I didn’t run as much as I intended to in Paris. For one thing, it was really damn hot the whole time we were there, and for another, we were trying to cram as much experience into our time there as we could, and I didn’t want us losing an hour or more because I’m crazy enough to go run a half-marathon again.

But boy did we run when we thought we were going to miss our bus.

A little background: as part of our travel plan, we bought a two-day “hop-on, hop-off” bus ticket with Big Bus Tours. We decided it made sense to use it on our first full day in Paris, so we would have a chance to see the sights and get a better idea of where everything was.

Like most tour buses, there’s seating up top so you can actually see the sights, and you can choose a variety of languages to listen to through the complimentary headphones. (There’s also music playing in between the recorded commentary, some of which was pretty damn catchy.)

We took one tour just to see the sights, then got off for lunch before taking the tour again to actually get off at some of the spots. As for that lunch … the first three cheeses on that four-cheese panini we bought on the street were pretty tasty. The fourth, which was some version of bleu cheese, was frankly, pretty disgusting (and I say that as someone who actually likes bleu cheese). It ruined my appetite for the rest of the evening and on into the next day.

That didn’t make it any easier on me when we were trying to catch our bus. We had got off near Notre Dame, where a variety of vendors were selling books and artwork and jewelry along the Seine. I was looking at the books, trying to find just the right souvenir, when we realized it was getting late. The problem was that the Big Bus Tour, which stops everywhere, doesn’t stop very often along that part of the route. We thought for sure we were going to get stuck hailing a taxi or even walking all the way back to the hotel, when finally we saw a bus pulling over, well ahead of where we were.

I hope we at least looked amusing dashing down the sidewalk, all the while me fishing in my pocket for our bus tickets.

A closer look. Obviously, even before we got on the bus, was a walk over to the Eiffel Tower. I didn’t keep track of how much time we spent around the tower while we were in Paris, or how many pictures we took, but I think it’s safe to say that landmark was the centerpiece of our trip. One might even say it towered over everything else.

I apologize.

Might as well start smoking again. It’s easy to forget how rare it is to experience secondhand smoke here in the U.S. anymore. Unless you’re hanging out at a bar, or with a bunch of smokers, it’s pretty easy to avoid.

Not so in Europe, where cigarette smoke is a major part of the ambiance, as it were. Even though the restaurants themselves are non-smoking venues, the habit is allowed at the tables on the sidewalk, so the smoke just wafts your way. It’s quite the treat.