Yosemite Hike - 2011

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Goodbye London!

Today we leave London but not before cleaning the house and a quick stop to the local pottery store to make a thank you gift for The Gormans. Our time in their house has been wonderful and we look forward to future home exchanges and where they will take us. Having a home to retreat in has been heavenly. I can't imagine this trip having stayed in a hotel for 10 nights.

This paint your own pottery store was just two blocks from our house.

Goodbye to our house on Tangmere Grove for our last ride on bus 65 to Kingston for transfer to Chunnel and then, Paris here we come!

Our time in London has been spectacular. Not all roses but a great experience as we have seen and learned much about Great Britain; it's history, the people, ourselves. We learned our way around, found favorite markets, the girls got comfortable, and confident too, sometimes guiding us back via The Tube. The challenge was balancing being tourists vs. attending the Olympics - both requiring much time and energy.

The Brits are kind and efficient in many ways. We particularly enjoyed the signs at the bus stop indicating when the buses would arrive.

The every popular "Mind the gap" warning...

Also on the underground, ads like this. Interesting how open they are about social issues.

All Aboard the Chunnel, bittersweet about leaving London and anxious for what awaits in Paris.

The Channel Tunnel (French: Le tunnel sous la Manche; also referred to as the Chunnel) is 31.4 miundersea rail tunnel linking Folkestone, Kent, in the United Kingdom with Coquelles, Pas-de-Calais, near Calais in northern France beneath the English Channel at the Strait of Dover. At its lowest point it is 250 ft deep. At 23.5 miles the Channel Tunnel possesses the longest undersea portion of any tunnel in the world.

The tunnel carries high-speed Eurostar passenger trains, Eurotunnel Shuttle roll-on/roll-off vehicle transport — the largest in the world — and international rail freight trains. In 1996 the American Society of Civil Engineers identified the tunnel as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.

The idea for the Chunnel fixed link began as early as 1802, but British political and press pressure over compromised national security stalled attempts to construct a tunnel. The eventual successful project, organised by Eurotunnel, began construction in 1988 and opened in 1994.

Since its construction, the tunnel has faced several problems. Fires have disrupted operation of the tunnel. Illegal immigrants and asylum seekers have attempted to use the tunnel to enter the UK, causing a minor diplomatic disagreement over the siting of the Sangatte refugee camp, which was eventually closed in 2002.

Arriving in Paris was sobering! Time to dig deep and learn a new transit system which entails; learning the lines/maps, purchasing tickets, navigating turnstiles with luggage (a learned art) and summoning patience. Oh yeah and a lot of stairs and walking!

We find our apartment building with, "the BIG blue door next to the restaurant with 1,000 wine corks", as instructed by the rental company like some sort of treasure hunt. We feel victorious when we climb the floor flights of stairs, with luggage.

A few hours of quiet time produces sleep for some but Shelby journals and produces a list of things she'd like to see and do. Fighting the urge to stay in, we rally for our 7pm reservations for evening bike tour with Fat Tire Bike Tours and make our way to the meeting point at the Eiffel Tower, or course takings few wrong turns.

An 8 mile guided group ride through the city at dusk with great views, fresh air, ice cream, river boat cruise and more. We end after midnight, just in time to catch the Tower lights in our walk here. Again we do not manage the most direct route - maybe tomorrow we'll have better sense of direction!

A stop on the bike tour at the Louvre. This poor American Girl just can't wait to get in. She'll probably dream of all the art that awaits her viewing tomorrow.

A beautiful night for a ride...

Oh my! Are we really in Paris? Is that really the Eiffel Tower? Just about 11:00pm on the Seine.

Shelby: Bike Tour, Mom & Dad getting lost walking back to our apartment
Sydney: The Chunnel
Jana: Riding into the courtyard of the Louvre with cello music playing. Breathtaking and overwhelming. Seeing the Eiffel Tower lit up at night was pretty spectacular too.
Scott: Chunnel and biking around The Seine

Scott's favorite line of the day: Jana referring to the Eiffel Tower, "It's not as big as I thought it would be."

Location:Rue de Bourgogne

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