Tuesday, 2 June 2009

I Have Returned!

I'm back and bursting with stories and photos to share with you all. All three fans. Ahem.
The past sixteen days have been jam packed with history, culture, language and a lot of laughing on Miranda and my part. We had some seriously hard and frustrating times but we got over them and had a really amazing time and I'm getting excited just thinking about writing it all down to remember it all over again. So... here we go!

DAY 1.
London -> Paris

I can't say that I kicked off our trip very easily as our flight left at 7:25am, I had to be up at 4 and my alarm didn't go off. Good times. I couldn't really sleep all that night because I was too excited and nervous about the following day (or rather the few hours that separated this time) so when Miranda knocked at my door at, what I thought was much too early, fully dressed I went "Oh crap!" and somehow managed to rouse myself and get out the door in about three minutes. We got to the reception and the taxi pulled up so everything then went smoothly. It was nice being a car. Just a little extra note there.
For reasons unbeknowst to me when taking an international flight you must be there either two or three hours before the flight to get through security and what not. No one checked our passports and we flew through security. Right. Found some benches and had little naps before boarding the plane to our great adventure!

We arrived! Here is our first photo of the trip and don't we just look... well... tired and red mostly. But cheerful! Might I just say that for one of the most lovely cities in the world... Paris has a really rubbish airport. I mean Charles de Gaulle airport didn't have enough toilets, the tourist information section wasn't actually for tourists as we were shovelled about various desks to get answers and at one point there was this message that kept coming over the intercom saying "would the person who left the package in front of the photobooth please remove it". Later, the police blocked off the area. After much confusion and trying to work out a) how to get out of the airport b) buying tickets at the metro (they don't take notes ANYWHERE - madness) and c) finding our hostel AND listening to this crazy jingle they would play at the stations when there was an announcement which to Miranda sounding like the beginning to a rap song - wow this sentence is getting long - long and short of it - made it to our hostel - YAY. See my happiness? Now off for sight seeing!

We figured since it was raining and cold that we would go to the Louvre and hang about inside for a while. I'll never forget how big that darn place is. I've been there before and I said to Miranda that you can't feel guilty for not seeing everything because the place is TOO BIG. Apparently, it takes two weeks to see everything. Once again - not seeing everything. We managed to get in for FREE as well. Because we are studying in London they considered us to be somewhat European citizens under 26 - Booyah! The Louvre is so lovely. It has everything a nerdy person like me could want - sculpture, paintings and beautiful ceilings! Ceilings have become my strange obsession... yes... indeed. Saw lovely old Mona once more. Glad to see how she's getting on... Venus de Milo, Winged Victory of Samothrace, Peter Paul Reubens room, Napoleon's apartments and various other things along the way. Oh and the inverted glass pyramid - have actually read "Da Vinci Code" this time so I get it. Meh. Needless to say after several hours this place is rather exhausting...

Next stop - Champs-Élysées - where Miranda and I were approached by some American girl who thought we were French (despite our obvious cameras) and started babbling to us in French. This is not the last time this will happen. But we felt flattered and very French at this point so let's continue. Walked down there, had a delicious smoked salmon sandwich and came to the Arc De Triomphe. I didn't go up it last time I was here so it was lovely seeing the view from this angle. I read a while ago that the roundabout surrounding the Arc is the one place that no insurance company will cover because there are so many accidents here. I had fun waiting for one to happen - it didn't - but yikes people came close!

This is the photo of me when I grew in size and terrorised the town. Well... I terrorised the model of the Arc... and the other tourists. This is also not the last time this will happen. We went to use the bathroom in this place when this crazy old French woman jumped out of nowhere and stood guard in front of the door and started burbling in French. We took tentative steps towards the door only to have her grab hold of the handle and just block our way. It was weird. We left. Back down thousands of stairs... Once again - not the last time - I must really have thighs of steel now...

We then went to see the Moulin Rouge (I wanted to see a show but they were WAY too expensive) which is surrounding by loads of sex shops - this may not be surprising but the people with kids playing in the area was! Children on little scooters zooming between perverts going into the various sex shops and sex cinemas - argh! Up the giant hill to Sacré-Cœur where the view, again, is most impressive. Blue skies encouraged us to stay there as long as possible though the wind picked up and it started to get a bit chilly.

So we went back to our hostel (no idea how we managed all this in one day given that we were up at the crack of dawn) only to be yelled at my another crazy French woman. This was the cleaning lady who forced us into the waiting room so she could finish mopping the floor. Reasonable enough except that we couldn't find a spot where she wasn't mopping so it became a cat and mouse game about the foyer. Crazy woman. Up to our room (5th floor, no lift) and the lock on the door was broken. Eeep. We figured anyone who wanted to hike themselves up all those stairs was welcome to our belongings... This was the worst hostel we stayed in for the whole trip... though we didn't really know it then. We had had a long day and poor Miranda came out of the shower looking very upset because the water was cold. Spirits were low as we went to sleep but we remained optimistic! At least no one else was in our four bed room.
In conclusion for today!

What we learned about Paris:

1. Paris guys are creepy - we had some guy with rotting teeth ask us something in French on the metro... Bleh
2. Paris women are nuts! In case you hadn't already gathered this.
3. Nowhere accepts notes. It's money isn't it? Yeesh.
4. To find anything in Paris you must take a chance and just go one way without thinking about it
5. Europeans (unlike the English) notice our dancing.
6. Crepes with Nutella are amazing. I am glad to be reacquainted with said crepes.

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