We weren't going to waste our last day in Paris. Truth be told 4 days is hardly enough to do even a fraction of the things we would have liked. We were go go go at that. Still our whirlwind trip was a helluva lotta fun but boy are we wacked out now!
It took awhile to get our butts in gear. I wrote about my morning walk all ready. Before lunch we headed by Metro to the Galleria Lafayette. Its four huge shopping malls, all in one store complex. A General building [mostly all high fashion designer women's clothes, perfumes, etc.], Hommes [Men's designer cloths and furnishings, like $600 Gucci Ipad covers etc] and Home wares. It was expensive beyond belief and full of very rich Arabs, + other wealthy middle easterner with their many wives buying a few of everything while the guys just stood there looking dozed out like we guys everywhere in such situations]. Everything was excellent, including the service, the restaurants, you name it. Its a grandiose architectural marvel, the General building had a huge stained glass dome above a six story high courtyard.
Shopping at Gallarie Lafayette!
We eventually ended up on the 7th floor sunroof across from the Opera House, looking out over the incredibly ornate rooftops of Paris. There was a bar that sold everything from $10 bottles of coke to you name it. Actually in Paris a bottle of wine is cheaper than water or soft drinks, except for places like here where there is no limit on any prices I could detect. No matter. We got a couple of nice sun chairs, put up our feet to rest awhile. Sitting beside some rich Arab sheiks, some very wealthy Iranians, everybody just talking and joking around. It was very pleasant and everyone was very nice to us. God knows who they were or what they've done but it didn't matter on the 7th floor.
In the men's store I broke down and bought a couple of very nice men's hats from the sale section. A real French beret. Still pricey but nothing like the cheapo stuff you find over here. Knowledgeably helpful staff, lots of mirrors. Janet got a hat too, so we can go out together matched. Actually looked real cool on her. Also bought a wallet. Wait tilI I get the bills. I won't have anything left to put into the wallet.Ha ha ha.Oh well.
Rooftop view of the Paris Opera + so on.
We had drinks at a nice street bistro out front of the Gallerie. Seems they own everything but have some deal whereby top brand name merchants, designers, restaurateurs etc can get space for a kiosk, section etc. etc. etc. By now I was sticking to my café au laits. Once again the "Americano" coffee is putrid. The sharp rough edge of the beans is at least watered down somewhat by the milk, more than I would usually drink but it works. Sometimes I'd get a double expresso if I needed a second wind. That was okay too. However none of that today.
We made our way back down the the Eiffel Tower at sunset. Walked down from the esplanade, past the fountains and statues, over the bridge, quite a stretch. We stood under the tower gazing up as the night lights went on. It a structural marvel, much more than I ever would've expected, a graceful beauty of fine engineering. Very impressive. Soldiers patrolled the area with submachine guns cocked but otherwise it was just very cool and laid back. It turned into a gold beacon in the night. God its hard to explain, it is just so beautiful. Left us in awe, beat even the great Maya pyramid temple in Chichen-Itza, which has quite fascinated me on past trips. We later wandered back across the bridge to the riverside to just sit and look. Very romantic. Breathtaking even.
Eiffel tower base sunset. Many more photos @ Flickr [see slideshow above]!
We headed back to our hotel late. Had dinner sitting at the window of the bistro across the street. There were the cracks of a few gunshots down the street. Crowds of people running past, while we sit there chatting and enjoying dinner. Next everyone came running back, a few guys dragging these two very quarrelsome fellows who were trying to escape. No such luck for them. They'd been caught, were even getting roughed up a bit as they tried to wrestle themselves free. Next followed a crowd of crying women. Nobody looked too happy with the guys that had been caught or whatever. We asked the manager what happened. He just shrugged.
I think there must be undercover police everywhere. I looked out at the plaza a few times later that night as we packed. The head honcho was still standing on the street corner leaning against a lamp pole watching everything. Either a cop or a hard core criminal type. We will never know. Was kind of exciting though.
Wonderful late night dinner. Too bad about the shooting though.
After about 4 hours sleep we had a quick breakfast before our driver arrived. I was still drinking my coffee in the cab on the way to the airport. Everything went smooth except for one thing: VAT [Value Added Tax]
Let me tell you, its a real pain in the butt and fraught with hassles. In each EU [European Union] country foreign visitors can get a tax refund if you bring your stamped receipts to the airport with you. The staff have to write the forms up at the store where you purchase the goods. They claim a share of the return once its approved. It applies on some goods and not on others. Means more angry lineups at the airport with few staff available, and rather rude and quarrelsome ones at that, who basically just stamp it again and then you are to put it in a mailbox to be sent to Slovakia. Sounds like a good $$$ return but I seriously wonder how much we will ever get back. Basically I'd say it's not worth all the b.s. and I can't see this "system" working for long. My advice? Skip it altogether. Its not worth the grief.
I slept a few hours on the airplane wearing my headphones. I can't stand listening to drunk and quarrelsome people, babies screaming etc. Read awhile. Customs Canada was no big deal and soon enough we were home again. Janet says she is glad to be back. We both had a great time but whirlwind trips mean you go nonstop for the whole time you are away. No days off to do nothing but relax, like when you are at a beach resort for a few weeks. Very exciting and interesting though.
No doubt we have a lifetimes worth or new memories now. For now though I think it will take us a few days to recuperate. I'll have to make a few phone calls to follow up on the Bad Boy Brock hearing and soon. Otherwise it was a great trip. Its great to be home. We are both higher than kites from all the excitement, but totally pooped. Whew! Cool!
I've got lots of photos. Some more London and Paris traveller tips and stories I should write up later as a post script. 10 days of messy blogs written and posted on the run that should be tidied up, and so on. But we are home!
PS: More local scuttlebutt on the news from Syria and Egypt has been posted in this months August Odds + Sods blog @ News!