Le Avventure Di Sophia Graf

My thrilling adventures in Europe!

Thursday, August 23, 2007


We took the Channel Tunnel ("Chunnel") to Paris from London. I remember feeling upset through most of the ride over because I had to sit in the odd seat (we got a table group of four seats plus one more seat). Surprisingly, most of the journey was spent above ground, travelling from London to the tunnel and from the end of the tunnel to Paris. It wasn't the exciting experience Thomas had led us to believe from his building excitement culminating in frequent outbursts of "WE'RE GOING ON THE CHUNNEL TOMORROW!" Instead, it was just like any other train ride, only on a faster and bigger train, not a "caterpillar" train as my mom calls the ones in Hungerford. When we got to Paris, we had lunch across the street from the train station, then took a taxi to the apartment we were renting. Out of all the apartments so far, this on was probably the best. It had originally been a one bedroom apartment, but lofts had been added above the washroom (I don't know what else to call it, it was a tiny room with a washer, dryer, and sink in it in the bedroom) and above the kitchen. Immediately we decided that the boys would get the bigger, more rickety loft over the kitchen while the girls would get the stronger, but smaller loft in the bedroom. I might also add that the girls' loft had a railing around it, while the boys' did not. That afternoon we took a walk to look for dinner and the Pompidou, and were successful in both missions. We had pizza for dinner (as well as a lemon crepe with ice cream for dessert, mmmmm!) outside the love of Thomas' life, the Pompidou. You might ask what is so special about the Pompidou, and I will tell you that it is called "the inside-out building" because all it's pipes and escalators, etc. are on the outside of the building and not the inside like normal buildings. I, for one, thought it to be one of the most hideous buildings I had ever seen, but Thomas (and Anthony, who has been copying everything Thomas says in an effort to be just like him) loved it and thought it was the greatest building ever built. To add to the horridness, (he he, I am turning British!) the pipes are color coded with bright red, green, yellow, blue, and white paint to show which ones are for electricity, water, air conditioning, and so on. I'm sorry if this offends you Stephanie, but my first glimpse of a Paris monument was not a happy one. We also saw the Hotel de Ville, which was a lot nicer in my opinion than the Pompidou. There was a beach festival going on in Paris, so in front of the Hotel de Ville was a beach volleyball court. There were also fake beaches set up alongside the river with sand, palm trees, umbrellas, and beach chairs.

The next day, Sunday, we tried walking to the Eiffel Tower, but then when the heavens opened up above us we decided that the Lourve might be more appropriate for the weather that day, seeing as the three of us that did not have umbrellas were thouroughly soaked. There was much argument as we children were dragged through the museam to see famous things such as the Winged Nike, Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and Code of Hammurabi, as well as some other, less famous things in other exhibits and collections. That night we went to a crepery for dinner, after my continuous stream of pleading that drove the family so insane that they eventually caved in and found one near the POMPIDOU! Just for good measure, they forced me to walk the long way around THAT building and even stop to take a picture.

The wafting scent of croissants among the other delectable pastries enticed us and prompted us to stop in and buy some for breakfast before we made our way towards the Metro stop to try once again to complete the trek to the Eiffel Tower. We rose from the ground and immediately began wondering where in the world the tower could be, for it was nowhere in sight. Then we turned the corner and, boom!, there it was. The huge, lace like structure loomed above us, throwing it's shadow on the park below. We walked down the long strip of grass to the amazing structure. We asked at the information desk about eating at a restaurant in the tower, but apparently they are booked up to two weeks in advance, so we stood in line for the stairs, which were only 4 euros for as high as you could climb. The elevator, however, was 4.50 euros just to get to the first floor and 7.50 to the second. The top floor, which Thomas really wanted to go to, could only be reached by the elevator, which cost 11.50 euros and was temporarily closed. The whole time we were in line Anthony kept insisting that he would buy us an elevator, meaning that he would pay for our elevator tickets, but since we were in a stairs only ticket line that wasn't going to happen. So fate decided that we would climb all 704 stairs. The first three hundred or so to the first floor weren't all that bad because the stairs were marked every ten steps with their number, so that we could look and say "only 210 to go. . . only 200. . . 190 more. . . almost there, only 180 more!" We wandered around the first floor looking at all the signs pointing out the landmarks, such as Notre Dame. Unlike in the dome of St. Peter's, I wasn't scared at all because the Eiffel Tower has a whole floor that you can walk around on with exhibits, restaurants, and shops, but in the dome there was just a little ledge. Also, there was a thick, decorative railing as well as a wire screen, as opposed to just a stone railing. Then we discovered a dirty cafe to eat lunch at (Hey, why not? It's still in the Eiffel Tower!) like the kind you find at castles that are run by the company that owns the castle. (We have eaten at far too many of those this summer. I don't want to see another one for a long time.) I got a quiche that was cold in the middle because it hadn't been in the microwave for long enough. To work off all the ice cream we'd been eating, we climbed like 400 more stairs to the second floor. The sights were amazing from the second floor, it was almost like looking down upon an aerial map. We could even see the Arch of Triumph from there, which was really far away. While the boys looked even more at the city, my mom, Cindy and I found a nice chocolate store where we bought chocolate with little pictures of things all over Paris on it. After climbing back down all 704 steps, Cindy, Anthony, Thomas, and I rode the carousal next to the Eiffel Tower. We almost took a boat ride, but instead walked to Amarino (thanks, ss!), a fantastic ice cream place. You get to choose three favors, even on a small cone, and they make your cone into a rose shape. Later on we found out that there was on right by our apartment in the Pompidou square. Following more of ss and her family's advice, since it had proved to be good, we headed to the Jardin de Luxembourg. This is a park that used to be a palace garden but is now open to the public and filled with really cool things like a huge play area, pony rides, and a pond in front of the palace where you can rent sailboats to sail.
We rented three boats for a half hour each, but I had to share mine with Anthony, which made it kind of hard. We also got a kind of bad boat, but even so it was really fun. Anthony kept trying to slap the water with his boat pushing stick and also tried to touch the bottom with it, so that by the time the half hour was over I was glad to give back the stick. Our boat had kept coming back like a boomerang, and by the time it learned that it was supposed to go into the open it was time to bring the boats back in. Cindy's had been sailing really well and Thomas' boat was alright, and even though our boat had sailed the worst, that half hour of pushing it along had been quite enjoyable.

After much debate, we decided that the best thing to do would be to got o the Champs Elysee rather than Pimkie, as I had originally wanted (we had passed one once the day before and since then I had been set on going). We took the metro there but got off too early so that we ended up walking a long way between trees on our right and portable theatre seats on our left before we got anywhere near the shops. The whole thing reminded me a lot of the Royal Mile in London, especially its length. The whole way down we kept wondering what the stands had been for (they were being taken down, so we knew that the event had already taken place). Finally, someone figured out that the Tour de France had finished just the day before! We had even been here in Paris (well, at the Lourve) and had had no idea that it was anything other than a normal weekend. We eventually reached the real street that was full of shops and began looking for a place to eat dinner. The previous nights my dad had been unsatisfied with our restaurant choices, so we decided to let him choose tonight. We looked for a while, then got sidetracked and went into a wonderful chocolate shop. There was chocolate in every shape you can think of, from cell phones to mice and lighthouses to bars with Merci! written across them and, of course, the inevitable Eiffel Tower. The smell of chocolate, chocolate, chocolate was overwhelming, so we had to buy some even though it was going to close in two minutes. My favorite thing was a salad made entirely out of chocolate, complete with olives and a hard boiled egg. Anthony kept begging and begging for an Eiffel Tower, but my dad didn't think that a two year old would fully appreciate the sculpture, so instead Anthony got a giant chocolate coin with the Eiffel Tower on one side. We also bought a long thin stick of squares of chocolate. As soon as we left, the store closed and we continued our quest to find dinner. When we did find it, I got the best onion soup ever. Cindy decided that she would pay for six escargot for the family so that we could try them! She and I each tried one, and then we got my dad to try one too. The snails didn't look that good because they came in their shells, but they smelled really good. We showed the waiter that one of them got stuck in the shell, to see if he could get it out, and when he couldn't he gave us another half dozen free! Since no one else really wanted any more, Cindy and I had a few and then made my mom eat the last one because she had tole everyone that they were really good and yet had not had any herself. The reason she didn't want to was because the last time she had escargot she ate so many that she threw up. Eventually she did eat it after we used the threats she uses on us, like no dessert and having to eat the snail for breakfast. This made her feel a bit sick later, but it was worth it for the profiteroles we had for dessert. There were three cream puffs on each of the two plates we ordered, but they were so heaped with chocolate sauce and whipped cream that it was hard to tell where they were. After dinner we walked further down the Champs Elysee to do the shopping my mom had promised me. The first hop we found open was Zara, so my mom and I went in there while the rest of the family found the Disney store. We came out, about an hour later, with four things: a khaki miniskirt, white shorts, and a striped white and gold shirt for me and a black shirt with a Parisian scene on it for my mom. I was really excited about the new clothes because I hadn't packed enough for three and a half months. My mom consented to pay for them because she admitted herself that she was sick of the same shirts I keep wearing over and over. When we met the rest of the family outside and told them what we had bought, Thomas asked, "Why do you need more clothes?"
I answered, "Well, I only have about seven shirts, and only one pair of shorts."
And, being a boy, he had to answer, "Well, isn't that enough?"
Tuesday, our last day, began once again at a pastry shop, though this time at a different one. We also went to a candy store by the Pompidou, where we learned that the owners would be opening up another shop in LA soon. Then we had to go finish packing and say goodbye to the Pompidou. When we got to the station we had lunch at Paul, which is really nice normally and passable at the station. them we rode the chunnel where I was lucky to have no one in the seat next to me, so that Anthony could have his own seat, where he prompltly fell asleep. We had missed the last direct train to Hungerford by the time we made it to Paddington Station, so we had to take a really crowded train to Newbury and change there for the train to Hungerford. The only problem was that our train got delayed and we were stuck in Newbury where my parents finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, constantly interrupted by the cool female voice announcing the trains.


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