June 15-19: Final stop, Paris, and the best hotel of the trip ... the free one, via cashing out hotel points. Was greeted by an herbal statue, and am still working on The Swede to add one to our yard chez nous.
The mad dash included greatest hits - Arc de Triomphe, Tour Eiffel, Musee d'Orsay, Louvre, Notre Dame, Sainte Chappelle, Musee Rodin - and a few Monet showcases - L'Orangerie in the Tuillieries and Musee Marmottan. But people watching was the most enjoyable. On the walk from the Marmottan, we ducked for cover from the weekend urchin water balloon war. Sunset over Place de la Concorde and the Tuillieries had locals and tourists milling, while we enjoyed a picnic.
Everyone smokes in Paris. Trip to Italy last fall didn't see nearly as much. All the girls are into Jackie O, big-A sunglasses, and iPods a'plenty. English speaking is more obvious and less resisted by shop owners, urchins, and average strangers. The city is still dirty - littering in museums next to priceless art was commonplace and disturbing. Graffiti is up, big time.
Our last night - street cafe hopping in Place St. Michel, where the requisite art nouveau metro photo is not without its own guest - the wee chat on the bar awning spied as we dined below. We were off the next day back home to our own, not so wee chats.
Packing included the use of one of my favorite things that don't suck - the "oh crap" duffel bag (OSB) that folds into nothing, but stows away a week's worth of laundry. We managed to make the trip home without breaking into the Belgian chocolate meant for The Swede's office mates and my visiting family, but it's doubtful either portion will last long upon arrival.