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Day 9: Paris to Edinburgh

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We woke up before 6am naturally; the alarm was set for 7 just in case. We were ready to go. We get like that. When we’re done we’re done and we want to move on. And we were done with Paris sometime yesterday. As amazing as it is, 5 days was definitely enough at one time. We didn’t get to do everything we wanted to do, but are still ready to move on. We will be back! Some final musings:

  • We both agreed our favorite thing was The Louvre. People had prepared us to not like it I think. Many, many times we heard that d’Orsay was better, that Louvre was overrated. Not for us. Some day we will go back and do the other 3.5 hours (at least) that we had to nix out of our Louvre plans on this trip. The building itself was worth studying, and the vast collection is impressive even if Egyptian Antiquities is not your thing!
  • Scarves: we decided this is the easiest tell to determine if the passer-by is local or a tourist. If they’re wearing a scarf – man or woman – they’re likely local. The French love their scarves.
  • We still want to know what all those people who live in the center of Paris do for a living. Holy cow is it expensive. We stopped at every real estate office we passed to look at houses – or in this case flats – for sale (we do this everywhere we go, domestic or foreign), and rarely saw anything for less than the American equivalent of $1000 per square foot.
  • We thought the metro/train system was impressive. With the exception of to/from Versailles, we never waited more than 3-4 minutes for the next train, and never “had” to walk more than 3 blocks or so to get to a station. We often chose to walk more than we had to – either because we just prefer it, or to avoid a transfer, but you rarely have to walk very far if you don’t want to. It very much reminded me of NYC subways, although possibly with even more connections. I wish more cities in the US would do this.

I remembered to take pictures of the flat before we walked out.

Where we had breakfast every morning; where I wrote the blog every night.
This had a closet out of view on the right; we ended up moving the bedding to the other room and used this whole room as a closet / staging area.
Sink and shower, the toilet was across the hall in a small enclosure (can’t call it a room!) by itself.
Living space, which we ended up using as the bedroom (see next photo), although Dan used the desk for work.

 

The hallway from the entry; the room we used as bedroom is to your right out of view. Based on the MANY we looked at on AirBnB, this was a decent sized if not large apartment by Paris standards. We’re pretty sure the host lives here. He’s been in Spain on business this entire time – comes home late next week he said – but has been extremely responsive and accommodating. We will write a nice review for him and the flat on the website.

It took us about an hour to get to Charles de Gaulle airport by train, just one transfer. We made it through customs and security pretty easily. BTW, a few comments on the practicality of packing light:

  • Like last year’s trip, we are both getting by on 1 roller carry-on and 1 backpack each. Since my arrival at the train station in Cologne last year and having to haul them through turnstiles to use a pay toilet and I thanked Dan for requiring that I go light, I will never travel internationally any other way.
  • I thought about it several times again today – going down 6 flights of stairs in the flat, or up and down stairs in train stations, or the many narrow passages in airports where there are bars of various kinds to get through, I’m thankful I don’t have, for example, the big suitcase I take on my Columbus trips. It’s somewhat necessary there because of the kinds of clothes I’m packing – combination of work and play for typically 5 days/nights. But we made conscious choices to just not pack that way on these trips. There were restaurants in Paris we couldn’t get into because we didn’t have the right clothes. Oh well. We don’t feel like we missed much.
  • Like the apartment in Amsterdam last year, we made sure each stay this year had a washing machine available. We didn’t use it in Paris (that’s the small unit to the right of the shower), but we definitely will in Edinburgh. So for an 18 day trip, we each just packed 5-6 shirts, 2 pairs of pants, etc.. We wear each at least 2 days before washing, it totally works. As long as you don’t sweat too much – and I don’t sweat anything like I used to before I dropped 50 pounds – it works great.

I’m writing all of this from the Cathay Pacific lounge at CDG airport. Dan’s British Airways status gets him into lounges of any airline that are part of the OneWorld alliance and he wanted to check this one out.

We sat in these little cubicles, each with its own electrical outlet for recharging devices. That’s my laptop there where I wrote up to this point this morning. Dan is missing because he was taking a shower.
The view from where I was sitting.
The chow line, all included. We didn’t eat much when we left the flat because we knew we could eat here.

We boarded shortly after I took those pictures. London Heathrow was a blur of customs and security – again – and we made it to the British Airways lounge there just in time to eat lunch quickly and get to the gate. Theoretically it was a 2 hour layover but it sure didn’t feel like it.

We landed in Edinburgh about 2:30pm and took a bus from the airport to the historic center where we are staying. Here it is pronounced in 4 syllables, not 3 (ed-in-bur-uh), it’s the capital of Scotland and someplace I would likely never have thought of visiting if Dan hadn’t brought it up. He had heard about it when he was at Penn because of some exchange students and it sounded interesting to him. We have a flat tucked away on the Royal Mile, the main drag that runs through Old Town, which is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. (BTW, we hit several UNESCO sites in Paris, including Notre Dame, I just didn’t bother to list them like I did last year. If you don’t know about UNESCO – and I didn’t until last year’s trip, thanks Greg & Robert!, follow the link to check it out.

Here are a couple of shots Dan took from the bus. We had front seats on the second level so a great view.

Notice the cars are driving on the left.

We found the flat without any problems. It is very cute, nicely laid out, pictures to come later. We’re doing laundry now so it’s a little trashed 🙂 We identified a small problem when we first arrived: we do not have the right electrical adapter. The Europe adapters we’d been using (Germany, Belguim, Netherlands, France, last 2 trips) also worked at Heathrow so we assumed we didn’t need anything different for UK. Apparently not. I got in touch with our host and he directed us to an interesting store up the road that we were able to get one from. That in and of itself is a whole other story I won’t get into here 🙂 Let’s just say that the way the store was set up, “browsing” wasn’t possible, and every time they brought out something to see if it’s what we needed, it was UK to US; we needed US to UK. But we ‘re all plugged in now. We got one (as opposed to 3 of the others we have!) and will just charge one device at at time. I believe that’s called a first world problem.

We also now have 3 currencies on us: dollars, euros, pounds. It’s odd.

We went walking around for a bit to see some of the town and figure out what we wanted to eat. We figured while we’re here we’d do fish and chips at some point, something meat pie like, and something Indian. Knowing we get more of all that in London! That’s so far was Scottish folk seem to like. And something call haggis. I can’t believe Dan actually told me what was in it; he had it in San Fransisco once. He usually doesn’t do that. I’m thinking I’ll pass.

Here are some other things Edinburghers seem to be into just based on the shops we saw many multiples of:

  • Cashmere
  • Whiskey
  • Fudge
  • Kilts (duh)

Here are some of the pics we took as we meandered. We weren’t always sure what we were looking at; we’ll get to know the town better tomorrow.

This was taken from New Bridge. In the foreground is the train station; we don’t know what that is in the back, just looked cool on a hill!
War memorial (all pre-WWI) on New Bridge.
We were very surprised how hilly this place is. This is a pathway through town.
Granted, not like San Francisco hills, we just weren’t expecting it.
St. Giles Cathedral, circa 1500’s; St. Giles is patron saint of Edinburgh.

 

 

We found a great little Indian place off of tourist row as we were looking for a grocery store. It was excellent. After dinner, we picked up a few things at the store for breakfast for the next few mornings and came back to plan the rest of the weekend.

Tomorrow we will do what there is to do here!

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