Amsterdam to Paris

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adventures of the visitors to Amsterdam.

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Amsterdam to Paris

Postby Weldon » Sat Apr 18, 8:27 pm

I had done this twice before on Amsterdam trips, taken a side trip to Paris.

What made this one different was the wonderful fact that Thalys train fares for me went down due to the fact that I became eligible for senior rates. That means if one books early enough, once can get a 69euro one way fare in First Class. I got it one way but not the other. Oh well. Since the last time I made this side trip, they shaved about 45 minutes off the journey. That's because they built special byways for the train to travel at high speed in Holland and Belgium. So, the ride from A'dam to Paris took about 3 1/2 hours.

In the first class car, solo travelers can sit in a single seat as opposed to a quartet grouping that you're stuck with otherwise. They serve you a meal. Breakfast was somewhat continental going and kind of picnic-style coming back. The meat entree was this chopped beef suspended in gelatin (very European) with potato salad. The beer and wine flowed freely. The scenery whizzed by. Nearly impossible to take pictures because of that and reflections in the glass. So, I just relaxed. The seats are bigger, you have more room, and in Paris you can go in the Explorers Lounge. I think there are free beverages but I used it for the free wifi and to charge up electronics. It was crowded for a bit. My train left Amsterdam at 6:15; the 1st Class lounge was not open.

It had been 14 years since I'd last been to Paris. I was there this time on April 8-9. I remembered it as an ideal place for one who loved city life. That is still so. The Metro still takes you anywhere. The trains run every 3-5 minutes. You're never waiting long. The eateries are endless. How do they all stay in business? There are bookstores, magazine stands, little markets, big markets, boutiques, cafes, bakeries, and other conveyances that line the streets. Then there are the museums, parks, sights, statues, and other places of interest to a visitor that can have you take an hour just to walk two blocks because you want to check things out every few steps. (Well, I do, anyway...this is why it's a good thing for me to take a solo trip every now and then. I can just hear a travel buddy go,"Willya come ON , already!")

I stayed at the Albe St. Michel and, as being in the same relative class as my Amsterdam Hotel, was everything the Rho was not. I came there at 10:30AM and got into my room right away. The room was bright as opposed to dank. The heat was controlled by electronic thermostat as opposed to radiator and not stuck on "on". It was noisy because it was right above busy Rue de la Huchette. But when the window closed, silence. All the channels on the TV came in strong as well as the wifi. It smelled nice, like a combination of candy and fresh flowers. I took about an hour to just regroup, vape, look at the TV, and then, in the best style or Paul McCartney's grandfather, it was time to go out paradin'.

So out I went in the direction of Boulevard St. Germaine by way of Rue de la Harpe, the street the hotel was on. The little street is packed with restaurants. At this time of day, they were still getting deliveries for fresh food. Blvd. St. Germaine was bustling. It was just so different to be back in Paris again. I was looking for Monoprix. That's a grocery store. I was looking for coffee and chocolate. I walked west on BSG, snapping pictures all the way. Located the post office and Cartier. I thought maybe I'd pick up something nice for the Farmer. When I looked at the prices in the window, I figured I'd keep an eye out for that special brand of sardines that she hadn't had in 20 years instead. She was a student at the Sorbonne for a year back in the 90's.

I passed by an open door of St. Germain des Pres and went inside. I may have been in here but I don't remember. It would have been in the days before digital photography became regular. It was dark in there and my shots had a blue tinge to them. Something interesting I noticed that I hadn't noticed before. The main altar is flanked by stained glass depictions of "God" written in Hebrew characters. It would correspond with "YWYH" and be recognized as Jehovah to Christians. Interesting if it survived the hundreds of years the church had been there.

After my little tour, I came out the west end and Cafe Les Deux Magots was right in front of me. I'd been there several times before but now was not the time because Monoprix was right across the street. 150 euros later I was loaded down with two big shopping bags of coffee, chocolate and gift tins. My favorite French brand is Carte Noir (drinking some right now). It has just a hint of smoky flavor. I can't find it anywhere here in the US. I took everything they had and still felt I didn't get enough.

So now I have two big bags of groceries and I walked about a mile from the hotel. I thought I'd get a cab but my trusty map told me a Metro station was right outside (St. Germain Des Pres) and my hotel was steps from another (St. Michel) and there was a series of escalators to street level. On I went. When I got to St. Michel, I did not come to the "sortie" that had the escalators and neglected to get the number of it. So up the stairs I shlepped. I'd never find those escalators again.

After I dropped off my cargo, I was off again to meet My Counterpart who I planned earlier to meet for dinner. She made a last minute vacation trip to Paris over New Orleans because, as it turned out, it was cheaper. We both teach the same grade and have been partners at the same school for over 15 years. Since we were going to be in Paris at the same time, I suggested a get-together. The Farmer was not weird about it even though My Counterpart and I went out at one time. That was right after Young Indy when I thought my life was over and also the last time I saw Paris. For years, I thought I could never return. Not only could I return, I'll be back later for New Years.

So, off I set again, this time in the opposite direction. Went over the bridge in the direction of Notre Dame. The line was two blocks long to get in. So, I walked along the Rue du Cloitre Notre Dame side taking pictures of the gargoyles and dodging international tourists. I made my way to the Ile St. Louis. I like this place a lot because it's a city within a city in Paris. Some old people who live on this island across from Notre Dame look at going off it as a major excursion. Most everything they need is right there. And so it is.

The Farmer expressed an interest in staying there for New Years but all the online sites said the hotels were booked. I decided I would check out the places personally and see for myself. Two of the places I inquired said they had rooms for New Years week. So, my conclusion is that if you book direct with them you stand a better chance. Even better face to face. In the end, I didn't book because of the lack of immediate proximity to Metro stations.

I had a mini-quiche at one of the Ile's bakeries and took more pictures. All the ice cream places had lines. The weather had been cool in Amsterdam but in Paris, I never needed to wear my coat. The temp was around 70 and sunny both days I was there. I walked back to the Cite Metro station to meet My Counterpart and true to plan, there she was. We sat on a bench and caught up. She's not into the Amsterdam scene like I (like we) am. Her casual French is terrible. For example, she thinks "voila" is "voy-la". The strength of her character wins the day in any situation, so she does all right.

My biggest problem in traveling along is the dining scenario. Ultimately, and I don't care what anyone says, it's all set up for two or more not solos. (My Counterpart doesn't have this problem; maybe it's different for women.) My best meal in Amsterdam was at a brunch buffet because it just doesn't work well in a nice restaurant with only one. So now I'm part of a table for two but I thought she'd want to go the the nearest place, one of those nice looking places near by the Cite Metro. Instead, she suggests Brasserie Bowfinger which is exactly what I had been thinking of since it was near Bastille which was close to her hotel. Beautiful! Off we go.

I had forgotten the internecine nature of the Paris Metro. Fourteen years ago, in comparison, I bounded around the stations without thinking about it. This time, I thought about it and got my workout. Up, down and all around under there to find the right "sortie" in the Bastille station before going up to the right place and there we were in sight of the famous restaurant. We get in there, hoping to sit down for an early dinner at 5:45 but they don't open until 6:30. So, we take a short walk past the Synagogue des Tournelles on to the Place des Voges.

We kill time there watching the children play and me having a vape or two. There were no e-cigs two years ago and in these modern times, no one can tell if it's nicotine or hash oil. We know better. At the appointed hour, it's time to go back.

I had the best meal of the trip there at Bowfinger. The dining room is a thing of beauty, reminiscent of (to me) the Palace Hotel ballroom in San Francisco but on a smaller scale. I didn't have anything overly French except maybe for the classic French onion soup. My entree was a rib steak. She had scallops. I had done this twice before on Amsterdam trips, taken a side trip to Paris.

I had the best meal of the trip there at Bowfinger. The dining room is a thing of beauty, reminiscent of (to me) the Palace Hotel ballroom in San Francisco but on a smaller scale. I didn't have anything overly French except maybe for the classic French onion soup. My entree was a rib steak. She had scallops. Both our entrees were not very adventurous. You can get great steaks and scallops (especially scallops) where we live. Oh well. I did have two kir royales and for dessert we split a profiterole. That's vanilla ice cream with warm chocolate sauce poured over it table side. Incredible!

After dinner, it was time to go. Counterpart was worried I might need a cab but I assured her I'd be OK on the Metro which I was. I nearly did go in the wrong direction at Bastille. Luckily I realized I was on the wrong side before the train came but groaned at having to go downstairs, down the hall, go downstairs again, down another hall, upstairs, downstairs, two halls, upstairs and down another hall before I ended up in the right place. I didn't sleep all that well. Shouldn't have had coffee with my profiterole.

Going to have to leave Day II for later. No need to just vape in my one home.
Last edited by Weldon on Sun Apr 19, 8:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Bohannon » Sat Apr 18, 9:04 pm

Lovely report. I dined solo once at a small bistro and was treated royally. I love Paris, been there three times and not sure I'm done. Last time (with the kids) was very museum oriented, yes, including the Louvre which I avoided on previous trips. Took a train to Versailles, a worthwhile trip with an excellent meal near the train station. We even took a metro ride to the edge of Paris to visit the cinema museum, small but pretty cool.

Awaiting your next report.

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Postby Banks » Sun Apr 19, 2:42 am

Your best yet, mon ami... Paris indeed calls you back forever... I love dining at Bofinger, and long for a return... it seems either one gets Paris or you don't... :)

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Postby Rudy » Sun Apr 19, 4:31 am

Yeah I don't get it.

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Postby moe. » Sun Apr 19, 6:22 am

Nice read Weldon. Thanks. Looking forward to day 2.

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