Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Day 1 and 2

This is actually day 18: we're in Oban: this is our second day here, and tomorrow we go to Glasgow.

But let me back up, and start at the beginning.  On April 18th we flew to Paris, via Hong Kong.  Arriving at Paris CDG we retrieved our luggage and completed the (trivial) entry procedures.  I wish it was this painless every time I have to enter the USA.  Our itinerary included a complimentary limousine transfer, and the driver was waiting in arrivals.  He took charge of some of the luggage (we have a lot), and led us to his car.  By putting one large case in the front seat, everything was loaded, and he drive us to the hotel, telling us a bit about Paris on the way.

We arrived at the Mandarin Oriental in the Rue Saint-Honore early on the morning of the 19th, and of course our room was not ready, and not likely to be ready before 3PM.  The hotel kindly gave us breakfast, and we left our bags with the concierge and went out for a walk.  First we walked to the Place Vendome, which is near the hotel, and then we walked through what seemed to be a small temporary street market, with fruit and fish stalls, just in a side street.  We made our way to the Tuileries Gardens, and walked nearly to the Louvre, and then around to the Seine, where we could see the Musee Orsay on the other bank.  After that, we walked to the Passage du Grand Cerf, one of the old covered arcades of Paris.  From there we walked back towards the hotel, and wandered into the Rue Montorgueil, which is an open air market: the produce looked fantastic, great counters full of cheeses, beautiful fruit, meat, patisseries, chocolate and just about any other food substance you can name.

After this we found a cafe and got some lunch, and then since it was about 2PM we went back to the hotel.  Our room was ready, so we checked in, got cleaned up and had a rest.  We had dinner in the hotel and slept the sleep of the jet lagged.

Feeling much better the next morning (Sunday), we went to the Louvre.  I had ordered Paris Combo passes, which I would recommend to anyone.  The passes allowed us to jump the queue of people waiting to buy tickets, and to walk straight in.  We used these passes all over the place, and while they probably did not save us money they saved us an enormous amount of time: what would you rather do on holiday - stand in a queue or have fun?  The passes included metro tickets and various other benefits, and were delivered to our hotel.

Back to the Louvre: it is enormous, and you cannot see it all.  I'll bet there are people working there who have not seen it all.  It is a beautiful building, steeped in history, quite apart from the amazing collections that it houses.  We saw the "History of the Louvre" exhibits, and then concentrated on the Egyptian and Greek exhibits.

After a couple of hours we felt that we had seen all that we could absorb for one morning, so we walked to Place de L'Opera and got lunch in a convenient cafe.  From there we went to the Grand Palais, which is a beautiful building and walked around in the sun for a while.  Then we went back to the hotel and got ready for dinner, which I had booked at Atelier Joel Robuchon Saint Germain.  I must admit to being a little disappointed in this meal.  Steve and I have been to Le Chateau de Joel Robuchon Tokyo in the past, and we hoped for something similar in Paris.  What we got was a restaurant attached to a hotel, very crowded, with people allowing their children to play games at the table and considerable noise.  The food was good, but the ambiance was rather awful.

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