View from Montparnasse Tower (2013)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Day 14

Our dinner cruise on Le Calife last night was wonderful.  We arrived before the scheduled boarding time, but were welcomed aboard anyway and seen to our table. Service began immediately when we were asked if we'd like a glass of wine.  Our friend Diana and her sister Cathy arrived shortly after we did.  The boat left the dock right on schedule at 8:50, and we were served some little cheese puffs and a glass of champagne. We had pre-ordered our dinner and the servers were very efficient getting the right plate to the correct person.  We all had the warm goat cheese salad.  The cheese was in a phyllo dough packet - two on each plate - and drizzled with honey.  For my main course I had guinea fowl with a mushroom sauce, which was very good.  The others enjoyed their fish.  For dessert I had a dense chocolate cake with cinnamon ice cream.

Unfortunately, it rained shortly after we left the dock, so the windows were wet, but that just seemed to make the lighted landmarks even brighter.  We cruised much further up river than any of the other Seine cruises I've been on, and we cruised further down river as well.  We were on the right side of the boat to get a good view of the flood-lit Eiffel Tower, and at exactly 10:00 it sparkled.  It is so magical.  Mom and I first saw it sparkle in 2000 and once were actually under it while it sparkled.  When got down river, we were surprised to see the Statue of Liberty.  I knew it was there, but had never seen it.  It is a half-size replica of the one the French gave to the US in 1876.

We had a very pleasant evening and had a good visit with our friends.  Diana and Cathy arrived last Saturday.  It had been several years since I had seen Diana.  By the time we got off the boat, it had pretty much quit raining.  We took the bus home.

Le Calife is docked under the Pont des Arts, so we walked over it from the Right Bank.  This was the first time I had ever gone over this pedestrian bridge, which has been so badly desecrated by "love locks."  It is an ugly mess!  The locks are so heavy that some panels have fallen into the river, and the city has tried to curb the practice by putting plywood over the existing locks, but still people add more.  There were even two men trying to sell padlocks on the bridge.  The plywood panels are just a stop gap measure, I'm sure, until they can do something more permanent to protect the bridge from this vandalism.

Both of us were pretty tired this morning after a late night.  Kathy wanted to go back to a shop near La Madeline, so we rode the bus over, walked down to the shop, then walked back to catch another bus to check out some other shops on the Left Bank in St. Germaine.  We had lunch at Le Bonaparte, which is a very busy cafe just down the street from the famous Les Deux Magots where Hemingway used to hangout, and hundreds of tourists sip coffee today.  I had a roast beef sandwich, which wasn't exactly what I expected, but it was good.  Kathy had a croque monsieur.  It is fun to window shop in this area - or as the French call it "window licking."

It was windy and cool today.  Sunny one minute and cloudy the next.  Just as we were ready to head back to the apartment it started to rain, and after days of lugging our umbrellas, we didn't have them with us today...duh!  We found the stop for the #95 to go back, but it looked like the next one wouldn't be there for about 30 minutes and there wasn't a shelter at that stop.  There is a Metro station right there, so I went to see which line it was so I could figure out how many times we would need to change lines to get home.  Well it was Line 4, which comes right to our neighborhood - our closest Metro stop, in fact, so no more waiting in the rain.  When we got out of the Metro station, we spotted a Picard right across the street, so that solved the dinner problem for tonight, too.

We didn't reload our Metro/bus passes for this week since we had only five more days, so we each bought a "carnet" of 10 tickets.  I think this was a big mistake because we have already used 8 of the tickets in two days, with three more days to go.  The tickets can be used for transfers bus-to-bus as long as you continue forward (you can't use the same ticket to go back) and you have to make the transfer within 90 minutes.  Also, you can't transfer bus-to-metro or metro-to-bus.  You also have to be careful not to mix used tickets with unused tickets.  For convenience I don't think you can beat the Navigo Decouverte pass.

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