London to Paris

Trip Start Mar 23, 2006
1
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24
Trip End Ongoing


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Friday, April 28, 2006

So we all (ok most of the group) met our guide Elini (can't spell it properly) at our hotel in Bayswater about 7.30am to fill out forms etc and be talked at, not much talking happened since she was mostly going to go over everything once we met everyone else in Paris. The group was going to have about 42 people in it once we met the others in Paris, then later on when we got to Rome we would loose some and gain others and then the same again in Vienna.

We all survived the trip on the Eurostar over and were informed by Elini to be VERY careful at the train station since some locals were good at trying to walk off with your luggage and then try and convince you its their bag not yours when you confront them about it. We made it to the coach/bus without loosing anyone or anything.

We had a couple of hours to kill after checking in before our first group dinner. I managed to find myself in a small group heading towards the Eiffel Tower. It was al we really had time for since I remember the queue took about an hour to get through. The view from the highest level we were able to get to was amazing (The 4th level I think? The top one anyway which had a lookout area around it) It was cold and very VERY windy but well worth freezing our bones for. It was strange seeing the metal of it was brown rather than the black I kept imagining it to be.

Fact: there are 2.5 million rivets holding the Eiffel Tower together.

That night we had out first group dinner. We managed to find the place before the organised time and were seated and waiting for the guide and driver to turn up by the time we were suppose to meet (they were a little late and it was hard trying to wave at people to tell them they have the right place when you barely had time to meet them 2hrs earlier! The food was good, it was strange adjusting to a lemon slice in your coca cola, and people were complaining about having to tip when they weren't used to it but over all it was a good night.


29th.

That morning we all piled into the coach for a tour around Paris. As we drove Elini pointed things out to us and gave us some details of the history around us. (I have a feeling she isn't too fond of the "Frenchies")

Our tour started by driving past a stadium that is used for concerts etc there in Paris, both Madonna and Eric Clapton had been there. She also told us because there is grass planted on a steep angle up the side they had to have a machine made especially to cut it, the blades are held up by a form of crane (I'm going from memory here, I was too tired to make proper notes that night and had too much to look at to concentrate or writing.) Near the stadium was a form of library, which holds a copy of almost every book published in France. The library was built in such a way that when you look at it from a distance it looks like bookshelves for an open book.

We drove past Bastille, or where it had been. We saw Notre Dame from across the water; it looked amazing even from a distance. While near there we drove past a Kings palace, which later turned, into their prison (during the revolution I believe.) We went past the Musse du Louvre (The Louvre) and were told how if someone stared at each painting, or work of art in there, for 3 minutes (It think) it would take over 6 years to get around the place.

We went past the Opera house that was built by King Louis. The Opera house was built on instruction of the King since one day he went to an Opera at another place and someone tried to assassinate him (and failed) so he took it as a sign that it was because it was a small theatre he was at and if he had a large, glamorous one built it would solve the problem. And no one would want to kill him again.

We passed through the Place de la Concorde which had an obelisk from the Temple of Luxor in the centre. It was strange seeing it there since I had been to the temple and it was kind of sad to see it without its sister one which is still in Luxor.

We drove around the Arc de Triomphe where there is a car accident every 6 minutes. It you wanted to have a closer look, or possibly climb inside it, you had to go through an underpass to get to it since there are so many lanes around it and so many maniacs driving in those lanes.

We saw the Champs Elysees but didn't go down it. We had a quick look at the outside of the Hotel des Invalides built for injured war soldiers to get them off the streets. The sight of them offended the King of that time; I think it was a Louis again. (I should have written notes as I went...) We saw the side of the Musee D'Orsa, which houses paintings from the Impressionist movement (If only I had time to see it!)

We drove past the Ecole Militaire, a grand military training ground that has a monument of Peace across from it. (A sculpture with the word "peace" written in all the languages of the world, I think.)

We, of course, saw the Eiffel tower in the distance was we went and I think I may have seen an art gallery with work by Badr, the Egyptian artist whose house we went to.

After the tour we were dropped off near the lonely obelisk and set free to roam for the rest of the day. I joined up with a small group, which included the only 2, other New Zealanders on the tour. (At that time.)

We went to the Louvre which was huge, it was confusing enough to find where we were suppose to get our tickets from- too many long lines of people everywhere. It was an amazing experience to see so much art worked I had studied. We didn't have much time there since we only had that day in Paris before moving on s we didn't see much. Mona Lisa, who I was told was very small, was larger than I imagined but more beautiful than I imagined (even tough there was always a huge group staring at her and a rope keeping us all from getting too close.)

After that we managed to find Notre Dame, and lunch. I'm not very religious, I don't consider myself to be, but going inside Notre Dame was a very powerful experience. Even though there was a lot of people also walking around the roped off walkway with me I was amazed and touched by the place. It was amazing the inside of it; I didn't know where to look there was so much to see. We weren't allowed to take photos inside but people did anyway, most were at least considerate enough to not use the flash on their cameras but it was so annoying walking around such a spiritual place, where people were deep in prayer in places, and seeing the light of a camera flash going off every now and again.

At some point during the day we managed to find a very expensive chocolate shop that had been pointed out on the coach tour (it was by accident that we found it, we got a little lost.) I'd recommend that anyone in Paris go there but I can't remember its name.

After walking around until our feet were sore we went back to the hotel in the hope to find dinner in a little local place. We picked up a few people at the hotel who we hadn't met properly yet (another Kiwi couple!) and went for a wander to find dinner. We managed to discover a flash looking restaurant that seemed to have main meals for 12€ and were able to get seats but when we got the menu while we were seated the cost had suddenly jumped to being from 24€ up. So we all decided to extract ourselves from there and find a much cheaper local pasta and pizza place and got take-away and took it back to the hotel to eat.

That night most of the tour group were going to the Moulin Rouge. That morning we were all asked if we wanted to go and money was collected (we were warned the night before about it being an option.) It was going to cost 90€ to see and I decided not to go. I was told a while back (Thank you Teeba) that it was mostly just a group of woman dancing about with tinsel hanging over their naked bodies and I didn't really want to spend that much money on that. I found out the next day from several people that I didn't miss much. My room mate also had told me that when she was younger she wanted to be a Moulin Rouge dancer when she grew up, now that she has grown up (and after seeing the show) she made some comment that she didn't really want to be now since her breasts were too large since all the dancers had small breasts (I think that was pretty much the only thing that put her off the idea.) Interesting girl that one.
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