Our Trip to Paris

Angie Monko - Friday, August 02, 2013
As I write this, I'm on a plane back from Paris, France.  I just spent the last 10 days
with my family.  We had a wonderful time with a few bumps in the road.  I'm actually
glad to be coming home to the US, where I'm more in my comfort zone. I truly
appreciated the magnificent beauty of Paris and Versailles and its rich history. 
We visited the Eiffel Tower and went to the very top.  The panoramic view was
gorgeous, taking in the sights of the Seine River, Notre Dame, the Louvre, and
the other castles and architecture. 

Afterwards, we took a cruise down the Seine River and purchased a couple of
paintings from a local artist. One of our biggest treats was that a friend from
Paris, Thierry Mazue, met up with us on three different days and took us on a
personal tour in his spacy hatchback.  He taught us how to navigate through
Paris and its suburbs on the metro, train and bus systems.  After a week, we
felt like pros and were able to make our connections quite easily! It took a
couple of days to adjust to the 7-hour time difference since we lost 7 hours,
heading east.  It was also a culture shock with the different language, the
smaller living quarters than resorts we were accustomed to in the US, the
unknown mode of transit, the food, and just not knowing where we were at.

Thierry, a gentleman and master franchisee in Referral Institute, is a cheery
fellow in his mid-50's with dark hair and beard.  Thierry's gentle manner calmed
our anxieties, and he truly made us feel welcome.  He has this very charming
way of smiling brightly and winking at you with these sparkling brown eyes that
reminded me of Santa Claus.  My family immediately took to him, especially
after he treated us to some wonderful Parisian pastries. :) On Sunday, we visited Notre Dame, a Catholic cathedral built in 1163.  It awed
us with its statues and beautiful mosaic windows.  My daughter, Maddie, posed
under Joan of Arc and Saint Madeleine.  We went from sacred to sexy and sassy
as we saw the Moulin Rouge later that night. The women and men dancers dazzled
us with their amazing colorful costumes and chiseled figures and sensual displays
of entertainment.  They offset the excitement with some really humorous ventriloquist
and juggling routines.  The Moulin Rouge is surrounded by sultry sex shops and
lovely cafes. 

The girls wanted to stick around and observe, but we left and finally arrived back home
after midnight due to a very interesting and long cab ride. The taxi driver couldn't speak
English, and he took us to the wrong hotel at first, calling us "stupid."  He did know that word. 
All is well that ends well! Monday we rested.  Tuesday, we were off to spend the day at
the Louvre but learned all museums are closed on that day.  So we went to the
Arc de Triomphe. 

Napoleon built the magnificent Arc to commemorate his victory at the battle of Austerlitz.
Next we visited the Sacre-Coeur (Sacred Heart) Bassilica.  This bleached-white church
has an unobstructed panoramic view of Paris. I really enjoyed this day as we got to
experience more French culture.  My Uncle Ray got involved in this street game, where
some guy was hustling people out of money.  He bet 50 euros for the chance to win 100
and lost.  My husband, Steve, was on edge because he was trying to protect the family
from aggressive street salesmen who try to slip a bracelet on one's wrist and obligate them
to buy.

On Thursday, we went to Versailles and saw the extraordinary Chateau, the main palace.
The place was covered in gold and ornate tapestries and statues, pure decadence, the
home of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.  Both were beheaded in 1792 because the
people were fed up with the ruling class leading a life of luxury while they were starving.
Then we strolled through the vast, manicured gardens of Marie Antoinette which was relaxing. 
We did a lot of walking and ate a lot of bread and pasta.  It will be nice to get back to a more
gluten-free lifestyle.

On Friday, we went to the Louvre which was great!  We shuffled our way through the crowds to
the Mona Lisa.  The place was so crowded with tourists it was almost overwhelming.
We spent time looking at the Egyptian era and a medieval moat.  We left early to go to the
Catacombs but didn't get there soon enough to enter due to the long lines. The highlight of
our trip was on Tuesday evening late at night when Thierry was taking us around Paris,
and we stopped by the Eiffel Tower all lit up.  We hit the timing just right, when all the lights
began flashing like a huge white Christmas tree!  It was a magical moment. We enjoyed
sitting out on the balcony at sunset and drinking wine and talking.  Everyone got along well,
we walked a lot and learned a lot. 

The food was great, the people very nice, and my time with my family was priceless.
It is a trip we will never forget! In January, I decided I wanted to go to Paris, but I didn't
know how I'd pay for it.

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Peace Out,

Angie Monko
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