Thank y'all for visiting and your kind comments.**
We left the apartment about 5ish, extremely hungry, and gladly lighter (sans mucho luggage) in order to track down a restaurant in the Latin Quarter. Paris, just in case anyone wonders, is divided into 20 arrondissments (neighborhoods) with the lower numbering in the center spiraling higher outwards. The Latin Quarter is found in the 6th arrondissment and called such because in the olden times (very technical term) the students of the Sorbonne near by frequented the cheap eateries and cafes in this area speaking in their educated language--Latin. Or so I have been told. Well inexpensive eateries, cafes, food stalls and tourist trap places still abound but it is still to me a distinctive and lively area to visit as a part of the Parisian experience.
Again, I was nostalgic because, having been blessed to have stayed in Paris two separate times before, this area of Paris was very familiar. I guess, being me, I have to regress and explain that I was in Paris 1993, and 1997 with Campus Crusade for Christ. During those mission trips (lasts about two months in the summer) we were busy amongst the students of the Cite Universitaire (14th arrondissement). In those times I definitely got an everyday feel of Paris, student life, but actually had only small opportunities to explore the grand city of Paris. While doing ministry and friendship building with the international students we met, we explored some the the notable sights of Paris, quite a few times: Notre Dame (near the Latin Quarter), the Louvre, and of course the Eiffel Tower. But I just barely scratched the surface of getting the distinctive feel of the neighborhoods. Now it is apparently an itch I've got to scratch. Poor David.
Well, back to our dinner. The Latin Quarter was in full swing with tourist crowds in mass movement, but being it was a somewhat early European dining hour, the restaurants were uncrowded . Goody for us. I expected my family wanted something a bit familiar and I knew I wanted pizza. Then I saw what I hoped to see. The restaurant our mission group defaulted to each time we wanted a real pizza was still in the same spot and open. The hosts were attentive in seating us, helpful with our slow ordering (in France at times your run the risk of indecision causing you to have to wait a long while before you see your waiter again). We waited on our sidewalk table quietly (yes, Sophia was snoozing away in her tucked under the table stroller, again) and each of us was absorbed in unabashed people watching. And Paris is the place to do it.
A street musical troop started up nearby and entertained us while we oohed and ahhed over our meal.
After being refreshed by our sit down meal we headed out for our walk. We crossed the Seine River (the strong lovely river that splits the fair city in two (Left bank, right blank, I guess that is obvious?) and Notre Dame came into full view as just as reverent choral singing echoed around us. It reminded me of Versailles musical gardens and the background symphonies that created a surreal atmosphere. But the origins of the singing was revealed as we approached the square in front of the majestic hundreds years old Catholic Church. The square was crammed with seats and people taking in a mass outdoors of the capacity filled church via big screen.What a sight. What sounds. I took a picture and then a tap at my shoulder brought me face to face with another kind stranger. An American mom (family in tow) offered to take a picture of me with my crew with Notre Dame in the background, remarking that "the picture taker rarely gets in any pictures". I thanked her and, ridiculously, I think I teared up in appreciation of this kind gesture in a day filled with them.
We walked past the crowds, over bridge with its solo street musicians, handful of street performers and sprinkling of easels with busy painters capturing the early evening sun on the busy Seine, towards the small elegant island in Paris called Ile Saint-Louis. I was navigating my crowd towards the palette pleasing Berthillon ice cream stand on the Ile. Actually my opinion is that its flavors are definitely delectable but I notice I enjoy most the ice cream/sorbet stands throughout Paris equally. I am thinking, because, well, their flavors are usually more than 31 and heck, I am in Paris eating an ice cream cone--delicious.
Here I had another pinch myself moment (yeah, I am fairly bruised by now). We got our Boules (scoops) and ate our cones (Sophia too) as we leaned on the bridge overlooking the Seine, with a street musician on accordion playing songs from Amelie (movie from 2002 that oozes Parisian charm). Ahh. L-O-V-E-L-Y.
As we slowly left the bridge we crossed back over the bridge in no certain direction, but got drawn in by the peace and small rose garden behind Notre Dame. Sophia bounded around freely and we noticed there was an area for children to play. I had never noticed this small garden before but in as tightly a laid out large city as Paris it is notable that there are always open green patches for the Parisians to take in the natural beauty in the midst of their bustling city. Sophia was certainly appreciative!At this point I pushed us one bit further. We found our closest Metro stop and got off at the Trocadero. My family knew we were headed to the Eiffel Tower but their response was a lackluster "Okay." Okay? We were climbing the steps up to the street level outside the Trocadero plaza and a chattering group of identically sundress clad American sorority girls huddled near us over a map. I could hear them "I don't see it, Tiff." "the map says is it near here, I know" "Where do we go, do we ask someone?" So I leaned over to them and offered directions to the place it was obvious they were looking for. They ran just ahead of us and made a moment for us out of their own. They passed the sight blocking building we were in front of, looked to the left and caught sight of THE TOWER and squealed for joy, jumping up and down. Our girls giggled as they watched the "old/older" girls overcome with the experience. Now it was their turn. And here is my picture of my crew caught by surprise.
No, no jumping up and down (not their style). David remarked that he hadn't expected this familiar world renowned sight to give him pause but it did. We posed and posed, and posed. Then we rode the nearby carousel---dreamy.
Anna got a crispy sweet Belgian waffle and Sara had her Nutella Banana crepe--messy, yummy goodness, right by the Tower.And then the Tower lit up for us--de-LIGHT-ful!
I should have known not to push further but at 8:30ish I made my dear family get on a Bateau Mouches (Seine River Cruise) in order to get an idea of the city's layout and unique view of the sights. I loved it. The whole crowded, windy, loud (tour groups partying around us) ride, but David and Anna slipped drowsily in and out of sleep while Sara, Sophia, and I took it all in. My crew was tired but Paris was in full swing as we even passed a quay filled with people dancing tango to Latin rhythms--my oh my.
The walk was surely long to the Metro and to our apartment. But in retrospect it was our most full day. The last day I would be able to check every box off on my itinerary. My fearless crew was hitting a travel wall. Paris was wonderful but no match for a tinge of homesickness, 10 days of go-go-go, new experiences, different languages, and a lack of everyday comforts. I was the energizer bunny trying hard to push my worn out loved ones. Sleep, and a slow morning was the order for our next day, Day 11.