Posted by: M.J. Bolstad | October 23, 2019

EU Go, Girl! Adventures in Europe #1

I have been desperately in need of a real vacation for as long as I can remember. Years of work being short staffed or files extra busy has meant I haven’t truly shut down for a long period of time. It was unsustainable, but a light through the proverbial tunnel in the form of new hires and a regulatory process that had a built in lull in my files came along. So, after much thought and  inner debating about where to go while on leave with income averaging (a form of self-funded leave at my job), I finally settled on Europe. And so here I am, in the heart of Paris, just beginning what will be nearly five weeks of adventures.

A woman in pink photographs a posing woman in blue.

I saw more than one of this sort of fashion posing and photographing on my first full day already!

Getting “across the pond” is a bit of a process, of course. Yellowknife is hardly nearby anything, so I flew to Toronto and overnighted in the perfectly lovely Hilton Garden Inn by the airport to start my journey. Then, the next day, I flew direct to Paris on Air Transat, booked on club class for what I’d hope was a slightly easier way to combat jet lag. Unfortunately, while the airline is perfectly lovely, there wasn’t much to be done in the way of avoiding turbulence, so while I did get some sleep, it was much interrupted. It was quite the shaky ride at times – I have a bruise on my arm where I gripped myself in while half asleep in some way to try to steady myself.

Still, I more than managed on my journey, finding my way from the airport to the train, then the metro station and all the way to my hotel (though I did get directed up the wrong way on the street). I’m very proud of myself for managing public transport – and with a pretty heavy bag I hauled up many flights of stairs, to boot! If there was an elevator in the stations, it wasn’t well marked.

I made myself stay awake until eight at night, then went to bed and sleep on Paris hours, so I think I’m mostly managed not to be jet lagged. It did mean that my pizza at Cafe Italie was mostly forced down than enjoyed (it was delicious, but I had no appetite and had to keep poking myself out of feeling dizzy from exhaustion) and the tiny espresso was a must for dessert.

The Musee D'Orsay, aerial shot down into the sculpture exhibit.

I knew the Musee D’Orsay would definitely be on my list of places to go – it was one of the highlights of Paris when I went 14 years ago!

I managed to sleep until nearly 6 a.m. Early, but since I need to do the same for my day trip tour booking tomorrow, it was probably for the best I’m up a bit early. I had continental breakfast in my hotel, Hotel Coypel, though I’ll probably find something different most other days. It is fine, just a little more expensive than I’d like considering I don’t eat much breakfast regularly.

After that, I did a bit of running around to figure out where all my tour pickups are, planning and following the routes for tomorrow and Saturday to make sure I don’t miss anything. I bought a day pass for public transit. It was a very smart thing to do – for only 7.5 euro, I got around all the places I wanted for the whole day!

I started at the Musee D’Orsay, which I loved the first time I went to Paris, and loved still today.  I got an audioguide to go with my tour of the permanent collection, and found it well worth it for 5 euro. It was nice to learn more about some of the collection. I don’t think I made it through everything, even though I spent more than four hours there. I really love the art on display there. And certainly my feet were done by the end of it!

The painting depicts a typical Sunday afternoon at the original Moulin de la Galette in the district of Montmartre in Paris. In the late 19th century, working class Parisians would dress up and spend time there dancing, drinking, and eating galettes into the evening.

Part of the reason I love the Musee D’Orsay is that the permanent collection includes my favourite painting, Renoir’s Bal du Moulin De la Galette.

After the art, I went through the Jardin de Tuilleries. It was lovely to just breeze through. It’s fall, so not as much in the way of flowers at the moment, but it was fun to go around and see the statues, the ponds, and watch kids play with boats or feed the birds. I also came across a woman feeding small birds who would land on her hand. Paris is magic, and I experienced a little

After that, it was back to the hotel, in part to pop my batteries in the charger so I can take pictures tomorrow, in part to charge my own batteries. My feet are sore after ~11 km on foot and very little sitting even when I wasn’t walking. I found a love place called Verdi, which opened at 7 (boy, Parisians start late) so I walked around, where I had the “menu gastronomique”, essentially a three course meal selection. The mille feuilles aubergine was a fabulous starter, the four cheese pasta was divine, and panna cotta to finish just put the cherry on top in a literal figurative sense, since it was topped with candied black cherry. I also had wine – probably a glass more than I needed, but it’s a holiday!

Two birds on a woman's hand.

A little Paris magic.

I’m now back at the hotel, kicking my feet up, and getting ready for tomorrow. I’ve got my alarm set and am excited for the Loire Valley, and this whole adventure, really!

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