Friday, October 18, 2013

So happy to be back in Paris ! The 2013 France diaries, Part I

We were so happy to be back in Paris. The last time we were in Paris was during our sabbatical in 1999 and we never thought it would be almost 14 years before we returned. After the dollar tanked in relation to the Euro in the early 2,000’s, we started going to Latin America and had some great trips to Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, and Puerto Rico for a fraction of the cost of a European vacation.

But when we retired, we came face to face with the reality that there was no longer a seemingly infinite expanse of trips ahead of us. Some hard choices had to be made. We decided we were too old to put off going where we really wanted to go and so we started going back to Europe –-several trips to Portugal, Spain and Southern France.

This year we had planned to go to Istanbul. Rick wanted to see Hagia Sophia and we both thought that Istanbul was a city we should see, but somehow we couldn’t seem to focus on planning for the trip.

A few months ago a friend called and told us she was planning to go to the Dordogne in September. When I got off the phone, I said to Rick, “Joanne is going to the Dordogne.” He said wistfully, “I’d like to go back to the Dordogne.” I said, "I’ve always wanted to go back to the Dordogne.” (We were there in the mid- 1980’s.) We looked at each other and decided to forget Istanbul. We were going to France!

We no longer had trouble focusing on our trip and started happily making plans to go to France. The itinerary was: 3 days in Paris, 4 days in the Dordogne, 4 days in Bordeaux, and another 3 days in Paris at the end.

Our first day in Paris, we were deliriously happy just to be there. Despite being seriously jet-lagged, we walked all over Paris visiting familiar beloved places such as the courtyard of the Louvre. We had a glass of wine at a cafe right in front of the now iconic glass pyramid and watched the long lines at the entrance to the museum. (There is no such thing as off-season for the Louvre.) We decided this trip we'd take a pass on the Louvre. We went to Paris many times during our working years and have been to the Louvre many times. The crowds and the overwhelming size of the Louvre are just too much for these senior travelers.

We visited the d’Orsay Museum of 19th century art which is worth it for the building alone—a converted 19th century train station. All we managed to see was the very extensive impressionist and post-impressionist collection on the 5th floor, but we planned to go to the d’Orsay again on our return to Paris. The d’Orsay has what is surely one of the most spectacular museum restaurants in the world.
Those 19th century major city railroad stations where very elaborate affairs—with lavish waiting rooms and restaurants. The building,the restaurant, the views of Paris from the museum windows are worth a visit in and of themselves!!!

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