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In September, we will be traveling to Italy for cooking school and sightseeing.   We’re signed up for Rick Steves’ seven day tour of Rome.   We can hardly wait.

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And so the adventure begins.  A trip that was to be a week at cooking school and a week in Paris has turned into two weeks in Paris.  Concerns about the riots over the French government raising the retirement age to 62 caused all the other cooking school participants to cancel.  But Susie and I persevere.

My trip begins with a flight to Charlotte with a layover in Memphis.  I’ve never been to the Memphis airport before.  It is unmistakably permeated with the smell of bar-b-que.  If I weren’t worried about traveling after eating strange food, I would have had some.

I left Barry with more instructions that he wanted, but I will bet I forgot to tell him something he will need.  Probably the best instruction was to call Shannon when in doubt.

We leave tomorrow afternoon on an overnight flight to Paris.  Here’s hoping I survive the jet lab.

We have rented an apartment in Paris from Pascal who was very helpful when our plans changed.  He found us a place for the extra week and transportation from the airport. 

I’ve been packed for a week.  If I forgot something, I’ll borrow it from Susie.

Woo hoo! We are finally on our way!!  We’re sitting in the Envoy Club waiting for our flight.  I used to get perks like this when I traveled for my work.  It seems to be the perfect touch to start a trip to Paris!!!!

After we went to the gate, Useless Air delayed our flight (surprise), moved the gate (more surprise), stopped announcing departure delays (no longer a surprise) and finally took off 2 hours late.  Normally, I’d take this is stride, but I was so ready to GO!

Our flight leaves at 4:45 but first we had to make an unplanned stop at Ross.  While closing my suitcase, I noticed the zipper was coming un-sewed.  This might have been mildly amusing if it hadn’t already happened before I left home with my other suitcase.  So now I have packed three times.  And now I have a new suitcase I hope I can recognize at the baggage claim.

Somewhere over the Atlantic – there are 2 girls in their mid 20’s sitting in front of me.  They have been laughing, bouncing, and being generally rowdy since we took off.  The steward finally came up and told them to be quiet and they settled down for a few minutes.  They started up again and I kicked the back of their seats and told them to cut it out in French.  That stopped them.  But by this time, there was no hope of a nap.

When we got to Paris, we had to wait in line for an hour to go through customs.  It was not that customs was a difficult process; it was just that there were that many people waiting to go through.  We traveled through tubes to get to baggage claim.  I thought I was in a SiFi movie.

As far as we could determine, there was only one door open that would allow you to go out of the terminal.  Once we got out, there was Serge waiting to drive us into town.  It had begun to rain and with the lack of sleep, I was really glad we didn’t have to negotiate a taxi or shuttle to get us to our location.  This door to door service is the only way to go!

Eiffel Tower from Right Bank

The rain stopped by the time we got into the city sand the sun began to peak out. Serge was friendly and spoke very good English.  He asked about our plans and Peggie and I said in unison, that we were going to be touring the chocolatiers.  He told us that there is a chocolate festival going on at Pont Neuf this weekend.  As we got near to our final destination, he told us that he had a surprise for us.  He turned a corner and directly in front of us was the Eiffel Tower!!  It was awe inspiring.

The apartment we’ve rented for our 2 week stay is about 3 blocks away from the Eiffel Tower and is it SMALL!  It is on the top floor of 30 rue Cler and is accessible by an elevator which is intended for 3 people.  Peggie and I had to travel separately with our suitcase to the 6th floor.  (Actually it’s the 7th floor since the French first floor is 0 not 1).  We spent a little time unpacking and then went out for a walk around the neighborhood.  As we walked back to the elevator to see if two adults really could fit into it, we saw the Eiffel Tower again through a cute little window at the end of the hall.

Rue Cler market

Our street is soooo charming.  It is a rue marche (market street) and is a throw back to how the neighborhoods in Paris used to look.  The street is closed to traffic and only deliveries are allowed.  Since this is the last street of its kind in Paris, there are as many locals as tourists who shop and eat here.  There is a fromagerie directly across the street and a wine shop next door.  So lunch was taken care of.  The street is filled with fresh fruit and vegetable markets as well as several super markets.  Well, not like the super markets we have here.  They are very compact and the sizes are small.  As we learned in Italy, the Europeans shop daily and there is NO STORAGE available.

We planned to shop for dinner, but the jet lag hit us.  We headed back to the apartment for a nap and decided that dinner could wait until another day.

30 rue Cler

Pictures can be deceptive.  Even though the web site said the apartment was 35 sq. mt. you really don’t get a feel for how small that is until you stand in it. 

Pretty much the whole apartment except the bedroom and bath.

But Rue Cler is all the guide books say it is – fresh veggies, flowers, bread, you name it.  And the narrow streets really are driven on.  Makes you understand why someone invented the smart car.

When we came into Paris from the airport, our driver Serge took us right by the Eiffel Tower.  Pretty spectacular to round a corner and then see it looming right in front of you.

The weather is not bad – mid 50’s to 60’s.  The metro is only one block away.  We’ll use it to get to most sights.  Things really are close together. 

Time to get planning our itinerary – now that I have had a nap. 

Our apartment includes free international phone calls.  We’ve both called home as the news repeats a story about bombs being sent by UPS cargo to the U. S. from Yemen.

Me at Eiffel Tower

The day was sunny and pleasant.  We had a leisurely breakfast and a go at the shower and finally got out of the apartment by 10:30.  We thought we were going to walk to Pont Neuf to see the chocolate festival.  After a quick detour to the Eiffel Tower and the Trocadero, we made it as far as the Quay Branley and gave out.  We stopped at a news stand to get a map (Paris par Arrondisement is the ONLY one you want, thank you for the recommendation Linda Matney).  We stopped for lunch in one of the many cafes. 

Jet lag was talking to us, so we headed back to rue Cler to shop for dinner and tomorrow’s breakfast.  To our surprise, all of the markets were in the process of closing up at 3:30.  We stepped around the corner to a “Convenience” store. It was a miniature of the supermarket with just about one of everything the bigger store carries.  We bought a few items and on our way home discovered the Patisserie was OPEN!!!  So we had our first pastry – most delicious!  It will be hard to go back to the real world.