Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas in Oman...and Paris

Next year I move on to another post, Lahore, Pakistan.  I'm excited about the challenges and changes I will face.  I decided that before I headed back to Texas for my home leave and training (and then onward to Pakistan) I would make a short trip Paris.  I invited my daughter to meet me there, but she was unable to get away, so I flew off for a solo 5 day vacation in the City of Lights.

I had a blast!  I must have walked 25 miles in 5 days!  I went to the top of the Eiffel Tower and drank in the gorgeous views from all sides...Paris is even more beautiful from above!  The very wide boulevards and beautiful buildings were amazing.  It was a cold and cloudy day but as the clouds blew by, openings were created and I was able to get some great pictures.  Since it was not that great of a day weatherwise, it wasn't crowded and moving around was really easy.  Our tour guide was a Canadian girl who knew every bit of information about the Tower and about Gustave Eiffel.  Spending the extra few dollars to get a guided tour was worth every penney. I would have never learned what I did just by wandering around on my own.

Another place I visited a couple of times was L'Arc de Triomphe.  What a gorgeous giant monument! The monument is covered with the names of the soldiers, dates and there is even an eternal flame and burial of a French soldier, sort of like our tomb of the unknown soldier we have in DC.
Up close, you can see the intricate details of the sculptures all over the's just amazing.  I also decided to walk up the 284 steps to the very top observation deck...and made it!  Once again, the view was spectacular!  There are 12 very wide boulevards that lead into the Arc, sort of like spokes of a wheel.  You can see forever from the top and really appreciate the layout of the city. Just another example of extreme beauty in Paris.

No trip to Paris would be considered complete without a trip to the Louvre.  I'm not a real art afficionado, but I was totally blown away by the beauty at the Louvre.  The sculptures were absolutely gorgeous (Venus de Milo, among many others) and the paintings were unbelievable.  I was not impressed by the Mona Lisa, even though her eyes did follow me when I walked around her.  There are so many other more beautiful works of art than her and I just don't get all the hoopla over that one painting. 

Another side trip I invested in was the Hop On-Hop Off bus tour.  I bought a 2 day ticket and the 4 different routes made it possible to see almost the entire city.  You could get off where you wanted and about 30 minutes later, another yellow and blue bus would come along and you got back on.  One of the many stops was Notre Dame.  Once again, I saw that the pictures I  have seen of this place all my life just don't do it justice.  There is so much beauty incorporated on the front of Notre Dame...I just wish I had a guide to tell me what everything was...what story they were telling. I suppose I could google Notre Dame and get all the details.  The inside was gorgeous with tall, tall ceilings and beautiful brickwork on them.  The stained glass "rose" windows are plentiful.  The feeling of history and reverence that you get when inside a place such as Notre Dame is very being in the middle of a historical moment.

During my wanderings in Paris, I found lots of shops to explore.  But my favorites were the bakeries.  The baguettes and beignets (especially the chocolate filled ones) and croissants were delicious.  And I had some of the best french onion soup, french fries and cheeses ever!  All in all, I had a great time!

When I told some people I was going to Paris by myself, I got odd looks.  The most romantic city in the world and you're going by yourself???  You bet!  I decided several years ago to 'just do it' and denying myself something merely because I would do it alone was certainly not reason enough to not 'do it.'   And when I tell my friends about my adventures, I know they wish they were me.


Jane said...

That sounds wonderful! A tour guide is such a good idea. Your life is an inspiration! It's funny how there is that trend now with women after many yrs of marriage to divorce and go on to a much more wonderful life! You're a inspiration!

Debi said...

Jane, there were so many 'best times' while I was married but they certainely didn't end with the marriage! I decided I would say 'no thanks' to as little as possible. I wondered about that decision as I zoomed down zip lines in Roatan, shot an M4 with the Marines and step off a plane in a strange country. But when it is all said and done, I will have some pretty good stories to tell my grandsons! And with 2 years ahead of me in Pakistan, let's hope there aren't any scary ones to relate!