August 19 – I was not enthusiastic when I woke up and faced the fact I was going to have to file a police report for my phone. While I knew I’d never see it again I did want to file a report in case I did have any issues with accounts, particularly bank accounts, down the road.
Before leaving we googled all the stops we wanted to make that day and wrote out all of the directions. While Jennifer did have a phone she hadn’t added international coverage. It definitely gave me a greater respect for people who’ve traveled extensively before GPS and other technologies were readily available.
First stop, the Police Department or Hotel de Police. It was incredibly intimidating walking up to the building. Beyond the fact the entrance was barricaded and guarded by heavily armed personnel, I didn’t know how much English anyone would speak and my French certainly wouldn’t be sufficient to make my report. I timidly approached the officer and said “bonjour, parlez vous anglais?”. I was relieved when he replied in English. He led us toward the door and pointed us toward a clerk that would be able to assist. She took some basic information from me and sent us upstairs to talk to a detective.
We sat in the waiting area fairly wide eyed, taking it all in. Jennifer and I both noticed everyone we had encountered had been really attractive. We made jokes about it maybe being a requirement to be police in Paris. I’m sure they found it odd a couple of Americans there to report a crime were having laughs and light hearted conversation.
The detective called me in. He admitted his English wasn’t great so I tried my best to keep the sentences simple and slow. Something I’d learned trying to communicate with my ex-husband whos first language was not English. He completed the necessary fields in his form and printed me a copy. In my usual way I made a joke about what a unique souvenir I had collected from my trip to Paris. I’m not sure he appreciated him wit or humor, that’s okay.
Fancy police report in had we said farewell to all the good looking people at the police station, pausing to take a picture before moving on with our plans for the day. Jennifer is a big fan of the Outlander series and had packed along Jamie and Claire dolls to pose at different landmarks. Still being fairly good humored about the situation I agreed to pose with them for the Hotel de Police photo.
On our way to the metro station we stopped at a cute café to get some lunch. Like several of the cafes I had encountered they had both a French and English menu. I ordered the Beef Tartar. In the back of my mind I knew I shouldn’t but couldn’t actually recall why until they brought it out from the kitchen. Oh yeah…its raw. Basically a raw hamburger with a raw egg in the middle. Sigh. Not wanting to offend the cook and embracing the spirit of trying new things I agreed to take it. Jennifer was not as bold and opted for a different meal. She made the right call.
Bellies full we made our way to the Panthéon. The interior and dome are impressive with walls of storytelling murals, statues, and a copy of the Foucault pendulum. Down the narrow, spiral staircase you’ll find the crypt. Lots of big names from French history and individuals viewed as “National Heroes” are interred there. Many with memorials that are fairly ornate. It was an interesting place to tour.
From there we walked to the Notre Dame. Since studying French in school I’d wanted to visit this place. An amazing cathedral full of endless stained glass. There was a huge line and its no wonder since admission is free. Fortunately the line moves quickly. The cathedral is big enough to hold a lot of people and I imagine most visitors do not spend more than an hour or so. They do offer guided as well as audio tours. It was absolutely stunning and I’m so happy we were able to squeeze that in to our agenda.
We took a short walk through the garden then attempted to find the nearest metro station. Not having much luck Jennifer boldly approached a couple of older ladies and asked for directions. They asked where we were trying to go, we told them Gare du Nord then they told us to follow them. They knew what bus we needed and told us it would probably be a faster option. As we approached the bus stop they saw the bus we needed was getting ready to pull away so they hurried us along and called out for the driver to stop. I had the impression they were trying to catch the same bus but that was not the case. We quickly conveyed our appreciation for their assistance, hopped on the bus, and waved as we pulled away.
I was a bit nervous because we had completely trusted these strangers to point us in the right direction. I was somewhat familiar with the metro system but hadn’t taken a bus so this was new territory. The bus was nice, winding down streets we probably would have never seen, safely dropping us off at the train station where we got another train for the last leg back to the hotel.
Back at the hotel I got logged in for work and we looked to see if any tickets were available for the Eiffel Tower. It was sold out for the evening but we decided that even if we couldn’t get a ride to the top, we could go see it. I worked for a few hours then broke away for a quick view.
A quick train ride got us within a short walk. Fortunately its so big and well lit its easy to find even in the dark. The sidewalks are lined with vendors selling food and trinkets. We wandered into a park near the base of the tower. There was a lot of garbage around and some of the groups of people loitering around the park made me uncomfortable. I recognized my increased suspicion of people as a probable side effect of yesterdays events.
It was still an amazing experiences to look up at the grandness of the tower all lit up. We snapped a view pictures and made our way back to the hotel. What a fascinating a full day!