Raj: Yesterday we arrived in Paris by Eurorail from London (a very fast and smooth trip barr the delay due to a "trespasser" on the tracks). On arrival, we struggled a bit with language and orientation so the going was slow. Unfortunately we timed our metro ride with peak hour traffic - jammed in like sardines with full packs on our backs (and carrying the kids bags most of the time also). However things got better when we finally arrived in Malakoff, just out of the city, and were greeted by Jean-Marc, the owner of a fabulous and spacious apartment we have rented for 5 nights (with more than a peak of the Eiffel Tower). The neighbourhood is quiet and safe and has all necessary conveniences nearby. It was a late night after we shopped for food, cooked dinner and settled in. After a bit of a sleep in this morning, we set track to visit the Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre. The views from the top of the Arc were stunning even in overcast weather and I watched with interest the traffic/ madness below. Then the rain came down. Our mood was good even though we got pretty wet during our long walk to the Louvre along the Champs-Élysées. We spied the many luxury stores, cafes and cinemas, lined with horse-chestnut trees in keeping with one of the most famous streets in the world. The rain broke as we approached the Lourve, and after a respectable queue we spent a few hours exploring. The highlight of course was the Mona Lisa, but also the many other artworks, some unbelievably huge like the Wedding Feast. The access, presentation and environment was incredible. So a good day in the city of trees with 3 more to go.
Vikki: Gosh I had forgotten what a beautiful city Paris is. The buildings are stunning, everywhere you look there are trees and beautiful gardens. I can already tell that our 5 days here won't be enough. The views from the Arc were a great way to begin seeing the city and it's lay out. While it's busy everywhere, there is a relaxed feel to it all and you can't help but just smile and go with it. The Louvre as expected was chaotic and while the art amazes, for me this time it was the actual building and its architecture - the blending of old and new, marble staircases, ornate ceilings - all at such a grand scale - for once words don't do it justice.
On the Vikki factor today (Raj gets his own back!): While on the metro home following a day's sightseeing, tied and hungry, we went to get the keys out for our apartment. Having searched both bags and all pockets 2-3 times we couldn't find them - oh s**t. The mood was not good, made worse when I reminded Vikki she was in charge of the keys (not my blunder for a change). Nothing to do but walk back to the apartment and search bags again... As I stomped up 4 flights of stairs, I found the keys - still in the lock! I guess we were lucky being on the top floor with only one neighbour with no/few people around to steal our stuff and rob the furnishings...a welcome relief.