We took the early (ONLY) bus out of Penalver, Spain, to Guadalajara and purchased tickets to Madrid Once in Madrid we spent 3 hours in lines only to find out that we must take a train to another station, Chamartin, in order to purchase our Eurorail passes. We take the train and spend another hour waiting in lines and finally purchase our passes and our tickets on an overnight sleeper car from Madrid to Paris………….the city of lights.
We are in a sleeper car that will hold four persons, upon arrival we find there will be only one other occupant. His name is Trakhed, a very nice man from Morocco. He speaks French and a little Spanish, we leave the station at seven in the evening. We have been lugging suitcases, standing in line and fretting since eight in the morning! We go off to the dining car and enjoy a light dinner and some wine. At nine in the evening the attendant lowers the beds and I promptly climb into the top bunk and our Moroccan friend leaves the quarters. I fall asleep immediately and sleep rather well throughout the rest of our 14 hour journey across the Great Pyrenees Mountains. Before the sun sets we enjoy the sites of the Spanish Country side filled with castle after castle.
We arrive in Paris at 9:30 A.M. and find the weather to be cold and rainy. We stumble upon a most wonderful cab driver who takes us to hotel after hotel as we find no rooms at any inns! He then suggests a chain of hotels called the Ibis, off we go. The hotel is walking distance to Notre Dame and has a very large room with a comfortable bed and full bath — a bath we desperately need after now 27 hours without one! We wander the streets of Paris, just enjoying being here again…………..and being clean!
Saturday, we awake to the city coming to life. The streets are being set up with the Farmer’s Markets throughout this beautiful city. The stands full of fresh meats, herbs, cheeses, flowers, vegetables and even socks and underwear! We so enjoy strolling about and tasting all the delights.
Off we trot to Notre Dame and marvel, once again, in her magnificent art and architecture. We sit in her shadow and enjoy a coffee and parisesane hot dog.
We purchase metro tickets and off we go into the belly of Paris — our first stop the Eiffel Tower, where we stop and help young lovers by taking pictures of them in front of the tower. A young Russian couple returns the favor and takes a photo of August and myself…..how fun!
We rest at the Museum of Modern Art and dine on the patio. Soon back to the metro to continue our exploration.
Our day ended at the Arche de Triumph on the Champs de Elysees
We visited many of our favorite places in Paris and so enjoyed dining at the outdoor cafe with the gracious and fun French wait staff. It seems that whenever we are in Paris that we have returned to Oz.
Sunday May First………..May Day!
The streets are full of flower vendors celebrating this day! We feast upon local meats and cheeses accompanied by croissants — of course and then venture off to the North of Paris for the next leg of our journey…..Belgium! Oh, my mouth waters for the rich beer and a plate of local mussels – and one must not forget the chocolate!!!
The train station is a true representation of all the cultures of the world. People from Africa, in the most beautiful clothes, Germans, Russians, Indians, Pakistani. I found a delightful woman in the tobacco shop who assisted me in purchasing stamps for our post cards and located a postal drop for me.
I am amazed that in the midst of all this chaos and activity when someone stops to be so kind and patient. Our train comes in 45 minutes and we are anxious to be on our way. On the train now in our first class seats, so comfortable and ready to see the sights on this next leg of our voyage. I so marvel at the efficiency of the transportation system here in Europe. Should we have this in the U.S., I believe many more would engage in exploration of our beautiful country. We change trains in Brussels and move on to Gent — watching the charming countryside as we move along.