"" Writer's Wanderings: Saying Goodbye and on to Paris

Tuesday, May 02, 2023

Saying Goodbye and on to Paris


This was our first river cruise with Uniworld and it will not be our last. As a matter of fact, following the rule of not leaving a cruise without another planned, we put deposits down for two more river cruises in the future. 

The River Empress was quite a nice ship but more than the ship, the crew and staff were tremendous. They were more like a family hosting about a hundred guests and making them feel right at home. From others who have cruised with Uniworld before we have heard the same kind of good reports.

The food was worth the trip alone. The chef was amazing and the meals were perfectly prepared and presented. I loved that the portions were not overwhelming at dinner since for us, dinner was late at seven. 

Our room was always spotless and well supplied with fresh towels and linens and water which was really good. Bob even compared it to Dasani which he loves. I'd say it was even better than that. 

The excursions were well run with the choice of guides being well informed (maybe sometimes just a little too full of history). Buses were always clean and never over crowded. 

Our first impression was, "Wow! That's a lot of mirrors!" but we got used to it. The ship is sort of like a split level house so there were a flight of steps to the coffee area or a flight of steps to the lounge or another flight of steps to the dining room. It was a little rough on the knees and I wasn't the only one but we all survived. There was an elevator if you really couldn't do the steps. 

I cannot over emphasize the friendliness of everyone on board and when the crew and staff set that kind of atmosphere, the passengers respond in kind. I never heard an unkind word.

Our train to Paris did not leave the nearby Amsterdam Central Station until one in the afternoon and since it was raining, we sat in the lounge until about 11:30 before walking over. Just inside the station we found a cafe and got a small lunch of quiche and tomato soup and ate slowly to kill some time.

With the information on our tickets and a pdf of the train station, it was easy to find our way to the correct train. Ours was the last car in a long line, actually two trains together. We deposited our luggage in the storage area as we entered and walked to the back of the car where our seats were. 

The seats were very comfortable for the three hour train ride to Paris. There were several stops before we got out of the Netherlands and Belgium and then the train really got up to speed--maximum was 185 mph according to Bob's app. It was a little dizzying looking out the window at times. I spent a good part of it reading instead.

As we neared Paris, the skies began to clear a bit and we could see spots of sunshine. At the train station we found a  ticket machine for the metro and a very nice attendant helped us choose the right one. Turns out all you needed to do was buy one ticket that got you through the gate and all the connections were covered as long as you didn't exit by mistake.

The hotel had emailed us instructions for the easiest way to get there by Metro and we followed them but missed a stop and had to walk all the way around one station to the other side, ride back to the missed stop and then make our connection. 

A few times we actually saw escalators but once it wasn't working and other times we couldn't find any. I'm including a picture of what most of the steps look like and asking you to imagine carrying a 30# suitcase up and down several times. There were a couple of gentlemen who offered to help and one just grabbed the handle and helped me one time. Other times Bob had to carry both. I just couldn't handle it.

We found our hotel easily enough and got into our room to discover that it was probably smaller than our room on the river cruise although there was a separate room for the commode and the shower is a bit bigger. The Metro also ran nearby over the street and made a rumbling noise like rolling thunder as it went through. The night got quieter though.

The best part of the hotel is its location. We are just around the corner from a park behind the Eiffel Tower. The next best thing is the internet. It is fast and so I am catching up on my posts with little trouble. 

First full day in Paris, coming up!

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