Logical Progress Advancing a Little Bit Every Day

29Nov/110

Paris 2011: November 29 – Day 2

This morning was the first time I was able to take advantage of the breakfast, which wasn’t included in the booking that I paid for myself on Sunday. While I wasn’t expecting a full American spread the likes of most large Marriotts or Hiltons in the states, I was a bit suprised to see such a limited selection of food. It consisted mostly of cheese, slices of ham and salami, various breads, a bit of fruit, yogurt, juice and coffee. Well, I made due quite well and tried to fill myself as much as possible since I knew I wouldn’t have lunch for another 5-6 hours. I don’t do well when I haven’t eaten in a while, and I figured the best start to the day was a good breakfast.

We headed to CarlsonWagonLit on the metro, which was really crowded but surprisingly efficient. This is a travel advisory business that works with medium and large companies to help manage their business travel. They handle 100% of US Government travel, no small feat, and manage over 57 million bookings annually. They also offer other services like travel alerts, meeting optimizers, and other valuable services for busy firms. This company was pretty interesting because its similar to American Express in that it manages travel, but it provides a more full-service approach to the customer experience. I have used American Express travel tools at my company, and I really like the web interface and booking capabilities. I actually prefer to be in control of my own itinerary and only turn to our dedicated support specialist when I really need help. However, I can see how large organizations, such as the US Government, would benefit from a full service travel management company.

Sacre CourAfter this got out we had the afternoon to ourselves so I joined Dr. Kelly and a group of other students on a trip to Montemartre, where the Sacré-Cœur Basilica sits. It was a truly beautiful view of the city from a high vantage point, and despite the overcast conditions it was mostly clear for some photo ops. We spent a bit of time outdoors walking around and taking in the sights before entering the Basilica. The interior of the church was jammed with tourists, but we still managed to have a peaceful stroll through the church and get a feel for the intricate architecture. Following this we stopped in for some lunch, where I ordered my first croque monsieur, a basic ham sandwich with cheese melted on top. This was no hand-to-mouth sandwich, this bad boy required knife and fork.

After lunch I joined Jenna, Ashley and Wayne for a trip to the Moulin Rouge to take in the more “adult” side of Paris. Since it was daytime it was pretty tame, but I can imagine that it livens up pretty well in the evening. After a few photo ops we decided to head back toward the hotel to change out of business attire and get a bit more casual before going back out for more exploring. The sun had started to peek out of the clouds so Jenna, Ashley and I took the opportunity to explore through Luxembourg gardens, making our way up to Saint-Sulpice, through the Saint-Germain and onto Notre Dame Cathedral.

It was getting dark at this point and our legs were getting tired, so we popped into a pub for a drink. The nice gentleman at the door called out to us in Frech as we walked by, looking in the windows to determine the exact nature of this pub, before looking at each other and saying “beer?” At which point the barman at the door started speaking in a perfect American accent, inviting us in. Turns out he’s French Canadian and also incredibly accommodating. We had a few pints while looking over Jenna’s guidebook of affordable restaurants. We settled on a very highly rated Italian spot called Naples, which turned out to be in very close proximity to our hotel.

After agreeing that it wasn’t at all out of place to eat Italian food in France, we hoofed it over to Naples. It’s a good thing we got there at 7pm because all the tables were full by 8. The food was absolutely delicious, and despite my surprise to find an egg in my calzone I was thoroughly satisfied with my meal. We couldn’t pass up the tiramisu at the end of the meal.

Eiffel tower from the bottom looking upThe night was still young and we were well fueled with food and wine. The girls wanted to do something, and while my suggestion of Eiffel tower came with a bit of resistence I finally convinced them. While we were all meant to go as a group the following week, we decided it would be a good idea to go there at night. This time the crowds were a bit larger, but not difficult to overcome. Once they saw its awesomeness from the ground we all agreed to venture to the top. The lines weren’t that long and neither was the ride up. We spent quite a bit of time on level two taking photos of each other and the entire perimeter before heading up to level three. Due to the increasing wind and rain, level three was much less bearable and we opted to head back down. All in all, it was a totally worthwhile experience as we may have just returned to the hotel after dinner, and there was absolutely no sense doing that so early in the trip - there was energy to spare!

Given the extent of our exploring that day we decided to head back and retired to our rooms for some much needed R&R. Onward to another day of business school adventures!

View from Sacre Cour

Eiffel Tower View From The Night

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