Saturday, October 31, 2015

Paris, France: 4 nights, September 21-25, 2015

After an easy train ride, we arrived at the Paris Norte station. We went through our normal routine of searching out metro information, buying passes, and getting city maps to help us determine how to get to our hotel.

After a quick metro ride for just a few stops, we were within easy walking to our place right across the street from the Sorbonne Institute in the Latin Quarter. Again, as usual, we couldn't check in because we were early, so we left our bags at the hotel and went around the corner for lunch at a sweet café on the plaza. We were entertained by the bubbling, flowing water of the fountain in front of the Sorbonne entry. The setting couldn't have been better to welcome us to a city that we fell in love with back in 2005, when we first visited.

Mike and I had decided that we would spend our 4 days seeing sites that we hadn't seen on our first 2.5 day trip back in 2005, so we only saw the Eiffel Tower, Arch de Triumph, Louvre, and Notre Dame during our coming and going to other sites.

After checking in, we took a nice walk up the street and a visit to the Pantheon. A beautiful structure with beautiful art!

We had made arrangements to meet up with Mike’s cousin, Tom, for drinks and then a metro journey to a small back alley restaurant to meet up with Vicki, a friend of Tom’s. A true small bistro style with plenty of local color and charm! While I was petting a neighborhood boxer, Boogie, my wine got drunk by this wonderful true Frenchman. We had quite a laugh when he realized he drank mine instead of his. He was the lucky one to get a 2 for 1!

A delightful dinner and visit with Vicki ending in a walk about in a lively district and a final nightcap before heading off to the metro. Mike and Tom were feeling no pain by then. Vicki and I had switched to water. Lol

As a result of our late night, we all slept in the next day. We met up with Tom for a quick late breakfast and coffee while it rained before heading out to the d’Orsay art museum. Unfortunately, once we got there, we were told it was closed because of an employee strike. Bummer! It was a real disappointment to Mike because of some of Van Gogh’s paintings he had wanted to see.

Our backup plan meant walking not too far away to the Rodin museum and gardens. It was Plan B for many of the same people we saw at the d’Orsay. Fortunately, it didn't take long to get through the line and the rain had completely stopped even allowing for some sun to warm us up a bit. The actual museum is under renovations but the exhibit they had set up was excellent and the gardens outstanding!

The sun stayed out long enough for us to enjoy the gardens but it quickly changed so, of course, we decided it was time for a libation stop in a café around the corner. Napolean's Tomb in Les Invalides  was right around the block so we headed over there while the rain had stopped. We didn't pay to go in as the tickets were quite expensive and it included a whole myriad of things we really didn't want to see. You couldn't just go in to see the cathedral and tomb.

Tom decided to head back to his place and we decided to meander our way over to our "old" neighborhood where we stayed before it was made famous by Rick Stevens. The street name is Rue Clare and is a totally pedestrian street with lots of wonderful shops and restaurants. We had stayed at a small bistro hotel back in 2005 which cost us only $95/night. Today the rack rate is $294/night!! Not in our league anymore.

After a bite to eat we decided we would stroll across the River Seine and walk until it got dark seeing as much as possible along the way.

Our next day dawned bright and sunny!!! Perfect for our picnic in the Luxembourg square gardens. We grabbed a quick coffee and juice at a local café then went on a hunt for lunch fixings with Tom in his neighborhood, not far from us.

The gardens were just a couple of blocks from both our hotels and they are lovely with pools, fountains, a grotto and flowers. The grand senate building is the cornerstone at one end. Sitting in the sun eating our lunch along with a hot cup of tea was such a local thing to do. Tranquil and serene.

We caught the next metro right there at the park and headed out to Sacre Coeur. High on the hill, it rises with majesty and beauty looking out over the city. It took quite a climb up the hill even after getting off the metro to reach it meandering through quaint little neighborhoods. So worth it! Of course, we were in good shape to begin with since living in PV, we walk and climb boatloads of stairs.

 Sacre Coeur is incredibly beautiful with a view of the city from its perch high on the hill. Exquisite!

We strolled through the side streets enjoying the activities going on along the streets and squares and  decided to walk down the hill through other neighborhoods. I made my one and only Paris purchase of a Paris scene sequined sleeveless top before we stopped at an outside café for afternoon drinks sitting in the sun overlooking the city. This is where I lost several years of my life! No JOKE!!

While sitting in the sun sipping my wine, I connected to the internet. An email popped up from Google. Yes, Google Blogger.  Here's what it said:

Hello, Your blog at has been reviewed and confirmed as in violation of our Terms of Service for: PHISHING. In accordance to these terms, we've removed the blog and the URL is no longer accessible. For more information, please review the following resources: Terms of Service: Blogger Content Policy: -The Blogger Team

Well, let me tell you first I thought this isn't real, it's one of those spoof emails to try and get you to click on the link and you go down the rabbit hole with a virus. So I tried to go to my blog. Nope, it's gone.  I sent a message to my friend, Jack Bramy, in Santa Cruz, CA to check on his computer and he validated that it was GONE!! Just like that. No warming, no asking for an explanation of what changed. Nothing. Nada. Zilch!

I've been doing this blog for over 3 years and my format has never changed. Not one little iota. So as I sat there in disbelief I realized there was nothing I could do about it until later so I made the decision it was going to be what it's going to be. My vacation would go on and my life would go on. I was not going to worry or stop enjoying my vacation.  I did sent out a plea on Facebook to cry and plea for help. With that, I finished my wine and continued on with my day.

Our climb down the hill ended close to Moulin Rouge, so we definitely had to walk through the red light district so I could take a picture of the disappointing famous red windmill. Disappointing in that it isn't as large as I had it pictured in my mind.

We ended our evening by doing a little wandering through the Latin Quarters where Mike bought a french phrase book and seeing Notre Dame across the river then finding a terrific little out of the way Mexican restaurant on a "restaurant row" pedestrian street. Tom would be heading out the next morning to move on to Avignon, France. We would join him a day later.

So once back in our room,  I checked Facebook and I had received many good suggestions of what I could and should do.  I followed their instructions and was able to get back into Blogger where it did give me an option of "Review". Amazing that the email I received from Google Blogger did NOT give me these instructions. I had to scramble to figure it out. They only gave me the option of clicking on a button to submit the appeal. No where was there an opportunity to ask questions or to please my case. It was simply asking for a review. With that, I went to bed exhausted, feeling lost, scared that 3+ years of my writing was gone but still with a resolve that it was going to be ok.

Our last day was a guided tour day getting up with an alarm in the dark and having to find our way to the tourist visitors center next to the Louvre. Due to the closure of one of the metro stops, it took a bit of time and walking in circles to find it in the dark. 

So off first thing to Versailles on a full bus through rush hour traffic. Hindsight, we would not do the tour again. It would have been easier and more leisure to have just taken the metro and purchased our own ticket. They provided no guided tour, only transportation to and from. Despite that, the palace is stunning and a must see along with its huge magnificent gardens. Notice the very dark sky!! And, the picture I got of the front line. It never really did rain on us.

We arrived back in the city long enough to grab a sandwich before getting back on the bus to head out to Giverny, the home and gardens of Monet. This tour was well worth it as its not accessible by metro.  I'm sure there must have been a train to the town but we didn't look into it. We only had one afternoon left to do this, so it made a lot of sense for us. 

The gardens are just as you would picture them from Monet's paintings! My only regret was not to have enough time to sit and soak in the serenity and tranquility of it all. I wanted to just become one with the gardens. I so could live in his humble warm and cozy home. A wonderful way to end our time in Paris!

Back to my Google Blogger fiasco. In mid afternoon, while at Monet's home and gardens, I found a way to connect to the internet. Yup, low and behold there was an email from Google Blogger:

Hello, We have received your appeal regarding your blog Upon further review we have determined that your blog was mistakenly marked as a TOS violator by our automated system and, as such, we have reinstated your blog. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused in the meantime and thank you for your patience as we completed our review process. Thank you for understanding. Sincerely, The Blogger Team
Any INCONVENIENCE????!!!!!!!  You think????!!!  Well, all's well that ends well so the saying goes. I regained the years of my life back and was glad I could truly go on with my life as it had been before this "inconvenience" !

Another dinner in the Latin Quarter before heading to bed with the anticipation of Avignon, France in the region of Provence the next day.