Welcome to Paris – April 08, 2018
We’ll gather at our hotel in Paris at 3 p.m. for a short meeting and orientation stroll around our neighborhood, followed by a panoramic tour of the City of Light aboard a private bus. Then we’ll get acquainted with one another over a delicious “Welcome to Paris” dinner together. Sleep in Paris (6 nights). Bus: 2 hours. Walking: light.
Having very little sleep the day before, and all the travels along with the time change, we slept in. We gathered in the breakfast room. There we were introduced to our fellow travelers and our tour guides. We had a primary tour guide and her apprentice. In many of the photos you will see a earbud out of one of our ears. Actually, these were loaned to us to be used on our tours. In reality, they’re nothing more than a simple radio receiver, with one microphone that the tour guides will use. These proved to be very useful and have quite a range. In the following days, we were able to hear the tour guide, even when in separate rail cars on the subway. I would see other tour groups using megaphones, just blasting away with what they were saying to their group, whether their language was French or English, but this just added to the street noise. The receiver set up seem to be a lot classier way to go, and still gave me situational awareness to hear and appreciate the sights and sounds of what was going on around me. After this initial meet and greet, and activating our Metro and Museum passes, we had a two-hour bus ride.
When choosing a seat on the bus make sure you don’t sit in a chair where there’s a beam right next to you. The whole idea is to be able to see out of a window. If there is room, sit in a row of seats that does not have somebody on the other side of the aisle. That way you can jump back and forth from the left side to the right side of the bus and see all of the sights.
During the bus tour we got to see the city. I was totally mesmerized by seeing some of the things that I knew we were going to visit. Quite frankly, there were so many photos lost due to amazement, not only between me and the wife, but also our fellow travelers in our group. Paris lived up to her name as the City of Lights. It is a good thing there were windows on the bus, otherwise, I probably would’ve looked like a big dog hanging out the window, filled with excitement as we went through the city. The tour was narrated by our tour guides. One of the big surprises for me, was how much of a French influence there was upon American history, and how many of our founding fathers of the United States were recognized here in Paris. Benjamin Franklin has a street named after him, and there were monuments to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and the revolution.
The other thing that I enjoyed was the older architecture of the city. Being from Southern California, 99% of all buildings roads structures are less than 100 years old, with the vast majority of the structures being built within the last 40 to 50 years. Having spent time on the East Coast, I did enjoy much of the older architectural features that you would see from the revolutionary times. Yet once again, these don’t compare to to the city that were visiting. We were looking at buildings and structures that were 2 to 3 times that age, and some several hundred years if not older, true monuments to the test of time.
We started and stopped our bus tour right next to a Metro station that would be the beginning of many of our daily tours and outings. After the bus tour, we walked to a beautiful little restaurant where we got to meet many of our fellow travelers over a delicious meal. We enjoyed this meal so much that we actually returned here after our tour ended.
One of the surprises that we found about our group that night was that over a third of the group had been on a Rick Steves tour previously. Several of people had been on more than two Rick Steves’ tours. Repeat customers are the ultimate testimony of customer satisfaction.
Our group of travelers was a very diverse group. The only common demographic that there appeared to be within the group would be based on socio-economic and education levels. All were on the upper end of the bell curve. I truly enjoyed everybody’s company throughout the week and it was very interesting to hear of other people’s backgrounds and experiences. Bottom line, everybody in our group was the kind of person you would invite over to your barbecue, or holiday party.
After the dinner, it was time to walk back to our hotel and be ready for day two.