Thursday, February 28, 2019

To Paris!

It's taken me awhile to get back on line to post since I wrote my last post (which you can view here if interested). The snow that fell on my first day back has melted but the forecast calls for a bit more snow.  I haven't been out very much but the sun has been shining daily.

Today I want to share some introductory remarks about my travels.  My main destination for travel was the country of Kenya and the City of Nairobi specifically. I had been planning to return to Kenya for some time but this time I also wanted to see something different either on the continent of Africa or somewhere in Europe.

My very busy nephew and I have been discussing travelling to Paris together for years. After checking the flight itinerary options from Paris to Nairobi I then asked my nephew if a few days in Paris would work for him as it coincided with the new university term.  I didn't expect a definitive 'yes' but he agreed!

Neither of us had many expectations or plans and little time to really prepare for the trip.  We both just really wanted to soak up a bit of atmosphere by sitting at the Parisian bistros and people watching. Of course a visit to the Eiffel Tower was a must for both of us and my nephew said we must visit the Louvre.

Due to his very busy schedule I investigated the travel options to find a fare within his budget and to make sure he had the appropriate insurance.  We didn't travel together. He flew with Iceland Air and I travelled with KLM, my favourite airline.  My flight left very early from Vancouver and I didn't get any sleep since I had to be at the airport  by 3 a.m.

After checking in this is the first line up in Vancouver on the way to first security clearance.

 The departure gate was at the very end of the international departure terminal, a foreshadowing of things to come.

At the departure gate in Vancouver

My flight was routed through the USA where I made a connecting flight in Minneapolis to Paris. As time got closer to departure I worried what might happen in Minneapolis because of the government shut down. Thankfully all went well and I had no problems.  In fact, I was so very impressed with the staff at the Minneapolis airport, the level of service and the professionalism yet friendliness exhibited by all.  Everyone was just superb and they take customer service seriously there. All airports should follow the lead of this fine airport.

Once at the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, I had several hours to wait for my nephew. I didn't find any nice place to have refreshment or to relax in the terminal where I alighted.  I waited in the general area for about 30 minutes trying to see if the line at the small cafe would diminish but I eventually left and made my way closer to the terminal where I expected my nephew to arrive. Once I changed locations, I found better waiting areas and services.  Enroute to the "new' terminal I struck up a conversation with a woman from the Cameroon who now lives in Seattle, Washington.  We had a very nice conversation before we parted ways. She was over nighting in Paris and wanted to stay close by the airport before she flew home to the Cameroon for a visit.  Once I found my way to a cafe, I asked a woman if I could share her table due to limited space. She obliged and we struck up a conversation. I learned she was on her way home to her husband in Saudi Arabia after visiting her family in Paris. We studied the transit map together to find my hotel and she advised me to take a taxi to the hotel rather than go by bus and metro (there being no direct route via metro).

Map of the Paris Metro system

I spent some time investigating the transit options to the hotel before leaving Vancouver and didn't wish to spend so much money on a taxi. Neither did I want to ride the bus and metro given the inconvenience of going up and down stairs with heavy luggage and the possibility of being mugged (mentioned in several articles I'd read). When my nephew arrived we decided to take an Uber to our destination. I let him order the Uber and I willingly paid as that was part of our arrangement so he could accompany me to Paris.  The Uber driver was prompt and the ride into the city was very interesting. My nephew and I were both happy and excited to see a bit of the city through the car windows. Our driver wasn't much of a conversationalist but he was pleasant and got us to our destination. Though he got lost very near the end point it didn't take him long to find his way once again.

We booked into the Hotel Boronali a very small, family run hotel in the 18th arrondissment at 
65 Rue de Clignancourt.

 
Not my photo. This is a promotional one.
I chose this hotel because it appeared to be closer to one of the attractions I wanted to see in Montmarte and I'd read that it was one bus ride away to The Louvre.  I also selected the hotel because there was a laundromat across the street.  I planned to do laundry before jetting off to Africa since there are no do it yourself laundromats in Kenya.

We enjoyed staying at the Hotel Boronali.  The hotel was very small but nice and  staff was very professional and helpful.  But in case you wish to stay there one day please note that the hotel has no on site restaurant or bar though they do provide breakfast in the morning and coffee/tea during the day.  There is a lift but given it is a heritage building there is only room for one suitcase and one person at a time (perhaps 2 suitcases if they are stackable). There are many restaurants and bars in the neighbourhood so it isn't a big issue not to have a full scale restaurant in the hotel. There are also several convenience stores, boulangeries and small supermarkets close to the hotel and I felt very safe walking in the area.  Even late into the night though a friend of my nephew's suggested the area is not that safe. For more information about the hotel see here.

While we were there we were so very busy trying to make the most of our short time. We did miles and miles of walking every day (my nephew more than I) and we ate on the run. Thank goodness for the boulangeries.  I did not sit at any bistros as planned except on the last evening when we decided to have a proper French meal before departure. But I did have a version of an American breakfast at a bistro next to the hotel. The cafĂ© crema was delicious.
 

Sorry for the blurred photo.

Thank you for stopping.
Stay tuned for more travel posts. In the next post I will share some of the things we did in Paris.

18 comments:

  1. Love it! No sorry for blurred photos. It's about the feeling behind it.

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  2. Great post amd loved reading it. We have had three visits to Paris since living in France and we use the Metro all the time, much the easiest to get from A to B unless of course there are many things you want to see along the route. Never seen or been mugged yet! The Louvre is huge we spent many hours there and stil did not see it all. There are som great restaurants in Paris that are reasonably priced. Nigel always spend hours researching before we go anywhere so I just take it in my stride! Looking forward to the rest of your posts on your trip. Take care, happy March, Diane

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    1. Hi Diane, I did have an incident at one of the train stations. I will be blogging about it once I get to a particular tourist site. I think it really depends which part of town and which station. I think it also depends whether you stick out like an obvious tourist.

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  3. You have a few nervous moments but have a much better experience if you go off the beaten track.

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  4. It sounds lovely, Penny, and I hope you tell us some of the things you saw during your few days there. We took the train from the airport and then the metro to our hotel stop. That airport is pretty far out there!

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  5. How wonderful to have a travel companion. And yes, I met the same courtesy travelling at Christmas among the agents.

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  6. What a wonderful trip! I'm thankful you got to travel with your nephew.

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  7. Nice to have your nephew as a traveling companion.

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  8. Sounds exciting. Wonderful that you had a nephew to accompany you. That had to make it more fun and a feeling of security. Do you speak French? Just wondering as you seem to know what to do and where to go. Can't wait to hear more about your trip.

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    1. Hi Pamela, it was lovely having my nephew join me in travelling to Paris for the reasons you mention and just for us to have some bonding time. I don't speak French other than 2 years of junior high school French which was a very long time ago. From time to time I listen to a few mp3 recordings and try to learn but I'm afraid I am not very disciplined about it. The little French I do speak and understand was very useful.

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  9. Hello, what a wonderful trip to Paris. It is nice your nephew was able to go and keep you company. I am glad everything went smoothly on your trip! Enjoy your day, have a happy new week!

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  10. It is very enjoyable to do a bit of armchair traveling via your posts. I've visited Kenya once and Paris many times and shall read about your adventures with interest.

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  11. I love reading about other people's travel journal. Can't wait for what comes next.

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  12. Memories of Paris... In 2000, we stayed in a hotel that had a tiny elevator. And a light was out in the hall, and the room was small. But it was fun to be in Paris.

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    1. Ha, ha. I understand about the light being out in the hallway and the small room. That was the case where I stayed too!

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  13. Wow Joyful, what a surprise to see you traveled to Paris!! What a blessing ---and an adventure---to go and meet your nephew there!! ❤️

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  14. What an adventure you have had, Penny. I am so happy for you. I look forward to more posts about your time there and also your time in Kenya.

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  15. Paris is always a good idea, even in winter, right?! I toured Versailles on a sunny day, so I spent more time outside than inside the palace. What a treat for you to take this trip with your nephew. It sounds like he's an agreeable and fun travel partner! You made some great memories!

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