Saturday, April 6, 2013

Day 3 in Paris, Arc de Triomphe & Champs Elysees 4/6/2013

I woke up around 7 am, my wake up time is getting later and later every day.  I started the day by looking for trains to Barcelona, Spain, the website directed me to book in person because my departure date was next week, too soon to book online.  I looked up Eurail pass online and found the Paris station for the Eurail help office, got dressed and headed to the train station.

I spent the morning and part of the afternoon at Gare de Paris Saint Lazare station booking the rest of my trip through Europe. The Eurail representative was very helpful and helped me plan my entire tour of Europe.  We initially booked my trip to Barcelona, Madrid and Lisbon, then the Eurail representative suggested I change my itinerary if I planned to get to all of the countries on my list.  He explained Spain  and Portugal are from everything it is better to end my trip in Spain/Portugal rather than beginning there, best way to get as  much use out of my Eurail Global Pass as possible.  After 3+ hours of discussing my plans and booking tickets on various trains, we were finished, the Eurail representative said he hungry and tired, but his wife was a great cook and he would eat at home.

I was tired after standing for 3+ hours planning my Europe trip, I was also happy to have an idea, some concrete plans for my tour of Europe.  Now I can start booking hostels in advance and planning more detailed itineraries  I know where I am going.  My plans can change, the nice thing about the Eurail Pass, you are not tied into anything, you can change your reservations, adjust your plans if necessary.  My Eurail representative also taught me a few French words, one was Haut, window or window seat.

After we finished booking my Eurail pass tickets, I asked the Eurail representative for directions to Champs Elysees.  He gave me quick directions, I thanked him twice in French and English for all the time he spent helping me and set out for sightseeing.  I was not sure of the directions the Eurail rep gave me so I double checked in the information office at the station, the person confirmed, 2 metro stops to Champs Elysees, to be sure I knew where I was going, I asked a third person when I got into the metro, he gave me the clearest directions and I was at the Champs Elysees Metro in no time.

The first thing I saw when I exited the metro at Champs Elysees was the statue of Charles de Gaulle, I shot a few pictures and on my return trip to the station, I got someone to take a couple of pictures of me with the statue.

I got my bearings after exiting the station and began to walk down Avenue des Champs Elysees, I saw the Arc de Triomphe and crossed the street to the middle of the intersection to get a better view. I took a few pictures and a passerby took pictures of me.  I took pictures all the way to the Arc de Triomphe, and stopped for lunch along the way.

 I finally reached the traffic circle at the Arc de Triomphe and searched for an entry to the area where the Arc de Triomphe stood, it seemed to be on its own island from my perspective from the street.  I walked around the traffic circle and found the entrance to the underground passage leading to the Arc de Triomphe.

I got in the line to buy a ticket to climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, the line was not very long and moved quickly, the ticket cost 9.50 Euros.  I took a few pictures below the Arc de Triomphe, at the grave of the unknown soldier, and the flame of remembrance  before starting the climb to the top. It was a long climb to the top, a narrow spiral staircase, I cannot remember how long it took to get to the top.  A few people stopped and took breaks along the way, I kept a steady pace and made it to the top without stopping.  I did move aside once to let a fast walking man pass me.

There were views from all of Paris from atop the Arc de Triomphe, I could see the Eiffel Tower and surrounding areas.  I took a few pictures atop the Arc de Triomphe and in the exhibit area one level below and then began my descent back to the bottom.

After I left the Arc de Triomphe I walked to the opposite end of the Chanps Elysees to see the Egyptian  Obelisk in front of the Place de la Concorde. There were many people out walking along the Champs Elysees, at one point I saw a large crowd lined up in front of a fancy fence, I went to see what everyone was waiting for, the line was for the Abercrombie & Fitch store.

After taking a few pictures at to Obelisk, I headed back to the metro station, I needed to go back to the Eurail office to check on my morning train to Caen tomorrow, I did not have a ticket.  I went back to the Eurail desk, the woman told me I did not need a ticket, just show my pass for the train to Caen in the morning.  I considered going to the Eiffel tower, but my feet were sore, I was ready to head back to my hotel for the evening.  I went to look for a bathroom, I did not wait in the long line at the Arc de Triomphe, hoping I would find a shorter line at the metro station.  The line was somewhat shorter at the metro station, but that short, fast moving line came at a price, 50 Euros to use the bathroom.  This marked the first time I have had to pay to use a bathroom.  I vaguely remember paying to use the loo in London in Junior High School, but my memory has faded, I cannot be sure.

Getting back to my hotel from Saint Lazare Station proved to be a challenge.  I could not find a bus stop for the bus I took to Saint Lazare this morning.  I walked around for several minutes, when I could not find the bus stop, I decided I would take the metro.  I asked for directions to Les Gobelins metro stop, the woman told me she spoke a little English and gave me directions.  As I was walking to the train, a group approached me and said Bonsoir, pardon, they began asking me for directions in French.  My response, I do not speak English, the woman said, English, I said I mean I do not speak French and apologized.

I found the train the woman at the information desk told me to take and then I started looking at the subway map.  The rail station rep instructed me to transfer at Republique station to another line, but I did not see Les Goblins on this line, I searched the map. I got of at the Republique metro station, walked around looking for where to connect, then I saw a sign, Station D'Italie.  I recognized the name, it was a mall I had gone to yesterday to buy a new SIM card for my cell phone.  I decided to go there, the mall/station was close to my hotel and I needed to stop by the cell phone store again anyways.

I went to the cell phone shop at D'Italie Station, my phone was not working, I could not make international calls.  After a long wait, the store was busy, I had to take a number, I spoke to the rep at the store and he told me my phone should be working by Monday.  He said the new Sim card would take a few days to work.  I hope he is right, I will be leaving for Brussels Monday, I will not have time to go back to the cell phone store before I leave.

After I left the cell phone store, I found my way to Avenue des Gobelins and started back to my hotel. I stopped at a pizza restaurant, ordered pepperoni pizza, they asked me if I liked egg, I said yes, when I got back to my hotel, I found an egg on my pizza.  I was exhausted when I got home, I went back out to by water and that was the end of a busy day.

Arc de Triomphe & Champs Elysees Photo Album

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