We had a noon flight from Geneva to Paris. We picked up breakfast near our hotel in Lausanne, and made the ½ hour drive. Got gas near the airport. I think we spent a little over $100 on gas to drive 881km. Parking turned out to be the major expense of having the car. But it was worth it to have the freedom to move about on our own schedule.
I needed to find the VAT refund desk. It seems it was purposefully put in a place almost impossible to find. We asked 4 different people and got 4 different answers. It required going to the international terminal, which of course was separate from the terminal we needed, which was just for flights to France. I was determined not to sacrifice the refund, and eventually found it. The official behind the desk didn’t speak English, took my forms, grunted and stamped them. I had thought that Ellen’s Thomas Sabo purchase was also large enough to qualify for a VAT refund, but it turns out we weren’t provided with the right forms by Sabo. Oh well.
The flight to Paris was fine. We got our luggage and got on a airport subway to the hotel area. No signs were visible for Hilton, so it took us awhile to figure out where it was, but once we did, we were able to walk our luggage over there, check-in and drop our stuff off. Next, Paris!
|Finish line for Tour de France|
We took an express train from right near the hotel into the city. We had debated going to the left bank or Champs de Elysee. The Champs won, but boy were we in for a surprise when we came out of the Metro. We were coming up about 1 hour before the cyclists arrived for the finish of the Tour de France. There was a huge crowd, police everywhere, big screen tvs showing the cyclists. Just the mess we weren’t looking for. So we walked away from the crowds, came across a nice view of the Eifell Tower, and hopped on a bus to the Left Bank. Careful readers might remember an accidental run-in with the Tour during our vacation last year.
Ellen is at home on the Left Bank, having lived there with her parents. We walked along the Seine, enjoying the views. We stopped at a cafe for coffee for Ellen and a beer for me. Having had Swiss and French beers throughout, I decided to drink my favorite Pilsner Urquell since the cafe had it. They also offered free WiFi, so we used our iPod Touches to catch up on email.
We then went into Notre Dame, just as the 6:30 service was starting. We got to see the procession, the incense being spread and the monseigneur smiling at the children. It is such an impressive building, it was extraordinary to see a service in progress. The pews were filled, and flat panel screens mounted throughout allowed all to see the service.
We had trouble deciding about dinner. We looked for a few restaurants that Ellen had researched, finding one, but it was closed on Sunday. We finally decided on a French restaurant in a touristy area. We both had forgettable meals, but struck up a conversation with a woman dining alone next to us. She was a education professor from Western Illinois University, in Paris for a conference. The conversation improved the overall experience of the meal.
We walked along Rue St Michele as the sun started to set. We then took the 35 minute train ride back to our airport hotel.
All that’s left to do is find some breakfast out by the airport and take our 1:30pm flight back to Dulles.