Millenium New Years

[P2K Pics]
[Countdown Pics]

31 December 1999 to 1 January 2000

Y2K New Year's Eve In Paris

Wow! What an amazing memory to have. Anthony and Jamie celebrated their 30th birthday, 10th anniversary, a new year, a new century, and a new millennium in Paris! It was just beautiful! And, we didn't spend a lot of money! Pretty cool! So, let us tell you the story of our adventure...

The USO had been planning this tour for 6 months but we didn't hear about it until the last week of November. We contemplated it. It was almost a hard decision. At first we had no problems with a "yes" decision. So, we went and reserved our spots on the bus. That was the beginning of December. As time got closer and we kept hearing about all the threats Bin Laden was posing to Americans, not to mention the bigger risk for those overseas, we considered not going. But, by the time we made the "no" decision, it was either go or not and loose all the money. So, we went. And, it was well worth it all.

We left at about 11pm on Thursday night, 30 Dec 99. We had about 100 people going on two buses. We got half lucky. We wanted the Double Decker bus, which we were on, but we wanted to be up front with all the leg room and a big window great for taking pictures. But, alas, we were 3 rows behind. There wasn't much leg room, with no overhead for our back packs. So, needless to say, the ride was VERY uncomfortable. We really didn't sleep at all the whole way to Paris. We finally made it in around 9:30am the next morning. 

Our fist stop was breakfast at the same little restaurant we stopped at our last trip to Paris, behind the Jardin de Tuileries. Still the typical French breakfast of French bread, croissant, and coffee. After our breakfast stop of about an hour, we headed on our tour of Paris by bus. With all the confusion of what streets were closed and what streets were open, our bus driver seemed to be lost. We saw the same streets 3 times in 30 minutes. The tours seem to be the same. We went by Notre Dame, our tour guide's favorite souvenir shop, the Louver--which is right next door, and a quick drive by the Eiffel Tower.

We were hoping to go up to the top of the Eiffel Tower this trip. But, they had about 50 feet all the way around roped off and completely closed. We did not realize there were fireworks ON the Eiffel Tower until later.

Our bus dropped us off outside the Louver Museum about 2 PM. The traffic was still going strong at the time but the tour guide wanted to drop us off and pick us up in the same location. I think around 6PM or so the city stopped allowing buses into the city. And then, around 9PM all traffic in and around the Eiffel Tower, extending down the Champs Elysees and further, was blocked off. It became standing room only in downtown Paris. 

From our drop off point we headed through the Louver Museum. We had plans on going below ground to the basement mall and eat lunch there. However, the ling just to go downstairs was wrapped around the museum itself. So, we decided to head on towards the Champs Elysees. We walked and we walked and we walked. It was pretty overcast and misty rainy at times. We made it to the other side of the garden in front of the Louver which brought us to the Place de Concorde. This was the beginning of the Champs Elysees. This year they brought out 20 Ferris wheels to light up the street and shower the crowd with snow on New Years Eve. The biggest one is located in the Place de Concord. It looked to be about 60 meters high and it had enclosed cars. However, it was not open as well. Both places to take GREAT aerial views of Paris were not open. Drat! 

Anyway, we made it up the Champs Elysees to McDonald's. We thought about going to Planet Hollywood, but the wait was too long. McDonald's was jam packed as well. And you had to fight your way to the register. It was a sardine can! And, we waited just as long to get our food at McD's as we would have had to wait at Planet Hollywood. No bust, though. We got extra hamburgers for later so we wouldn't have to go through that again. 

Outside, we downed our meal at the entrance to the subway. Leaving trash on the sidewalk was a hard thing for Jamie to do. But, that's what everyone else was doing because you just could not find a trash bin--and when you did it was overflowing. When we were finished with our hamburgers. We made our way to the Arc de Triomphe. This time, we knew what to do. The Arc sits on an island at the end of the Champs Elysees. There are 5 streets that branch off the circle that goes around the Arc de Triomphe. Last time we didn't want to cross the street for fear of our lives (there are some crazy drivers in Paris, not to mention the busy traffic). There was an underground passage to the Arc De Triomphe. We managed to go cross that way. Once there we took another breather. 

We thought about going up to the top of the Arc de Triomphe but there was only 15 minutes left to decide. There was a lot of people at the top and and we wanted to get to the base of the Eiffel tower to scope out a place to sit. So, we decided against it. We took some pictures and a breather--then we began our trek to the Eiffel Tower. The weather started easing up and you could actually begin to see the top of the Eiffel Tower in the distance. When we first arrived you could only see the bottom half of the Eiffel Tower. 

So, it's 4pm. J-9 Hours to go. We found a really nice place to sit and wait it all out. We were about 150 meters left of center of the Eiffel Tower. We had a beautiful shot of it too. We had a light pole on one side and a tree on the other. The Eiffel Tower fit perfectly between the two. We got a couple of pictures from that vantage point. And, we sat in that one location for about 4 hours, 2 of which Jamie spent in line to use the bathroom. It would have been much shorter had they had port-a-johns, less cutting in line, or if the toilet they did have didn't take so long to clean itself. But, Jamie managed to get through it and vow not to have to go until the bus ride home. 

By this time, the count down timer on the Eiffel know, the one that's been running for 1000 days non-stop, the one you can see in some of our pictures from before with J-525 on it, you remember those...well, at the 5 hour mark it just died. No reason, no explanation, no lights. You should have heard Paris Boo! Over the next 5 hours it would come back on with only part of the "J" and "v" showing. We all joked that it was the Y2K bug hitting early. We had really hoped to watch the countdown. We started taking pictures every hour. Well, at least we took pictures up until it stopped working.

Anyway, after Jamie returned from the long wait for the bathroom we contemplating walking back to the Champs Elysees to look for millennium souvenirs. Anthony wanted this really cool jester's hat. It was black and silver stripped and it had 2000 embroidered on one side and Millennium on the other. Jamie saw a really cool font they had on some T-shirts and scarves. (You see the merged 1999/2000 font at the tope of this page). But we decided against wandering around for fear of loosing such a great spot. Well, little did we know that around 8pm we would have a stampede of people rush through our spot. We literally had to lock arms so we wouldn't get swept away and separated. From that point on it was standing room only! I think it was standing room only in ALL of Paris. 

We stood until midnight. It seemed like we stood for decades. If someone moved to the left, the whole crowd moved to the left. If someone moved to the right, the whole crowd moved to the right. And, it seemed as though we were always in someone's path. People trying to walk by to see if they could get a better spot, more room, or find their friends. We all locked arms trying to get people to understand there was just no where to go! But, it did not work. To top it all off, Jamie was surrounded by tall people. So, those moving about, fighting their way through the crowd, only saw an open spot and tried to get there--only it was Jamie. Jamie had Anthony on her backside fighting off the crowd and her back pack on her front side in between her and another guy. She had pushing from both sides and finally, after about 2 hours of fighting, she got so squished she couldn't breath anymore. Her legs gave way. She remembers Anthony catching her from behind and some French guy grabbing her legs. The next thing she remembers is being put down in a clearing (yes, there was actually a clearing), coat off, and Anthony telling her to take her sweater off too.

Once everyone and everything settled down, as best you could amongst 1.3 million people, we realized why this was a clearing. There were two reasons actually. The first was because it was behind a bunch of trees.  The second reason was because a bunch of people were shooting off fireworks! It was ok, though. We weren't there very long because it was about 45 minutes until midnight. So, we hung around, drank a Red Bull, and prepared our cameras. The next thing we knew it was time.

Paris at Midnight Y2K -- AP photo

We were caught off guard with the Eiffel Tower's display. It was just down right beautiful. And, we took lots of pictures. Some are shown on the other page and we are still working on scanning the rest...please be patient. :)

After it was all said and done, we had 2 hours to make it back to the where the bus was to pick us up. We didn't think it would be that hard to do. Everyone was heading in that general direction and all we had to do was go with the flow. But, it really wasn't that simple, at least for Jamie it wasn't. Going with the flow was the easy part. Then, we lost the river of people at the Place de Concorde. Everyone else headed towards the Champs Elysees for the party in the street. We had to take the turn AWAY from the party. That's when Jamie realized her feet, no, her whole body hurt. All the standing, walking, and pushing had made both Anthony and Jamie exhausted. It took about 2 hours to get back to the Louver. Luckily the bus was a bit late. When it finally did arrive, and after Jamie went to the bathroom, shoes came off and the next thing we knew we were back here in Hanau around 10am.

Both of us felt like we had a hangover and we didn't have a drop of alcohol that night. We had brought our bottle of champagne but decided against opening it up in the crowd. Plus, we could hardly get to it anyway. We thought we would open it up back on the bus, but something it total exhaustion...and we crashed as soon as we got to our seats. (It still sits in our refrigerator until this day). After the bus dropped us off in Hanau we drove home, snuggled up in our bed and fell asleep again for another 9 hours. We woke up for a snack and about midnight we went back to bed for another 12 hours.

Sleep is wonderful....

                          Paris was wonderful...

                                                                 A once in a lifetime experience.