We slept in again on Wednesday, and went to our favorite little crepe place down the street from the hotel. We then walked along the Seine to make our way to the nearest tour bus stop on our way to the Louvre. Along the way, we stopped at Shakespeare & Company, which was unfortunately closed for inventory.
We caught the bus to take us the rest of the way to the Louvre, but we got off far enough so that we could walk through the gardens.
Tackling the Vatican Museum AND the the Louvre in the same trip, less than a week apart, is a daunting task and will sap the fortitude of even the strongest museum-goer. We did the highlights tour of the Louvre: Venus Di Milo, Mona Lisa, Marley Horses, Dying Slave, Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss, Napoleon’s Apartment, the Virgin on the Rocks… and more. Much more. We were ready to move on.
We stopped for lunch at Starbucks (clearly we were ready to head back home) and hit the museum gift store. Afterward, we found our way to Libraries Gourmand, a bookstore dedicated to only cookbooks. It took a long walk, but it is a great little store where we found the perfect Parisian cookbook in English to take home as a memento of our trip.
We wound our way back to the Île de la Cité area and found the Magic Museum. Like the Crypta Balbi, this was an out-of-the way tourist attraction that had no line to get in and was a quick, manageable visit. My only wish is that the exhibit descriptions would have been in English as well as in French, but we got to see a magic show, so I guess we can’t complain. We saw a variety of illusion devices and magic tricks, as well as memorabilia from famous magicians like Houdini. And the whole thing is in the basement of a house where the Marquis de Sade lived.
We took a slow walk back to the hotel, taking in what would be some of the last sights we saw in Paris and our entire trip. We got back to the hotel, checked out email and meet another couple who had just come from Spain and were heading to Rome next. We chatted for a bit and they ended up being the first people we told that we were engaged. They were a really interesting couple, spending a few weeks in Europe while she was there for work (she teaches hydro geology). They were having a dinner of red wine, a baguette and Roquefort cheese, which I tried for the first time. Paris is a pretty good place to try Roquefort cheese for the first time.
We packed up our suitcases and then headed to the L’Authre Bistro next to our hotel. Our meal that night was good, though not quite as good as our first meal there (the onion soup was beef broth with basically fresh onions chopped and thrown in the soup), but we had crepes and red wine, so not too bad.
We went back to the hotel, finished packing and fell asleep for the last time in Europe.
The next morning, we got up, took showers, hauled our luggage down the umpteen flights of stairs and then went to the corner to catch a cab. It took us a while to get one, and we were starting to get nervous about the timing. It was a Thursday morning and we were basically heading to the airport at the tail end of rush hour. A cab driver took pity on us and ended his break early and got us on the road. There was a LOT of traffic but we got to the airport on time.
The flight back was less crowded than our flight going to Europe, but we had a British family behind us who were the last people to get on the plane and had three small children that they brought NO toys or games to keep them occupied for the 8 hour flight. Meghan spent most the flight with one of the kids kicking her in the back and shoving his feet in between the seat bottom and seat back. The real ugly highlight was when getting off the plane and realizing that one of the kids had crapped in their diaper and it smelled – no, REEKED – of baby poop in only the horrifying way that baby poop can smell.
With that, we landed back in the states, back on home soil, now officially a world traveler, engaged, and glad to be back, though already missing Europe. After nearly two weeks of traveling in Europe, I had to think about how to say "thank you" in English and we immediately jumped into the planning of a wedding.