Paris, je t'aime! =P

Trip Start Dec 22, 2010
Trip End Feb 25, 2011

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Where I stayed
Plug Inn Hostel

Flag of France  , Île-de-France,
Monday, January 3, 2011

Oh goodness, Paris est merveilleuse!

OK, first night after arriving from Eurostar (which I slept ALL the way through...sick) we had to trudge 20 minutes with our heavy heavy bags (while sick) to the train station, so it wasn't off to a good start =S.  BUT, when we finally did get to the our station, Blanche...guess the first thing that greets us.  The MOULIN ROUGE!  Serious!  We were staying in Montmartre!  Awesome choice at the Plug Inn Hostel ^^.  Later on I would come to realise that this area is also surrounded by sex shops and sex sex SEX places but ummm...until then, I was completely oblivious though I guess the red and purple neon lights should've given us a clue haha.

Day 1:  So Yee-Ling met Tracy and I the night before and after a very good night of sleep we walked all the way from, ok, get ready... Kicked off with Moulin Rouge in Montmartre, then walked to the Arc de Triomphe, down the Champs Elysees to the Place de Concorde, through the gardens of Tuileries to the Louvre, along an overflowing Seine, past the Pont Neuf to the Notre Dame before meeting Maelle in front of the St Michel fountain.  Crazy yeah?  I know, but Paris is surprisingly walkable!  Though that did take us like 3 hours haha, but what a morning...absolutely amazing though it didn't really feel like I had just done that at the time.  Not to worry, I would see them all like 3 times over before I left just to have it really sink in =P.  Anyways, met Maelle...first things first, FOOD!  Off the the delicious local creperie for some "popeye" crepe =D and yes it had spinach =P.  Was cool listening to all the french being spoken, didn't catch much of it but it really made me want to have better French skills haha.  Oooh and the toilet there was ridiculous haha, DISCO toilet!!  Serious, you have to see it to believe it XD  We then met up with Celine and the two Parisians took us around to see the sights, Notre Damn, Centre de Pompidou, Place des Vosges (Maelle's hood) and eventually to Bastille and the Opera (Bastille) where we went in to check out the prices and lo and behold there were cheap tickets for that night's Opera!  Ariadne auf Naxos!!  So off we went to the opera in Paris and what a brilliant night it turned out to be, we got front row centre seats, LITERALLY!  We could see right into the pit and the singers were singing TO us hahaha even if we had no idea what was going on (the opera was in German)...ah what a night, so not a bad way to start off Paris...

Day 2 and we were off to another brilliant start, tried visiting the Louvre but gave up due to the humongous line but we managed to get into the Musee d'Orsay which was amazing.  Especially the exhibit of Jean-Leon Gerome who had some brilliant pictures of the near east and Roman times, I'm really getting a liking for the 19th, 20th century art =)  Went to Notre Damn afterwards, to actually go inside...mmmm, walk down Boulevard St Germain haha, classy.  Notre Damn was really nice inside, the masses of tourists take away from the serenity of it all but I have to say that it is one of the best preserved Gothic churches that I've been in.  Definitely worth a visit, and the line...while LOOKS ridiculously long moves surprisingly quickly.  Headed back home afterwards but not before a coffee (tea for me) at les 2 moulins!  YES where Amelie worked!  Packed with people but we still managed to get a place...mmm, very nice.  Went out for dinner later on with escargot (snails) on the menu...hmmm, it's an interesting experience and I would recommend it only to the brave haha.  The taste is not's the LOOK of them that really gets ya >.<  Steak and creme brule to finish...both awesome thank goodness XD.  Visit up to Sacre Coeur, you know, a stroll in the neighbourhood to finish off the night.  Mmm, Paris at night, just beautiful AND my first view of the Eiffel Tower from there!  My goodness we spent so long trying to get a good shot of it but it all just turned out as a blurred mess =(, not to worry, I would soon have really awesome pictures of my favourite tower at night.  And that was it!  Another truly fantastic day in Paris.

Day 3 and the sun was SHINING!  Oh glorious day!  The weather so far in Paris had been cloudy...thankfully, no rain but the pictures of the city of love was still all cloudy.  So for once the sun was gloriously shining ahhh...and what better way than to spend it at a cemetery haha.  Serious! XD  The Père Lachaise Cemetery was really the city of the dead with wide streets and houses even!  Was actually kinda nice though a little bit crowded but it does mean I saw quite a lot of famous people.  Edith Piaf, Moliere, Chopin (And ChoPPin =P), Rossini and Oscar Wilde! XD  Unfortunately, that's as much sun as Paris gave us that day, so when we went to see the Eiffel Tower next, it was all cloudy =(  Cloudy or not, the Eiffel tower is a magnificent piece of work, seeing it up close really makes you realise HOW BIG the thing is!  And the intricacy of all the iron work...absolutely amazing...the huge throng of tourists below it was a little sad (no time to queue and climb up) but the views of it from the Champs de Mars was still amazing.  Sat down for a baguette lunch underneath the Eiffel Tower, I say that's quite Parisian non?  One thing I noticed though in Paris was that it actually gets quite cold!  It's only like 2 or 3 but it feels SOOO much colder, maybe it's the higher humidity but it's weird having been in -10 and still being cold XD  Or maybe my resistance to cold just goes away that quickly.   Walked past L'hotel des invalides through the Grand and Petit Palais and finally found Rafa the others on Champs Elysees after walking up and down it twice XD  Was cool meeting up and we arranged to go to their place later that night.  So, later that night, after some DELICIOUS eclairs we chilled at Rafa's place that he rented.  My, amazing house, I dunno how rich his parents are but that appartment was not shabby at time chilling and reminiscing about the not too long ago Stockholm.

By Day 4 I was feeling right at home in Paris, we knew how to get everywhere, we've been to all the main sights like 3 times now haha and my French was gradually improving again!!  I can understand now what people were saying HALF the time XD.  First thing in the morning we changed accommodation from our lovely hostel at Montmartre (with snoring American XD) to a private 3 bed hotel room in Montparnasse, not bad not bad...a little further away but the privacy of our own room was definitely a nice change.  Walked up past the Luxembourg gardens where we took a much needed break =D to St Michels Fountain...our favourite meeting spot haha for a free walking tour.  Was cool getting shown around and have explanations for all the places this time instead of saying "ooooh, that's a pretty place...what's it used for?  Je sais pas...."  Got to see the bullet holes left from the French Resistance taking back the Conciergerie (old Palace), the square courtyard of the Louvre and learning that it is in fact MANY different additions, seeing the Academie Francaise and the Pont des Arts (one of my favourite bridges across the Seine) and the Orangerie where King Louis got his freshly squeezed orange juice everyday haha.  Continued walking quite a bit the Opera house which was gigantic and very grand, just a shame we couldn't get in, to Les Galleries Lafeyette with its impressive (christmas?) windows and up the Champs Elysees at night which was magnificent.  Oh did I mention it was New Years Eve??  haha, policemen EVERYWHERE already around 8 and these were the RIOT policemen...yeah, we thought we were going to be in for an interesting night.
Headed off to Celine's palace for the proper new year's celebrations which was awesome!  Partied in the traditional Parisian way, in a friend's appartment eating foie gras, drinking champagne and getting quite drunk...which I did hahaha.  I've gotta say that was the first proper time that I've been actually drunk XD speaking my bad French WAY too loudly, dancing and singing Waltzing Matilda hahaha was a lot of fun.  Well, that was until I realised I had a little bit TOO much champagne...thanks to Thibault "Who wants more champagne?!  YOU want more champagne!!" and Yee-Ling..."Com'on let's do a shot of vodka!" and Maelle and Tracy "Oooh, too much vodka! (pours half their shots into my cup)" D=  Got home with the help of Yee-Ling who I muttered random comments to along the way and burping LOUDLY XD  Hmmmm...guess it's gotta happen eventually and what better place than NYE in Paris??  2011 is off to a great start =P.

The next day was a write off haha, we all knew that...little did I know how much drama happened after Yee-Ling and I left the night before...boy.  The boys (Jason, Juan and Rafa) had quite a story to tell and not a good one =S  Hope everything's cool between them now but it did make a tiring day an interesting one.  Took it easy and headed home after meeting up with the others for a coffee.  OH, Guess what, I bumped into Quentin that day too!  (One of Ammara's friends that I met briefly when they visited)  Was so random but so very cool as well...ahh, to be recognised in Paris XD

Day 6 and we're nearing the end of Paris...mince alors!  Day trip out to Versailles, of course, one of the few things that we haven't done yet.  What an amazing palace, I can see why the french people had the revolution!  The biggest palace in Europe that I've been in and the Hall of Mirrors is really amazing, if you wanted people to know that you're rich, the hall of mirrors is where you'd take them.  The gardens were probably not at their peak in winter but man they were huge.  Took like half an hour just to walk down it and the smaller buidings dotted around where pretty cool as well.  Oh, and to make it better, the sun came up out of the clouds for a few brief moments...ahh, you CANNOT believe the difference it makes when the sun is out, just magnificent =)

Last day in Paris!  Non!!! =(  Headed off to the Louvre after finally getting out of bed haha, yeah I'm very lazy.  Got inside with only a 20 minute or so wait!  I know amazing!  The trick is to enter via the subway or the carousel...still crazy amounts of people but at least it gets you in on the SAME day =P.  Inside the Louvre is amazing, the guide book says it takes like 9 months to see everything properly and I believe them.  You cannot imagine the size of the thing and the amount of works there!  I didn't even have time to read anything, just walk, look and take pictures as fast as I can.  Ran past the French sculptures, into Napoleon III's apartments...just as grand, if not grander than the Versaille and especially cool since it retained most of its original furniture!  Through the greek antiquities (saw Venus de Milo), meandered into the medieval Louvre (can walk through the moat of the castle that used to stand there) up through a bit of the Egyptian artifacts and into the paintings.  Oh goodness, the Italian paintings...was CRAZY, I swear the temperature of the place rose by at least 5 degrees from the amount of people in that area, of course I knew why they were there but I never expected so many!  But I did finally manage to meet the famous Mona and surprise surprise it was BIGGER than I thought =P  After having everyone tell me that it's small, it's small, I expected a little post card sized picture haha so that was a pleasant surprise.  The amount of people clamouring around it wasn't though but I guess that would include me haha.  Got a picture in, finally but it sorta does ruin the whole atmosphere around such a nice painting...pushing shoving through masses of bodies, sticking up your hand into another sea of cameras and flashes *sigh*  I settled on a smaller Mona =P.  The massive French paintings deserve a mention too I think, in an area very close by to Mona Lisa, they are really quite inspiring and the building they are housed it!  My goodness, seriously...the Louvre itself is an amazing work of art and should definitely be appreciated just as much as all the exhibits inside.  So that was my visit, 3 hours and I've barely seen a third of the Louvre, never even stopped to read about all these amazing works (except the big ones) and that took me the whole morning =S  If you have time in Paris, spend day least I say, and take an audio guide, the place is amazing.

Had lunch at a Parisian cafe/brasserie/bar, I dunno what the difference between them are but if you think of a typical Parisian cafe, then that would be it.  Met up with Maelle, Mathilde, Tracy and Yee-Ling for a semi failed visit to another museum but on the way I got some cool shots of the Seine and the Eiffel tower, so that was alright and then I rushed off to visit Montmartre on last time.  And thank goodness too cos I found one of my favourite places up there on the hills overlooking Paris.  Sacre coeur itself was very cool...teeming with tourists but was a nice church and a great view over Paris up there.  But what I loved was the square behind it, I don't even know what it's called since I was rushing so much (had to make the TGV train to Strasbourg) but it was just filled with artists and paintings and characturists and an awesome Irish flautist busking in the corner.  Just a really cool atmosphere that I loved and wished to have stayed longer =(  But visit in Paris was ending and it was time to rush off back to the hotel one last time.

Et voila, c'etait Paris.  What a trip, I'm so glad I made the effort and stayed for a week in Paris.  I'm also very glad that we had such good friends in Paris to show us around!  It really made the difference I think, especially having a cool bunch of people to hang around and go out with.  I don't know why Lee wouldn't wanna go or why Yee-Ling thinks it's too cliche...ok, maybe I can see why it's cliche but I don't care, Paris is a beautiful city and definitely one to see if you're in Europe.  The Champs Elysees maybe too overpriced, the Louvre too crowded (hell, EVERYTHING is too crowded in Paris) and the Eiffel Tower is total tourist trap, that I'll agree.  But you can't deny the wonderful feeling of walking down the Champs Elysees at night or the awe of seeing the inside of the Louvre, and to me, the Eiffel Tower is one of the most amazing pieces of engineering (and art) that I've ever seen.  And of course there are all the lovely little things that really got me.  Seeing the buttresses of Notre Dame, walking down the Seine at night, enjoying a very nice tea in les 2 moulins, having a friendly French rotissier help me buy a nice chicken, rabbit sausage and ratatouille for dinner (mmmm), wandering around montmartre after a dinner of escargot and creme brule and seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time, having a ball at Celine's new year party with the guys from Stockholm and her French friends, the shops along the Seine with their antique books and cool paintings, the buskers (ah the cool double bass player at the Louvre metro that I was going to come back and give money to but forgot, I'm sorry!), the square in Montmartre, ah the list goes on!!  But yes, I hope you get the picture, GO TO PARIS!! =P  My goodness, and this was with NO sun...imagine the place...ahh, il sera magnifie!

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