Italy/France Trip Day 10
We woke up early so that we could meet the Vespa guy, who was going to drop them off at our apartment. I was ready first, so I decided to go to a bakery down the street, as the woman who owns the apartment recommended it as having some of the best bread around. She wasn't wrong. It was delicious bread. Me and Rio ate half of a baguette for breakfast.
The scooter guy calls and he is outside waiting for us. The rides look magnificent. One red, one black. The red one, which would be mine for the day (this was unanimously decided by me and Rio, as the red helmet fit me, so it only made sense that I'd have a matching hog) had more off the line speed, we were told. And the black one would be faster in the straightaways. We filled out some quick paperwork, signing our lives away in the event of severe mutilation or death, and then we were on our own.
I was going to lead the way, right or wrong, Rio would be on my tail. We didn't have anywhere in particular to be, so we just drove south towards the city.
We've seen how the scooters are in Rome, zigging and zagging between cars, well in Paris it is no different at all. My words will never be able to fully express how it felt to be doing this. It was an intense mixture of both fear and excitement. We were hesitant at first, but within a few minutes, we were right there in the action, zipping in front of cars, making our way up front during red lights. It was incredible.
Before we know it we are getting into the city. We are approaching an intersection: 3 short tunnels, side by side in front of us, or turn right. That's when I hear Mario behind "Right one!" We zip through the tunnel, and as we emerged on the other side we are both awestruck by the magnificence of the Louvre. By chance, we had ended up driving right in front of it, past the famous glass pyramid.
We then made our way further south, crossing the Seine, taking in views of Notre Dame as we did. We took a right across the bridge, making our way towards the Eiffel Tower.
When we arrived at the Tower we decided to park the scooters and stretch our legs. It's a pretty massive structure and I look forward to going up it. We decided to save that for another day because there was a long line and we had some scooting to do.
We scooted everywhere. We got pretty lost for a while, but we had our maps and compasses and eventually made our way toward the ultimate scooting adventure: the Champs-Élysées. We arrived at the south end, at the Place de la Concorde. It was confusing the first time around the traffic circle, and we missed our exit. We regrouped on the next pass and gunned it at the right moment towards the Champs.
That road is long - much longer than I thought. Must be more than a mile. Eventually we made it to the Arc de Triomphe, which is much, much larger than the Arc next to the Coloseum in Rome. The traffic circle is legendary. It's always packed and has about 5 different roads connecting to it. I was nervous going in, but I followed Rio's lead. We had a few close calls in there, but came out the other side, first go around.
We decided to get off the scooters and walk along the Champs for a while. Like I said, it's a long road and it is lined with shops of some of the world's most expensive brands. I've been looking to get a watch, so I popped into a famous Parisian watch store and ended up buying one that I've been looking at online for a while. It's a Hamilton Khaki Automatic. Pretty simple watch, but that's what I like about it. Has a classic look with not too big of a face and not flashy at all.
After the watch and a quick trip to Micky D's to snack/use the free wifi, we decided that we had better head back, as it was about 6:30 and we told the guy he could pick them up at 8. Normally an hour and half would be no problem. But we wanted to give ourselves a buffer in case we got lost.
We got back in time and turned the scooters back over. But not before Rio, while working the big lock that goes on the back wheel - he is bent over and his sun glasses come off of his shirt like they have every time he has done this today, but, unlike all those other times, his Ray Bans fall and immediately bounce into a sewer. Gone forever. A damn shame. I felt bad for him, but he was thinking about getting a new pair already so maybe he'll do that tomorrow.
The guy comes to pick up the hogs. We talk to him for a few minutes. He's an Australian. Married a French girl and now he lives here. He started this company himself and they are in Paris, Nice and now Amsterdam. He has a great video/commercial on his site. You should check it out. The company's name is Left Bank Scooters.
All in all, today was incredible. Probably one of, if not THE, coolest experience I've ever had. Cruising around Paris in style. We actually saw, or past, rather, most of the city's sites today. It's a big city - much bigger than Rome. And it's beautiful. So many awesome monuments and boulevards.
The driving was both terrifying and exhilarating. Weaving in and out from behind cars, passing buses, squeezing between lanes...it was everything I ever hoped it would be and more. What a blast. We both feel like we could go home tomorrow and be completely satisfied with the trip. I'm worried that Paris on foot will be a bit of a let down. But who cares, it's days like today that make traveling the world such an easy expense to justify.