Sunday, April 7, 2013

Day 4 in Paris, the Eiffel Tower & the Notre Dame Cathedral 4/7/2013

I started off the day planning to go to the Caen Memorial, Caen was the site of a long and bloody battle after D-Day during World War II.  Caen is a two hour train ride from Saint Lazare Station in Paris, I had planned to catch the 9:10 am train.

I initially woke up at what I thought was 5 am this morning, I stayed in bed since this was too early for me to get ready to leave my 9:10 am train to Caen.  When I looked at my cell phone clock again it was 7:00am, I got up and began to get dressed.  I left the hotel around what I thought was 8 am and took the metro to Saint Lazare Station.

When I arrived at Saint Lazare, I looked for trains to Caen, all I could find listed on the boards was an 11:45 am train.  However, I knew there was a 9:10 am and 9:45 am train, I had confirmed this with the Eurail staff yesterday.  I found information staff and asked them where the train to Caen departed from, an English speaking staffer directed me to the terminal.  I walked up and down looking for the 9:10 am train to Caen, I then went to the information office to get help.

The woman in the information office also spoke English and she told me there was an 11:45 am train, I told her I thought there was a 9:10 am train to Caen, she said there was and it left almost an hour ago.  I looked at the clock in the information office and it said 10:00 am, I could not believe it, somehow I had lost an hour.  I got my cell phone out of my backpack and checked the time, my cell phone  was an hour behind, it said 8am.

I have a prepaid cell phone I bought in London, it is a cheap phone and the time does not update automatically when the battery is removed.  When I went to the cell phone store yesterday to ask about my phone, the staffer removed my battery to locate my phone number on the SIM card, this reset the clock on my cell phone.  I set the time on my cell phone early this morning when I woke up, unfortunately, I set it to the wrong time, an hour behind.  Thus, I was an hour late for my train to Caen.

I decided to wait for the 11:45 am train to Caen, I figured I would still have enough time to see the Museum which is open until 7 pm. I went to Starbucks to get out of the cold, read my kindle and wait for the train.  At about 20 minutes before the scheduled departure time for Caen I went to look for the train.  I checked in the information office and they said all I needed to do was show my Eurail Global pass to the conductor and board the train.  I showed my pass to the conductor and he directed me to the first two train cars, first class. If you are over 26 years old and buy a Eurail pass you are forced to travel first class, they only sell second class Eurail passes to people under 26 years old.

I boarded the train and waited for our 11:45 am departure.  A lot of time passed and I looked at the clock, it was noon and the train had not moved, I figured we would be leaving at any minute. My train from London to Paris did not leave at the exact departure time, I thought this was the case with the Caen train.  I continued to wait, some announcements were made in French I could not understand, I decided to give the train a deadline, if it had not departed by 1 pm, I would get off the train and go sightseeing in Paris.

A little after 12:30 pm after a few more announcements in French, I got up and went to look for an English speaker to find out what was going on with the train. I found a woman talking to the conductor and asked her if she spoke English, she said yes and explained the train had broken down.  She told me they had replaced the locomotive, I think she meant engine or some other part, but the train still was not working. I asked her if they knew what time the train would leave, she said they did not, and that it could be a long time.  The woman told me there was also a 2:45 train to Caen, if this train did not start working.

I decided to abort my trip to Caen, the 2:45 train would not give me enough time to visit the museum.  I was disappointed but knew I would be back in Paris and could take a day trip to Caen another time.  Since my trip to Caen did not work out, I went to the Eiffel Tower and the Notre Dame Cathedral. My first stop was the Eiffel Tower, I took several pictures there, I met some Chinese and one of them asked me to pose for a picture with him.  I got a picture with the Chinese man too.  I got in line to go up the Eiffel tower but decided pictures were enough for this trip, I became impatient with the long, slow moving line.

I walked around the Eiffel Tower park area, the layout reminded me of the National Mall in Washington, DC, there were joggers running in the area, similar to the Mall.  I thought about what else I wanted to do while I strolled in the Eiffel Tower park area, I remembered I wanted to take a cruise along the Seine, and see Paris from a different perspective. I walked to the area where the Seine River cruises depart, bought a ticket and boarded the boat. The Seine River cruise was an un-narrated hop on hop off boat, I only planned to go as far as the Notre Dame Cathedral.

I got off the Seine River Cruise at the Notre Dame Cathedral stop and made my way over to the Cathedral  taking a few pictures alone the way.  I was hungry and went to buy a sandwich from one of the shops on a road near the Notre Dame Cathedral.  I got my usual French sandwich, ham on a baguette, no dressing, no may, no sauce, just a dry sandwich.  I went back to the Cathedral and got in line. I mistakenly thought I was in the line to climb the Cathedral's tower, I was in the line to go into the Cathedral, it was a long but fast moving line. I took some pictures inside Notre Dame and then went outside to look for the line for climbing to the Cathedral's tower.  I saw the line to climb the 300+ steps to the top of the Notre Dame Cathedral and decided against it, I was satisfied with the view I got from inside and outside the cathedral.  I will save the climb for next time, like with the Eiffel Tower, I was not in a line waiting mood today.

I decided to head back to my hotel after seeing  the Notre Dame Cathedral.  I walk around and found bus #27, it took me back to the area where my hotel is located, Les Gobelins Metro station.  I decided too take the afternoon off, I have been busy sightseeing since I left the US last week, I needed some down time to prepare for my trip to Brussels tomorrow morning.  

Paris Day 4 Photo Album

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