Thursday, April 07, 2005

Paris Birthday Celebration

[Once again, no DSL at the apartment, so I'm at an Internet Cafe without access to my laptop programs. Photos will have to come later, hopefully next week!]

All Donica would tell me was that we were going somewhere in Europe for the weekend, making a "connection" in Paris, and I needed to take at least one nice outfit. Supposedly she was to meet up with a MN co-worker, David, flying in from Detroit to hand her some documents, before going on his own way. Oh yes, and we were going to stay till Tuesday because she had a business meeting on Monday wherever we were going.

It all made perfect sense to me, so I never once suspected that the "co-worker" flying in from Detroit was really Ruth and Don...and that the "business meeting" on Monday was going to be the celebration of Don's 50th birthday, 4/4, and my 60th early (6/13). As we were waiting for "David," I spotted someone coming through the line with a SOLVAY sign and I said to Donica, "There he is!" And then I went pale, she says, when I saw it was Ruth and Don!

Surprises are just like God, of course! The whole thing had been planned with Ruth and Don since January, when I was going through my down-sizing at work and eventual retirement. Donica has a way of doing this and I have a way of never suspecting. I guess that makes for a perfect combination.

Once I am up-and-running on my own computer, I'll add photos, which always speak louder than a thousand words. In the meantime, here's a peek at what we did, spending our 3 full days, Saturday-Monday, around 3 main areas in Paris:

1. MONTMARTRE (Saturday): the artists' square at Place du Tertre and the Sacre Coeur basilica. Donica, Ruth and I were there in October, but it felt so different to just be there and not have any other agenda than to just absorb the ethos of the place. To sit at an outside cafe and drink coffee or eat ice cream while people-watching was like heaven. We even took in a Salvador Dali exhibition which blew us all away.

2. PLACE DES VOSGES (Sunday): the oldest square in Paris and one of the most beautiful in the world. This was one spot we missed in October, so it was a real plus to see it with Don and Ruth in all it's sunny, Sunday glory. The grass was full of families having picnics with their kids, and artists and musicians showing their wares/talents under the colonnades. It was a great place to relax and just take it all in.

3. St. Germain des Pres, Luxembourg Gardens, and the Pantheon (Monday): This was the only day we had a spot of rain but it certainly did not rain on our parade! The St. Germain church is the oldest in Paris, from the 6th century. Nearby is St. Sulpice church where much of Dan Brown's action takes place in The Da Vinci Code, and where the obelisk is. The Luxembourg Gardens were in their spring glory, as was the Medici Fountain, on our way to the Pantheon. We were unable to enter the Pantheon in October because of a political riot going on outside, so it was special to see it this time--the place where the great "men" of Paris are entombed. The only woman, Madam Marie Curie, who discovered radium and who has a historical part in Solvay Pharmaceuticals, Donica's company, is also buried there, along with her husband, Pierre.

In between our walking around, of course, we saw/visited the Eiffel Tower (at night), the Louvre museum, Notre Dame and other famous landmarks in the distance. Also spent a lot of time in the Tuileries next to the Louvre, resting and people-watching, just a block or so away from our Inter-Continental Hotel.

Talk about a surprise! Talk about a nice weekend vacation! Thanks to Don for sharing his birthday with us; thanks to Ruth for once again being our great tour guide; and thanks to Donica for planning the surprise party of the decade!


  1. I'm so jealous of what sounds like a wonderful weekend! A fun and loving surprise by Donica, perfect company with Don and Ruth, birthday celebrations all around -- all surrounded by the beauty of Paris!

  2. beautifully said and diddo on all counts. i'm so jealous! and so glad you had a wonderful birthday surprise. keep having fun for those of us who can't be there with you to enjoy it.

  3. Thanks to you both. Now you can look at the photos I just posted!