On April 30th, we had a tour scheduled with Sight Seeker's Delight for a four hour tour along the Seine. The tour was led by the one and only Karen , one of my oldest friends from the Philly dayz. Karen is not only a tour guide but the owner of Sight Seeker's Delight, the number one tour company in Paris on tripadvisor.com. Though our tour did not begin until 11am, we decided to take an early train into Paris and meet Karen at her place prior to the long walk.
We have all survived so long without the Internet or cell phones, but life seems so much harder without them now...there aren't many payphones around since everyone and their mother has a cell phone but when you are a traveler and aren't ready to throw down the cash to keep your cell phone going through other countries, getting in touch with people is a bit of a hassle...luckily, there was a McDonalds right next to the Place d'Italie metro stop, a stop close to Karen's apartment. We went in for a cafe créme and an expresso and used their free wifi. Fred, Karen's husband, picked us up, along with his coworker and buddy Benoit. We arrived, dropped off or bags and headed out to meet the rest of the folks on the tour.
The tour was phenomenal. Karen was as charmingly witty and enthusiastic as ever. There were four of us on the tour and we hoofed it for the complete four hours, beginning at Notre Dame and ending near the Palaces on the Champs Élysées. We walked along the Seine, through the kings church, the courtyard of the Louvre, alongside the Comedie-Français, the Samartaine, and the grand Palaces, in addition to a getting a glimpse and pic of the Opera House. All this and a fifteen minute lecture on 2,500 years of Parisian history while sitting in the famous green chairs at the Jarden Tuileries. Karen is right at home, relaying the stories while always focusing on the irony and/or gruesome details. Fee Fi Fo Fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman. Who knew that a children's tale was all about cannibalism in gay Paris?
After the tour, we headed back to Karen's pad to hang with Fred and Azriel, Karen and Fred's absolutely adorable and energetic 2 year old. Hanging out with Azriel is just the thing that I need to show me the joys of parenthood. "Pud", Azriel's nickname, is the perfect bundle of energy and intelligence; he is an absolute joy to be around. It is amazing that a two year old (well, 23 months) can open an iPad, turn it on and put on the music that he wants to hear. He is already addicted to the iPad and iPhone. Who knows what it will be like in another ten years; I can't even imagine.
On Tuesday, Karen had another tour to give but we decided to head over to Montmartre, the "Soho" of Paris. Since it happened to be May 1st, which is a holiday in France (labor day), Montmartre was packed. People from all over were there, but we mostly heard French. The weather was beautiful, a wonderful respite from 3-4 days of rain. Everyone wanted to hang out in sunny Montmartre and see the best views of Paris from the Sacre Coeur. Later on was another wonderful evening with Karen, Fred and Azriel, with great food, conversation (Fred spoke the most English that Karen had ever heard him speak) and laughs (Pud is a constant amusement).
Karen and Fred were amazing hosts. Everyone should visit them! We had such a great time that we extended our visit and of course, I am definitely planning on going back again...not sure when but definitely at some point and Karen knows that I actually visit when I say I will...
Big hugs and love to Fred, Karen and Pud! ~the big C