Well, our one day trip into Paris actually worked out to be 1.5 days. Read on...
The plan was to get going at the crack of dawn...ok, 3 hours before the crack of dawn. We woke up at 4am, packed a single backpack of just the bare necessities for the day. Leaving at 4:30am we walked the 15 minutes to the nearest train station and caught the first train to the London Waterloo station. We were excited for the day, but feeling pretty tired because we were up until midnight the night before.
We only had to wait about 20 minutes between getting off the local train and onto the Eurostar train. The Eurostar is that train in Mission Impossible that goes over 200 miles per hour! Unfortunately, we didn't see too much of the country side because we both slept the first 2 hours :) The last half hour before arriving in Paris was beautiful though. The green rolling hills (surprising for Jan!), tiny towns with old church steeples, and trains flying by in the opposite direction.
The first order of business when we arrived at the Gare du Nord train station was to get a map and buy an all-day pass for the metro. That part was easy enough. We found another tourist couple who knew the metro better than we did and they showed us the best way to the Eiffel Tower.
The Eiffel Tower was by far the BEST part of Paris. We took the elevator clear to the tippy top. The views were awesome and despite the cold, high winds we had an absolute blast!
After the Tower, we took the metro to Notre Dame to find Quasi Moto. We didn't find him, but we did find a yummy Donor Kebab in the nearby Latin Quarter. That's right, DONOR KEBAB. Jason, Travis, Brian -- Wipe the drool off your keyboard! :) Not quite as good as the German version, but still pretty tasty!
By this time it started to rain so we picked up a cheap umbrella--our only real souvenir from Paris :( We were determined to not let it get us down though, so we headed off to get some real French culture at the Louvre. The good news was...at least it wasn't closed. The bad news was that we had only 1 hour before it did! Oh well, we ran to check out the Mona Lisa and then wandered around for the rest of the time. Can you say, "naked statues?" :) But, for the sake of the children, here's the edited version.
When we left the Louvre we had 2 1/2 hours before we had to be back to the train station
so we figured we could get some dinner then jet back to the Eiffel Tower for a few night-time pictures. We went back to the Latin Quarter for dinner and found one of the many "authentic" French restaurants serving cheese fondue. At first we were pretty apprehensive, given our, shall we say, "less than scrumptious" meal at China Town the weekend before. We couldn't understand a thing on the menu (it was all in French, if you can believe that!) Finally, we just asked the waiter (who didn't speak much English) to give us something good :)
I thought the cheese fondue was delicious, and Allyson liked it too. They gave us bread, potatoes and various meats to dip in the melted cheese. Yum!
We left the restaurant and picked up a scrum-diddily-umptious Nutella and banana crepe.
After that, we felt like we had plenty of time to get back to the Eiffel Tower and still make it to the train station in time. Our train didn't leave until 8:45 and it was only 7:30. We jumped on the first train back to the Tower and made it just in time for the 8:00 light show. We took a couple of pictures then jumped on a train in the opposite direction to head back to the Gare du Nord station.
Let's just say it took us longer to get back to the train station than we planned. By the time we got off the local train it was 8:30 so we broke into a dead run for the Eurostar. The station was so confusing though we had to keep stopping people and asking (frantically) "Which way to the Eurostar?!"
We came to a skidding halt at the entrance to the Eurostar terminal where they had about 10 security people blocking the way. They were all holding up their hands saying "sorry, too late!" We begged and argued but they wouldn't budge! We still had about 13 minutes before the train left, but they wouldn't let us into the terminal. They said you had to be there 30 minutes before departure and there was NO way we were getting on this train tonight. They handed us a list of local hotels and told us to come back in the morning for the 8:07 train.
We were completely bummed!
But, looking on the bright side...at least we got to stay the night in Paris. Here's a picture looking out our hotel window onto the "dodgey" part of town :)
Well, we made it back home this morning safe and sound. What an awesome adventure!