Taking the Viking Cruises’ Cities of Light tour in November, we encountered a few challenges: the Paris bombing occurred two days before we left, low water levels in the Rhine required consideration of a plan B, and a flight attendant strike threatened to ground our return flight. I kept a journal during the trip and took a few pictures. I plan to end 2015 with a few posts about the trip. So please relax with some gingerbread and a caffe latte, and fly to a chilly Europe resplendent in castles, Christmas markets, and sausages.
November 16-17: Mostly dopey at LAX: a very early flight and too little sleep. Concourse was in various states of construction. We found a coffee place and hunkered down till our flight was called.
An Indian American woman couldn’t stow her backpack under the seat because it contained her God. So I offered to put my backpack under her three year old son’s seat so she could put her God overhead.
No feelings of anxiety or even of nerves as I left the US. I feel satisfied that I’m not giving into the fearmongers and that in a small way, I’m supporting France. Later we heard that during the time we were there, Paris experienced a 40 percent drop in tourism. I’m so glad we didn’t participate in that drop.
Chicago was busy. We never had to leave the terminal. We had Chicago pizza pie one concourse down. Mari Lou (my friend and editor) had recommended Reggio’s years ago to me which brought back memories. We finished it off with Chicago style key lime cheesecake. Lots of charging stations for our electronics at the airport during our four hour layover.
Flight was without incident, United/Lufthansa, but only sparsely filled. Lots of police presence at the Charles De Gaulle airport, passport control was fast. Quickly met by Viking representative. Drive to hotel was slow due to traffic. We passed the stadium, one of the targets of the attack Friday.
Check in at the very nice Pullman Hotel Eiffel Tower. I choked up to receive room 129 which was the number of dead from the attack (at the time). Great view, so close, of the Eiffel Tower from the hotel steps, less than a block away. Lots of well armed police in attendance. The tower was closed. I took lots of photos. The pigeons are fat here! The French are lovely people. Had a great Brie baguette near the hotel. Although only 3 pm, I’m calling it a day.
There’s a kitchen herb garden outside my hotel window. Autumn is here with piles of large, soft leaves, but there’s also a feeling of Spring in blooming flowers, verdant lawns and a rebirth of hope, endurance, and courage in the faces here.
We’ve much tourist stuff to cover in Paris till Friday morning.
Temps: 58F today.