Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mardi, 6 Mai (arrivee, et l'hotel)

No jet lag, thanks in part to M having our tickets upgraded a class. We had no one in front of us for the flight to London's Heathrow, and I managed to get some sleep. We landed at Charles de Gaule at 2.15 Paris time and took the shuttle to the hotel. Watching the city go by duing the shuttle ride was like driving up I-95 through New York City: there was a lot of graffiti on apartment buildings and billboards.

The hotel shocked me when we pulled up and walked in. It could've been a Ritz or something. It is one of the largest in Paris, and 33 stories high. Our room was 2323: a great view of Sacre Coeur from the 23rd floor.

As soon as we unpacked we found the metro station and purchased five-day passes. Then we went straight to the Eiffel Tower. We got off at the approprite stop, walked around a building, and there it was. Unreal. I hardly reacted, and later realized I must have been a little shell-shocked. Our hotel seemed huge; if this were a hotel it would be about 81 stories.

There were tons of people just laying around in the sunshine; we were to discover that to be the norm. But seeing them next to the tower really gave some perspective to how magnificent it is.

We got some tickets to the top and got in line for the lift. There is a queue for each of the four pillars; we took the North one up, by the bust of Gustave Eiffel. We didn't realize the first floor was two levels; we were on the top of a double-decker lift. But on the second floor there is a gift shop and a restaurant and such. The view was amazing. We got in another lift to go to the top. There was a neat display of Gustave Eiffel in what was his receiving room in the tower, showing wax figures of Eiffel, his daughter, and Thomas Edison.
The view was amazing, but I think I liked the lower floor better.

From there, we walked all over to try to find the currency exchange that Expedia instructed us to use. We never did find it, but it was a great introduction to the Paris metro system! Once back in our room, I noted on the only English-language channel (BBC News) that the exchange rate was about $1.55 to the Euro. Yikes!

We had room service for dinner, and it was terrific. M had a club sandwich and I had a lovely omlette. We saved the spread of breads and butter for breakfast the next day.

The night-time view from our hotel room was even more amazing than the day-time view. The lights twinkled and it was nice enough out that we left the window open and fell asleep in Paris, with a glow in the window and night time sounds in the air.

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