Europe Trip 2010: Day 9, Trip to Paris

Day 9 was our last day in Munich and in Germany, but we made the best of it– even seeing a very old friend! We used our last morning in Munich to get in touch with Sascha Kuhn, a German lawyer who, many years prior, had been an exchange student in Andrew’s house. After a nice meet up, we set out for Paris, and ended our night gazing up at Le Tour Eiffel! Photos from Day 9 are online, but the summary below is probably much more satisfying.

Before we begin today’s voyage, Andrew wanted to note that one thing America does poorly, which both Japan and Europe seem to do better, is the use of vertical space. Uncommon in America, Europe and Japan will often have a shop on the ground floor, a different shop on the floor above, maybe another floor of shops, then a floor or three of apartments, and then maybe a night club or fitness center on the roof. This seems so efficient, if sometimes a little cramped for our sprawling American sensibilities. And what space there is gets completely used– what we thought was simply a window in the building across from our hotel with actually a small balcony, and while getting ready for the day, we captured some residents enjoying the morning sun.
Indeed, throughout most of Europe, the idea of having a house (or a yard) seems a little alien to most Europeans. As Sascha informed us, most Germans aim to own an apartment by their mid-thirties; houses just don’t enter in to the picture. But I guess, on mentioning him again, that I should get around to introducing Sascha.

Back when Andrew was just 10 or 11, his family hosted Sascha Kuhn (18 at the time) as an exchange student. Andrew mostly just remembers that Sascha was tall. That first impression certainly hasn’t changed, with Sascha making even fully-grown Andrew feel short. But beyond that, we were both lucky enough to find an intelligent and kind man. Sascha was in Munich visiting his partner, Andreas (Sascha currently lives in Dusseldorf; the timing of our visit worked out perfectly). They met us for breakfast, guiding us through Munich away from the tourists and to a little musician-themed breakfast nook. We managed to snag a few pictures of Sascha and Andreas with us (Sascha is in black), and had a great chat about Germany, traveling, and life. Sascha and Andreas are both lawyers (Andreas does copyright law, which I’ll forgive), and both have lots of travel experience as well. The breakfast was quite good, too.

After breakfast (which Sascha sneakily paid for; although I suppose his lawyer salary trumps our grad student/post doc wages, it was still very kind of him), Sascha and Andreas offered us more of their time, and proposed a list of interesting Munich places to visit with our last few hours in the town. We ended up selecting a local cemetary, which looked very historic and peaceful. We got to see some impressive gravestones, chat with Sascha and Andreas a bit more, and Teisha, ever focused on the wee things of the earth, found a snail she adored.

After that, it was time to catch our train, so we had to bid farewell to Sascha and Andreas (but through the magic of Facebook, they won’t be far away).

Our train ride from Munich to Paris was fairly uneventful– German trains are a wonder; they are clean, efficient, and cozy. Indeed, the first leg of our trip had onboard Wifi access and electronic outlets!

Our second, much longer leg of the trip didn’t have Wifi, but it did have a dining car (which we didn’t actually use, but hey).

What it did have was ample opportunity for sight-seeing, and for Teisha, photo-snapping. Here’s a few highlights from the trip.

We arrived on schedule in Paris, the City of Light, and made our way through the metro (which you’ll hear more about on coming days), and to the Hotel du Turrene, located on Rue Tourville, next to Champs des Mars (the garden surrounding the Eiffel Tower) and the Rue Cler (a street with tons of great eateries and artisan food shops). For once, we lucked out on the hotel- reasonably priced, nice beds, free internet (for more than one computer at once!), and sweet, sweet air-conditioning.

Once we’d unloaded our stuff, we headed out to the Rue Cler, where we stopped off at a friendly, and incredibly tasty, local Creperie to get a dessert crepe with Nutella. That creperie, Ulysse en Gaul (Ulysses in Gaul; run by a family of Greek immigrants), has been and will be one of my favorite places in all of Paris. Andrew was overjoyed at the first crepe (and Teisha loved it, too!).

Suitably equipped, we ventured to the garden surrounding the Eiffel Tower, 2 blocks from our hotel, and had an enjoyable first evening seeing the Tower aglow with light and the murmuring throngs of tourists. Ah, to be in Paris.

Thanks for reading!

(Bonus shot: Teisha thought that this animal-girl advertising soda in the Metro was hilarious.)

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