Friday, February 19, 2016

We're docked in Paris! A day of touring with Avalon! June 26, 2015

It's our last day of our river cruise, and boy have we seen and done so much!  Here we are, back in Paris, where we began! I love that Avalon includes a full day here as part of the itinerary.  This is great for those who can't build an extra day or two into the trip at the beginning or the end of their vacation. While, sure you could spend days here and not even touch the surface of this city, at least with a full day of touring with the cruise line, you see the highlights! We had a full day in store for us today, as we pretty much did every day! Today there were quite a few options to choose from, which was great. In the morning, we could choose either a Walking Tour of Paris, or a panoramic bus tour with a few photo stops. This gave everyone on board an option, depending on just how active they wanted to be. And of course, you could just decide to go off on your own too if that's what you would like!  Carol and I decided on the Walking Tour of Paris. It was already a beautiful morning!

Our tour would take us into the "Heart of Paris", to the Islands of the city and to the Notre Dame cathedral. Once again, as has been consistent with Avalon, their local guides have been great!

First we would take a bus into the city center, always some photo opportunities on the way!

And when we got to this little island in the center of the city, we began our walking tour.  Learning more about the history of Paris and admiring the shops and streets and soaking it all in on this perfect summer day!

Of course we couldn't miss seeing one of the famous "Locks of Love" bridges in Paris!  And we were there just as the big controversy was happening.....they were just starting to remove the locks permanently.  They have become a hazard and would be taken away.  No more symbols of love everlasting! 

So many locks!  And this is just one of many bridges covered with locks!

And then it was time to head over to Notre Dame...we'd driven by it and walked by quite a few times already, but now it was time to go inside. On this tour, we had the all important "skip the line" access tickets.  Such a necessity when you are traveling!

We learned a bit about the facade of the cathedral

And then it was time to go in.  We stayed together as a group, our guide gave us the tour, and then we had some free time to wander and take it all in.

A little "making of Notre Dame" model

After we all met up with our group, we did a bit more walking through this area of Paris.

One of the entrances to the Metro

Of course there's fresh flowers for sale almost everywhere!

We enjoyed our morning walking tour, and now it was time to make our way back to the boat for lunch.  We would have another tour this afternoon.  So far so good today!

Friday, February 5, 2016

I haven't forgotten....the return to the River Cruise trip.....our evening in Paris, June 25, 2015!

Well, to say life got busy may be the biggest understatement ever! I'm not sure just how my last update to this wonderful trip was back in November, and here it is, the beginning of February!  I'm sorry about that, and I hope that someone is still interested in reading about it and seeing some pictures because there are still some stories to share!

Picking up where we left off....Carol and I just spent the day at Versailles and were heading back to the ship for dinner. Tonight would be our Farewell Gala Dinner!  Even though it wasn't the last night on board.  This is because tomorrow night, our last night, we'd be docked in Paris and many passengers would have other plans! 

The dinner was great, and by now we had settled into a nice friendship with several passengers and we enjoyed our meals together.  As we were eating dinner, we sailed into Paris.  How beautiful!

As everyone was ooohhinngg and aaahing at the first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower, and the mini Statue of Liberty, we were served our first course.  

Yup, that's just a little first course....a teaser if you will!  I think it's going to be a good meal tonight!

After dinner, those who chose the Optional Excursion: "Paris Evening Tour", which you can bet Carol and I did, left the ship and boarded a bus to head out to see Paris lit up at night. 

It was just about dusk and the city was lovely!

We even saw a bride and groom making their way out on to the street for that famous shot on the Champs-Élysées!

With all of the gold on the buildings, they almost looked as if they were glowing!

With each corner we turned, the sky would change colors. Going from bright blue, to a purple, to deep dark blue.

And, as we discovered when we were in Paris just a few days earlier, there are always people outside enjoying the open spaces!

And now that it was really truly dark, it was time to head to the landmark we all were waiting for!

Yes, Carol and I were there last week, but tonight we would get to see it sparkle!  And that is something all together special!

I really like the reflections in the sky on the bus window! Sort of a cool effect!

And so we arrived....we staked out our spot, and we waited for the sparkle.  It happens every 15 minutes....

Of course you can't get the full effect in the picture - you really need a video, but you can see some white flashes in the photo.  Those are all sparkles and they last a few minutes and the crowd goes crazy!

Yet, another fantastic day on our river cruise. This has been such a wonderful trip!  We have one day left. Even though we're done sailing, tomorrow is still part of our "journey" and we have more to see and do!  Tomorrow we spend the day in Paris, as part of the Avalon River Cruise.  And we can't wait!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015 this a a palace! Thursday, June 25, 2015 continued

After lunch back on the ship, we went with our group on one of the optional excursions to Versailles.  During the time we would be touring this most magnificent palace, the ship was going to sail towards Paris, and we would meet up at it's new destination.  Very nice!  No backtracking for us!

We've all heard about the opulence, and grandeur of Versailles, but until you actually arrive, I don't think one can actually be prepared for just how big, and how, well, shining this palace actually is!

I was expecting it to be crowded, and it was, but it was never unbearably crowded.  Our guide went up to a group window and got our tickets for us and we we walked right in. No lines to wait in.  

So much gold!  Everywhere you turned...and we weren't even inside yet!

While the rooms were filled with people, we were always escorted to just that right place to stand and told our stories and then moved along as if we were the only people that mattered.  Having a fantastic guide makes so much difference when you're in a place so incredibly huge!

This is the Royal Chapel

And the ceiling of the Hercules Room

And we have the Venus Room

The ceiling in the Mars Room

The Apollo Room, Louis XIV's former bedchamber

Looking out the window towards the gardens

And then we made our way to perhaps the most famous area of Versailles, the Hall of Mirrors...

Yea, it was crowded....but we managed!

Another view out the window...if only the fountains would have been on!

The crystals, the glass from the mirrors, the gold...this hall was absolutely captivating!

And this is the "King's Bedroom" where Louis XIV lived until his death.  The Royal rising and going to sleep ceremonies took place in this bedroom.

During her time here, this was Marie Antoinette's Bedchambers

After our guided tour inside Versailles, we had some time to walk around outside.

Again, I so wish those fountains would have been on!  But it still was beautiful!

Our afternoon at Versailles was about done.  We really enjoyed it, and thought it was definitely an optional excursion well worth it!  It was time to head back to our ship for dinner.  Our day wasn't over yet though, we were now going to get to sail into Paris, and we still had plans for this evening!