12.12.2009 - 12.12.2009 38 °F
Day trip to the city of Love and Stonehenge--miles travelled ... 426 there and back.
Sara and I survived our twelve hour marathon flight back to Old London Town. Dead tired we took the Hotel Hoppa to the Premier Inn. They have not disappointed us yet: the bed was beautiful, hot water, and great British hospitality. We went to bed early so that we would be fresh for our short trip into Wales to take Poppy to his puppy sitter, Kirsty’s brother, Stuart.
We left early to meet Neal at Amersham station on the Metropolitan line. It turns out our travel time was more than expected. We took a bus and five trains and nearly two and a half hours to get there. While Neal and Kirsty attended Madeline’s school play, Sara and I relaxed in Great Missenden. We had a fantastic snack and relaxing time with the friendly folks at the Cross Keys pub. I made a speech there toasting the friendliness and overall good quality of the British people which was met with enthusiasm and good wishes by those present.
The next morning we were headed to the City of Love thanks to OON (aka: double zero N- licensed to kill, Neal Thathapudi’s) international intrigue planning.
Before starting our trip, we gave the girl’s Thai purses and some fabulous Thai “tea”. Which, we were lucky to get across the border with – barely got in! The girls sported their purses around Paris proudly and letting mom know that the purse ALWAYS has “to show!” (don’t hide it under the coat, mum!)
The countryside on the way to the chunnel was stunningly green despite the time of year, and on the French side the trend continued. We saw several beautiful small towns interspersed among the green fields of northern France.
We arrived at Gare du Nord to begin our adventures by taking the Metro. We exited at St. Germain de Pres and began the quest for my new shoes since I only had flip flops in the 35 degree weather. My toes began to get a little numb, but there were no good shoes to be found. The streets of Paris and Eglise St. Germain were stunningly beautiful.
After I got us lost we finally took the metro again to meet up at Notre Dame with Neal and family. The size of the Cathedral is difficult to grasp from a distance. Its towers and the details of its decoration only become apparent as you draw near to it and see the small people in front of it lining up to enter.
My foot was cold and hurting when we encountered our friends again at the entrance to the church. So, we decided to take a rest at a nearby café. Madeline and Isabella were chipper and in good spirits as we had our first snack in Paris: mulled wine and hot chocolates! Yummy!
Afterwards, Madeline had the first two of many tumbles off the curbs of Paris. She’s tough though and just got up and kept going!
After a circuit of the cathedral to appreciate the flying buttresses we moved on to visit the Eiffel Tower.
Once again, Paris did not disappoint. The buildings and park around the tower accentuated its height and stunning metal architecture.
Sara and I struck a pose before we moved on hand in hand with our friends to Montmarte and the Sacre Coer.
Finally, we found a size of shoe big enough and marched off with shoes to the train station.
We dutiful queued up at the passport inspection station to board the Eurostar, pre-blizzard shut down, thank goodness. The immigration officer was a serious looking blonde woman. As we moved to the front of the line she began to try to break us with her steely glare. “How long will you be in the U.K.? When are you going back to the U.S.? Where will you stay on your return? How much do you have in Savings? Does the person you will be staying with in the U.S. know that you are going to stay with them? When does the contract on your rental of your house end? Where are the tickets for all of your flights between now and then!!???”
Luckily she had to stop asking questions because she ran out of breath!!! What is your profession?” In triumph, she said that she had caught us committing fraud because we were not working and had entered “Social Worker” for our profession. It didn’t matter that it was our profession and that it had been accepted in about 13 countries before we met her!! She then dutifully told us that no matter the time out of the country we must carry all our documentation and all of our tickets with us at all times! Of course we did not have this for our day trip, we just had a purse and our passports, after all we were only out of the country for eight hours!! She said that she could detain us at the train station, but that she wouldn’t …Thanks to double zero N’s connections to the queen.