a year ago, May 14th

I ran out of time and steam to write much about the last week of our Europe trip a year ago, and since I’m rereading my paper travel diary almost daily, I thought I’d put in a few snippets from it to fill in the gaps, when I get the chance.

We said tearful goodbyes to our family in London after a lovely two and half week stay with them. We were picked up by a taxi service and taken to St. Pancras station which was very nice, like an airport with efficient and friendly service. Way too early as we were, we wandered about then sat down for coffee at a well-known American chain and enjoyed a truly piping hot cuppa with full cream, something that seemed rare in most places in England.

a view from the train still in the UK

The Eurostar train was very pleasant, smooth-riding and fast, offering nice glimpses of the English countryside, and even another ‘white horse’ on a hillside, and a few tunnels along the way. We did not even realize when we were in France (I’d briefly dozed while husband was reading) until I noticed an IKEA Maison and the highways with drivers on the ‘right’ side! The countryside did not look that different.

Gare du Nord station in Paris was not as nice as St. Pancras for parts of it were under reconstruction. It was very busy there while we waited anxiously for our driver who was late to pick us up and take us to the apartment that we’d rented for the week. He did arrive and was most apologetic due to the rush hour. First impressions from the back of the car were of polite drivers but many aggressive motorcyclists, including women, and regular cyclists on bicycle paths that were part of wide sidewalks rather than the busy road. People seemed very relaxed even in the rush hour.

We picked up our keys and were then driven down a very narrow lane, more of a pedestrian lane, to our building in Le Marais district close to the Seine River. The elevator was not working so we had quite a trek up the winding stairs with luggage up to the third floor, thanks to the help of the driver. The apartment, as we expected, was modest but clean and facing an inner courtyard so fairly quiet. Lovely big bed after that narrow hideway at daughter’s and a real shower in the bathroom!

our street in Le Marais

After relaxing for a while we went out to explore the area. Two small supermarkets below us and a health food store around the corner, many cafes and patisseries around. Hôtel de Ville (city hall) on a big square with a carousel and fountains, beyond the river and a bridge to Île de la Cité. Lots of people out enjoying the evening. Nice. A light supper at a nearby cafe before we wandered back “home”.

Hôtel de Ville square at dusk

the fountains by Hôtel de Ville square

Wow. We are really in Paris!

May 14, 2010 in Travel by Marja-Leena