Thursday, August 16, 2012

Paris

We took the train from Interlaken Ost to Basel, and then in Basel caught the TGV to Paris. The TGV in 2nd class was definitely a cattle-class. There wasn't nearly enough room for all the passengers to have a couple of luggage cases. People were sitting in the stairwells, in the aisle between cars. The reason why we had a 2nd class ticket for this leg was that all the first class seats for the Eurail passes were already taken. Given how packed the train was, I shouldn't have been surprised.
From Europe 2012 Selects
In Paris, XiaoQin's parents met us at the apartment, which relieved XiaoQin and I of childcare duties, but also added to our burden: neither of her parents spoke English or French, which meant that we had to arrange all the logistics of the trip and manage them as well. None of them could handle the baby backpack carrier as well, and given that the Parisian metro is much less stroller friendly than the Vienna U-Bahn, I would end up carrying Bowen whenever he needed to be in the carrier. Since the grandparents hadn't seen him for a while, they were however quite eager to carry him, so they snatched him away from the carrier as often as they could.
From Europe 2012 Selects
Bad weather in the Alps means relatively cool weather in Paris, so we lucked out there. We visited the Eiffel, the Musee D'Orsay, the Notre Dame, and took a boat tour. The piece of bad luck we had, however, was that no matter how hard I tried to find gourmet restaurants, things never worked out. We went to L'Ami Jean, for instance, but it was closed the one day we went there. Another restaurant was fully booked by the time we showed up. And one restaurant we called unbeknownst to us until showed up had shut down and another restaurant had taken its place. XiaoQin was very bummed, and so was I. But c'est la vie, as they say.
From Europe 2012 Selects
We met up with the couple we were exchanging homes with in Chinon, and traded phones and keys. Well, they gave us keys, but since our home has Schlage Keypad Locks, we just gave them a code. I can't recommend those enough if you're going to do home exchanges or even AirBnB rentals.

The departure from Paris was an involved affair. Since the stroller couldn't get onto the metro but could take the bus, we ended up taking the bus to Gare Montparnasse, which took an hour and a half. We were also to discover later an unpleasant surprise: our land lady on AirBnB had unreasonable expectations of cleanliness, and would hit us with a cleaning charge for what would have taken us 5 minutes to clean up if she'd bothered to talk to us before we left. I was definitely learning to hate Paris, and would hate it even more when we departed through the airport several weeks later.

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