way over there.  It took us about 30 minutes to drive here from there in the motor coach.

After some time for picture taking, we headed for a quick stop at the Black Beach of Kamari.

There are cafes and shops and things here that I am sure would make a lovely stop by themselves.  However, we were running out of time and really, I had to put my feet in the water so I could say I had been in the Aegean and Ionian Seas.

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This is from the beach looking back up the road we had driven on to get here.  The sand is indeed black, and I did put my feet in the Aegean.  A word of warning…if you go to a black sand beach in the Mediterranean in August, spend some time before hand studying with the fire walkers so you are prepared to withstand your walk from the side walk to the water.  Just saying.

Back in the coach to head back to Fira to wait in the incredibly long line to get to the cable cars down the mountain.  There is a path to walk, but it is hot and covered in donkey poo and there is no place to rest on the way.  I knew mom wouldn’t make it, so I waited the two hours to get to the cable cars.  This is likely not as bad when there are fewer ships in port, but still…its better than sitting on a donkey the whole way down!

For me, Santorini was the supermodel of the Greek Isles.  Pretty (stunning actually), but kind of superficial.  This was also my one disappointment with the tour I had taken, because of the time crunch we did not get to see the Venetsantos Winery, which was one of the main reasons I wanted to be on this tour.  Ah well, next time!

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Here is the port area where you catch your tender back to your ship hopefully still waiting where you left it, in the middle of a collapsed volcano cone!

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And there is the cable car track and the path back up to Fira…yeah, not walking it!  Back on board I was devastated to learn that SOMEONE drank all of the Aperol on the entire ship and I (I mean…someone) would now have to find another refreshing beverage to get me through the sea day tomorrow, and then…KINGS LANDING!!!  Well, I guess some people call it Dubrovnik.

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Part 4 (Katakolon) – Cruising Venice, The Greek Isles, and the Eastern Mediterranean

After a fairly uneventful, yet totally relaxing sea day, our first port of call was Katakolon.  Until I started planning, I was not familiar with this area at all.

Katakolon map

Of course, once I did a bit of digging and realized that this area was the site of the first Olympic Games, I knew that I needed to find a tour to Olympia.  After reading probably thousands of TripAdvisor reviews, I decided to go with The Travel Insiders – Ultimate Olympia Experience.  From first contact to the last minute, these people were a joy to work with.  I really liked the small group setting and Despina and Elana were both amazing at what they do.  If I am ever lucky enough to make it back to Katakolon, I am pretty sure I will be stalking these women, they know their stuff and I cannot imagine a better time in and around Olympia.

The tour began with Despina meeting us as we got off the ship and leading us to the very comfy minivan that was to be our transportation for the day.  After the rest of the group showed up (a total of 11 people) we set off for our first stop: a tasting of Greek specialties.

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So as you can see, we were treated to an in depth presentation of some of the more famous Greek products: olive oil, desserts, olives, honey and of course wine.  The gentleman that led the demonstration was clearly proud of what he was presenting and he had every right to be.  The honey was delicious, the olives fresh, the desserts were unique and delicious, the wine was lovely and the olive oil was some of the best I have ever tasted.  We were given some time to shop (I brought home honey and spices) and then we were off to the ruins at Olympia.

The first stop at Olympia was the Archaeological Museum.  This is where they display the artifacts that have been unearthed at the site of the ruins, which we will visit later.  The detail and craftsmanship in these artifacts is absolutely amazing.

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Nike of Paeonius (420 BC)

If you think about the fact that some of these pieces were made nearly 2500 years ago, it is really awe inspiring.

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Pediment from the Temple of Zeus (472-456 BC)

There is WAY more I could show you but we still have a few more stops before we head back to the ship so we had better move on to the ruins outside.

A short walk from the museum is the actual site of Olympia, the sanctuary and the site of the first ever Olympic Games in 776 BC.  If you have been to any other archaeological site of importance (Stonehenge, Acropolis,etc.) you have seen some pretty amazing things, albeit from a distance, behind ropes or fences.  This is not Olympia.  Here you walk among the ruins.  You can touch them, run your fingers along the same inscriptions that people touched nearly three thousand years ago.  For a Western Civilization and mythology fan like me, it was heaven on earth.

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There were, of course some places that were roped off, mostly for safety reasons I would imagine, but the size and scale of these ruins and what they stood for was nearly overwhelming to me.

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This is the entrance to the fields where the games were held. If you were caught cheating at the games, you had to have your name inscribed on one of the blocks along the walkway you were banned for life from the games.  It was a big deal.

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This is where Nero stayed when he would come for the games.  Yep, Nero. The Emperor.  He and I hung out in the same house.  It is almost beyond imagination.  And yes, for a big history buff like I am, I was totally like a pre-teen girl at a 5SOS (or whatever pre-teen girls are squealing over these days) concert the entire time .

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The Gymnasion (2nd c. BC)

This is where the athletes would train for things like javelin and discus.

Since we still have one more stop to go, it is getting close to time to meet the bus.  On our way out of Olympia, we stopped to get a couple bottles of water and ran into an impromptu Grappa tasting!!!  This was the coolest Grappa I have ever tasted, it was cinnamon!  Of course I bought a small bottle!!  Our next stop was a beach break and lunch.  Perfect timing for that, we were starving!!

We arrived at Agios Andreas.  A beach settlement situated on the site of ancient Pheia and mentioned by Homer a couple of times in the Iliad.  It’s kinda pretty…I can see why he may have thought to mention it.

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This was our view from the restaurant we stopped at for lunch.  I believe it is called Kastro.  If you eat and/or get a drink from there, the sunbeds and umbrellas are complimentary.  They also have restrooms/showers for changing.  We tried some pretty cool local dishes: fried local cheese, meatballs with tzatziki dipping sauce, a gigantic greek salad with halloumi and this:

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Octopus.  It was pretty darn good!  The tomatoes are so fresh there and really so is the octopus so how can you go wrong!

After a quick dip in the Ionian Sea, we got back in the van and headed back to port.  The entire day was one of the most amazing days of my life.  Katakolon ended up being our favorite of the Greek stops in no small part to Despina and Elana’s brilliant tour.  If you have a chance to tour with them, I suggest you do it…don’t hesitate, just do it.  You will not regret it at all.

Up next for us?  Chania, Crete.

 

Cruising Venice, The Greek Isles, and the Eastern Mediterranean

After missing one entire day in Venice, and with only my carry-on luggage available, I was still super excited for our Walking Tour of Venice scheduled for today.  This was a free walking tour and since OD and I had had such a great experience on our Free London Walking Tours, I was really looking forward to this one!

I used Venice Free Walking Tour.  It was a super easy sign up process, immediate email confirmation, and plenty of tour times to choose from.  One thing to remember…you will not tour St. Mark’s Square area at all.  These tours are designed to show you the non-touristy parts of Venice, which is why I take them.  I can find the big tourist attractions on my own.  I want to find cool places that aren’t totally packed, and we did as well as got some great pizza and learned about so much history along the way.

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Our tour guide was Giada (pronounced just like the Food Network star) and she has lived her whole life in Venice.  Our tour group was fairly diverse, young couples, old couples, families…a pretty good mix.  I would say that the youngest was maybe 9 years old and I wouldn’t even venture a guess at the oldest.  I will say this: Venice is not the city to visit if you have mobility issues.  The cobblestone “streets,” bridges, stairs, etc. do not make for easy walking.  The fact that there are no cars allowed on the island makes it seem like it might be pedestrian friendly…and it is, it is just not mobility friendly.  But if you are able to take a walking tour of Venice, you absolutely should!

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We learned quite a lot about the history and legends of Venice: Marco Polo, Casanova, the Lions, the origin of Carnival and the masks and many other cool tidbits!

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We visited a cute little bookstore that had this staircase made out of books!

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We found “interesting” restaurants and shops.

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We learned that you can tell the age of the buildings by the shape of the windows.

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We learned about the Gondolas and the meaning of the ferro (it represents the six neighborhoods in Venice and is in the shape of the Doge’s hat).  How long it takes to build a gondola (about three months), and how many gondoliers there are (424 men, 1 woman).

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And we learned that Venice has its own “Leaning Tower.” in fact there are several of them around the island.  I guess that is one of the dangers of building on such little islands.

In addition, Giada gave us some tips on choosing restaurants in Venice and, in one life changing moment, introduced me to a Venice staple:  Aperol Spritz.  Look it up, really.  Or, swing by my place around 5pm…I’m sure I will be pouring one (or two…alright three!).

After the tour, I wasted several hours going back and forth to the airport to see if our baggage had arrived (no!) and we then set out to find some dinner and Gelato.

We ended up at Ristorante Terrazza Del Casin Dei Nobili.  This restaurant is right along the Bay of Venice and has an amazing view.  I ordered Sea Bass and my first ever Aperol Spritz and both were amazing!  All in all, a great day…maybe luggage tomorrow??

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London Day 3 – Royal London Tour, Gordon Ramsay, and Les Miserables

So its Thursday in London…back in Charlotte school is getting cancelled due to an ice storm, but here in London, it is in the 60’s and sunny!

We are meeting up with Nick from Free London Walking Tours again today for a tour called “Royal London & Changing of the Guard.”  The website warns that in the winter months, the Changing of the Guard does not happen every day, but you can check the schedule on-line to make sure you are going to be able to see it if you want to.

That morning we decided to try the included breakfast at our hotel…and at least there was coffee!!  So if there was one small complete fail at the St. David’s Hotel it was the breakfast.  It was hot and plentiful so if that is your only requirement you will be completely satisfied.  It is not gourmet.  There are only two choices…English or Continental.  The English has eggs (done your way), bacon (English style rasher), baked beans, grilled veggies, and toast.  I love me a good rasher of bacon, so that part was good, and its hard (though not impossible) to mess up toast, but the rest was really not to my liking at all.  It was edible but not tasty.  I still LOVE the hotel and I would gladly stay there on any trip to London, just next time I will order Continental!

Moving on, we head to the Underground to catch the train to Westminster, but there was some sort of hold up on the line and we ended up waiting a long time for a train.  That made us late to Westminster, probably around 10:45…15 minutes late.  There was no green umbrella in site so we walked up the street one way, did not see any sort of group moving around, so we headed the other way…and found Nick!!!  Fortunately for us, Nick wears a giant bear skin hat, like the Russian kind, not the Royal Guard kind…like this:

And that is what I spotted walking down the street with a small group.  We very quickly caught up with them and apologized for being late.  I am not sure if Nick wears this big hat during the summer months, but I hope so!  It’s a great way to pick him out of the crowd!  The group had only made it as far as Big Ben…or more specifically, the clock tower that houses Big Ben.

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Nick gave us little tidbits of information as we walked around this area.  This is a really busy, crowded area compared to what we had seen so far, but it is a very business-y area so lots of folks going to and from work.  In the middle of January, the touristy areas are really not that busy, but I guess folk still gotta work!

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The Victoria Tower at the Palace of Westminster.  Now the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, collectively the Houses of Parliament.  Big Ben is housed int the Elizabeth Tower, at the other corner.  There is one more tower in the middle, but I didn’t get a picture of it.  Nick must not have had any cool stories about it.

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This is St. Margaret’s Church.  It stands in between Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament.  The Houses of Parliament is what is housed in the Palace of Westminster these days.  The bell tower on the Palace of Westminster houses Big Ben.  There…Now you know!  I am standing on the same corner to take all of the above pictures, just stand in one place and take pictures all around you, that’s how awesome London is!

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10 Downing Street.  Affectionately known simply as “Number 10” this is where the Executive Branch headquarters and where the Prime Minister officially resides.  I learned that George Downing, who owned part of the building, was a notorious spy for Oliver Cromwell back in the day.  Now, I know you are thinking that surely someone of such fine upstanding character would build solid, well crafted homes…you’d be wrong of course.  The fronts of the houses were nothing more than facades with painted on stones!  Churchill later lamented the homes of the “profiteering contractor whose name they bear.”

Downing never lived in any of these houses, and Number 10 was part of three houses eventually combined to make up the modern building that now bears the name.

 

We then moved to the changing of the guard at the Horse Guards.  That is different than the changing of the Palace Guard, but no less formal and steeped in tradition.  Plus, you can get so much closer!  And Horses!!!

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This was really, really cool and you can see how close we were to the action.  Much closer than the Palace Changing of the Guards.  From Whitehall, all you see is the building and the arches where the mounted guards are stationed, but as you walk through the building, it opens to Parade Grounds where the formal changing ceremony takes place.  Beyond that is St. James’s Park and in fact, this building is the unofficial entrance to St. James’s Palace which I’m guessing is somewhere in that HUGE park!  We did eventually find it…just be patient!

Next up was Buckingham Palace for the “real” Changing of the Guard.  As you may be able to see, even in January the crowds to watch this were several people deep against the fence.  A very helpful thing to know is that in the winter, they do not do a formal changing of the guards every day, there is a schedule posted with the dates and times on several London websites, so if you are going in January, look it up.  Not that it is etched in stone, mind you.  According to the Buckingham Palace website, there was supposed to be a Changing ceremony on the day that we were there, but we waited 15 mins or so and it never happened so onward and upward!

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See?? I told you we would find it.  St. James’s Palace, the back side.  As it turns out, this was my favorite stop of the “Royal” sights.  I LOVE the history of the Tudors and this palace was built by Henry VIII as an escape from formal court life.  And he build all sorts of fun escape things into it.

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See the Murder Holes at the top??  Where an archer could hide and shoot you while you waited to come it?  That would certainly put a more final twist on my “No Soliciting” sign!  Also, on this side of the Palace there was an underground tunnel for Henry to use.  Where did it lead you ask?

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It lead here…a wine shop!  Any wonder I love Henry Tudor!!!  Granted this particular store has changed hands in the past 400 plus years, but according to Nick, it was a place for the King to slip out and drink unnoticed by eyes in the Palace.  Do you think I can dig a tunnel to my closest wine shop?  I’d probably have to get HOA approval first, right?

We then moved on to see some of the shops that sell to folks above my pay grade.  You know, “If you have to ask…” and all that.  Shopping is not my favorite thing, although it is certainly cool to see how the other half live!  Soon enough we were at Trafalger Square, where our tour was to end.  We hopped on the Metro to head back to the hotel to freshen up for our night in West End London!!

We had dinner reservations at Gordon Ramsay’s Heddon Street Kitchen and tickets to see Les Miserables at the Queens Theater after that so we were really looking forward to this night and it did not disappoint!

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Our trip was the week after the Great David Bowie passed away, and Heddon Street is famous for being the location where the album cover for Rise and Fall was shot.  This impromptu tribute was silent and beautiful in the middle of busy London.

Dinner at Heddon Street was AWESOME!!  The restaurant is in a cute little courtyard and has what looks to be a nice patio area for outdoor dining. We sat inside as it was January and the atmosphere was very cozy and comfortable. We were early for a dinner since we needed to be at the theater so we kind of had a merry-go-round of servers as more arrived for their shift, however we never felt neglected, someone always checked on us and made sure we had everything we needed. We had baked scallops and flatbread as appetizers and both were very tasty. For entrees we had the short rib burger and the roast pork belly and both were very good. The Mac & Cheese side dish was my favorite thing EVER!  I should have gotten the entree portion!  For dessert, we had the dark chocolate tart and ice cream bar. Both very good.

Next up was Les Miserables at  the Queens Theater.  I had gotten really great seats and I was super excited to see my favorite show of all time…so much so I almost got hit by a car, then rammed into some poor guy as I was lamenting my near miss!  The Queen’s Theater is lovely and our seats were spectacular.  I always feel a little bad for the people sitting near me because I’m gonna sing, and I’m gonna cry.  I have started apologizing before the show, it’s just easier.
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The show was SPECTACULAR and we left teary eyed, and singing songs…all the way back to the hotel where we gratefully fell into bed to rest up for more awesome things!  Next up…Tower of London, Shakespeare Museum, Tower Bridge and the Curse of the Raven!!

 

 

 

Wow Airlines, A Week in London and a Day Trip to Paris! Part 3

Its Paris Day!!!!

So if you have read any of my previous posts, you may have grasped that Paris is my favorite city in the world (of the ones I have see so far.  I do have a couple of bucket list trips coming up, so we will see after that!).  That being said, since we were so close anyway I had to plan a trip to show Jarod the sights.  The earliest Eurostar train I could get from London was 7:01am and we were told to be there 45 minutes early to check in through customs.  Since we still were not acclimated to London time, getting up at 5am to take the subway to St. Pancras train station was not as hard as it might have been otherwise.  Still, we got to the train station right at 6:15am, officially “left” the United Kingdom, walked 10 feet and officially “entered” France.  The lines were long but moved quickly and as soon as we were through security and customs we walked right on our train and sat down.  This was, however, January.  Not a typically busy tourist time, so if you are making this trip at other times, your mileage may vary.

We had standard carriage seats, no first class on this trip, but they were adequate for what we needed.  Plus, it was only a 2 hour train ride, in the dark, very early in the morning.  It was fine.  The darkness meant that we did not see the presumed picturesque country side passing by on the English side of the Channel Tunnel (Chunnel), nor did we even notice when we entered the famed crossing.  On exiting the tunnel in Calais, morning had broken but the fog was so thick we saw barely anything of the French countryside except the very unwelcome sight of snow covered land.  The fog did eventually clear as we got closer to Paris, as did the snow on the ground.  I knew that it would be chilly, it is January after all, but I was hoping for clear, which I got…eventually.

So we arrive at Gare du Nord at 10:15am (2 hour train ride plus 1 hour time change) and we now have until 8:30pm until we need to be back at the train station to allow 45 minutes before our 9:15pm train back to London.  So, can you see all the highlights of Paris on foot in 10 hours?  Yes, you can…mostly.  And you can’t really go inside any of them for too long, but you can see them all and get some great exercise along the way!  Here is a Google Maps snapshot of my planned path, with the major places I wanted to hit.  I did make some adjustments to this, but followed it pretty closely.  The big gaps from the top to the bottom and back up again, we hopped on the Metro, everything else, we walked.

Paris Walk

So from Gare du Nord, we headed to Boulevard de Clichy to see Moulin Rouge.

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We then headed up to Place Saint-Pierre to catch the Funiculaire to ride up to Sacre Coeur.

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It was still a bit foggy so the beautiful view of Paris at your feet that I so wanted Jarod to see was not happening, but as you can see behind Sacre Coeur the sky was beginning to turn a beautiful blue as the morning fog cleared.  We were just too early to catch that site…and we had to keep moving, moving, moving!

So we hopped on the Metro and rode down to Hotel de Ville.  We came up out of the metro and immediately Jarod was caught up in the magic of Paris architecture.  I could tell that he was going to love this city as much as I do!

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We walked across Pont d’Arcole to Notre Dame.

Notre Dame Far Soft

And stood in Awe.

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We then wound our way around Ile de la Cite and crossed back to the Right Bank on Pont Neuf.  If you have read any of my previous Paris trips, you will know that there had been some issues with the “Locks of Love” attached to Pont des Arts and the French government was going to remove all of the locks in order to maintain the structural integrity of the bridge (a positive thing!). However, the people so love the locks that instead of just getting rid of them, they were moved to Pont Neuf, a much more robust bridge, where there is less worry about the bridge collapsing under the weight of all the locks.  This has also created the opportunity for enterprising folks to set up lock selling stands all over the bridge (not a positive thing.).

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We then stopped and got some coffee and Pain au Chocolat at a cafe along Quai du Louvre.  We entered the Louvre at Perrault’s Colonnade, which is my favorite way to enter as the architecture is stunning and you are able to almost picture, in the Cour Carree, how this area was used originally.  Then you walk through the archway and are faced with the iconic glass pyramid.

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The terrorist attacks in Paris had not happened all that long before our trip and the increase in police presence was most notable here.

We wandered the grounds here, peeked in the windows of the Hall of Statues then made our way to the marble arch that marks the entrance to Jardin des Tuileries.

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We walked the length of Tuileries and arrived at Place de la Concorde.  I love this area.  It is easily one of my favorite places to sit and get an espresso or glass of wine and just watch.  There is always something happening here, I’ve seen fashion shows, photo shoots, weddings, celebrity sightings, any number of interesting things.  This is also where, more than anywhere else in Paris, I invariably encounter gypsies.  It has happened so many times to me at this point I can pretty much pick them out of the crowd and simply avoid them.  In January, however, it did not seem so many were around.

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The Luxor Obelisk…and a weird thing they are building in the background.

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The Fontain des Fleuves…frozen solid.  One of the coolest things I have ever seen!  We hung here a while, just watching all the activity, but then had to move, move, move!!!

We crossed the Seine to the Left Bank on the Pont de la Concorde and headed towards the Hotel National des Invalides and Napoleon’s Tomb.  As per the norm, there was a protest going on right outside the Museum of Military History so we wandered around the back way.  There was a checkpoint with a metal detector at the entrance that was not there before, but we went through easily and were waved on past by the armed…yet super friendly…guards.

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We walked the grounds there for a while, then crossed back over the Seine on Pont Alexandre III, a truly impressive bridge that brings you to the roadway right in between the Grand Palais and Petit Palais.  From there we walked up Avenue des Champs-Elysees, stopping every now and then to peek at some high end stores along the way!

We eventually made it to the Arc de Triomphe.  We were actually ahead of schedule so we decided to go up to the top and see the city from there.  Until we got in line to get tickets and were informed that the elevator was broken and we would need to walk up to the top if we wanted to go there.  Needless to say, we decided we were already walking enough for the day, so we decided against it.

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After that, we walked down Avenue Marceau, across the Pont de l’Alma and over to the Eiffel Tower.  I wanted to be over near the Eiffel Tower towards the end of the day hoping that we would be able to see it after dark and all lit up which we did…eventually!

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Can you tell I’m tired!!!

By now it was close to 5pm and all we had had to eat was that Pain au Chocolat waaaayyyyy back at Notre Dame so Jarod was getting hungry.  I was hoping we could hold out a little while longer, but he can get crabby when he’s hungry…must get that from his father!  I had already picked out which restaurant I wanted for him to have his first dinner in Paris so we headed towards the Trocadero to eat at Cafe Le Malakoff.  If you have read about any of my previous trips to Paris, this may sound familiar, this will be the third time I have eaten here on three separate trips to Paris.  What can I say, I like it.

And so did Jarod!!  Every thing he ate was declared “the Best Ever.” He had escargot, Steak Frites with Bearnaise sauce for both the steak and the frites, cause that’s how we roll!  Then Profiteroles for dessert.  A sip or two of my wine, and a cup of true French coffee to end the meal.  I had one of the prix fixe menus which included Gratinee a l’oignon (French onion soup…but since we were in France…just onion soup!!), a filet with Bearnaise and Coupe Dame blanche (vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce and almonds) for dessert.  It was a fantastic meal and I am so glad we were able to have dinner there.

After dinner, the sun had set, so back to the Eiffel Tower to see it all lit up!

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Since we had some extra time, we hopped on the Metro up to the Opera National de Paris.  This stop was not on the map, but we love Phantom of the Opera so since we had the time, it was nice to see the opera house it was loosely set in.

 

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Then back on the metro to head back to Gare du Nord.  We were still early for our train, but after more than 10 miles of walking (and a bit of shopping in the train station for chocolates and skin products), it was nice to just sit.  As it was on our trip to Paris, the train ride home was mostly in the dark and we arrived back in London at 10:40pm to do nothing more than make our way back to the hotel and crash!  It was an amazing whirlwind day in Paris and I am so glad we pulled it off.  We did miss some things, but that is all the more reason to return!

Tomorrow…We join back up with Nick at Free London Walking Tours for the Royal London Tour with the Changing of the Guard.