Thursday, June 23, 2011

Day 7

This morning we had a much-needed lie in, rolling out of bed at about 8am.  After breakfast we headed off to the Louvre (didn’t go inside this time, much to Grant and the girls’ delight!  Been there, done that..)  and then walked through the Tuilleries gardens (they’re lovely!), right up the Champs Elysee to the Arc de Triomphe. 

Along the way we bumped into Gerry, our tour director from the Trafalgar tour we did in 2009!  I was looking at this guy thinking “Yoh (as South Africans do) that has got to be Gerry’s twin brother!  When he said “Oy (as New Zealanders do) hello the Richardsons” It was SO good to chat to him and catch up – I mean, seriously, what are the chances of bumping into someone you know along a street that sees…I kid you not, our tour guide told us this last night …. 500 000 people every single day!! 

We also stopped along the way at a very PINK restaurant for an extremely yummy caramel latte. 

We finally made it to the Arc de Triomphe!

View from under the Arc
The rest of the family climbed to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, I opted out of that particular exercise!  I am embarrassed to admit that while they were sussing out the scene from the top of the Arc de Triomphe, I was playing Solitaire on my cell phone down below…. I know, I know……I’m an idiot…..

Views from the top of the Arc:

Once they had come down to earth, we did a quick geocache nearby and then made our way towards Galleries La Fayette (there has to be SOME incentive for Roxy to come on these holidays!)  First, we persuaded Rox that we should take some sustenance, and stopped at an Italian (Paula was involved) restaurant for lunch.  After lunch we headed to Rox’s dream destination (i.e Galleries la Fayette on the very first day of the Summer sales) where Rox and I trailed around the various floors of this extremely large (and unbelievably beautiful) department store for close to two hours.  I have one word.  Disappointing!  Last time the place was WONDERFUL, this time – not so much… We managed to walk out of there without making a single purchase.  This has to be a record for Rox!

We then headed back to our hotel, where the wonderful Pierre had made a booking for a cab to pick us up and transport us to the Gare du Austerlitz to catch our train to Madrid. 

What follows has to be one of the highlights of our holiday.  We boarded the Ellipsos Trenhotel at 19:45. We had splashed out and bought Gran Clas tickets on this overnight train to Madrid, meaning that the girls and Grant and I have double compartments and Dad is in a single.  The compartments are by no means luxurious, they literally comprise a small room with two seats (much like airline seats) that fold into a bed at night, with a little bathroom attached with a loo and a shower – rather like a very small, very basic caravan.  But really, it’s just such fun!

We opted to have dinner at the first sitting, which was at 8:30 pm, so we had time to book into our compartments and settle down and then it was off to the dining car for dinner.  Dinner was a very civilised affair, with linen napkins, silvery cutlery numerous wine glasses (really, I only need one!) the whole toot.  We had the choice of about 4 different starters, mains and desserts, with free wines, beers and soft drinks as well as Cava – the Spanish equivalent of champagne (very delish…. almost had me breaking into song!)  Once we had deciphered the menu (with some help from Google! Rox has very good ideas on the odd occasion) it was SO lovely to sit over this surprisingly good meal and exceedingly delicious wine and watch the French country-side roll by.  I feel very, very spoilt!

By the time we gently swayed back to our compartments, our beds had been dropped down and made up with proper sheets and blankets.  I got to sleep in a bunk bed for the first time in about 30 years!

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