Bonjour Paris!

Trip Start Apr 15, 2009
Trip End Jul 10, 2009

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Flag of France  , Île-de-France,
Friday, May 15, 2009

We travelled from London to Paris in style - on the high speed Eurostar! It ended up being cheaper than flying, and I prefer land travel to air whenever I can :) After a little bit of confusion about ticket prices (and a Eurostar official trying to rip us off big-time), we were settled in our little seats, and off to Paris! We were offered free alcohol (big night the night before, so that was a no-go unfortunately) and had a very pleasant (and can I say fancy) meal. We arrived happy and refreshed.

However...we had also entered into the unknown - the world of foreign language! The holiday brain had to go, and the thinking cap had to go on! I had done my homework the night before, and written down the subway directions to our hotel, so that was a start. We walked off the train to find signs in French...and nothing else. Not even a little hint of English. So, with our limited knowledge of the French language, we finally figured out how to purchase a subway ticket, had a comical encounter with the ticket machines (we had a fight with the ticket gates trying to get through with our luggage - they are nasty things!!) and had to drag our 20kg bags up several flights of steep stairs(god knows how wheelchair-bound people catch the tube)!!!!! It was an interesting start to Paris.

BUT once we had recovered and settled into our room, we thought we would take the next step and grab some dinner. We found a nice little restaurant on the corner (lots of people inside, always a good sign!) and were relieved to find the maitre'd not only spoke English, but also had English menus for us! Hooray! We had a yummy meal, and retired for the night.

Sunday was our first wedding anniversary!! We woke late, then walked 10 mins down the street to find the Eiffel Tower looking down on us...beautiful! Took a few obilgatory snaps, then wandered down the path for a better look. There were people everywhere, being Sunday and also Mother's Day, so we decided against climbing the tower that day. We had some lunch (um, AUD$10 for a Coke anyone??) then caught the bus around the city. The city itself surprised us - no skyscrapers, just gorgeous old buildings and trees everywhere! It was such a difference from the likes of New York. We finished off the day with a lovely dinner - it will be hard for next year's anniversary to top that one!

Monday we headed to the Louvre - prepared to be filled with lots of history and interesting facts. After about an hour of interesting facts, we realised that we were both quite bored and really only wanted to see one thing - the Mona Lisa! So we headed in that direction, visiting the Venus de Milo (quite impressive!) in the process. We fought off numerous tourists (those Asians are bloody pushy!) to get a pic of the deceivingly small Mona, and then left the Louvre for the Champs Elysees. We did a bit of window shopping there, with myself getting increasingly frustrated with the Euro value to our dollar - it's not very kind when a girl wants to shop! So window shopping was all it was. That night we went bogan and had McDonald's for dinner (note: French men who work for McDonald's are grumpy - NEVER ask for cheese on your McChicken burger, even asking "McChicken avec fromage?" does not help!!). We ate our tasty bogan dinner, and then walked down to see the Eiffel Tower at sunset. What a wonderful sight! And just when we thought it couldn't get better, the sun went down and the Tower SPARKLED!! Just like a very large Christmas tree! That will be my best memory of Paris :)

We caught the subway on Tuesday to Montmartre to see the Moulin Rouge - didn't get to a show there, as it was about 200 Euro each...we were happy just to see it in the daytime! The funniest thing? Directly across the street was a Starbucks and an Australian pub!! How very French!! From there we headed to Gallerie de Lafayette, the largest department store in Paris. While I admired the aisles of designer shoes, handbags and jewellery (why can't I win lotto? Why?), Jase took photos of the spectacular stained-glass roof and wrought-iron balconies - Myer Garden City needs a bit of refurbishment I think!! After some dinner, we went back to the Eiffel Tower to climb to the top! While standing in line (about a 40 min wait), we be-friended a couple of ladies from Chicago that were waiting in front of us. They had both left their husbands and kids at home to come to Paris on a girl's weekend. They came with us to the top, even helped persuade me to be brave and get on the elevator in the first place (I really am a bit of a wuss!). The view was amazing, Paris is really lovely during the day, but even better at night! Jase was stoked to have seen it, and we organised to have dinner with our new friends the next night - we seem to make friends in random places!

Wednesday we visited the Notre Dame Cathedral and the markets surrounding it, then spent the afternoon doing very interesting things like laundry and catching up with our travel blog! Our dinner was lovely, albeit unusual - eating dinner with people from Chicago at an Italian restaurant in the middle of Paris!! Very worldly! Lots of laughs, and comparisons of food and phrases (they had no idea what Vegemite was...a care package will be sent, along with Tim Tams and Milo!). We walked a couple of blocks to get some last minute photos of the Tower, and then it was a quick subway trip to the Louvre to get some night photos of that as well! We said goodbye to our friends, then it was home to pack!

We said goodbye to Paris on Thursday lunchtime, thinking that we will definitely make an effort to come back someday! The language barrier is easy to overcome once you learn a few phrases, and the city has so much history. Au Revoir Paris, for now!
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