Our trip was through Holiday Vacations of Eau Claire, WI. They partner with local TV and radio personalities throughout the country to promote their vacation packages. Our local host was retired weather forecaster Judy Fraser and her hubby Lou. They are the sweetest and most gracious couple. But, they almost didn't get to go! Judy was packing the night before we left, and sent Lou up to get her passport. Lou calls down that he can't find it! Several hours later, and multiple calls to Holiday Vacations, Judy sat down in the middle of her living room floor and cried! She had been so looking forward to this trip, and now it just might not happen! First thing the next morning, Lou and Judy drove to downtown Chicago to the Federal Building. At 4:05pm, they left with Judy's new passport! But our flight was leaving at 5:55pm from O'Hare! And it is rush hour! They got on the plane with 15 minutes to spare! WHEW!
My trip started less auspiciously. Hubby drove us to meet the bus at our local WalMart.
We left on a Friday, and as it is Lent, I was concerned about the airlines (we flew American) having fish or a meatless entree. So I had the tour director put me down for a vegetarian meal. I later read on American's website that they consider vegetarian as vegan. YIKES! The meals were tasty, and the advantage of having a special request is that you get your meal first!
The flight takes 8 hours. So I took a Tylenol PM as soon as we were up in the air to attempt to get some sleep. Paris is 7 hours ahead of us, so we landed mid morning. The first thing I was advised to do was to find the ATM at the airport and get some euros. I had exchanged some money at O'Hare. But I was also anxious to make sure that I could use an ATM in a foreign country. Imagine how I felt when the ATM informed me that my card was defective and to contact my bank! YIKES! I stayed calm, as I knew the card had been good earlier in the week. I later that evening used the ATM under the Eiffel Tower with no problem! YEA!
The best cure for jet lag is to immediately get acclimated to the local time. So we were shuttled on to a bus and taken on a tour of the city. We ended the tour on the Ile de la Cite and Notre Dame! It is a beautiful example of Gothic architecture. The stained glass windows were amazing! Each piece seemed more and more beautiful!
This was my favorite! It reminds me of the large stained glass window at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. We lit a candle there for our home church, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Thomasboro, IL.
The gardens were doing their best to give us a warm welcome to Paris! And with the warm sunshine, we were all smiling! After visiting Notre Dame, we went to a brasserie for lunch. We were all (46 of us) seated in the basement. How old this place must have been. And the stories the walls could tell. We enjoyed a lunch of onion soup (they don't call it French Onion soup there!) and beef burgundy. And of course plenty of crusty bread and a glass of wine.
We were then taken to our hotel, the Eiffel Tower Pullman, to check in and freshen up. We were cautioned to not take more than a half hour nap to help us stay acclimated. But who can sleep when you are in a new place with so much to see!
Don't you love the texture in the street work! These were amazingly smooth to walk on!
After our nap we went with the tour director for a short walk to the Eiffel Tower, and across the Seine to the Trocadero! Talk about a Kodak moment! It was a lovely evening, fresh air, warm breezes! We walked back to our hotel after stopping for some ice cream. Then back to the hotel for showers and bed!