Today was our sight-seeing day in Paris, in which we tried to cram as many Paris sights into one day as we could. I was there for five months in 1966-67 and didn’t see it all so I was interested in how they would work this.
Our first breakfast at the Ibis Hotel was good, and even included make-your-own crepes! We ate a lot, knowing that subsequent meals might be delayed. Then it was onto the bus and off to the Eiffel Tower.
There are some things in life that are underwhelming, like Stonehenge. I know it’s a great feat of engineering and all that, but it looks so small against the landscape. The Eiffel Tower on the other hand is overwhelming. I remember when I walked around a corner in August, 1966, and there it was, huge and beautiful. I’m here to report it hasn’t changed. It is still just overwhelming. Our group had a good time riding the elevators to the second level, taking pictures of the vistas and each other and enjoying the peerless views on a sunny, clear day.
We went to a place for lunch near the Arch de Triomph which is still as grand as ever and still as terrifying with its about 16 lanes of traffic coming together. The lunch was good (with vegetables!) and we had a leisurely drive down the Champs Elysees to the Louvre for our tour with a guide. The process took over 45 minutes to set up, and while the guide was knowledgeable, the place was hot, crowded and noisy. Supposedly it would take three months to look at everything on display and I believe it. I am happy to report the Mona Lisa looks better and is displayed better than in 1966. And the controversial entryway with its glass pyramids is quite striking.
A group of us went up to the Galeries Lafayette store where a crazy sale was going on. I bought a map of Paris. We walked over to the nearest subway station, figured out the fare card and jumped on the first train that came by. Becky and I were knocked back by the doors closing and had to take the next train. Our group was sitting on a bench in the station,waiting for us. We ran into some other friends and had dinner at a cafe across the street from the hotel.
Today’s experiences were a reminder that this trip is not just about singing and sightseeing: it has been an opportunity to strengthen old relationships, create new ones and to know that when life knocks you back, there will be friends waiting at the next station to make sure you’re all right and to pick you up again.