Lori Collins and Ray Rodriguez


When you dream of doing something for your entire life and then you live the Dream… that is Abundance.  It’s Christmas Morning.  We’re in Tampa. at the airport boarding a plane to Newark, N J.    There we will have a five hour layover before we board our plane to Paris.  This is a dream coming true – I have dreamed of going to Paris for my entire life – Ray inherited my dream  …We’re on our way we’ve finally boarded and we’re comfortable.  United Airlines was amazing. They even provided complimentary beer and wine for our long flight.  We’re excited and we’re are feeling good.  

Paris!  We’ve arrived –  It’s 7 am here. If we were in Sarasota, it would be 1 am, the middle of the night – this 6 hour time change will be interesting – but we’ll adjust.. We’re in PARIS!!!!!!  Our pre scheduled driver picked us up and we began our journey to the hotel Pullman Montparnasse.  After a 40 minute ride  we entered  Paris  and we are mesmerized by the beauty of this city  The buildings  are so beautiful, architecturally perfect.  The streets are so precise with amazing arched windows and doorways.  Street after street with perfect lines, amazingly beautiful.

We arrived at our hotel and entered the revolving doors into a beautifully decorated lobby. It was a bit early to check into our room, they held our luggage and we went out for a walk.  It was 43 degrees and began to rain softly, but we didn’t care. It was romantic and only lasted for a few minutes  as we stood under a covered area and then explored our new neighborhood for this week, before heading  back to our hotel.  
We chose this hotel, the Pullman Montparnasse because it’s where Airline personnel stay.  That, in itself, is more than a good reference. It’s a 4 star, as well, and we highly recommend it. They treated us like royalty.  Our room was on the 22nd floor with a view of Paris.  It was so amazing to wake up every morning to see the sun rising over Paris and to see the sun setting as we began our evening adventures.
Pullman Montparnasse

Once settled, we went to talk with our concierge, Sebastion, who scheduled us for an amazing dinner in the Montparnasse Tower, the tallest building in Paris, and also gave us information about the Double Decker
Tour Bus and other incredible activities that we would never have known about.  We highly recommend the Double Decker Tour Bus. We totally enjoyed it for three days. You can get off of it at the sites that you
want to explore, and get back on when you’re finished.  We loved it, got off to enjoy the Lovre Museum, the Latin Quarter and even the Notre Dam Cathedral, where we were able to celebrate Mass.   

But before we started with the tour bus, on first night we arrived in Paris, we walked to the Eiffel Tower.  It took about 40 minutes, a lovely walk on gorgeous cobblestone streets, past amazing buildings and we even
stopped into an ancient church that had the most incredible Christmas display that we had ever seen. As we approached the Eiffel Tower, breathtakingly beautiful, in all it’s glory, we stood at it’s base, looking up, mesmerized.  At that very moment, the entire Tower began twinkling!

Lori Collins in Paris
Across the street, at the foot of the Tower, we approached an incredible outdoor marketplace  Stand after stand with vendors selling everything  – food, including cheeses, breads, chocolate, hot spiced wine, large
pans of paella, chicken, and Frites( fries) –   everywhere.  Ray asked me why everyone was selling and eating  fries – I said,  We’re in France – they’re French Fries!  They were also selling hats, scarves, purses, candy, pastries, souvenirs, soaps, wine and brandy in Eiffel Tower shaped bottles and in the middle of it all,  an ice skating rink.  People from all over the world surrounded us –  eating, drinking hot wine and hot chocolate, talking in foreign languages, walking  through the crowds- the energy was incredible.

We were falling in love with Paris.  As we made our way to the other side of  the tower, we were soon directly underneath it, another surreal experience.  Beautiful – Couples kissing, posing for selfies, families
gathering together, everyone smiling – a happy vibe.   On the other side we observed an ornate bridge with huge statues of horses and under it, the beautiful Seine River, with glass enclosed riverboats
floating by with sparkling lights everywhere.

The following days became a whirlwind of fun, exploration and excitement for us.
Double Decker Bus In Paris

We road the Double Decker Bus and learned about the history of Paris, the wars, the heroes, the architecture, and more. We saw mansions, and palaces and learned about the many medical advances that
were made in Paris, one being the invention of Braille. Ray is a history buff and he loved every fact. Listening to the stories of what occurred in the buildings as we passed them, and how and when they were built, who lived in them,  was more than we could ever found out on our own.

The Louvre Museum was breathtaking.

Mona Lisa

We saw the original Mona Lisa, the statue of Venus De Milo, Hercules, Cupid, paintings from before Christ. There is nothing in the world that will compare to the Louvre.

We saw the original Mona Lisa, the statue of Venus De Milo, Hercules, Cupid, paintings from before  Christ. There is nothing in the world that will compare to the Louvre.

The Notre Dam Cathedral left us speechless.  It is difficult to imagine how the people of ancient times were able to construct such beautiful, ornate, perfect structures.  The feeling we both felt inside the Cathedral was total awe, and, because we went there in the evening, when it was getting very cold out and the crowds had thinned, we were able to celebrate Mass there. That in itself was a miraculous blessing.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Exploring the Latin Quarter was so much fun!  Interesting cafes, bars, shops with unique items, The oldest street in Paris, meats cooking on spits outside quaint, old, charming restaurants.  We ate dinner at Le
Marathon – a small restaurant with stucco walls, arched doorways and lots of brick trim.  The food in Paris is incredible, pure, natural, nothing artificial or preserved and the portions are not large because the French don’t believe in waste.  The wine is equally delicious, smooth, light, really fine.

One of our goals, while in Paris, was to visit the grave of Jim Morrison, formerly of the Doors.  We were able to make a few connections and we were given a map with the locations of his gravesite, his residence, the places where he was known to go to write, and the bar that he hung out in. We went to the Cemetery and saw his grave – there were several people there.

Jim Morrison Gravesite

We visited  the courtyard of the Place De Voges,  where he loved to sit and write. When we located his residence, we noticed a sign on the building that read – Jim Morrison Did Not Die Here. There was always a theory that claimed that he actually died at the bar that he frequented and he was carried to the home to avoid bad press for the business.  No one really knows the truth.  When we were leaving the area
in front of the home, a man walked up to the front door and began opening it.  We talked with him and he invited us into the building, took us up on the tiny elevator and showed us where Jim  once lived on the third floor.  He encouraged us to ring the bell. He said someone lived there.  Wow! We rang, but no one answered. But just being in that hallway, on the stairs, in that building, was so very cool. RIP Jim…

Another remarkable place that we visited while in Paris, was the Champs Elysses – one of the most beautiful streets in the world – miles of trees, decorated with twinkling lights, shops, stores lighted and decorated to the max. Tiffany’s, Cartier, Mercedes Benz, and on and on – a Christmas Village, rides for children, ice skating, food of all kinds. It’s the reason that Paris is called the City of Lights. It is absolutely remarkable!  At one end is the Paris Ferris Wheel and at the other is the Arch De Triumph.  The New Year’s Eve Celebration was held here, with millions of people celebrating in the streets.

Paris France

Paris offered us so much more than we’d expected.  Being in Paris is like being alive in the most beautiful painting you can imagine.  Paris is the City of Love, the City of Lights, The City of Romance.  We saw a
lot of Paris in the 6 days that we visited, but we didn’t see enough.  We will be going back, hopefully to stay for a longer time. Life if made up of small pleasures and Paris has taught us to continue to follow our dreams, for they truly know the way.
Our 33rd Wedding Anniversary – New Year’s Eve 2017
Au Revoir Paris!  We’ll Be Back!!!!

photos by Lori Collins and Ray Rodriguez

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