I attempted to write in my travel journal on the train from London to Paris, but ended up feeling a little sick so opted for a nap instead. The next thing I know we are in France! Looking outside the window in awe... the countryside of France is stunning. Not many hills, but luscious and green with cute houses! I was definitely looking forward to France. I heard two things: You either love it, or think its overrated.
Our first stop was our new hostel Oops!. It looks great on the outside and inside, but the staff are neither friendly nor helpful. We had a great view from our room and we did have a room mate who was non-existant the first couple of days. After we got settled we caught the metro to the Eiffel Tower. Absolutely stunning. It may be a bunch of ugly looking metal, but geez its impressive. I don't understand why or how some people don't like it! We didn't actually climb it (yet) but we did go buy some crepes and eat them over by the park. We sat for awhile soaking up the Paris atmosphere before we decided to head back for some shut eye. I still can't get over how bright it is at 11pm. We were chatting for awhile before we realised it was 2am!
Actually, before we went to bed, we attempted to do the laundry. One of those annoying things that you just need to do when you pack light. It turned out to be a total disater. FIRST: We asked Jaun (one of the most loveliest people in the world - NOT!) if there are laundry facilities available in the hostel. His only answer was "No". So we asked (as he wasn't going to tell us unless prompted) where the nearest laundry place was located. Turns out there is one just around the corner approx an 8minute walk. Again, being prompted we ask "Is it open?" and he says "No". We decide to go check it out anyway so we at least know where to go the next day. So we head down the street, turn left as instructed and viola. Laundry. And it's OPEN! We go in and a helpful lady shows us how to operate it, thank god, as I don't think we would've worked it out. We are furious that we have to walk back up to get our laundry. Damn you Juan. We all grab our dirty clothes, and head back down in a huff and a puff. As we are in the laundromat sorting the clothes, the owner comes in and notifies us that in actual fact, he is CLOSED even though the lights are on and the door is clearly open. We grab our clothes and head back. Damn you JUAN!
Although, that all happened in the span of 20 minutes. Hahaha! Inside joke, ya'll!
7am, 13th July 2009
We woke up to do the laundry. Damn you Juan! As the washing was well, washing, we headed back up to the hostel for our all inclusive breakfast. We had a crossiant, bread and coffee. I think it was probably the best thing about Oops! at this stage. After breakfast and hauling the laundry back to the hostel we caught the metro to the Louvre. We walked across the road and through the entrance into the central courtyard and found ourselves at the glass pyramids and fountain on a gorgeous french day. I think we were all ready to jump into the water. We went inside and strolled around for awhile. We saw the Mona Lisa (hello, tiny much?!), The Nike of Samothrace (circa 190 BCE) and unfortunately the part where the Venus De Milo is, was closed off so I didn't get to see that, but the place is spectacular.
The Mona Lisa and I
We then walked over to the Notre Dame. We didn't go inside as the lines were long and we were being hassled by Romanin gypsies so we took some photos and then headed over to the park to eat a baguette - Yum!
Me eating my baguette!
Since we were close by, Lauren was interested in seeing the Sainte-Chapelle so we walked a couple of blocks and found it. The Sainte-Chapelle: Gothic architecture from the 1300s with 15 high stained glass windows.
After we lifted our jaws off the floor and of course snapped some photos we went over to the Arc de Triomphe and trudged up the 280 stairs! I love it how there is a lounge at the top of the stairs for you to have a rest. It really is a terrific view of Paris, the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Élysées which was our next destination: One of the most expensive streets in the world.Nicole and I at the Arc de Triomphe
Walking up the stairs, looking down. Crazy!
View of the Champs-Élysées from the Arc de Triopmhe
View of the Eiffel Tower from the Arc de Triopmhe
I had my photo taken infront of the Louis Vuitton store. We also went in and I could afford one of the wallets - only €300. Pity it was plain, otherwise it was totally sold!
It was now time for dinner, so we went over to Fountaine Saint Michel and ate at a little place down one of the roads. Yes, I ate escargot! and Yes, I loved it! I also had a pancake/omelette thing with cheese, ham and mushroom and for dessert was crème brûlée and I think Nicole and Lauren had lemon mousse. Totally delish! After getting a little tipsy from the fabulous french wine and now carrying food babies we headed to our final destination for the day: the Eiffel Tower. This time we climbed it! Unfortunately the top pier was closed so we could only get to the 2nd pier which was still an awesome view! It was shame, but it will give me a reason to go back - yay! (Although, I am not entirely sure you need a reason to go back, its just way cool, why wouldn't you?).
What I have yet to climb...
View from the Eiffel Tower, second pier
14th July 2009
We had all pretty much decided that we were going to spend the entire day by the Eiffel Tower to celebrate Bastille Day with the rest of France. After finally meeting our room mate and making friends, Lauren invited Justin along to our Bastille Day picnic. The good thing about that was, Justin knew where to buy breakfast and food for the day. So we ended up walking down the road and ate at a cute little street cafe (where we waited quite some time for someone to take our order AND then bring it out) but a crossiant and a hot chocolate is definitely the way to wake up in France. We then continued walking down the streets where we bought some wine, raspberries, strawberries, baguettes and of course cheese!
Nicole strolling down the market street, Lauren and Justin in the background walking
We then hopped onto the metro and made a beeline for the Eiffel Tower. The previous night I met an American in the hostel who infirmed me that to get a got spot by the Eiffel Tower people get up at 6am, and it was now about 12pm so I thought we might have run out of luck, but once we arrived we found a great spot on the lawn, right in the middle! See getting up early never pays off! Anyway, by about 3pm our wine supply was out so Lauren and Justin headed out for more while Nicole and I held the fort (aka chatting, sipping wine and eating the cheese). There was a concert with 'legendary rocker Johnny Hallyday' (who?) + others which was great... not to mention entertaining with all its frenchness and of course a couple of English songs like "Born to be wild" and "Unchained Melody". Once the concert was over with, and the sun was going to sleep, the fireworks began. All I can say is... WOW. INSANE in the MEMBRAIN. They totally blew me away. Let's just say that it kicked Sydney New Year's fireworks butt, and then karate-chopped it in half, and then used its lightsabre to shred it into little teeny-weeny tiny bits! The day goes down as one of the Best. Days. Ever. awards!
The most spectacular fireworks I have ever seen...
Oooh... Love it.
Once the fireworks were over, it was time to pack things up and head back to the hostel. Simple task, no? Well, I guess everyone else had the same idea. It was suddenly crazy with people walking to the nearest metro which turned out to be closed, so continuing to the next metro, only to find that too was closed. We continued walking to the next one and the next thing we know, Nicole and I were no longer with Lauren and Justin, nor could we see, hear or find them in the crowd! Nicole and I did have a key to get back into the hostel, the only thing missing was a map. We had NO idea where we were, or where we needed to go. This was starting to go from bad to worse. We couldn't get into any metros and then, for some reason, people thought it would be a great idea to start setting bungers off! We both thought we were going to get our faces blown off, not to mention the long night of walking we had ahead of us to get back to the hostel - if we ever found out where we actually were! We were both looking around until, by pure luck, we spotted an unguarded metro and some people going down. I think we were both in a state of shock to actually realise, but I think we may have ran so fast to that metro we were almost flying. It was lucky we got onto that particular train when we did: Once we got onto that train we were so packed in for every other stop, no-one else was getting on. The girl standing right infront of me was continuously bracing herself for impact as the door would open at each stop (seriously, I could feel her tense her body it was that jammed), and there were people telling the ones trying to get on that there was definitely no room and they weren't getting on. Mean, Yes - but I was glad. I was on. Nicole was on. We were getting out of there in one piece and a lot sooner than first expected. Once we got off at our stop, we basically sprinted to our hostel not even looking at anything or anyone else except that construction area, knowing the hostel door was located only metres away. A HUGE sigh of relief. I have never been so happy to see my bedbug hostel bunkbed.
During this entire episode of LOST, Nicole and I were locked hand-in-hand!
15th July 2009
Woke up, and NOT with a hangover. Awesome! After drinking 6 bottles of wine between us I was expecting a lot worse. I think the only one affected by it was Lauren. We then headed down for our breakfast and then we packed our bags. I was feeling a little nervous this morning as it was the day of... The Car. I was driving first, which was a little scarey, but we googled some French road rules (as you do) and I felt prepared (Ha!). We made our way to Charles de Gaulle airport and picked up our little Citroen C3. Cute. Hybrid. I'm going to be driving a car in France. Shit. I headed over to the left side and sat down in the drivers seat, turned it on and viola, hit the gutter while turning. Only a little bit and no damage so it technically doesnt count, but it sure got my heart racing. Getting out of the carpark was a drama. Do they really need to make it so windy? Some of us have never driven on the opposite side and its a little akward trying to not hit the right side of the car into poles and what not. So after we successfully exited the carpark we were on the highway. It was strange at first, and I was definitely glad there was a traffic jam, but I told myself that I knew how to drive a car - what's the problem! After about 1 hour I was cruising down the A10 at 127km/hr and overtaking trucks. Once we got to the last few kilometers from our destination, exit 3, we exited the highway TWICE before the real exit. Both were pit stop and rest areas! I guess the French prefer a 40 minute notice for an exit. After finally exiting the highway and driving towards Chaumont sur Tharonne, we arrived at our lovely little bed and breakfast - Le Petit Clos.
To be continued...