A quick tour

The train ride was easy and uneventful. They served a breakfast snack right after we boarded in Cologne, and a lunch snack just after Brussels. Since we were in the Premium class, we were able to fill out a form and pre-request a taxi for €7 extra. It was nice because the taxi line stretched from outside all the way into the middle of the station.

We took the quick taxi to the new hotel, Hotel Paris Bastille Boutet. It’s near the Bastille Plaza, and in fact we drove right through it on the way to the hotel. I planned to take a quick nap and then go out, but I realized I would just skip everything if I didn’t go out right that second. I consulted Google Maps for the best way to get about, and I decided on going to the Louvre since it was a straight shot without multiple line changes. I turned left out of the hotel and walked about 10 minutes to the Reuilly – Diderot Metro stop. The ticket machines were easy to switch to English and accepted credit cards, though I had to use my pin. I barely have to use it since it still hasn’t taken off in the US, but luckily I remembered it. Tickets anywhere in Zone 1, which covers most of Paris, were €1.90 each way.

The train arrived quickly, and there wasn’t a large crowd since it was about 1pm on a Friday. I got to the Louvre 7 stops later and walked up onto one of the side entrances. Although lots of people were taking pictures here, it wasn’t the view I had in mind when I thought about the Louvre. I made my way around to the front and took a picture with the pyramid in the background:

I didn’t realize how huge the Louvre is, or that it had been a place previously. I guess I need to do a little more studying before going to new cities so that I know what I’m seeing. I didn’t feel the need to join the throngs and see the Mona Lisa today, but maybe next time if I spend longer there. I hear there are also other pieces of art in the Louvre as well 🙂

After looking around the square a bit, I walked along the Seine parallel to the Tuileries Gardens, which are also pretty huge. It’s cool to imagine what it looked like in the old days when the Louvre Palace was one of the only big buildings around. I knew the Eiffel Tower was a pretty far walk, but I figured I could get close enough for an identifiable shot today. This was all mainly a recon trip to make sure I didn’t waste time figuring out transportation next time when I have enough time and am awake enough to actually see things. Anyway, here’s La Tour Eiffel in the distance:

I walked on the Seine as far as the Place du Concorde, which looks so much like the copy in Vegas that Google Lens thinks that’s where I was. I took some shots, enjoyed the scenery, and walked back to the Metro. 7 stops later I was back on Rue Reuilly for the short walk back to the hotel. I was pretty beat by the time I got back, and I slept a good 7 hours until 11pm or later.

I stayed up until breakfast the next morning and met the captain down there. The breakfast was pretty good, with eggs, bacon and sausage as well as some fruits, meats and cheeses. All-in-all it was small for a €22 breakfast, but not bad when you don’t feel like going out early in the morning. The captain and I had an enjoyable time talking about airplanes and guns, although we both managed to spill the lid off the orange juice, much to the hotel waiter’s chagrin. I think it was clogged with pulp and made you turn it over more than usual, causing the weight of the liquid inside to pop the top off and spill OJ all over. Anyway I’ll know better for next time if I decide to eat here again.

He went to Paris…

Our second stay in Guangzhou was shorter than the first. I had time to take a nap, go to breakfast, take another nap, then hang around in the room until the late wakeup call. The captain chose to do a long, long, short, short rest cycle for the trip to Cologne, meaning we had about 3.5 hours on, 3.5 off, 2 on then 2 off before getting back in the seat for the landing. At the last company we used to split all the flights right in half, but current fatigue studies suggest breaking the rest periods up can be more beneficial than only one long rest. I slept pretty well during our first rest, and then while we were up front for the short period we got to see a lot of China. The weather was beautiful, and it was easy to see the many towns, military bases (we think) and other odd buildings that just seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. On the second rest I just read the whole time, and then we got back in the seats for the landing. The approach was one we don’t often have to fly, meaning the normal level of micromanagement was knocked up a notch. I didn’t mind it as much because it was something unusual for me. The landing turned out to be a lot less eventful than it seemed like it would be after all the talking preceding it. We got to the hotel and I set an alarm to wake up at 4:45 to meet at 5:30.

I rolled over in the dark and checked my phone to see how much time was left. My phone was dead, which I really didn’t see coming. As long as I leave it in airplane mode, I can usually make a very long distance flight and still have plenty of use in the room before charging it. My watch hadn’t died, and was surprised to see it was 5:21pm! I managed to get downstairs in 9 minutes and meet the captain. He wanted a drink first, so we went to the hotel bar, where we met another crew who was planning to head out to eat. We joined them for a good meal. I had Schnitzel “Berne,” which was ham and a cheesy sauce on the schnitzel. It was excellent! We followed with a quick Guiness at one of the two Irish Pubs in the Heumarkt Square, and then the other crew headed off to bed. The captain and I walked to the train station to scope it out. We decided it was an easy enough walk, but with our luggage we preferred to take a taxi.

By the time we got back to the hotel, I was ready to call it a night, though the captain stayed at the hotel bar to listen to the musician they had there. I passed out almost right away and woke up about 3 in the morning. I wasn’t able to go back to sleep, so I just kept reading. I’ve been running through the Jack Reacher novels, which are thin on substance but easy reads. They’re great work books because I can put them away for weeks and easily pick them back up again the next time I’m on a plane, or wide awake at 3 am.

We met this morning around 8 and took a taxi to the train station. It turned out to be less than 8 euros which is not a bad deal. We scouted out the gate’s location and then decided to find the lounge in case we have more time the next time we do this. It turned out to be outside the train station in a little store front that barely advertised the name of the train company. It was a small lounge, good for getting out of the crowds but not much else. Having found our target, we hoofed it back to the train station, where we had to wait less than 5 minutes before it arrived.

Since we traded in a plane ticket, we were able to buy premium class tickets on the train. That includes wifi throughout the 3.5 hour journey, which is the reason I’m writing this now. Between writing and eating the small airline-style breakfast, I’ve managed to kill one hour of the trip. Hopefully the weather in Paris will allow me to see some of the famous sights since I’ve never been there before.