Monday, December 19, 2016


Our last full day on tour today and what an experience we have had.  Still pinching myself to see if it is all real...What a beautiful magical city to finish this holiday of a lifetime in also.  It has been the best three weeks,  with each experience just getting better and better,  how do you pick a favourite when it has all been so wonderful.....  We have been so blessed and so fortunate with our tour.  There were only 18 of us on our bus which has pretty much allowed us each to have our own double seat on the bus.  Fortunately we have all got on really well and I will be sad to say goodbye to these guys when we all go our separate ways tomorrow... Many of them will continue their journeys but sad for us we are on the homeward bound leg of our journey.

A hearty breakfast is always a good start to the day.
Our first stop this morning was the Notre-Dame de Paris (which means Our Lady of Paris).  The cathedral is considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture and is among the largest and most well known church buildings in the world.  In 1790, Notre Dame suffered desecration in the radical phase of the French Revolution when much of it religious imagery was damaged or destroyed.  An extension renovation began in 1845.  A project of further restoration and maintenance began in 1991.  The Notre Dame de Paris was among the first building in the world to use the flying buttress.
The inside was stunning.  Even though I had been to the Notre Dame before, we did not go inside, so this was a first for me also.   The inside was amazing,  the art work, the stories of creation and salvation.  Our guide was really good, he certainly knew his stuff and was able to tell us the stories behind the panels and also about the artists who created them. 

Many small individually crafted statutes were placed around the outside to serve as column supports and water sprouts.  Among these are famous gargoyles, which were designed for water run off.  The Cathedral was essentially completed by 1345.
 Our guide was excellent this morning, he was able to explain to us all the statutes at the front of the church, the good and evil, heaven and hell.  It was all very fascinating.  There is certainly a lot more thought that goes into building a cathedral like this than you ever realize and that is very evident at Notre Dame with all the figures and statues on the outside of the building.

We had to walk some distance to get to our bus, as there was no parking for buses near the Notre Dame, so although we could be dropped off there,  our bus driver could not wait there.  We walked through a lovely park and a block or two to get to our bus.    We discovered that every city has it's homeless as we found a mattress on the footpath where someone was obviously living and sleeping.
 From here our next stop was a visit to the Eiffel Tower.  We had tickets to go up at 10.30am, and you only get 20-30 minutes to use your tickets.  We were running a little late so Gary had us moving pretty quickly to get on the bus, so that we could get there as he knew there would be a line up.

We had a bit of a drive to get there,  but we did get to see some of the sites of Paris.  Gary was also a wealth of knowledge, and certainly knew this trip well as he pointed out points of interest to us as we drove around. 
 The Eiffel Tower is a wrought iron lattice tower on the Champ de Mars in Paris.  It was named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel whose company designed and built the tower.  It was constructed in 1889 as the entrance to the 1889 World Fair.  The tower is 324m tall and is the tallest structure in Paris.  The tower has three levels for visitors.  The views are amazing, a little hazy in the distance but still definitely worthwhile going up to see.  Our selfie stick got a good working over as we tired to get some good shots of ourselves up there.

We had to meet back at the bus by 12pm, so we did have a little bit of free time to walk across the park at the base of the Eiffel Tower to get some good shots of it fairly close up.
 Most of the others were going to check out the artist quarters,  I had already done that on a previous visit to Paris so Steve and I decided that we would do our own thing for the afternoon.  Initially we thought we might go through the Louve but the line ups were pretty long so we decided that a nice stroll down the Champs  Elysees to the Arc De Triomphe might be nice.
We were dropped off at the Concorde Square along with Marilyn and Alan who had also opted to do their own thing for the afternoon.  From here we headed straight down the Champs Elysees to walk down to the Arc de Triomphe.  The Champs Elysees is the most famous avenue in Paris.  It is 1.9kms long between Place de la Concorde and the Arc de Triompe.  It is known for it's theatres, Cafes and luxury shops, for the annual Bastille Day military parade and as the finish of the Tour de France cycle race.  It ends at the Arc de Triomphe which was built to honor the victories of Napoleon Bonaparte.  We walked the whole 2 kms and then paid 12 Euro to climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe.  I must admit that when we bought the tickets, I had no idea that I would have 300-400 steps to climb to get to the top.
The Arc de Triomphe is one of the most famous monuments in Paris.  It honors those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces.  Beneath its vault lies the tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War 1.

The Arc is located on the right bank of the Seine at the centre of a dodecagonal configuration of 12  radiating avenues.
 I was pretty pleased with myself that I managed to climb all the stairs to the top.  The views were  magnificent.  The sky had cleared somewhat and the views seemed even clearer than they did earlier this morning when we were up on the Eiffel Tower.  We probably spent a good half hour or more up there taking photos and trying to work out where the different land marks were. 
 We came down somewhere around 3pm and then started the long walk back to the Place de la Concorde.  My the time we got back my back was throbbing and my feet where burning as I had been on them for most of the day.
  Gary had bought us Metro tickets so that we could find our way home via the Metro.  It was pretty simple once we found the Metro Station and the right platform to hop onto our train.  Once we were on it, it was a pretty quick trip home, in fact probably a lot quicker than had we have taken our bus back.

The Metro Station was right next to our Hotel in Bercy Village, a great little eatery village across the road from our hotel.  My feet were so sore by now that I couldn't wait to get up to our room and put them up.
We had approximately half an hour before we needed to be down in the foyer to wave goodbye to Cora and Peter who were leaving us this evening as they needed to fly to Venice to meet their Cruise Ship in the morning for the next part of their adventure, and also to see the others off as most were going to the Moulin Rouge for the evening.  This would be our last chance to say goodbye to every one as we were leaving very early the next morning for the airport as we were flying back to Copenhagen to catch up with Peter and Maria before we fly back to Australia the following day.

We had decided not to go to Moulin Rouge as we knew it would be a late night and we had heaps of packing to do, and we didn't really want a late night with such an early start in the morning.

Tomorrow we have an early start, 6am wake up call, bags outside our door by 6.40am, quick breakfast and then to meet Gary and Maritizo (our bus driver) in the lobby at 7.30am as the bus will be taking both Gary and us to the airport.

Our very last night of our European Adventure...
So very sad that it has come to an end.
We have had the most amazing time,  seen amazing places and met some beautiful people.
Definitely would recommend this tour to anyone who is keen to see Europe in the space of three weeks.  Simply the best.....


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