The drive from Utrecht to Paris was scenic, with green fields and plenty of cows. Lunch in Belgium seemed appropriate, and we found a great place in Ghent to enjoy a classic Belgian meal of mussels and fries. Dutch #1 and I were trying to make the 6pm France vs Nigeria match in Paris. Nearly there, we made it 2km from our hotel and hit a wall of rush hour Paris traffic. A wrong turn as we were getting close put us back on the highway going in the opposite direction. Aaargh! We deduced that we'd have to get back in the traffic on the other side. The game was already 35 minutes in, and traffic was not something I wanted to exchange for the 8th and final game on my World Cup tour. On an impulse, we pulled off the highway into a Paris suburb, parked the car, and found a pub screening the match. Within minutes we had a pint and were cheering along with the French. It was a slow start, and at half time it was still nil/nil. The room was tense, which made for good people watching. We were sitting outside looking in, and it was fun to see locals stopping by to pop their heads in and check the score. Pogba put one in for France in the 79th minute, and high fives went around the room. It was a quick celebration though, and the room was seated again very shortly after the goal as you can see in the video. Two minutes into injury time Yobo made it 2-0, and the room visibly relaxed. France was going on to the next round, and we once again on the road to our Paris hotel... sans traffic and mission accomplished! The 8 games: 1. Spain vs Netherlands (Irun, Spain) 2. France vs. Honduras (Bidart, France) 3. Belgium vs. Algeria (Brussels, Belgium) 4. Netherlands vs. Australia (Maastricht, Netherlands) 5. Germany vs. Ghana (Berlin, Germany) 6. Germany vs. USA (Muenster, Germany) 7. Netherlands vs. Mexico (Utrecht, Netherlands) 8. France vs. Nigeria (Paris, France)
We only had one day before I had to fly back to Ireland, and we were lucky that Paris has a great subway system they call the Metropolitan. The hotel was in the 19th arr., but the Porte des Lilas Metro Station was a short walk and within a few stops we were downtown. First stop? Coffees & chocolatines at the nearby bakery, which you could smell before you could see! Ooooh la la :) A great way to start a day out. Second stop? Eiffel tower. Dutch #1 had never been to Paris, so we had a nice walking tour and hit a few of the iconic tourist attractions - Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Champs de Elysse... the Metro allowed for a wider net as well. My last visit was 7 years ago, and it was great to revisit with a new friend. It was a gorgeous day, and the city was bustling. There's just something about Paris, and I vowed to return again in at least 7 years!
My flight was out of the Paris/Beauvois airport on Ryan Air, which meant an hour drive out of the city. Again, a word of caution when booking that budget flight on Ryan Air - most airports are not in the city center and you will have to arrange additional transport. A simple search will help, and there are always others in the same situation! I flew into a quiet Shannon, Ireland airport around midnight and settled in to await my 9am flight back to the US. Time to return to Baltimore, at least for July!
Combining a passion for travel, the desire to make a difference & a love of maps, MaggieMaps was born.
Unless otherwise noted, all prose, poetry, maps and photography posted on this blog are Copyright 2013 Maggie Maps
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