Day 19: PHASE 2 BEGINS. First stop Paris

Most of the past two days were spent sleeping as we both suffered from extreme colds. It could have been worse, however, if we had contracted the cold while camping. So actually, if there ever is a time to become ill, it is in between two trips ;-).

We have been getting up around 6:00 every day in Stockholm = a habit that remains from the 4 AM camping days in Uganda and Kenya. Today was no different. We woke up early even though our flight wasn't until 11:00. Had plenty of time for breakfast, last minute check-ups, and Arrived at Arlanda without any stress and plenty of time. Dilek's cold is in recession and she is doing fine, but Vedran's is about to hit its climax. He has to rest a bit and take it slow.

At the airport, people will recommend purchasing a Paris Visite card for three days, but if you live right in the city center, these do not always pay out. A taxi from the airport is €30 for the whole car, whereas a train transfer would be 55€ for two.

We arrived in our hotel at about 14, and it was way more luxurious than the hotel we stayed in 10 years ago for Dilek's birthday. Great room and really comfortable bed.

Vedran was feeling good so we immediately went out. Right outside our hotel, there was a Guerrefur supermarket (or something) where we bought water and a most needed umbrella. We had ponchos of course and had expected that we could borrow an umbrella from the hotel but no such luck. Throughout the day, there were small showers, and the weather wasn't the best.

Our first stop was the Statue of Liberty which was just a stone throw away from our hotel. As we arrived, the sun showed itself for a brief moment so we got a nice shot. Then we walked over to the Eiffel Tower to see if we could recreate some of the shots from 2005. Unfortunately, it was very gray and dark by now and the ground was very wet.

Also, Dilek's feet had gotten wet so she was beginning to get cold. Vedran had the idea that we purchase a few new socks and wrap Dilek's feet in plastic bags so the socks could not get wet from the shoes. It was actually brilliant. We found another Gurrefort shop and purchased all we needed. Immediately after trying on the plastic bag idea Dilek's feet felt better. And the plastic bag worked for the rest of the evening ;-)

It was after 17 now, and getting colder, so we decided to take the train up to Montmartre (instead of walking which was the original plan). Paris metro used to be the best in the world back in the day, but now it is too small and crowded. Even the underground waiting area is too small and really cold. Not at all comfortable.

We arrived at Montmartre and started looking around at the view. It was a bit too dark for pictures, but we did enjoy the view of Paris and the sparkling Eiffel Tower. By now the wind had picked up and it was freezing cold. Luckily, Sacre Coeur was open for mass so we entered. Dilek had been in this area few times before, but the famous church was always closed. This was the first time she saw the inside. It was a nice church, but just a church like any other. Vedran thought the Jesus image was one of the whitest Jesuses he had ever seen.

Thereafter we walked around a bit on the square at Montmartre. This is where Vedran had taken Dilek for her 25th birthday dinner. Actually, throughout the day we had encountered places and locations that triggered memories from that birthday trip 10 years ago. It is sometimes very nice to rediscover a place, especially if there is a fond memory attached, but you can also end up being a bit disillusioned since you are now older, seeing things with different eyes, and that place may have changed. I think our first day in Paris was a bit 50/50: both pleasant memories but also seeing the city in a new light.

Montmartre was still very romantic, just as we remembered, but the restaurants have declined a bit in the standard. We could not remember the exact restaurant we had Dilek's birthday dinner, but we found one right at the square that looked nice.

Either the restaurant at top of Montmartre had lost a lot of quality or our standards had increased significantly from our 25-year-old selves. It was quite crowded and there were only two garçons. It took forever to get menus and orders. The staff tried to guess the nationalities in the tourist-packed place (apparently we looked Spanish), and got upset when they got it wrong, throwing the Spanish menu at the nearby table. The service seemed to take forever, the staff openly just moved the bread from previous customers to new ones. We both ordered the Onion soup, just like we had done 10 years ago. It was quite tasty, but not many onions. Then we chose the crepe. Vedran had his with Nutella of course and Dilek with ham and cheese. The crepes tasted like pancakes you would buy at ICA (Swedish supermarket) and heated in a micro. It was not good at all. Have the French forgotten how to make crepes??? A disappointment. Well, at least we spent our first day in Paris with nice memories, and not sniffling in bed as we thought.

We walked down the hill and took the metro home. We stopped by a Gurrefort supermarket again so that Vedran could get his longed-for baguettes and cheese, but they were all out. Maybe in the morning ;-)

We got to our room around 10 and pretty much immediately hit that fluffy, heavenly bed. Yup... This is gonna be a good night's sleep.