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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Gay Paree

Bonjour dear friends!

It is I, I have just returned from a whirlwind weekend (minus actual whirlwinds) in the fair city of Paris, France, Europe, THE WORLD.

It was fast, and I honestly didn't think we'd see and do as much as we saw and did. But we did see and do a LOT.

Firstly I had to travel 5 hours down to London on Thursday to be picked up at 5:45am (ee gads!) Friday morning. I stayed in a hostel and let me tell ya, their charms have not been lost on me this trip. I was in an 8 person room on the top floor with no elevator (puff, pant, wheeze) with the door being opened and slammed, phone and in person conversations being held until after 3am. Tres fun. But you get what you pay for. I had a discount card for last night's hostel stay, and that involved trekking up to the top floor again with my backpack (puff pant wheeze) PLUS a girl in one of the other beds throwing up into the rubbish bin several times during the night.

Anyhoo, we took a coach to the ferry at Dover and then back onto the coach and arrived in Paris at 4pm. Being a trip with an odd number of people, I somehow was given a private hotel room when I didn't pay for the upgrade. SCORE! Half an hour after check in, we were back on the bus for a quick tour around in which we saw the Arc de Triomphe, Opera (where the Phantom was known to hang out) and, gosh, a whole lot of other places until we stopped outside the Eiffel Tower. That's when you know you're really in Paris. We took a one hour boat cruise down the Seine, taking photos of pretty buildings - including the Louvre which looks like it stretches down for a couple of blocks, and arrived back at the Eiffel Tower to do as we wished for the rest of the evening. Well. I was going UP the tower, wasn't I? I had previously decided I wasn't going to bother, but since I was there, hell, you only live once, right? So a group of us hung around taking photos and ooh-ing and aah-ing as it got dark and the tower was lit up with sparkly lights. And we were harrassed by Gypsies. You'd say "No I don't want any keyrings thank you" to one and then be joined by another, asking you the same question. At one point, we were standing in a group, waiting for people to order their crepes before going up, and we were literally surrounded on all sides by 5 gypsies trying to sell us crap.
Some people bought said crap.

The queue to get UP to the tower surprisingly, wasn't that long. To get from floor to floor was a bit harder, but getting back DOWN is what took forever. It's funny, the staff there, I reckon their friends would be like "oh that's so cool! You work in the Eiffel Tower!" but some of them have the most boring job ever. Opening the elevator. Letting tourists in. Pressing a button and riding to the observation deck. Letting tourists out. Let tourists in going down the tower, let them out at the bottom and repeat. For eight hours. Yeah. Working in the Eiffel Tower. "Good times". :)

Next time I travel I'm totally investing in a good solid, dependable camera. My camera was $75 and it's a little shy in the night time. It doesn't do its best work, so my photos aren't exactly awe inspiring, which is what happened when I went up the Empire State Building as well. Anyhoo. Live and learn.

In the crowd up on the tower - there must come a point
when they stop letting people up until some come down, right? - the group got separated and after letting someone know, I headed back to the hotel on the Metro on my lonesome.

One reason I've never really traveled before is because a big fear of mine is being lost in a foreign country where I don't speak the language. I can't communicate with anyone.
Luckily, most French people I came across knew at least some English, and my wildly waving hand gestures made up for the English they didn't understand.

The next day we went to Notre Damm, alas, I didn't spot any hunchbacks in the tower. We went to Sacre Coure - another church - and were warned about the gypsies there who would put a piece of coloured string around your wrist and then charge
you 10 euros for it. And they'd hold you up so you lost your group as well. WELL. On the way up the steps (huff, puff, wheeze) I saw others in my group getting around them, they weren't being bothered. And then one Gypsy stepped right in my path, and as I tried to step around him he kept stepping in my path, trying to take my wrist, saying he had a present for me.
At the time, I was wearing my extremely comfy University of Leeds jumper (on the Eiffel Tower I'd learnt just how cold it can get during the evening in Paris, - BELIEVE me) and quite clearly, I was screaming "I'm a tourist, I'm a tourist! Me me me
!!" What an easy mark. But nooooo. I wasn't having a bar of that blue string on my wrist thank you very much. I wanted to KEEP my ten euros.

Sacre Coure was very pretty, the views of Paris wonderful and ther
e was a little shopping area and lots of people drawing portraits. It was very Parisienne. I am a big fan of art deco artwork, and snapped up some prints of old French advertisements. I was being good and only got a couple but regret it now, cos really - I can't exactly get them anywhere else! That I know of...and certainly not at THAT price! We went for a bit more of a walking tour which included the cafe that Amelie worked in, in Amelie and the Moulin Rouge which is in what is essentially the red light district of Paris. Actually, I take it back. It IS the red light district. Next to the classy burlesque of Moulin Rouge was a strip club advertising lap and table top dances. The rest of the street was like that. And I was planning on coming back here at night??

My plan for the afternoon was to go to the Catacombs

Creepy, right? But apparently in September they were vandalised and have been closed for the forseeable future. I. Could. Not. Believe. It. This was one of THE things I wanted to do in Paris. That's okay. The other one was go to a show of the Moulin Rouge.

Instead of the catacombs, I went on the optional trip to Chateau de Versaille.

Erm. Chateau my arse. It's a seriously impressive palace, let me tell ya. There's Gold everywhere, the wallpaper is made of felt, the ceilings are painted like the sistene chapel, the gardens are GORGEOUS... wow. And the town of Versailles is really pretty too! Not a wasted afternoon.
When we got back to Paris I caught the metro (had to change twice) back to the Moulin Rouge and made it EXACTLY on time. To find out it was booked out. Both shows. Come back tomorrow. I COULDN'T come back tomorrow. We were going HOME tomorrow. It was kind of tragic. The two things I wanted to do in Paris fell through. But it just means I'll have to go back some day, doesn't it. And everything else was amazing.

The following morning, yesterday, we went to the Louvre as our last stop of the trip before heading back to the ferry at Calais, and back to England.

The Louvre was really amazing. I'm not all that into art, usually, but I must be becoming cultured. :) Because I have more of an appreciation for art than I used to. How much work goes into it. Those marble statues! Oh my god! The delicate folds of lace that they have created out of MARBLE. I mean HowTF. I get quite gobsmacked at that.

I saw the Mona Lisa too! You just had to follow the people. It was pretty funny actually, that everyone came to take photos of, and with this fairly small portrait of a woman, and then you turn around and no one is paying any attention (slight exaggeration alert) to the MASSIVE painting that takes up the ENTIRE wall opposite. How is it that this one small painting has captivated the world as it has?

Anyway, that was Paris. I made some great friends on the trip as well. Two from Prince Edward Island in Canada (where Anne of Green Gables lived!) who I will totally be visiting because they say it's beautiful and I believe them because I have proof. Anne of Green Gables. And also another from upstate New York. Who woulda thunk that New York has like, FARM LAND and countryside, you know? I'll be seeing you there also! And my new Texas buds, expect to be seeing me sometime in the future! And I hope to see you all in Australia one day as well. But you know, probably not until I get back. To Australia.

Jeez Louise, yet another epic blog. Sorry 'bout that. You still reading this?



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