Our High Speed Trip to Paris

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

On Monday we arose early to make it to Antwerp where we had reservations for the high speed train to Paris, just a one ½ hour trip. We left in plenty of time to deal with the traffic which is everywhere and constant on the main roads, and to pick up our tickets which we bought on line. What we did not anticipate was the thousands of Heavy Metal Music fans who had been to  a huge concert in the small village of Dessel – Graspop , known as Graspoppers. So we got in a long and smelly line (no showers for these fans who camped for 4 days in Dessel) with each person taking over 5 minutes to get their tickets.

We then ran across the station only to miss our train by 3 minutes, so we waited another 2 hours before catching the next ride. Fortunately the Graspoppers were all headed to Amsterdam and not Paris.

We settled in for a smooth and fast ride, and then with Astrid as our experienced guide, caught the right subway, and headed for the light. We followed her across the street, to her favorite spot for viewing the Eiffel Tower. The impact took me by surprise, and I admit it, I cried. It was breathtaking to see it in person. After some quick photos, we settled into a sidewalk cafe for lunch and people watching, before setting off on another subway ride to the Champs Elysees, where we began Astrid’s whirlwind “Paris for Dummies Tour”. It was very hot, 90 degrees, but it felt great to be in Paris at last. We knew we would not be able to become immersed in the city; this was just a day trip. Astrid is well versed in the city’s history and culture.

We ended up on the high fashion street of Rue St-Honoree, and popped into the shop of designer Roberto Cavalli. With JJ in jeans and needing a shave, and me in sneakers and comfortable baggy capris, we were not exactly the sort of customer the sales people would jump to serve, but everyone was very nice to us. I was impressed as I had always heard Parisians were not very friendly. The clothes were incredible and so were the prices. But I promised myself if I ever lost that 30 pounds I dream of, I would return and buy something. The best part of the store was an entire section devoted to designer dog clothing. And oh yes, the mink sofa in the elevator.

Then it was on to Notre Dame where there was a high Mass in progress. I stopped to light a candle in memory of my parents, and cried again at the overwhelming beauty of the sound of Mass being sung, and the beauty of the structure of the building. We rested one more time for coffee, and then crammed into the subway at the height of rush hour clutching our bags protecting them from pickpockets, and holding our heads high for air. Someday we will return for more time to explore, a visit to the Louvre, a dinner trip on the Seine, and maybe a trip back to Cavalli’s shop.......