On this day, we began a long walking tour of Paris with our personal tour guide, Bill Beaver. We were looking for the other side of Paris that the one-day tourist never get to. We saw the beautiful gold-domed Invalides, a hospital for veterans.
We walked down little Parisian avenues to the Latin Quarter and ate…well…Greek food there. We couldn’t help it! The gyros were calling Bill’s name, and the restaurant owner coaxed us right in with the promise of a meal, a glass of wine, and baklava for only 10 euros. How can you beat that in Paris? We weren’t disappointed, and I especially enjoyed the tiny Greek world we had been invited into. Not only that, but the slouvaki was to die for.
Finally, we took a train a few kilometers to the south and got off at the first station that made us truly nervous about the company we found ourselves in. Several people accosted us, asking for…I’ll make a wild guess, since it was all in French…money. There were also several loud arguments between the young men loitering around the station. For the first time during our trip, I was beginning to wonder about this tour guide of mine.
I followed him anyway, partly because I love the man and partly because away from the station seemed safer than back into the station. As he led me down the street, it got quieter and quieter. The incline grew steeper and steeper. I began to see greenery, and then we climbed 225 steps to enter a completely different world. There we were, in front of another beautiful cathedral, and this one had a breathtaking view of all of Paris. Depending on where we stood, we could see Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and more. Walking past the cathedral, we entered into a quaint little plaza filled with artists and food vendors, shops and restaurants. It felt like we had entered into the Paris of long ago.
We found a different set of stairs, hiked back down the 225 steps, found a DIFFERENT metro station (thank God!), and rode the train back down the the Sein River. Down the River Walk we went, holding hands, and talking quietly about all we had seen. We came upon an offer of a river cruise for 14 euros and went for it. It was fun to float by all the things we had seen and be able to recognize most of them.
Before we knew it, it was nine o’clock, and we were starving! We walked to Cafe Francis to bide our time until the sun finally went down so we could see a night view of the Eiffel Tower. Lo and behold, we were taken to our table on the patio, and there it was right in front of us. We actually got to eat with a view of the Eiffel Tower! Okay, we splurged and went a little over our budget of $30 per person per day for food, but we had gone under plenty of times before, and we decided it would be our anniversary dinner (even though our anniversary wouldn’t be until Day 27).
I wanted beef, so I found an item on the menu that said boef (the French word for beef), while avoiding the word tartare, which meant it would be raw with a raw egg on top. I had no interest in eating THAT, so I chose boef carpaccio. Surprise! Carpaccio is cold raw beef in very thin slices surrounding a salad of sorts. Bill and I usually have an agreement that we share half and half of whatever we order. That way, we get to try twice as many things. That night Bill ate pasta, and I was on my own! Here’s the bigger surprise, though: I couldn’t identify all it was served with, but it turned out to be delicious!
When ten o’clock rolled around, we looked up, and the Eiffel Tower was not only lit, but it was sparkling! It was almost as cool as watching a fireworks show. We oohed, ahhhed, and took pictures for a half-hour, realized we were completely spent, and finally headed “home,” marveling over all we had seen.