Paris 1997…After the concert (Vol1:No7)

“June 8, 1997… 
After the concert we packed up and had some free time (3 hours) to visit Paris on our own.  Some went to the Orsay Museum and others to the Cluny.  I went to St. Chappelle with Charlotte and Aunt Hilda.    After the concert we had to make a switch of adults watching Jason.  Charlotte was with Jason and mom left the concert and went to relieve her.  It seems that on Charlotte’s return Métro ride to meet me at St. Michael,  she was approached by a guy who harassed her the entire journey.  When she got to me she was pretty upset.  My lesson here is to never again let anyone ride public transportation alone!!

St. Chapelle is a magnificent church located just around the corner from Notre Dame.  It is known for its beautiful stained-glass windows and richly painted stonework.  Unlike most other churches dating from the middle ages, St. Chapelle still has its interior arches and stonework painted just as it was 900 years ago.  Visiting here is well worth the time and a’Museum Pass’ made it easy and thrifty too. 

After St. Chapelle we had planned to visit the Orsay, but there just wasn’t enough time.  Instead we found a café, ordered bread, cheese, wine, and Orangina and relaxed.  It was a good way to while away an hour.

We met for dinner at SALLAMBO’S, a place specializing in Northern African cuisine.  Here we had couscous, (a ground-up type of meal which I’ve never had before), chicken, vegetables, and tomato soup. It was OK, but not something I would PAY to eat again.  Most of the kids did not even touch their meals. 

After dinner we met our bus and headed to the ‘Bateaux Mouches’ Siene River Cruise boat.   We spent an hour and a half cruising the river with about 300 Japanese people who were all intent on posing for photographs.  I had a little fun with them…once we noticed the Japaneese group was shooting photos of almost anything that ‘looked important’ a few of us started pointing and saying ‘look!’ and holding our cameras up as if we were taking a photograph.  Invariably, the entire group of 60 Japaneese tourists would leave their side of the boat and run to our side to take a photo of our ‘sight.’  Yes, I know it was mean, but it was fun too!

We arrive back at the hotel by 10:15 p.m.  Jason was feeling better.  After the long day, Charlotte and I had no trouble falling asleep.”

REFLECTIONS: January 2008
That about wraps up our Paris experience with my band group in 1997.  Even though I was a veteran Europe traveler and veteran band director, I still had some things to learn.

Teacher, Band director, and students:
Remember Jason?  In my journal I made note of him being sick and how we re-arranged our schedules to “nurse” him.  Well as it turned out, Jason had ventured out and had too much beer on that second night in Paris.  I found out this morsel of information years later and was embarrassed that I had catered to his antics.   Had I known then what I know now, all that shuffling of adults to care for him would not have happened.  The alchol policy that the students, their parents, and I had agreed to was that beer or wine was allowed at dinner, while we were together, as a group.  No other time was acceptable.     

Educators realize the degree to which we put our reputation on the line when we take our students on any trip, whether it be to Europe, New York, or even Disney World.  It’s a 24-7 supervision responsibility.  Going to Europe complicates matters (especially in 1997) with different age limits on alcohol and tobacco use than in the USA.  I admit I got “snowed” where Jason was concerned and learned a valuable lesson.  Trust no one and “stick to my gun” with whatever rule I begin with.  Now-a-days I’m a lot wiser because of this experience.

As far as traveling is concerned…I learned a lot as I was planning this tour for my group.  It was here I began to realize that I was putting in a lot more time and effort on research than my tour “organizer” was doing.  Essentially I told the company where I wanted to visit, what I wanted to do, and how I wanted to do it.  This was a great learning experience for me when it finally came to planning and leading my own tours.

Oh well, live and learn….it looks like in the next episode we are off the Chartres!  

About the Author
David McGuffin established David McGuffin's Exploring Europe, Inc. in 2001 to formally offer European tours. Since then, he has taken several thousand satisfied customers on memorable and educational tours to Europe.

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