December 16, 2019
Behind in blogging as usual. We are in Paris and if I don't blog this today it won't get done. I never finished blogging about our last trip in September to Spain and Portugal.
George and Linda, who decided to join us after we had booked the trip, drove their car to Sky Harbor in Phoenix and we all flew out on Saturday. We were early for our noon flight so had a great breakfast at the airport. Our flight took us to Dallas where we had a connection to Paris. We were happy to see a man with a motorized cart when we got off the plane that took all four of us to the other terminal. We had a short wait before we boarded. Linda and George had a shorter wait because they had upgraded seats and boarded first. Both flights arrived early.
I told Bill that 8 hour flight was just practice for our 25 hour flight in March for our next trip. Needless to say that's the part of traveling no one likes.
We arrived on Sunday morning and you could tell that a shower had past through as the runways were wet. There were no lines at all at customs and our luggage had already arrived before we got down to the carousel. Our Grand Circle representatives were waiting for us on the other side of the doors. Our driver grabbed our luggage cart and showed us to the van. The weather was mild, so we didn't need to get our jackets out.
Grand Circle used to include the town on the guest list that is sent to you with your final documents. I was surprised to see a couple from Arizona listed and further surprised when I saw their last name was Carr. They arrived shortly after we did and we found out they live about 2 or 3 miles from us. They weren't related to Bud and Cathie though. Another couple is from Morgantown, WV which wasn't that far away from where we came from. Nobody from West Virginia has ever been on a trip that we were on before. We talked with one lady who graduated in 1954 the same year as Bill. After further chats we learned she went to high school in Steubenville, Ohio and was the rival school to Follansbee, WV, the one Bill graduated from. All of this from a group of 68 travelers.
Our program director had called us a few days before we left to find out if there was anything special we wanted to see while in France. She seemed like she was going to be a lot of fun. We were in the air when she sent us an email about her father. When we arrived we found out that her father died a few hours before and therefore we have a different program director.
More than half of the 68 guests had arrived and were having their first taste of french wine at lunch. It's always nice to chat with different people at every meal and of course the icebreaker is, what trips have you taken. I was hoping to find someone that has taken the Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand trip we have booked for March but so far haven't found anyone. I have decided to add the South America and India trips on my trip planner list after talking with some people.
Hal and Sue from our Spain and Portugal trip wanted to know if Harry, the waiter, was still on the ship. Harry was one of the first crew members I talked with. I told him he was the reason we returned to this ship and France.
After lunch, our program director took us on a vicinity walk to familiarise us with the area. Even though we are still docked in the same place by the Eiffel Tower, we saw different things on our walk.
It looks like Bill is wearing earmuffs in this photo but he actually has his own headphones instead of the supplied ones that hook on your ear. If you look closely you can see someone walking by in shorts. It's nice temperatures but not that nice.
This balloon in Citroen Park near where we are docked measures the air pollution in Paris. You can also take rides on it.
During our welcome briefing our program director explained the current conditions with the protest strike. The subways are closed down except the ones that don't have operators (operatorless?). There are two bus lines that are operating, the 42 and 72 which are both nearby. I really think the traffic was worse the last times we were here. Some government places are closed but it is an hour by hour thing. We are keeping our fingers crossed that we can visit Versailles.
Did I mention that we didn't sleep at all on the airplane and we know the worst thing you can do is take a nap to get over jet lag. My head kept bobbing up and down but once we got to the dining room for dinner we became wide awake again. Of course, we skipped the nightly entertainment and went straight to bed.
This morning we woke to rain, but by the time we left at 9:15 it had stopped and the sun came out later. Of course, our first stop was the Eiffel tower.
George and Linda are enjoying the trip too.
We made another stop and then visited the Christmas markets. We've seen the ones in Germany but these are different. These are locally crafted items that you won't find anywhere else. They are not Christmas items but could be very nice gifts.
We arrived back just in time for lunch. Not that we were hungry but you would have thought we were by all the food on our plates.
After lunch Bill and I walked for an hour or so exploring the area. It's fun to try and chat with people who don't speak English.
Bill is upset because inflation has hit the restrooms. It used to be 20 cent euro to use the restrooms, now it was 80 cent euro.
I threw this blog together and now it's time for the Captain's Welcome Dinner. Hopefully, more tomorrow.