Friday, May 28, 2010

The Samsons Cometh

Paris, France-- It smells really good in our apartment. Betsy has been cooking all day for a family Shabbat dinner. This is going to be the first Shabbat dinner with family in almost three months. We have a full menu, the centerpiece of which is going to be Boeuf Bourguignon, a local specialty and I must say that it smells great!

The Samsons arrived on Tuesday morning just in time to catch the end of Paris' uncomfortably hot weather. After checking into their hotel, we grabbed some macarons and fresh baguettes for sustenance before walking to the Centre Pompidou area for lunch. Luckily, the first restaurant we sat down in was great, and we all enjoyed savory crepes before hitting the road again for a walk through the Marias to Place des Vosges (surprise, surprise). We split up to take naps in our respective rooms and as we slept the sky clouded over and a dusty wind picked up. It seemed as though our luck early in the day had run out. That evening, we braved the crowds at the Eiffel Tower. We were herded at least 175 people at a time into the double story elevators, only to reach the top in a total downpour. The wind and rain made it impossible to see much of the view, but we doggedly tried to make the best of it. Until the lightning started. We sought refuge in the crowded indoor area dripping and trying not to get discouraged. In the end, we were glad we stuck it out. The rain passed for long enough to see the views in most directions, and we took a lot of photos and even dried out a bit before walking to an amazing steak dinner.

But again, our success was short-lived. We woke the next day to set off for Versailles, but when we tried to buy the train tickets, the train station was suspiciously void of employees. Amidst tourists (mostly American) trying desperately to make sense of the ticket machine we finally found an open ticket window, where the women promptly told us that Versailles and all of the museums were closed today due to a strike. Disappointed, we quickly shuffled our schedule around and headed to Notre Dame. It was a pretty impressive space, but as we waited in line to see the bell tower, the rain started again. And this time, it didn't pass. We finished up there and split up again, but the rain made it impossible for Ben to draw more than a sketch and the other Samsons were turned away from Ste. Chapelle, which was closed for lunch. An attempt to see the Catacombs was also thwarted, this time by flooding, which meant spending another 40 minutes dripping with the crowds of Paris until we reached Sacre Coeur. The view from the top of the hill was nice, but it was hardly a consolation for an exhausting day of disappointment. I mean, how many times is it virtually impossible to do anything inside OR outside?!?

The Samsons have been incredibly positive and good sports, though, I guess a testament to their travel experience. And their patience has paid off. Today was almost completely opposite, beautiful weather and successful trips to the Musee du Judaisme, Le Marais (again), Musee d'Orsay, and more. Also, the restaurants where we have been eating have been fantastic, which is certainly important, especially in France, haha. So, we are taking the good with the bad and hoping that our good luck will continue for the rest of the trip!

Shabbat Shalom--links soon.

P.S. Ben and I celebrated our fifth anniversary on Wednesday with tickets to the ballet at the Palais Garnier. Even with our 7 Euro, obstructed view tickets, it was a wonderful evening.

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