Thursday, September 22, 2005

Did you know . . .

. . . that Big Ben is not a clock?

Big Ben is actually the name of the largest bell inside the clock tower, which forms part of the Houses of Parliament. The building is officially known as St. Stephen’s Tower and quit possibly houses the most famous clock face in the world. It is thought that the name Big Ben comes from Sir Benjamin Hall who was commissioner of works when the bell was first installed in 1858. The accuracy of the clock movement is controlled by the placing of old pennies in the mechanism. Big Ben weighs 13 tons, the tower is 320 feet high and the clock faces are 23 feet across. The 13 foot minute hand sweeps the length of our body every 5 minutes.

. . . Rick Steves is the best tour guide?

I’ve never met Rick, but if I did, I’d thank him personally for his extremely helpful guide book. We found some of the best restaurants in Paris, thanks to him. Some friends took us to dinner at this one place still sporting its 1920 décor. We had a wonderful 3 course meal (thank you Vern and Diane) thoroughly enhanced by the ambience. Thankfully, Rick’s book was not in our stolen backpack!

You can visit his web site at:

. . . there’s still a chip in the tunnel?

After a wonderful breakfast at another little café (thanks again Rick) we walked along the Seine River and just looked at the sights. We saw some gorgeous buildings and went inside Notre Dame Cathedral which we thoroughly enjoyed.

After leaving the cathedral, we continued our walk. We saw the hotel where Princess Di and Dodi spent their last hours together. Then we also went down into the tunnel where the accident happened. As a matter of fact, where the car hit the pillar in the tunnel it is still chipped and broken. They haven’t repaired that and I don’t know why they haven’t. Probably because it draws so many visitors, just like us.

. . . that the Eiffel Tower isn't the best place to view the City of Lights?

While most people think the Eiffel Tower is the best place to go to see Paris, there is another place even better. No, it’s not a famous tourist site either. It’s the department store Samaritaine. Ride the elevator to the top floor, then walk up the stairs to the roof terrace. There's a splendid café where you can sit and enjoy a breathtaking view.

Here’s a great web site with panoramic views of Paris.

So, those are my random thoughts. Did you know . . . I had hoped this would be a very short entry?


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