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Brian’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 17 Aug 2011

Location: Valencia, Spain

MapCONTINUING PARIS: If there are any steps we didn’t walk up or down in Paris then I don’t want to know about them.
OOPs! Just been interrupted by the stewardess who’s handed me a “Drinks Service Card” It tells me, “Your choice of DRINK will be accompanied by one of our SPECIALITIES”.
OOPs – now the hot hand/face cloth!! Gotta tell ya – 1st Class (Preferente Clase) is definitely the way to go!!!
NOW where was I? Getting ourselves a Paris Museum Pass was one of the best things we did. With it and a good Metro map, I was able to plan out our journeys to Museums, monuments etc, and write out a “plan of attack” for the day. Worked a treat!!
So we were 2nd in line in the Priority Queue at The Louvre until the Paris Aristocracy arrived and just stood in front of us and glared and muttered and sneered at us plebs. AND I thought they’d got rid of them all with La Revolution!! There were definitely a few I would have gladly walked to Place de la Concorde (just down the road a tad) to have their heads lopped off. Sale coshons!! Anyway we saw what we wanted to see – closest we got to the Mona Lisa was about 15 metres unless we’d formed a ruck and burrowed our way through. August is definitely NOT the time to visit Paris.
We were 5th in line for the Musee D’Orsay and being there so early we sat down and had cafe et une bagette pour le petit dejeuner before we did our wanderings. What a remarkable transition for railway station to Museum. The collection is fantastique!! No wonder the crowds were so huge when it travelled to Canberra. Seeing it in its home was fabulous. I was most taken by a statue of a man, child and dog and will add it to the gallery soon. (ADDED but in the Louvre not here!!)
OTHER HIGHLIGHTS OF PARIS INCLUDED; (forgive spelling errors – maps, phrasebook etc in big suitcase) OOps wine and food has arrived – back soon!
• walked UP the Champs Elysses and climbed up AND down the 284 steps to the top of the Arc de Triomphe
• got a Tour de France cap for James
• had to buy a new Nikon Cool Pics camera to get a battery charger – so I’ll have one for sale when I get home – amazed at how difficult it is to get camera stuff in Paris
• visited Napoleon’s tomb at the Military Museum
• conquered the Metro and its rabbit warrens – its steps eventually led to my downfall!!
• visited Pompedeu Centre and Sacre Coeur but didn’t bother lining up to go into the church with the 100s of "true believers"
• Visited Opera Garnier – WOW!! Bought a couple of opera DVDs and some lovely ballerina shoe key rings for our dancer grandkids. Might have tickets to see Salome on the Saturday before we come home
• Moulin Rouge – it’.s down for the Sunday
BACK TO STAIRS!! The Avia Hotel spiral staircase eventually got me!!! After the worst Thai meal I’ve ever had (the Bambou Restaurant was across the road from the Avia and we were totally buggered) I managed to fall down half a flight – sober!!!
A few bumps and bruises, a cut and accompanying shiner was LUCKILY, the total damage. All better now.

On the positive side, the Avia staff was friendly and most helpful - all speaking excellent English. SO despite the room being so tiny you had to go outside to change your mind, the staff's help, and the position right next to Pasteur Metro Station ensured a memorable stay in Paris. Creaky loved it and she can now declare "J'adore Paris!!"

The train for Paris Austerlitz Station (which will need a serious upgrade to make it a museum) to Barcelona was a treat. 3 course meal with welcoming champagne and accompanying Vino Tinto D.O. Rioja was very pleasant. Then back to our small but comfy 2 berth sleeper with private toilet & shower. A wake up call and then to brekkie and we were in Barcelona - on time!!