July 4, 2019: Eiffel Tower

Thursday. GT2 Day Twenty Six. Paris, France.

The kids arrived down at Waverly, New York for the celebrations and family reunion last night and are staying there until Saturday. Mia is at a kennel for the first time. Poor girl, I doubt that she is enjoying that at all. She gets such horrible separation anxiety.

I got decent enough sleep last night. About six hours overall, but more than two and a half of deep sleep. Plenty for me.

This morning we had to all be up early so that we could head to the Eiffel Tower to get in the stand by line for people with no tickets. We tried to leave by before eight when Dominica wanted, but really it was close to nine. We took the subway and got to the tower right at nine as it was opening. We were glad that we did not go much earlier, as the line was only a little more than half an hour long, so having gotten there earlier would not have shorted our wait very much.

Seeing the tower was really cool. It is so much bigger in real life than it appears in movies. So impressive. It is amazing that 130 years ago it was the tallest building in the world, and remains one of the tallest today. The observation desk is still the highest one in Europe. It is so mind boggling to think that people in the 1800s were coming up to the same points and standing in the same place, looking out over Paris.

We, of course, got tickets not just up to the lower decks but all of the way up. The elevator system is really impressive. You ride first to the first floor, then the elevator changes tracks, then you ride to the second floor. Then you switch to a different style of elevator and ride a more traditional kind straight up to the very top. The views of Paris are really something.

We really enjoyed the Eiffel Tower and did a lot of pictures. When we came down we went out on the lawn and did hundreds of obligatory SnapChat pictures for the girls. All in all, it was almost three hours at the tower.

We rode the subway back to Notre Dame and returned to the Latin Quarter for some lunch. Emily wanted a burger. Dominica wants Indian food. So we ended up splitting up. Madeline and Emily went to a gyro and burger place that they thought looked good. And Dominica and I went to the Bombay Cafe located directly under our apartment for palak paneer and salmon curry. We also tried cheese naan, said to be a specialty of Indian restaurants in France: it was very good.

Dominica’s feet really hurt so she was done for the day. We walked the six flights back up to our apartment and relaxed for about an hour. I worked on getting more media uploaded, and offloaded whatever I had on my phone and camera to the laptop. I charged up my phone and got it ready for round two for the day. Dominica fell asleep pretty quickly. Emily changed so that she would have on a different outfit for the second round of pictures for the day, and so that she could be in sneakers as everyone’s feet were getting pretty worn out. I did some laptop updates while we were sitting around. The apartment, without having any air conditioning, gets pretty warm in the afternoon sun. Even with the fan going it was not very comfortable.

At three thirty, Emily changed and we set back out to go see more of the city. We started by walked to the Louvre and taking a few pictures there. That is one impressive site, well worth seeing even if just from the outside.

There was supposed to be a Pandora store at the Lourvre, according to Google Maps, but there wasn’t. It turns out that Google Maps put the store right in the middle of a giant traffic circle.

We searched and found another not ridiculously far away, in an area that we have not been. Emily decided that she wanted to start by going that way. That was a nearly thirty minute walk on its own. What we ended up discovering was “the forum”, the giant central mall of Paris. It was so huge and so impressive. A giant architectural piece, five stories going mostly underground. Emily could not believe how big it was.

The Pandora Boutique was inside of the mall. We had to search and walk the mall for a while to find it. She found a charm that she wanted and bought it. She got a uniquely Greek one, and now a uniquely French one. She now wishes that she had bought the one in Italy and wants Dominica and I to go back and find it for her.

Before leaving the mall, Emily found a clothing shop that interested her and spent fifteen or twenty minutes shopping there and bought a tee shirt from Paris. On the way out of the mall I spotted a “Mi Store” that I thought was a Xiaomi store, and I was right. (Xiaomi owns Huomi that makes my and Dominica’s watches.) We went in and checked it out, it was pretty cool. Xiaomi makes a lot of cool stuff, including phones, watches, and scooters.

After our long shopping excursion, we started walking in the direction of the Arc d’Triumph and went by a large church, and found a row of cafes on the park there. We decided to stop in for afternoon refreshments. Emily got a cosmopolitan and I got a Fiero Tonic. It was very good. The service was really slow as they were busy and there was just one guy so we were stuck there for at least an hour.

When we were done, I had guessed that Emily was going to need food and that we should head back as, by the time that we were back, it was be after seven. She wasn’t sure if she was ready to go back, but by the time that we returned to our neighbourhood, as I had predicted, it was a food emergency and too late to make decisions about it.

We walked the Latin Quarter for a while looking at all of the menus trying to figure out where we could all eat. Dominica had woken up while we were at the cafe and had been so asleep that she had not known that we had left or that the afternoon had passed, nor that Madeline was there with her. We had her and Madeline get ready so that they could just come down and join us once we found a place, but we never did.

Once Dominica and Madeline joined us, the three of them argued over food options for probably fifteen minutes and finally decided that we would have French food one time, and that it would be tonight. There are so many essentially identical places here, we just chose a near one and went in.

We all four did Prix Fix menus, which is what ever single French shop does here. Dominica and I both did hot goat cheese salads and salmon fillets for dinner. Madeline and Emily both did French onion soup (new for both of them) and bœuf bourguignon. For dessert Dominica and Madeline did an upside down apple tart, Emily did a chocolate cake, and I did creme brulee. I think mine was the only one that was really good. Overall, no one was too impressed with the food. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. Nothing special at all. Other than the creme brulee, none of it was as good as what we would get back home, and none of it compared to Spanish, Italian, or Greek food. And the prix fix menu meant too little of what you really wanted, and too much of stuff you didn’t want, and just is a bad idea. So we did French food one night, no need to ever do that again. I had wanted to get the escargot, but was force because of the idiotic menu design, to choose between that and the salad which I also wanted. I was sad that I chose the salad because neither the salad was all that good, nor was the goat cheese. Not up to par with New York goat cheese that I am used to. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t as good as I expected it to be having just come from Italy.

Our after dinner plan was Fourth of July drinks. Emily and I had a plan to get red, white, and blue cocktails and do pictures for the holiday. So I scoured the Latin Quarter and found Rosie’s Smokehouse which was a US themed BBQ place that had a late happy hour and live music. We went there, but sadly they had run out of blue drink components! So no blue drinks for us. Emily was very disappointed. The live music was done well, but was nearly all the Beatles (why are we doing British crap-pop in am American bar on the Fourth of July?) so not my thing at all. The drinks were disappointing. My pina colada was not good (and was yellow, why would it be yellow?) Emily got a strawberry daquiri. Madeline got a white russian.

After dirinks everyone was tired. So straight back to the apartment and our horrible six story climb back up. That climb is so brutal that it really discourages us from going out casually. Once we return, we have returned and that is that. You can’t just “run out” to grab something like you would like to do. It’s exhausting to leave the apartment, so you have to really make it worth it.

Most everyone was asleep pretty quickly. I worked on Flickr and YouTube posts for a while, but fell asleep early myself. Tomorrow’s plan is to visit the catacombs first thing in the morning, then go to the Palais du Tokyo to see Valentina’s work on exhibition there. Then off to the Arc d’Triumph. Not sure if we have plans beyond that.

At this point, only four meals left in Paris. Two will be gyros, and one McDonald’s, Emily has already decided. So just scheduling each of those and then picking one last place to eat is all that is needed. You would think that we would have crepes more, but every crepe place in Paris is identical, has a terribly limited menu, and doens’t make crepes very well. They make them fast, but not well. And they are pretty expensive.

Overall that is our food experience in Paris: no variety. All over the city it is the exact same menus over and over again. No variation. In Greece, every crepe place has a giant, unique menu, for example. In Paris, they all have the same menu, and it is tiny with just a handful of ingredients. Same with the people selling things on the street, every “book seller” by the river sells the exact same set of things. There has to be a single supplier for all of them. And the junk beggars around the tourist sites, those people who walk around begging you to buy junk from them, all have exactly the same junk. They even display them in exactly the same manner. It’s all one thing under the hood. The lack of variety in every aspect of the city is pretty amazing. Granted, we are only seeing so much of the city, but it is miles and miles of it, and there is just no variety. This extends to cocktails, too. The same handful of drinks repeated ad nauseum. No one makes “any cocktail” like in the US, they all use pre-set lists, that are basically all the same.

Hopefully there will be a few hundred more Flickr pics by morning. Fingers crossed. The Internet is not super fast here, but it’s serviceable. Takes about two full days to upload one YouTube video, though.