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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Paris

After lunch on Thursday, we left for Paris. I think it was maybe a 3 hour drive? I don't exactly remember. We drove through the Champagne region of France and stopped at a convenience store for snacks and fuel. I found a great kids sticker French language book for the kids there I picked up as a souvenir for them. Also, there was a section of the store that sold Champagne.

I know we checked into our hotel rooms, and then headed to downtown Paris. Traffic was horrendous and it took us a while to get there. By the time we drove past the Arc de Triomphe, and the Eiffel Tower it was dark, but that was okay. It was so cool to see those monuments lit up!
Blurry because I was trying to take the pic while we were driving in the round about.

The next day we set out to do some sightseeing. We drove past a huge stadium devoted to football--or as Americans would call it, soccer. Just as popular as these stadiums are in America for baseball and football, soccer is that popular in Europe.

Our first stop was the Eiffel Tower. I had told myself from the very beginning of this trip that if we didn't make it to Paris, that would be okay. But, if we did make it and all I got to see was the Eiffel Tower, I would be thrilled. We found an awesome parking spot and didn't have to walk far to the Tower. There are two levels of the tower guests can go to and you can get there through each Tower pillar/leg by elevators. Or, you can walk up and down stairs to get to the first level. We chose the elevators. There was a very long line (think Disney World lines) because there was only one pillar open. I think we were in line for about 20 minutes, and as we were nearing the East Pillar, it opened up! We were some of the first people to get our tickets from that pillar!
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Taken looking down the pillar from the elevator.
People walking the stairs down from the first level.
The architecture really is quite amazing.

The next pics are just some of the views taken from both levels of the Tower.
I was pretty impressed that my camera could zoom in so nicely for this pic of the Arc de Triomphe.
The Seine River
The second level was caged in.
We were constantly reminded all over Europe to beware of pickpockets.

The building across the street from the Tower was a military academy that Napoleon attended.
As we walked back to the vans, there was a very unfortunate thing waiting for us. One of the back windows of one of the vans had been smashed and some very valuable things belonging to some of our team members were stolen. After finding a police officer, we were told to go to the police station which ended up being difficult to find. It took a couple of hours to get everything squared away with the robbery. But, even after all of that, our hosts were gracious enough to still want to take us to see Notre Dame. So, that's where we headed. This church was incredible. I can just picture Quasi Moto living there. Signs were all around saying no picture taking, but it seemed like nobody was paying attention and there were flashes going off everywhere, so I took some myself. We did not take the tour that would have taken us to the top of the church. So, Roger and I quickly toured the church and then went down the street shopping for some souvenirs. 
Joan of Arc

After this, we headed to the Champs Elysees for dinner. Some of the group wanted to hoof it down to the Arc de Triomphe and go inside it and climb to the top. I think they were given 30 minutes to accomplish this feat, and let me tell you they had to rush and it showed when they returned--out of breath and sweaty. Roger and I had opted out of that and instead got some ice cream with some other team members. The next series of pics show the Arc as we drove towards it. 

Our day in Paris ended in a perfect way--dinner outside. I shared in my last post that I had been wanting this to happen our entire trip. I even posted the pics from that dinner in my last post but I'll go ahead and post them again in case you didn't see them. Do you ever find that after you have been on a special trip or to a special event, there are just certain pics that you keep looking back at because when you do a flood of memories and smiles come pouring into your heart? Well, these next pics do that for me. They just remind me of special people, the rewarding work we did on this trip, the sights we got to see, and they make me still feel how gorgeous and perfect the weather was, and how amazing it was to be in Paris!

The experienced missions trip team members told me I will never forget my first missions trip--it will always have a special place in my heart, and I bet they are correct because this is how it was when I was a public school teacher. My first class I had which was my student teaching class still holds very fond memories for me--even more so than my first class in which I was the teacher, not a student teacher. This trip was amazing and I feel so blessed that I could go. I would like to go on other missions trips in the future and I hope I can. I also hope that someday when my kids are teenagers that
Roger and I will be able to bring them on trips like this with us. It was amazing!

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