Thursday, July 21 – Monday, July 25: Hello again to those of you who are still with us. My sincerest apologies for making you wait so long for all the juicy details regarding the conclusion of our great journey, but the minute we reached Paris my motivation for doing anything productive went right out the window. So this is, as well as being the first and only quintuple post, will actually be my last post on this blog. Tomorrow (Wednesday to be clear) I finally fly back to the States to rejoin the real world of people who do normal things over the summer like sleep and speak the same language as those around them. But wait you say! The trip is not over! That’s right; the car still has to make it to Amsterdam to be shipped home. So, I’ll be passing the blog duties for this final leg off to either Grampa or April as they will be the ones who are actually traveling with the car.
But anyway, I’m sure you guys want those juicy details! So, reaching way back in my memory, I’ll tell you a bit about our arrival in Paris. It was a short drive from Troyes (we finally figured out that it’s pronounced Twah) – only a bit over 100 miles. But as had been the case the day before, the car indeed seemed as though it was on its last legs. The fuel pump for the bottom tank had given out, we were having some kind of electrical issues, and as always we didn’t really know when that back left wheel might just up and fall off. For all of the aforementioned reasons, as the group decided to take the small road, through the hills and towns, we opted to hop over to the highway and ease our way into Paris and, as you all know by now, for the final and most important time on the officially scheduled part of this trip, Car 54 cruised into town and got lost before finding our eventual destination (ahead of schedule for once).
At first it was a bit anticlimactic; since we had taken the highway, we were the only car there and we had to wait about 20 minutes for our comrades to join us at the finish. But once they did, the celebration commenced. I suppose it was everything one would expect; hugging, kissing, congratulations, champagne, pictures, joyful reunions, and more pictures (and also dirty thieving gypsies).
Even though it should be noted that they were a few minutes late, the Car 54 supporters showed up in full force to welcome us home. Following more hugs and even more pictures (seriously, so many pictures) everyone got tired of standing in the drizzling rain and the celebration was moved to the hotel, where it continued in full force. I think I’ll just sum up the rest by saying people drank a lot of champagne, there was cake, everyone told some of their stories, and by 3 PM everyone was sufficiently exhausted (either from jet lag or adventuring) and the party was over. That evening, we had our first family Paris adventure when we walked a few miles in search of an elusive Italian restaurant that, despite our best efforts, evaded our hungry stomachs.
The next day was Friday, and honestly I would have loved a day to rest. But we had another city tour to go on. And even though I was thoroughly worn out it was a pretty good one. On this particular tour we were let led about Paris by a nice Australian lady named Erin, whose clear English was a welcome relief. She shared with us many an interesting fact and legend about such notable sights as the Louvre, Notre Dame, and the Shakespeare and Company bookstore.
After the tour, we stopped by the Louvre for a brief visit to the Ralph Lauren car collection, which was unquestionably unique and nice looking, but the availability of information on the exhibit left a bit to be desired. A few tense moments on the Metro later and we were back at the hotel with a little time to rest before the farewell dinner. Dinner was great. The food was good, the people were good, and the atmosphere was good. Everyone got up and gave at least one toast/speech (of course Dennis had to say something about his chicken).
There was laughter and there were tears. It was at this point, when we all realized that at some point in the next few days we would wake up and the faces and voices that we have grown so used to would be absent, that it became evident how close we had all become. Of course there were the jokes and the funny stories, but there was also everyone saying their own personal goodbye, both to each other and to the experience of a lifetime that none of us will ever forget.
I’m getting a little pressed for time here, so I’m sorry but I’m going to have to start glossing over some things. The next day we took another tour, this time with a nice lady named Karen. We saw some more nice things in Paris; this time around was the art district where all the famous artists had lived or worked at one point or another.
After another lunch on the town, it was back to the hotel. Uncle Mark and his family took the opportunity to scope out the Eiffel Tower, while Grampa and myself went over some maps and had a goodbye beer with Jerry. Saturday night turned out to be pretty spectacular; we took a picnic dinner to the Versailles firework/fountain/flamethrower/symphony show. Even though it was unseasonably cold, I think everyone managed to have a good time and the show was absolutely mind-blowing (not to mention the fact that it was at Versailles).
Sunday… there isn’t really much to tell. We saw Uncle Mark and his family off in the morning on their way to Paris. My mom and sisters went shopping with Grampa. I laid in bed literally all day. The tours and everything were nice and interesting, but I decided to finally take a day off. And I took it all the way off. So much so that I didn’t even work on a blog post (sorry). It felt great though. Sunday night my family and I climbed the Eiffel tower for some super great views of night time Paris.
At last we are to yesterday. Yesterday it was just me and my family once again and we decided to Louvre it up. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t totally pumped about going, but I figured that if I didn’t go it would make me totally lame. So I went and we saw the highlights of the museum – Mona Lisa, crown jewels, Venus de Milo, etc.
Other than those I only saw one painting that I recognized, but it was the Louvre so I guess it was worth it. Last night we had a great visit with Grampa and April’s old friend Jacques, his wife Christal, and his daughter Caroline. After some light snacks and catching up on old times at there very nice flat, Jacques and Christal took us to one of their favorite restaurants where we had a great dinner.
So that’s the last five days. I haven’t picked them out yet, but I’m sure there will be a ton of great pictures to go along with my description. I guess we’re coming to the end of my part now. Before I pass the torch, I guess I’ll say my thanks and goodbyes. Firstly, I have to thank all of you who followed and supported us along the way; it was a rough road, but all the emails and encouragement we got made it all worthwhile. Secondly, I have to thank all of my fellow travelers; without the help and support we received from you all I’m quite sure that Grampa and I wouldn’t have made it all the way to Paris. To me, your friendship is one of the best things that I will take away from this trip and I hope it continues in the future. Thirdly, I would like to thank my family for putting up with me going on this crazy adventure – especially my girlfriend Magnolia; I know it wasn’t’ easy. Lastly, I have to thank my Grampa. Without him this absolutely wouldn’t have been possible and thanks to him I’ve gotten to grow as a person and experience so many things that will help me handle what life decides to throw at me in the future. I really don’t have the words to express how grateful I am for this and everything else over the years so… thanks.
And with that, I pass the torch. See you around – it’s been a great ride.