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Monday, April 25, 2011

My busy world in three countries



Above, left, Amsterdam. Above, right, my blogging friend Mara with me in Amsterdam. The three of us went out for lunch together at a place Mara had selected, then we boarded a train together: Mara to head for the area near Schiphol Airport where she was to visit her cousin; and us to head for Brussels.

Here we are aboard the train from Amsterdam in The Netherlands to Brussels in Belgium, where Dick and I had a dinner engagement with our new friends Debbie (another blogger) and Stijn (her fiancé). We met them and had a wonderful time, and Debbie sent me some pictures, which I dutifully saved, but now I can't remember where I saved them (blogger's block, happens to us all at least once).


The next day (good thing we have lots of 'Canada' T-shirts), we were met by another blogging friend, Gattina (with me, below, right),  who took us for an exciting ride around Brussels, including a fascinating stop at the famous Atomium, which was "originally built for Expo '58, the 1958 Brussels World's Fair. Designed by André Waterkeyn, it stands 102-metres (335 ft) tall. It has nine steel spheres connected so that the whole forms the shape of a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times." (Wikipedia)


Gattina dropped us off at our hotel near Brussels' central train station, after a super visit.
We took a train from there to the Midi station, to board another train from there to the Paris Gare du Nord. Simply put, the Gare du Nord is The Train Station from Hell.
While attempting to buy a ticket to the Gare des Invalides, my very tired husband was conned by one scam artist who pretended to buy the tickets for him, then hit him up for 24 Euros ($35 USD) in exchange for the worthless tickets.
When we tried to go through the turnstile with them, and couldn't, someone else let us through and tried to charge us an exorbitant price for the privilege. "A sadder man, but wiser now", Dick refused.
We somehow managed to get ourselves onto the correct train, then off it at the right station, and out an exit tunnel, with all our luggage intact, with all our remaining money accounted for, and our pride only somewhat bruised.
Imagine, then, our delight when we emerged into the rainy night, saw the clouds start to clear away, saw the rain stop, and were faced with the River Seine, golden statues, the blue and gold dome of l'Hôtel National des Invalides, where Napoleon is buried, and imagine our shock when we were turned away by the only taxi we could find. The driver told us to walk.
We walked, and we walked, and we walked. Dick, following the driving (there were none for walking) instructions on his GPS, was getting discouraged. I was exhausted and in pain. My feet no longer enjoy walking.
As night began to fall, a lovely young woman from Texas, working in Paris and out for an evening stroll, spotted us with our luggage and asked if we needed help. We told her where we were staying, and she offered to walk with us, as she lived not far away from our hotel in the 7th Arrondissement. Using a map app (that rhymes, doesn't it?) on her cellular phone, she walked us there. She also took a look at the lobby of our tiny hotel, decided we would be safe (with the police across the street), and wished us well. I think her name was Melissa. I think she was wonderful. We couldn't thank her enough.

Posted for My World Tuesday
brought to us every week by Wren, Sandy, Sylvia, Louise, Klaus and Fishing Guy. Thanks, team!
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26 comments:

Lesley said...

I was enjoying your trip tales until you got to the scammer. What a busy time you had!

EG Wow said...

I can see you had a wonderful time!

aka Penelope said...

There is nothing as wonderful as the kindness of strangers when we are in unfamiliar places, Kay. The good folk out weight the scam artists as do the fantastic sights discovered in each travel adventure. How great that you were also able to meet with fellow bloggers along the way.

Sylvia K said...

You did have a great trip! And how fun to have met Mara and Gattina! That's terrific! Love your photos as always particularly that golden dome! Beautiful! Hope your week is off to a good start! Enjoy!

Sylvia

Photo Cache said...

thsi trip is doubly pleasant. not only did you go on a trip you also managed to visit with cyberpals.

eileeninmd said...

What a wonderful trip, you visited some great places. It was very nice to meet up with your bloggers friends. Great photos.

Gary said...

Looks like fun Kay!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

Starnitesky said...

Sounds like your trip was great until you met the scammer, I hope it hasn't spoiled things. How wonderful to meet fellow bloggers.

jabblog said...

How sad that some of the French let you down so badly. I hope you soon recovered your normal good spirits and that the rest of the nation made up for your bad introduction to the country.

Mr Puddy said...

Kay, This post made me so exciting..I am so happy you have a great fun with your trip, and surprised me you met Gattina !!!

And you are so lucky to meet nice people like Melissa.

Please Take Care
xoxo

Reader Wil said...

Oh dear! What an ordeal! I hope you saw also some pleasant things of Paris! How nice you could meet Mara and Gattina. I hope your feet are ok now! Thanks for your visit. I should have said that my birthday was in December.

Francisca said...

Well, you were on a bit of a roller coaster ride there, Kay, and you took me right along with you! The highs of meeting up with cyberpals and seeing great views and the lows of the lowlifes you met along the way. Glad this story ended with a stranger angel getting you where you needed to be.

damyantiwrites said...

Wow, lovely blog, and great pictures. I followed your name-link on some blog, and I'm glad I did :)

Ugich Konitari said...

Wonderful blog ! Came here from Sylvia's.

Just wanted to tell you to be careful when you go to very touristy places like Eiffel tower etc. A couple of years ago, someone accidentally dashed against my husband (In paris for a conference), walking to the tower, and the next thing he knew his wallet was gone. Luckily his documents etc were in his other luggage . A month later , we got a letter from French Police saying they have found a wallet with some visiting cards etc, but no money. The wallet was thrown into the area outside the police station. The money was gone. But they figured out the owner through the many visiting cards/id's etc. (They also asked us to send 25 euros so they could airmail us the old empty wallet :-).....we didnt )

just writing so you guys can take good care of yourself, and enjoy your trip....

Jo said...

Oh no, how awful that you were scammed with those tickets and with the unhelpful taxi driver. Glad that Melissa met you and you had a better ending to this tale. Bless you dear Kay, (((hugs))) Jo

Ann said...

amazing how you made real friend from Blogland.

Gattina said...

I think I have already seen this person with you under the Atomium, I just missed a link to my blog with my name. Today I have the first pictures of my stay in France for "my world".

Kay L. Davies said...

@ Gattina -- You are absolutely right, so I have corrected the mistake, and now your name links to your blog, and Mara's to hers, and Debbie's to hers.
Thanks for pointing that out.
Luv, K
(and hi from Dick)

Joyful said...

So glad you had a wonderful adventure. Even though you were scammed, you also got to meet a wonderful stranger to help you. And, you got to meet with all your blogging pals. How awesome is that! I haven't yet had the pleasure. I hope your feet are recovered. I too suffer foot problems so I know how it can be.

Margaret (Van Steijn) Duarte said...

Holland. The birthplace of my parents and two older brothers. Have you had a chance to see all the flowers in bloom in Keukenhof? It's in Lisse, where my uncle and cousin on my mother's side still raise tulips and it's close to Noodwijkerhout where my uncles and cousins on my father's side have their tulip fields. Enjoy!

Linda said...

Lovely to discover your Paris adventures, tho yes, Paris can be scary. But hopefully the beauty of the city outweighed all of that.

Kay said...

I can't get over all these bloggers you're meeting! That is so fabulous!!! I can see you guys really had a great time.

Wren said...

Sounds like a little too much adventure in Paris!

Glad all ended well and you enjoyed the city, regardless.

Debbie Smith said...

I missed this post!!!! Great story of your trip! And I will get those pictures to you again. Sorry, I forgot. And remember, you and Dick didn't take your camera out that night in Brussels, so stop looking for your pictures....you don't have any...LOL!! And silly me didn't have our picture taken together :( Bummer.
And again, loved meeting you and Dick!! Stijn says "Hi"
Love and hugs,
Debbie

Linnea said...

You really get around and have lots of adventures, don't you! How fun to meet up with some blogging buddies, too!

Lynette Killam said...

Goodness, such an adventure...you must have been exhausted! But such a treat to meet other bloggers, and the sweet young lady helping you was so special. Imagine even checking out the hotel to insure it was safe...wonderful girl!

I love all your pictures, especially the big grin you always sport!

Lynette