Trip Start Jun 25, 2012
32Trip End Aug 25, 2012
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It was sad to wake up knowing it was our last day of our big trip, but we packed all our bags and decided to make the most of the day before we left. My backside had seriously enormous, purple bruises from my fall the day before and I couldn't quite face the bikes again, so once we’d put our bags in storage, we caught a bus down to the Seine and walked to the Musee D’Art Moderne, a lovely little art gallery of modern art. This contained lots of beautiful works by modern artists, there was no queue and no charge – a huge advantage over many of the other famous galleries we have visited in Paris in the past.
After a very pleasant hour wandering around the gallery, we walked up Avenue George V to the Champs Elysees, where Rachel had a great time goggling at all the expensive designer stores. We had planned on a picnic lunch at the Luxembourg Gardens, so we first of all bought lots of extremely delicious macaroons in an incredible variety of flavours from a store that specialized in them, and then went into a local supermarket where we were able to buy lots of yummy things from lunch. By the time we’d finished shopping we had enough for lunch AND dinner, but never mind!
We caught a taxi to the Gardens and wandered around trying to find a nice grassy picnic spot. At last we found a beautiful spot where another family was picnicking and put out all our yummy goodies. At that point we were moved on by a Park attendant as apparently this grass was not for sitting on! Never mind, we collected all our bits and found another spot where sitting was permissible and had a lovely lunch there. By this stage it was getting close to 2.00 and we still had to get back to the hotel where we had booked a taxi for 2.30 and get across town to the Gare du Nord where our Eurostar train was departing.
It took us some time to find a taxi, who then got fairly lost trying to find the hotel, and I was getting a little tense. Finally we got to the hotel, got our bags and got into the cab where we then had a small conflict as the cab had arrived 15 minutes early, we were 10 minutes late and they insisted on us paying 25 minutes waiting time. Apparently in France you have to pay from the moment the taxi turns up, not from the time you booked – what a con!
Anyway, eventually we got to the train station, went through customs and immigration and hopped onto the Eurostar where I breathed a great sigh of relief. It was a very pleasant trip across and we got out at Ebbesfleet, about 15 minutes before St Pancras, where our taxi driver Steve (who we'd texted the day before) was waiting to take us to Heathrow. This worked out really well – much better than going all the way into the city and out again. About one and a half hours later we got to the terminal, nice and early and had dinner there. Tom had saved all his money for the trip and spent it all at this last stage on some duty free red Beats headphones, which he was very excited about.
We got on the plane, made ourselves as comfortable as we could in our cramped seats, and headed off to Singapore. I got a bit of sleep but the kids got more. Then we had a bit of a wander around the airport trying to avoid DVT before getting back on for the trip to Melbourne. Although 24 hours on a plane can be wearing, it was a good chance for me to re-read Ishiguro’s 'Never Let Me Go’ which I was teaching to my Year 12 class on Monday, so that worked well. Let’s face it – I’d found it hard to get the opportunity to read much during our hectic, activity filled holiday.
We got into Melbourne at 5.30 Saturday morning having missed Friday entirely! The queues for Immigration were long, but luckily efficient and once we’d collected our luggage and explained to Customs that the only wooden products we had were carved and polished they let us through without going through all our bags which was a huge bonus. Dragging our gear, we walked to the domestic terminal to catch our flight to Adelaide, and who should we see in there but Michael’s old school friend Jonathan Teubner, who coincidentally had been on our first flight out of Adelaide! We knew we were back in Australia :)