Day 14 & Day 15: Paris

We did a whirlwind tour of the most famous sites in Paris.

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The Louvre IMG_4266 IMG_4269IMG_4276

The Eiffel TowerIMG_4297

Notre DameIMG_4401

The Arc de TriompheIMG_4317

We ate croissants and drank coffee at sidewalk cafes.  We took cheesy tourist photos.IMG_4316

We went undergroundIMG_4326 IMG_4340IMG_4336  IMG_4344

Now we’re on the Eurostar and will go underground again to reach London via the Chunnel.

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Day 13: Giving Up the Car

Arriving in Paris Wednesday we drove straight to TT Car transport – near the airport.  This is the company that will handle shipping of my car.  We have an appointment at 9AM Thursday so we wanted to find our way Wednesday evening then stay near the airport to make things easy in the morning.  It’s kind of a scary neighborhood.  The steel fences around every building don’t make you feel too comfortable.   The fact my car is inside one of those fences makes me feel better.  If we had to park on the street we’d have been looking for a different hotel, in a different neighborhood.

The process went quickly and smoothly Thursday morning.  By 9:20 we were in TT Car’s shuttle then dropped at the airport train station where we took a train then the Paris Metro to our hotel.  Now this is all I have left of my car, my owner’s manual, a warning triangle, the first-aid kit, US style license plate holders and one key.

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I took these numbers off of the car’s computer at the drop-off site.

  • Driving time: 37:49 hours
  • Distance: 1235 miles
  • Fuel usage: 22.4 MPG
  • Average speed: 34.7 MPH

Fuel seemed to be about €1.5 per liter and the exchange rate is about $1.30/€1.  So…

(1235 miles / 22.4 MPG) * ((€1.5 / Liter) * 4) * 1.3) = ~$441 in fuel expenses

It was worth every penny.  It’s going to be very hard to wait for this car to get to Seattle.  But hey, we’re in Paris.

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Day 11 & 12

Not a lot of pictures to share as we got to the point of the trip where we have a bit of driving to do.  First we headed back into Germany.  We had two things on our agenda.  One, drive fast on the Autobahn. 

There is a stretch along the German-French boarder that has no speed limit.  My impression of the AutoBahn is this…it will be great if they ever finish it.  We drove a good thirty miles, all of which was on the shoulder, 40 miles per hour, because of construction.  Next to us was two gleaming lanes of perfect asphalt but apparently it was not ready for traffic yet.

We did find a stretch outside of Heidelberg and another by taking a different route back south.  For a short while I followed an orange Porsche at about 120 MPH.  That was fun.  I wish I could have done more but didn’t have the patience for all the slow parts of the autobahn.  Also, there was too much traffic to go faster than that.  As expected, slower cars always move out of the left lane when they see me approaching.  What surprised me was the slower cars in the right lane that would move left.  Trucks are usually traveling about 80 kilometers per hour.  Vehicles may be traveling 120 or so when the approach them.  They would just move left to pass despite the fact I was coming up behind them at 180+.  That surprised me, and didn’t feel safe.  

Goal number two was to visit Baden-Baden.  Baden means bath in German.  This town is home to mineral springs and has a huge Roman style bath house.  There were multiple pools, inside and out, with temperatures ranging from 60F to 100F.  We waded around for about an hour, stopped for a snack and water, got a massage, tried out the sauna, steam baths, they have multiple different kinds, and left about four hours later very relaxed.  Sorry, the camera stayed in the locker.  Here is a picture of the building. 

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If we had known how nice Baden-Baden was we would have planned more time there.  But, we have to get to Paris.  We left Baden-Baden and settled in for the trip, which is over 300 miles.  This means Tiffany had to take a turn driving.  It was the first time she has ever driven my car, any car of mine.  It also meant we got to rock out to Miley Cyrus for two hours.  Half way there she stopped and let me drive again so I could watch the odometer rollover the  first four digit number.

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Next stop Paris.

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Day 10: Alsace

Today is Monday and the wineries were open.  There was a lot of wine being made. 

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Since it’s harvest time you could actually smell the grapes in the air.

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Trucks filled with grapes, like this one, were on every road.

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It would appear lunch time wine is a perk of the job.

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Every winery was willing to let us taste any wine we liked.  I would have tasted a lot but I was told there was no reasonable way to have my purchases shipped back to the states.  So, we limited ourselves to a few wineries, buying one bottle at each and enjoyed the scenery.

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We finished our day in Strassbourg, home to a pretty amazing cathedral.  As the photos zoom in, notice that each character/scene is unique.  If I understand the booklet we got correctly, they’ve depicted essentially every important biblical character and story somewhere on this building.

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Day 9: France on Sunday

Well, it turns out it is impossible to visit a winery in France on Sunday.  In fact, it turns out it’s about impossible to do anything in France on Sunday.  The locals seem to just wander around the towns looking in the windows of closed shops.  A few restaurants are open for a few hours, but that is about it. 

So, we made our way up the wine road any way.  There are a number of very pretty towns.  We stopped in Colmar.  It seems most of the buildings in this town are about 500 years old.  There was some kind of farmer’s market that we stumbled into.

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Day 8: Lucerne in the Rain

Lucerne is a beautiful city.  Unfortunately it was raining, hard, and was not forecast to let up for a few days.  We strolled through the city center a bit then got in our car and headed north to where the weather is supposed to be better.

After our time in China, and experience with the Chinese knock-off watches, it was funny to see that every shop had someone who spoke Mandarin.  I’d say about a third of the people shopping for watches in Switzerland are from China.

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Tomorrow we’ll drive up la route des vins D’Alsace in search of some wineries.

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Day 7: The Big Drive

We decided to leave Samnoun…none of the fancy Swiss luxury goods tickled our fancy enough to entice a purchase, even at Samnoun’s duty-free rates.  Well, OK, we stocked up on chocolate.  50 Swiss Franks to fill the gas tank, which was already half-full, and 40 Franks for a Swiss highway vignette and we were on our way.  One Swiss Frank = $1.03 by the way.

We headed back into Austria and towards Italy.  It was a beautiful drive with the fog hanging above the green valley, the mountain peeks above the fog and the sun coming over the mountains.  The only down side was the tractors and trucks which slowed us down from time-t0-time.  The Europeans may understand how to stay to the right on highways but they don’t understand a slow-vehicle turn out on a two-lane road at all.  When we got to Santa Maria, Switzerland and the GPS shows us this…

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Tiffany  called it “cursive.”  This is what “cursive” looks like in real-life.

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We traveled over the Umbrail pass at 2,500 meters, it got narrower-and-narrower as we went up.  At one point it was actually a gravel road.  We headed down the Stelvio pass road into Bormio, Italy where we had lasagna and espresso before going over Fluela pass and into Lucerne.  On the downhill side I got to test out the “hill decent control.”  The car will maintain a constant speed going down hill.  I can adjust the speed up or down from 5-20 miles per hour by pushing or pulling the cruise control lever.

We’ll investigate Lucerne today and then drive 80 miles north to Mulhouse, France where we plan to visit lots of Alsace wineries.

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