Sunday, November 27, 2016


During our last trip to Paris, we stayed near the Eiffel Tower .. a great location!  However, this trip, not only will we be in Paris during a different season, but we wanted to stay in a completely different area and experience some unique parts of Paris.  We did our research and chose The Hotel Touraine Opera...near Opera Garnier and Galleries Lafayette.  So....

Day 1, Sunday - Paris  

After a hearty farewell brunch on Viking, we loaded our suitcases on the Viking Shuttle bus and hopped on board!  This shuttle bus is a tour bus and headed for Palais Royal.  Luck was with us when we had a  friendly driver who kindly agreed to drive us directly to our hotel.

As we rode into Paris from our Viking ship in Le Pecq, knowing this day was the one year anniversary of the horrendous Paris terrorist attacks, we said a silent prayer for the victims and families, and thought of them often throughout our trip.  

We chose the Hotel Touraine Opera for it's location, rating, good reviews, fair price...and breakfast included!  We also found that booking directly with the hotel on-line was a better deal than booking with an on-line travel agency, so check it out before you book your next hotel.  The rate was about the same but the hotel had a special promotion which included the daily breakfast.

Website photos, as we discovered years earlier when our travels began, don't always show a true picture of a hotel.  You can't be sure until you arrive.  Visitor reviews on Trip Advisor, etc., are important!  

Right away, upon our arrival, we both agreed the location was spot on.  The lobby was neat and comfortable, with a welcome from English speaking Coralie.  

Now...for our room...up one flight by elevator.  We loved it!  A bit small, but so very French!  White-washed beamed ceiling, comfy beds, modern amenities, free wi-fi, and lovely French doors opening to our view!  However, we soon learned, upon the thought of unpacking, that there is no drawer or shelf space, and a very tiny closet. We adapted, and determined we would simply live out of our suitcases for the week!


Did we unpack?  Of course not!  We're in Paris and we had almost  a full day ahead of us!  

We always enjoy spending our first day of vacation getting to know our neighborhood! We soon discovered a neat coffee shop, Columbus Cafe,  next door and on the corner of our street.
 Directly across from our hotel...Franprix, a convenient grocery store.  In both directions, on Taitbout (our hotel's street), are a variety of restaurants, cafes, two pastry shops and even a Subway sandwich shop!  If you choose to take an hour or two to bicycle around Paris neighborhoods, there are bicycles for rent right in front of our hotel!  

After a look-see around our immediate area, we headed straight to the Opera Garnier area (about a 10 minute walk on Taitbout) and, of course, nearby Galleries Lafayette.  
We discovered Galleries Lafayette on our last Paris trip in May...and what a discovery...a fabulous array of shopping...and a magnificent main building!  Lucky us!  Holiday decorations were aglow throughout this district!  We could not resist stopping at each of the many whimsically decorated Holiday windows (awesome mechanical wonders!), and going into the main building with it's stunning glass dome.  To our delight, the entire store was decorated, with the main attraction... a marvelous gigantic white tree, with moving funiculars circling the tree, rising up to the stunning dome!


Note:  This is a great shopping area!  Besides mammoth Galleries Lafayette, you'll find (almost as large) Printemps
Department store, H&M, Monoprix, Sephora, as well as many delightful shops and cafes! 

Speaking of cafes....With all our oohing and aahing throughout Galleries Lafayette, we were ready for a Creme Latte, and found a welcome cafe, Brasserie Le Royal,

 serving just what we wanted!

We window shopped, and checked out the souvenir stands on all four corners before going back to the Galleries Lafayette's buffet restaurant we enjoyed on our last Paris trip, for a dinner of pizza and wine!

At dusk, we head back to our hotel and turn in early...planning our second day...Paris Christmas Village and Champs Elysees!


Day 2, Monday - Paris Christmas Village & Champs Elysses

We couldn't wait to get back to the Paris Christmas Village (200+ vendors) that we spotted on our Viking Paris tour.  We had researched and took google map snapshots of bus routes, when planning our trip.  

Our hotel offered a hearty breakfast buffet (included in the hotel price) in their charming French white brick, arched cellar dining room...scrambled eggs, bacon wrapped sausage, fruit, pastries, cereals, yogurt, petite crepes, fresh squeezed orange juice, assorted meats and cheeses, breads and, of course, coffee, milk and tea.  Always a friendly face, our dining room server, Sofina, was most efficient and always warmly welcomed us each morning! 

Ready for our exciting day in we go...headed for Galleries Lafayette (approx. 15 minute walk) to catch our bus.  

Note:  We always bus.  We tried the Paris Metro train system on our last visit and, although many take the Metro, we prefer the bus.  We enjoy the ride and the many eclectic neighborhoods and breathtaking sights. We always spot a new adventure!

Taking in all the many beautiful scenes of Paris...for us, the bus is the way to go!  Before we
knew it, we were at our destination....
Rond Point (round-about) Avenue des Champs Elysees... the magnificent Arch of Triumph being at the far end of the Avenue.

We arrive early (of course...we're eager!).   The many Christmas chalets have not yet opened, so we take the opportunity to stroll the beautiful Avenue des Champs Elysees.  It's chilly, so we stop, for a latte,  at the first cafe we see...brightly lit, red and neon interior, with outdoor seating...Unisex.

Okay....back to strolling this fascinating avenue.  We cross the street and, almost immediately, are stunned by a massive, ornate gold and black iron gate!

We pan up to a magnificent "mansion'!  

We pan over to the sign....Abercrombie and Fitch!  

Yikes!  We have to see this place!  The giant gate is opened by two dashing guards.  We enter into an amazing maze of beautifully trimmed bushes and trees lining a winding pathway that, eventually, leads to huge lavish doors!


As soon as we enter, we're greeted by a handsome, friendly young man who welcomed us to the store!

And....what a store!  French architecture abounds!... Four levels with winding staircases, beautiful ceiling molding, statues and...hand-painted murals!



We catch our breath, and realize...we have a mission!  To the Christmas market - Paris Village de Noel!!

Both sides of the street, blocks of little white chalets,,,from the Rond  Point to Place de la Concorde...
filled with culinary specialties of all types, pastries, wines, candies, ciders, jams, spices, marshmallows galore (a French favorite), crepes, full entrees, meats, cheeses, wines, beers, and so much more!  More chalets housing handmade items, souvenirs, gloves, hats, scarves, toys, jewelry, and, of course, Christmas ornaments!  

Where do we begin?  Peggy quickly made that decision when she spotted a wonderful crepe house!  A great start!  Delicious!! 
We were in awe!  How blessed we are to be in Paris during the holiday season!  Beautiful lights, street decorations, whimsical rides, cheerful people, delectable foods,  and so much to see!  

We soon came upon a lovely lady selling her husband's handmade intricate figurines made (with obvious high precision and patience) entirely of multiple resin layered leaves!  Martine and Jean-Paul Taupin's Automnales Leaf People!  So beautiful and so hard to choose, we finally purchased our first, and perhaps finest, Paris souvenir.
According to Mlle. Taupin, these leaf people are made from different leaves -- maple, plane tree, poplar, ampelopsis, banana tree, cabbage.....  The work is done when the leaves are supple; they are then tied and stuck on.  Then the leaf people are dried and varnished several times.  All colors are natural.

Most food chalets offered it was a culinary delight!  
We bought meat and cheeses from the happy proprietors of Le Petit Jacques....
....Hot apple cider wine, chocolate covered marshmallows, pastries, gifts for friends and family! 

We even met gracious George Bell, the tallest man in the U.S.A.

And...we are proud to say that we walked the walk and visited every single chalet!

Nearing dusk and loaded with goodies, we set out for our Paris home, via scenic bus 42.  (See more about bus 42 later in our blog.)

By the time we arrive in our neighborhood, it's dark. This is why we're grateful,  we chose this season to visit Paris!  The lights, the music, the joy of Christmas surrounds us!!

Despite our arms loaded with packages and a full day of walking, we couldn't resist the draw to stand on the corner and just enjoy!  

Day 3, Tuesday - Paris -Opera Garnier & Shopping Passages

Our main goal today of "off-beat things to see in Paris" was to find the ancient shopping passages (passages couverts).  We had a good article and map from the internet so we decided to walk to Opera Garnier and head north.

The Opera is only about a 10 minute walk from our hotel and we were sure we could find the passages from there. 

Last year, we drove past the Opera many times on a bus but never stopped.  When we started walking along side it -- it's huge -- and really noticed the beauty and intricacies of this building, we decided to go inside and check it out.  One word -- magnificent!

As soon as we walked into the building, our jaws dropped....and we hadn't even reached the stage and audience seating yet!  The lobbies can only be described in pictures......Wow!

At the request of Napoleon III, Charles Garnier undertook the building of the "new" Opera House and it was completed in 1875.
His masterpiece of opulence instantly became the model for the Italian-style theatre, functional and flamboyant at the same time.  The Palais Garnier is considered one of the world's most beautiful theatres -- and we were there!!

A very interesting personal tidbit happened to us while we were exploring the many halls of the Opera.  One beautiful hallway (a little off-beat...we were looking for a ladies' room), had glass-enclosed costumes worn by some of the actors and actresses who played at the Garnier.  One of the dresses belonged to a ballerina named Dorothee Gilbert.....our Mom's name is Dorothy Gilbert.
Again.....another time on this trip for chills to run up and down our spines.  It really felt like our Mom and Dad were both with us on this trip!

Now for some photos of the stage and audience area...note the private boxes lining the walls.

Don't miss the beautiful gift shop in the Opera Garnier...lots of beautiful goodies.....

Like we said, the French love their lighting!

Tiny ballerina ornaments.  

Jars of honey for sale made from the beehives on the roof of the Opera.

Mary K.  purchased this lovely handmade paper art ballerina with toy soldier ornament (a remembrance of the Opera Garnier and Dorothee Gilbert - ballerina).

We were so happy we decided to explore this treasure in Paris...a must-do for any visitor. 

On to the passages couverts ((glass covered shopping passages).....wait a minute....last year Mary K
remembered seeing the Fragonard Museum close to the Opera.  Fragonard is one of the oldest and best perfumeries in France and we really wanted to pick up some perfume for ourselves and as gifts for our family at we started searching for

It's just a few short blocks from the Opera and what a beautiful store!

Can you believe Mary K remembered where this little Fragonard store was?  If you look closely, it's on the right side of photo.

The sales clerks spoke wonderful English and were very helpful, letting us sniff countless perfumes and colognes.  (We always remember to say, "Bonjour" when we enter a shop and we always get a smile from the clerk and a warm welcome.....a handy tip when you're travelling to France.  Show a little respect and they'll return it to you!)

We walked out with our bags of Fragonard and free samples.

We found that we both liked the scent "Vrai" and laughed when we saw it in each other's shopping baskets.  Yes, friends, we'll both have the same signature scent for what else is new?

By this time, the morning had slipped by and we still had to find the hidden shopping passages so we began our trek, after stopping for coffee, of course.

Here's a little history about those passages and what made them intriguing for us.....

At the end of the 18th century, town planners in Paris created a
labyrinth of hidden shopping passages across Paris.  Over the years, many fell into disrepair or were demolished, but if you know where to look, you can still push a doorway and walk into a fabulous, glittering art nouveau gallerie or an ancient courtyard, most with beautiful glass and iron ceilings and delightful little shops. 

At its peak in the mid 19th century, there was a network of more than 140 passages -- many connected to each other.  They protected shoppers from inclement weather.  Their popularity soon started to decline due to competition from large department stores such as Galleries Lafayette and Printemps.  As we mentioned, many passages were abandoned and fell into disrepair.  Others were demolished.

At the end of the 20th century, especially during the 1980's, the glass covered passages started  a revival and about twenty were restored. 

The first passage we found was Passage de Princes.

2.  Passage Verdeau

3.  Passage Panoramas

This is a maze-like passage with  many entrances and it's full of surprises -- wine shops, toys, collectibles.

 After visiting this passage, we crossed the street to......

4.  Passage Jouffroy

This passage gives a feeling for how the passages were in their
mid 18th century heyday.  This passage is lined with charming bookstores, a waxworks museum, chocolate and candy shops and at the end of the passageway is the Hotel Chopin -- shabby chic but inexpensive and romantic.

Turn left at Hotel Chopin and there's another passageway leading to photography and beautiful art books.

5.  Galerie Vivienne

Vivienne has, in our judgment, the most beautiful architecture and mosaics.  Up-scale shops line the passageway including John-Paul
Gautier's flagship was his first boutique.  Shops and restaurants are chic and expensive.


After visiting Gallerie Vivienne, it was getting dark, our feet were swelling in our shoes and we decided to take a taxi back to our hotel (our first and only taxi needed in Paris!).  We picked up a Chicken Teriyaki Sub from the French Subway Shop down the street from our hotel (very gourmet) and hobbled into bed.

Day 4, Wednesday - Paris Musee d'Orsay

It's so very nice to start each day with the hotel's delicious breakfast buffet!  Normally, we eat a hearty breakfast so we won't spend time on lunch....just a coffee or wine and pastry in the us a full day of  "sight-seeing"., we eat a light breakfast.  We had heard, from our Viking friends, that we simply must lunch in the Musee d'Orsay lavish dining room!  

Honestly, we were anxious to view the d'Orsay art, but just as excited to see the building, itself..and have lunch at the Musee!  

Our bus stopped just around the corner from the Musee (on the left bank of the Seine) giving us the opportunity to turn that corner and take in the awesome Musee d'Orsay!  

The museum is housed in the former Gare d'Orsay, a Beau Arts railway station built, amazingly, in just 2 years, between 1898 and 1900.  Constructed by Victor Laloux for the 1900 Paris World's Fair/Universal Exposition, and then used as a railway station until 1939, it is a work of art in itself! Throughout many ownerships after 1939... (WWII postal depot for POWs; a movie set for Orson Wells' Kafka; temporary quarters for famed French auction house, Drouot; and even a hotel occupying the museum's current entrance), the building was at risk of being destroyed!  Finally, in 1986, Mitterand bought it, in order to showcase art where the Louvre let's off in the mid-19th century.  

The Musee d'Orsay displays a rich collection of impressionist art and Western artistic creations from 1848 to 1914...from paintings to architecture and sculptures...featuring major works by Frederic Brazille.  Frederic Brazille, a French impressionist, a brilliant and budding artist when he died, during the Franco-Prussian War, at the young age of just 28.  Viewing the beautiful and extensive works of Brazille (approx. 60 paintings), you wonder how many more masterpieces would he have continued to create...and what unique talent this young man possessed.

Must sees... Of course, Brazille's collection; Edouard Manet, Luncheon on the Grass; Georges Seurat, The Circus; Auguste Renoir, Bal du Moulin de la Galetta; Edgar Degas, Small Dancer Age 14; the Art Nouveau room; Van Gogh; Rodin; Claude Monet, and more! You actually "must see" it al1! 

After filling our souls with amazing art, we are ready to lunch at the magnificent Musee d'Orsay Restaurant.

The former restaurant of the Hotel d'Orsay, it is still as majestic as it was when it opened in 1900.  The modern furniture (designer of wonderful chairs- Edra)

sets off the dazzling chandeliers, statues, painted / gilded ceilings, and large arched windows with a view of this fantastic dining room!  

Even the wine in the restaurant looks like an art display!

Note:  Again, presumably because it's November, we did not need reservations, which are usually a definite requirement.  

Simply entering this lavish room, immediately sets you back in time! The luxurious atmosphere, impeccable wait staff, superbly prepared and presented entrees,

and scrumptious desserts,

Even the menus were marvelous!

What a treat in the middle of the the Musee d'Orsay!

 Life is good!

Back to reality!  More museum exploring....

And to the bus stop for our favored Bus 42 and the scenic route to our Paris neighborhood. 

We arrived near Galleries Lafayette at dusk....just in time to see the bright Holiday street and store decorations and shop windows light up!  A wondrous sight during the day, but now we have the unique opportunity to see all this beauty at night!

Peggy did a few tricky Costanza moves to finally get this picture of herself in the neat photo display at Galleries Lafayette. 

 Day 5, Thursday - Paris Sainte Chapelle and Isle of Saint Louis

Everyone said we should definitely visit Sainte Chapelle when we're in France and this is a trip where we wanted to find sites we hadn't visited before.  So we hopped on a city bus which dropped us off a bridge away from this beautiful church.

As we were walking over the bridge, we were astounded by the size of the castle-like building on the bank of the Seine with Sainte Chapelle just beyond.  This building, we learned, is the Palace of Justice.

And wowzer!  What a magnificent palace it is!  Complete with guarded iron gates.

Tucked away next door is the lovely Saint Chapelle Church in all its glory.

Restoration is always taking place as you can see by these huge pieces which are being replaced. 

Sainte Chapelle is universally famous for its many stained glass windows and appears today as a glass and stone jewel case.  The church was originally built with the intentions of its founder, Louis IX (the future St. Louis) to house the Holy Relics of the Passion (a piece of the cross and the crown of thorns) which today have been dispersed. 

The lower part of the building served as the parish church for the inhabitants living around the Palace (then called Palais de la cite) and it became the model for all the chapels built by St. Louis and his descendents.

Work on the church began between 1241 and 1244 and was completed in 1248. 

The lower chapel now houses information booths and a lovely gift shop, but even here the architecture is outstanding and you can imagine it as the parish church.

Small stained glass samples
of the windows are for sale
in the gift shop.

The upper chapel which today is reached by climbing up the narrow corkscrew staircase totally amazed us! 

After a l-o-n-g climb up those stairs, you enter into the upper chapel and it literally takes your breath away.

Behind us, you could hear the murmured "Wow's" as the people behind us entered the church from the spiral stairs.  It's breathtaking --the light shining through those wall-to-wall stained glass windows is amazing!  Walls are non-existent.....they're all transparent glass supported by stonework. 

The Rose Window

The fifteen 13th century stained glass windows  and the western rose window, replaced in the 15th century, give a colored light whose intensity has always been the cause of admiration.  The infinite fracturing of the colors produces many colored sparkling  panes in tones of predominately blue and red, changing from hour to hour.  These stained glass windows, composed of 1,113 figurative panels, nearly 2/3 of which are original, constitute one of the jewels of the art of stained glass.

Even the mosaic floors are artwork.

It was an honor to behold the crystal glass crown of thorns by artist, Patrick Neu...on display, at Sainte Chapelle for only a few months, until January, 2017.  

Needless to say, we were in awe of this beautiful, light-filled and colorful church, thanks to the beauty of the stained glass windows.

When we left the church, we couldn't help noticing the police presence outside the Palace of Justice.

We crossed the street to a large park-like area on our way to the Isle of Saint Louis.

Toward the end of the park, there was a very ornate metro stop which was so beautiful, we both got out our cameras!

And then we saw a flower/gift market and of course, it rated a walk-through from the two of us.

We continued walking in the direction of Notre Dame....we knew that in order to reach Saint Louis we had to cross a metal bridge behind Notre Dame on the left side.  We began our search....

The first thing we noticed down a side street was a lovely little
café with colorful trees next to it....couldn't resist a picture.

And then we saw the bright orange bike with the wine bottle strapped to it.  Yes....another Kodak moment.....

Of course, we had to stop at the Notre Dame gift shop where two lovely ladies were happy to help us after we greeted them with "Bonjour, Madame".

Mary K found just the gifts she wanted for her little grand-daughter.   Success!  Happy birthday, Mademoiselle Avary!

We came to Notre Dame and were amazed by the long lines of people waiting to enter.  Lots more tourists in Paris than we figured for the month of November.  So far, the crowds haven't affected us at all.

We took a left toward the metal bridge walking along the left side
of Notre Dame.

We picked up a little speed when we saw the bridge down the street but couldn't resist the smell of we sat down and had a little lunch before reaching the bridge.  Yum!  And our feet also deserved a little rest before trekking onward.

We came to the metal bridge and saw the Isle of St. Louis on the other side of the Seine.....

and an accordion player sitting on the sidewalk.

We found the Isle of St. Louis and we gave each other "high-fives"!

This is a small island with beautiful buildings and quaint shops lining the main street (Rue Saint-Louis en I'lle) running east to west -- it's perfect for strolling and window shopping.

And of course, we had to go into some of these shops...especially this one with all the bright colors in the windows.  It's a French chain called Pylones and is worth stopping in both of their shops which are side-by-side.

When we went inside, the first thing we saw was a display of colorful hair brushes.

Continuing on our trek, we came across a puppet shop....

Beautiful clothing stores.....

And, of course, several gift shops

The merchandise in the gift shops seemed to be of higher quality than in other places in Paris.  Very unique and the prices were very
competitive.  These little shops are definitely worth the trip to the Isle of Saint Louis.

It was time to walk back over the bridge toward Notre Dame

....and find the good old 42 city bus which would take us close to our hotel.

The 42 City Bus

Now is a good time to talk about the 42 bus....the best city sight-seeing bus in Paris and only 2 euros per ride!

Last year, on our first trip to Paris, we paid around 20 euros to sightsee around the sights of Paris on the hop on-hop off bus for a day.  You can hop on and off for 24 hours and it's a good, but expensive, way to see the major Parisian sights. 

Not wanting to spend another 20 euros everyday during our last Paris trip, we used the metro (fast but usually underground so we couldn't really see anything and the stairs into the metro were getting us down).  We decided to try the 42 bus and what a find!

The 42 bus route begins at the Gare du Nord train station (you can board the Eurostar train at this station) and cuts diagonally across Paris going through the Place de la Opera, past the grand Garnier Opera (our stop this year), around Place de la Madeleine, through Place de la Concorde (close to the Christmas Market) up the lower Champs-Elysees, across the Seine on the Pont de l'Alma bridge, along the Left Bank quais of the Seine, through the Champs de Mars (our stop last year when we stayed near the Eiffel Tower) and around the Eiffel Tower.  All for 2 euros!

You can purchase a "carnet" which is a set of 10 tickets for 14.10 euros at any metro station or at a tobacconist.  But we found that handing 2 euros to the driver for a single ticket was the easiest way for us....we weren't sure how many times we'd be using the bus.  The ticket is good for 90 minutes of bus use and can be used as a transfer to another bus if you can transfer within the 90 minutes.

By the way, most of the drivers speak some English and are very helpful when you ask directions or even if you're on the right bus!  Just remember to say, "Bonjour".

Day 6, Friday - 18th District - Montmartre

We had the opportunity, this morning, to meet the Hotel Touraine Opera's very personable, efficient and helpful manager, Jerome Richards.  It was a pleasure to let him know how much we enjoyed the hotel and the personnel....and to explain the bit of difficulty arising from the lack of room storage.  He was most affable and would take the information to headquarters for consideration.  After meeting Mr. Richards, we could see why his employees are so friendly and helpful!    

We're now on our way to today's destination...Montmartre and a huge store, Tati, that intrigued us when we found some obscure information on the internet.  We had to see for ourselves!  
This was a 40 minute walk (mostly uphill) leading to the Montmartre district and the outstanding monument on a hill, Sacre-Coeur Basilica. We took our time, strolling along this charming neighborhood.  

So many shops, restaurants and cafes along this boulevard!  We finally arrive at Tati...which, we're surprised to not just one building, but one large building and more extended shops....a shoppers paradise!
 Well, of course, we indulged!  We found these neat pocket washcloths, 
 wonderful scented oil assortment with dish,
lighted balls (that we saw at Galleries Lafayette for much, much more euros!).
We shopped in all the Tati buildings, and the many other shops on this  boulevard.  Mary K. got this chic coat for only 15 euros, and we both bought very Parisian high collar buttoned "ponchos" for just 10 euros each!  Such bargains! 
We literally shopped 'til we dropped....Luckily this friendly cafe, Richards, was nearby! 
An easier walk back to our hotel....downhill this time!

Day 6, Saturday - Our Last Morning in Paris - Ibis CDG Airport Hotel

Our last day morning in Paris, we have our final breakfast and meet new friends!

Touraine Opera arranged for our car to the Ibis CDG Airport Hotel.  Having an early Sunday morning flight, we pre-booked a room close to the hotel to assure us plenty of time to catch our plane.  

The Ibis Hotel is clean and modern; however, it's greatest asset is it's access to the airport!  
We had dinner at the hotel's restaurant and then paced out our early morning trek to the airport.  The building next to our hotel houses the train that will take us to our terminal.
  We turned in early, after showers.  Note:  If you stay at this hotel, bring your own shampoo and conditioner.  The hotel supplies one soap for all purposes.  

Day 7, Sunday - Flying Home!

Set our alarm for 5:00 am.  We had an 8:40 am flight.  Not sure of how busy or how long it would take to get through security and customs, we gave ourselves plenty of time.  We were loaded down with luggage!  Heavy luggage....which became 3 times heavier and almost unmanageable, when we opened the door and started our "short" trek to the airport train building!  The wind...the cold!!  So grateful when we finally got on the train to Terminal 2! 

Our first stop for customs was a breeze....a huge room with lines and lines of roped paths and only the two of us and 3 other travelers!  The roped paths told us that later in the day, the airport would be packed!  

Second stop was more crowded but moved along smoothly and before you knew it....we were in our terminal, at the gate and on the plane!  

A marvelous trip for these two sisters!