Wednesday, October 15, 2008

France 2008 Day 1 Travel to Paris, Luxemburg Gardens, Montparnasse Cemetery

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Some of the following is based on fact, and some is not.
(Scroll Down for Pictures)

Click on the play button to see a 15 second video of our Crazy drive into Paris

Cast of characters:

DUG - well what can I say?

Margarite - is from Holland and has been in Botswana for 2 years now.
She has been working for a humanitarian Non-Government Organization (NGO) providing health care for the orphan children of our village.
Margarite has a very giving personality and loves all children.
She is so gentle and caring with them, I believe if she had the means she would adopt all the orphan children in the village. Margarite is single and I have a crush on her.

Bebe - is originally from Italy but has lived in Botswana most of her life. Her family came here in the 1960's as part of a missionary, unfortunately in the early seventies Bebe’s parents where both killed in a political uprising. Bebe was 12 at the time. She was then raised by a village family as one of their own. Bebe does not speak much about her past and thinks of herself as a native Botswana. Bebe at an early age got involved with a local animal rescue. This is a big issue in
Botswana. Poachers try to smuggle the rare native animals from Botswana and sell them to collectors and sometime legitimate zoos. When customs agents stop poachers from smuggling the animals across the Botswana border, they give the animals to Bebe's group who rehabilitates them and gets them back to their natural habitats. Sometimes the rehabilitation process can take a year depending on how the animals had been treated.

"The Rock" - has been in Botswana for 3 years. He is from Norway, at least that is where he says he is from. “The Rock” does not talk about his past and I think it is some what shady. Botswana is a great place to disappear from your past and I think that is what “The Rock” has done. “The Rock” and Bebe married 2 and a half years ago after a 6 month wild courtship. I think it was a marriage out of pity more then anything else as no one in their right mind would marry “The Rock” I think Bebe looked at “The Rock” as one of the animals she rescues the only issue is she can not seem to now release this animal back in to the wild. I am not sure what “The Rock” does but he says he is always busy.

We are meeting 5 others in France I will introduce them when we meet up, with them as I have never met them. They connected with us through my travel / poker blog.

The plan is 5 days in Paris, just the 4 of us. Meet the rest of the group in Bedoin for a week and then if all goes well Margarite and I will stay for an additional 4 days on our own with no set destination.


I ordered a limo to get us from our little village in Botswana to the airport. This is a 3 hour bus ride and I wanted to impress Margarite. “The Rock” and Bebe insisted on treating for the limo which was a Lincoln Town car. My guess is that it is the only Town car in all of Botswana, it was the funniest thing seeing this clean limo on the back mud roads of Botswana. The idea of impressing Margarite did not work, as soon as she saw the car she said, "Do you know how many children we could of feed with the money this car cost.” So I did what any American guy would do that is trying to make points and said, “It was “The Rock” and Bebe’s idea, I thought we should have taken the bus.” I also made a mental note that the next time I have a good week at poker to make a nice donation to the village orphanage.

We flew Air France direct from Botswana to Paris. The plane took off at 11pm and arrived at 6am. These long flights just a few days apart are wearing on me (flew to the US and back through London just a few days before). The flight was uneventful except one funny incident. At 2am
Margarite who was sitting next to me got up to use the restroom. I would say 80% of the passengers were asleep, including me. Two passengers that were not sleeping were Bebe and “The Rock”. Both were watching the movie Vantage Point. I am not sure why, maybe they are hard of hearing because of their age, but they had the volume on their headsets very high. I must have stirred when Margarite got up, because Bebe thought I asked where Margarite was. How this happened I have no idea since Bebe was sitting behind me. Since Bebe thought I asked where Margarite was, and since she had no idea of the volume of her voice with her headsets so high. She yelled the answer to the question I never asked. "MARGARITE IS IN THE BATHROOM" as I said 80% of the passengers were a sleep well that just change to maybe 20% I was shocked death threats were not made against Bebe. The flight attendants were able to get things calmed down. When Margarite returned she asked Bebe why Bebe announced to all the passengers that she was in the restroom. Bebe with her headsets still on and the volume still high, let out an ear piercing "WHAT"

I quickly sat Margarite down and explained with great laughter what had happened.

It was 8am when we cleared customs and got our luggage. With 4 people a taxi was cheaper then the train or bus so we took a taxi and let Margarite knows it was the cheapest way to get from the airport to the city.

It was rush hour and the drivers drove like maniacs. The motorcycles were the worst. The most intriguing part was that while everybody was cutting each other off no one seemed to be getting upset. It was what
I would call organized chaos.

We had a very knowledgeable taxi driver his English was very broken but his knowledge of the local sites that we should visit was great. I am sure his tour ran up the meter but it was worth it.

Once at the hotel we napped until 1pm we could have slept all day but we knew we would then be up all night. At 1pm we got some lunch and went for a walk. We passed a Gelato shop, Gelato is impossible to find in Botswana so we had to treat ourselves.

Our walk took us through the Luxemburg Gardens (Jardin du Luxembourg) a 23 nectar park with great fountains, flowers, and art work. The grass areas are so well manicured they could pass for golf green at the best golf courses. At one end of the gardens is the Luxemburg palace. The park was being used by many sunbathers of all age’s, college students to seniors. Also there was a section that must have had over 100 chess players.

These formal gardens open to only royalty before the French Revolution now serve as one of Paris's most popular destinations for relaxation. This is definitely the place to go if you’re ever in France. It is a peaceful and beautiful site to see. Unlike the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame it is not a huge tourist trap so you can actually relax and enjoy the sights very comfortably. It is also a great place to go if you have small children because they have a huge play area for kids. While you aren't roaming around the gigantic gardens you can stop at one of the small crepe shops or sit down for a great meal in the garden restaurant. If you ever decide to come to Paris this is definitely one of the places you should see. There were many sculptures and art in the gardens. One very unique exhibit made up of 9 sculptures each representing a different letter in the word TOLERANCE, the concept was that we would have peace if people were more tolerant.

The walk was just what we need to stretch our legs and fight off the jet lag. On the way back we walked through the Montparnasse Cemetery.
Montparnasse Cemetery (French: Cimetière de Montparnasse) is a famous cemetery in the Montparnasse quarter of Paris, part of the city's 14th arrondissement. Created from three farms in 1824, the cemetery at Montparnasse was originally known as Le Cimetière du Sud. Montparnasse Cemetery is the eternal home of many of France's intellectual and artistic elite as well as publishers and others who promoted the works of authors and artists. There are also monuments to police and firefighters killed in the line of duty in the city of Paris. Because of the many notable people buried there, it is a highly popular tourist attraction.

We returned back to the hotel at 7pm and hoped we would sleep through the night and the jet lag would be gone in the morning. The plan was to meet at 9am for breakfast.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I liked the gelato, the gardens, the leg-filled flower pot (creative!), oh... and I think "The Rock" is handsome!