September 13, 2014 – Today was our last day on the continent, since we had tickets for the Chunnel in the afternoon. We ate breakfast at the apartment, packed up, checked out, and eventually found the spot at the train station to leave our luggage (hint: it’s called “left luggage”; they also will make change for the lockers, so don’t worry about trying to find coins ahead of time).
First up was the Musee d’Orsay, housed in a beautiful old train station. The fascinating thing about museums in Paris is the amount of famous, world class artifacts and art that are available. Paintings by Renoir, Manet, Cezanne, van Gogh, and more were on display. Starry Night was interesting to us because, even though it was a van Gogh painting, it seemed rather peaceful.
Just outside the museum was a small espresso booth; we each got a drink for the walk over to the Louvre. As a side note, the whole “good morning, please, thank you, goodbye” routine really does make for a pleasant interaction.
When we got to the Louvre we headed to the cafe to get lunch – salmon with tomatoes and block olives, just okay french fries, and a great Asian beef dish served over zucchini noodles (they sure had us fooled – we thought they were real noodles til we tried the dish) that went perfectly with the slightly spicy sauce. We explored the museum until a few hours before our train was set to leave…. then wound up hopping a subway that didn’t stop where we needed to, running through the streets (and more subways) on our way to the Chatelet stop, and making it to our train with five minutes to spare. Fortunately we had space for our bags in the overhead section, though it would have been tough if we had full-sized suitcases.
The train ride was relaxing, particularly after running through the subways, and we enjoyed watching the countryside flatten and become more rural as we made our way over to England. You go through passport control in France before getting on the train, which makes it nice and easy when you get to England.
We took the subway over to our hotel, and then went across the street in search of dinner. Our destination was a local semi-hole in the wall fish and chip shop called Masters Super Fish. We were pleasantly surprised to have the meal start with a few complimentary chilled shrimp and bread and butter. We opted to each order a plate of fish and chips, expecting to share. The food is great, hot, fresh, appropriately greasy, and the portions are huge. Despite our best efforts we could only finish about 1.25 of the servings, and could definitely have split an entree and an appetizer.
After dinner we set off for the Tower of London. The WWI poppy exhibit was in progress. An artist was making 888,246 ceramic poppies to commemorate each British/colony WWI fatality. The poppies were taking over the dry moat and beginning to climb the outer walls of the tower in a beautiful and sobering tribute.
Up next was a stroll over the always windy and always beautiful Tower Bridge, with a view of the HMS Belfast moored in the Thames. We were searching for real ale, unfortunately there was a football match on and any pub with a tv was standing room only, if that. Eventually we found a small place with no tv’s and with an outdoor courtyard as well, and were able to enjoy two pints in the still warm-ish Fall air.