Day 1- a group of smiling people gathered in the courtyard of the hotel for the very first group meeting. Our tour guide facilitated a brief time of introductions, gave some basic information about logistics on the tour, and handed out metro tickets, museum passes, and our personal sound system materials. The sound system allows guides to speak in a normal voice and for everyone to hear clearly without having to be bunched right on top of the guide. The group is made up of several couples, some friends traveling together, some parents/grandparents traveling together with teenagers, and two singles. Ages ranged from 16-70s.
We had a short break and met together for our neignborhood walk on our way to dinner. I hated the walk and started to have severe second thoughts about what I had gotten myself into. I felt uncomfortable moving in mass down narrow sidewalks and stopping right in front of people eating their dinner at a cafe. The guide had just read an inspiring quote about travel means you should become a temporary local. I felt like I just interfered with the locals..... I reminded myself that this was a new experience and would take me out of my comfort zones at times.
I loved the group dinner. We had a great meal that had been selected by our guide. Usually there is a choice, but for the first meal she had to make the choice and she did well. A very good time of getting to know fellow tour mates. This is one of two dinners where the wine was included as part of the tour. I'm a non-drinker but this was a non-issue. I know this question comes up from time to time so I thought I would mention it.
A couple that had been on several RS tours told me that future walking tours would be different and I felt encouraged. (Turns out they were right- wider,bigger places to stop and the group a little more sensitive to people passing. Walking tours have been fine)
Day 2: We met after breakfast, turned on our sound systems, and walked the short block to the metro system. The. Guide did an excellent job of explaining how the system is set up, some of its history, and practicalities of riding. I already had used the metro system several times, but there were some in our group that had not and I think this lesson and going together really helped to improve their confidence.
We arrived at our stop and the guide shared the history of the area as we walked to St Chappelle where the group's reservation meant we were able to "skip the line" and walk right in. I was surprised that our guided portion was outside the church and we were given time on our own to explore. I discovered that I should have done my homework about what I was seeing on the inside. This is where the advice to have and read the tour book really made sense to me. St. Chappelle was lovely. More walking with interesting commentary and learning about the history and architecture of the area and we arrived at Notre Dame. The guide made sure we were oriented to where we could eat lunch afterwards and where the metro stop was. The rest of the day was on our own,. The guide made an offer to meet anyone who was interested at a certain time and travel to the museum D'Orsay with them. She also made herself available to answer any questions members of the group might have about their individual plans.
I had done a great job of planning and arranging my time for the day and 1/2 I arrived early. I discovered that I had fallen a little short on planning what I would do during free time on tour. Rookie mistake.