Our youngest daughter, Jerie has always wanted to “trek” through Europe. She and a friend had planned to do this when they graduated from college but her friend got married. When Jerie said she still wanted to do the trip, we didn’t want her to go alone (secretly we wanted to enjoy the adventure as well), so we started planning. Now we are cheap travelers, trying to get the most bang for our buck, therefore, we acted as our own travel agents. We would be gone 35 days and travel to 17 countries. We decided to fly into Paris, then using the European train system we would work our way down to Barcelona and catch a cruise ship to explore the Mediterranean. The cruise was the most economical way to travel through the Mediterranean. Jerie took over the train schedules. Jim took the airlines, cruise, and hotels, and Cindy did the itinerary, budget, and tours. We started the final planning in November with the trip planned by May. We decided to carry backpacks to make travelling easier. We stayed in mostly older hotels and also decided to wash our clothes in our hotel room to save time and money. Most of the clothing we took was quick drying, except our socks. We also worked with one of our local banks and obtained Euros before we went, and took cash with us to exchange in Europe. Since there were 3 of us, we split up our cash and each person had a different credit card just in case something was lost or stolen.
However, before we could begin our adventure, we had to accomplish one last item….Jerie’s graduation in Iowa.
At the Boston airport, they were implementing a new security system. They could not get our passports to scan so that it could be approved. After a few tense moments, they were able to get everything to work. Had to keep reminding ourselves to just breathe and enjoy the moment. We were lucky and the flight wasn’t full so we each got our own row to stretch out and try to catch some sleep as we would have a full day in Paris as soon as we arrived.
The only mishap we had on the plane is a packet of Brie cheese got dropped on the floor and Cindy stepped in it so her boot smelled like sour milk. We arrived in Paris at 7:40am. Picked up our backpacks, headed through customs and went to buy our city train tickets. They told us that if we bought an unlimited week pass it would save us 50 Euros per person. The catch was you had to buy a plastic cover and have a picture to put on the pass. They sent us over to the photo booth, where a very nice young man named Remy helped us. He told us that we could get 4 pictures for 5 Euros, had to use coins and had to have our own scissors to cut out the pictures. He was very patient as it took us 3 tries to switch places and get a picture that was not blurry. We dug our scissors out of our backpack. We had packed a small bag of misc items for situations just like this. Got the pictures all attached to our train passes and we were off to Paris.
The train ride into Paris is about 30 minutes. Jim and Jerie were in charge of making sure we got off on the correct stop. The day was rainy and gloomy, but there was too much to see not to be excited. We had 3 tours planned for the day, one of the Eiffel Tower. one at the Louvre and the final one a boat ride on the Seine River. We dropped our packs off at Hotel Modern Montmartre in their luggage storage room.
We arrived for our Eiffel Tower tour a bit early so decided to try a grilled cheese sandwiches…okay that was not good. We met the tour guide and road the tram up to the observation deck and of course it started to rain. The tour guide gave lots of interesting facts about the Eiffel Tower. One being it was only supposed to be for the World’s Fair and then torn down as it was thought to be an eye sore.
It was foggy so didn’t have great views, but exciting that we were at the Eiffel Tower. Had to do our required kiss and then we walked down the stairs from the second level.
Next we were off to the Louvre. We are not big art fans but knew that this was the one museum we needed to do.
It was really difficult to obtain a good picture of the Mona Lisa as they keep you quite a ways back, there are lots of people, and the painting is small.
We did enjoy the Egypt section
We headed back to the Eiffel Tower to catch the tour boat for the Seine River cruise. We remarked how much New Orleans looked like Paris. Definitely could see where the architectural influence came from. We sat up on the top deck to take in the view, but realized at the end of the cruise, that the lower deck had phones so that we could have heard the narration in English.
It had been a long first day so we headed to our hotel. It was an older place, but it was clean and not very expensive. There were several things that we had to get used to: 1) you leave the key at the front desk instead of taking it with you 2) the luggage storage is not very secure. It is more like put your pack in the corner and it will be here when you return. Trust is a big thing when you travel. Being an older place, we plugged in our inverter and surge protector to charge our phones and tablet and blew out the circuit breaker. Lesson learned, can’t use the surge protector with the invertor. In all of the hotels on our trip we slept in silk sleeping pouches that we brought with us. This made us feel a bit better about our accommodations. Sleep came easy that night.