Old Friends, Paris

Trip Start Nov 30, 2012
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Trip End Jan 30, 2013


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Flag of France  , Île-de-France,
Saturday, December 1, 2012

Wow...what to say about Paris. Let's just say it was all a pleasant surprise =)  Thinking I'd be pretty experienced after spending such an amazing time there 2 years ago I thought I'd just be the chaperon but of course, the city of lights had plenty of surprises up its sleeve.

DAY 1

Arrived after that crazy day from London, I pretty much passed out on the eurostar and didn't wake up until they were announcing that we had arrived at Paris XD.  So needless to say that night was pretty much a write off, find the hostel, go to bed was our plan.  

The next day was when the fun began.  We woke up the ridiculous time of 8:00am...surely an effect of jet lag cos sure as hell I'd never wake up at that time =P.  There was a couple hours till we had to meet Tracy and Maelle so...FOOD!  Of course it didn't help that we had no idea where to go, a common problem for travellers I think but that's alright, in Paris, the streets are never boring.  We finally found a place (aka, we got really hungry and jumped into the first cafe with food), a dark dingy local place where the Parisiens would wander in, grab an expresso at the bar and walk out...Feeling very local with our croissant, orange juice and coffee breakfast.  More wandering and we go through a very awesome district (somewhere along the Rue du Faubourg Montmartre) with an entire laneway dedicated to just local food boutique stores!  And by that I just mean patisseries (eclairs are just as awesome as I remembered them), boulangeries and rotisseries (chicken anyone?) mmmm.  To add to my Parisien points, we bumped into an open air market! (near the end of Rue Rambuteau). Live seafood, chicken, olives, vegetables...you name it and not a tourist in sight!  At least, none as obvious as us, constantly taken pictures and ooh-ing and ahh-ing at everything.

So needless to say we ran a little bit late (sorry Tracy! XD) but finally met up at St Michels complete with bloody fountain and everything (I think the French have a habit of protesting =P).  Was really cool seeing Tracy again, also very jealous that she's on exchange AGAIN and in PARIS...grr.  She even had her favourite places and areas to hang out!  Walked around St Germain and Tracy just pointing things out, laneways with all these cafes, shopping arcades and restaurants...see, jealous...

Met Tracy's friend Amy after lunch with Maelle joining us just a short while after, don't think she had changed at all XD, even had the same poofy scarf as back then...or maybe I just have a very bad memory =P.  She seemed good, working in architecture...perhaps a trip down under some time in the future? =P.  The guys took us to Notre Dame...ah it's even prettier with the sun.  Oh I should mention that the weather was FANTASTIC!!  Cold but blue skies and sunny as anything, Maelle thinks we brought the good Australian with us, I certainly hope so haha.  The new travellers (my bro, sis and Brian) had a nice good look inside but I popped out early to listen to Maelle's travel stories in Queensland...horror stories I should say haha.  All the nightmares of a backpacker come true!  

Next we ticked off the Shakespeare and Co bookstore!  Ah merci beaucoup Maelle for showing us the place, definitely the cosiest, most welcoming and quirkiest place in Paris that I've been =D.  I thought the smell of books and the crooked bookshelves were cool, upstairs there was a piano (with a very badly out of tune key as poor Maelle found out while regaling us an awesome song) and TYPEWRITERS!  And BEDS!! =)...like!.   Checked out Saint Chapelle with its amazing stained glass windows, first time for both Maelle and me =P and the Conciergerie with the very cool gothic castle exhibit and vaulted ceilings.  

Said goodbye to the guys as well that afternoon.  Exchange seems like so long ago now so it was nice to see the guys again just to make sure it wasn't just an awesome dream =P.  Don't think we ever had that much in common but was nice to just reminisce about Sweden and to hear that they were all doing well =).

Wandered along the Seine a little bit more to my favourite bridge in Paris (Pont des Arts) and of course Sin Ki and Brian needed to do the lock thing...*sigh* =P  I swear the locks got even more crazy since last time I was there, let's hope the bridge designers factored in the extra weight.  Eventually ventured to find dinner...took way too long but we finally stumbled into a place that I visited last time!  haha the food wasn't good as last time but I was little nostalgic when I made the realisation.  And to top off our first night in Paris...we ventured to the Eiffel Tower, and this time I went in!  All the way to the top for some amazing night views over the city of light.  Nothing compared to Hong Kong haha but it I was on MY tower and I was very happy.  The engineering still amazes me...and did you know that there was a house at the top of the tower!?

DAY TWO!

Is it just me or am I writing way too much?? Haha, if only my confirmation was this easy to write…=S.  Ok, so the next day we go meet up with Ammara, another very cool French exchange buddy =).  Met at the top of Sacre Coeur for some awesome views over Paris though this time the weather did not treat us as nice, rain every now and then, windy and cloudy…oh so cloudy.  For some weird reason though it seemed to fit better with how I thought of Paris...kinda moody, a feeling of "I'll put up with you, I guess…" =P.  Maybe it’s just because last time I was here the weather was like that too but the cloudy weather seems to compliment the atmosphere of the city well in my head.  Maybe it’s because of the people but then again, I actually don’t have a bad memory of them…slightly aloof perhaps haha but not the snobby spit on your face you bloody tourist image that everyone seems to have...  Anyways, I think the streets of Paris are at its best with some moody clouds in the background though the gardens are another matter!

Anyways met up with Ammara‼  She was as I remembered for the most part, slightly awkward but quirky and friendly as always.  Took us around the Sacre Coeur and around the Montmartre area at the Place du Tertre…was nice to find out that the artists are actually artists in real life and not just pawning off photocopied pieces.  We didn’t actually explore that much I think, just popping in and out of souvenir shops and admiring the art, but I thought it was good not to try too much at once.  Had lunch at an awesome place called Le Tire Bouchon (the cork screw XD)…a great little place suggested to us by Maelle and she wasn’t wrong.  Almost didn’t go since it was closed the first time we checked but luckily we came back!  Awesome cosy vibe with an international twist since they had all these messages stapled on by tourists from around the world on their walls, highly recommended! =D  Was really cool and they even had songs from Moulin Rouge scattered amongst their French standards haha.  Definitely try the crepes and onion soup there, better than another onion soup we’ve had EVER!   (not saying much though haha, we only tried 1 other onion soup in Paris =P).   So again, merci Maelle!  Anyone going there check out our note on the little pillar next to the small flight of descending stairs.

Ammara had to leave after that awesome lunch but we had a lot of fun hanging out =).  Haha surprised to hear she was in to LoL XD and apparently my French is not too bad =P though I still couldn’t understand a thing she said to the waiter >.<  So next we wandered a little around Montmartre and rediscovered my old 'hood’ with Rue d’Abbesses and Lepic and had café at Les Deux Moulins (Amelie’s café).  Checked out Moulin Rouge…a must I guess in Montmartre =P.  Then took the train to Arc de Triomphe.  Walking down Champs Elysees…more walking checking out stores…watched Skyfall since we got tired.  Oh might I add that I ordered the tickets en francais…oh yea!   Had a Tony Burger then headed back.  Doesn’t sound like much right…but man we were so dead.  Plan was to continue down Champs Elysees after dinner to Place de la Concorde but we were so tired.  The others never did see the obelisk…and I didn’t get to visit my favourite building in Paris! =(  The Petit Palais.

DAY THREE

Man, I’m getting tired just writing this…

Last day in Paris…so fast but this was the day I rediscovered Paris =).  Walked over to the Canal Saint-Martin for some awesome views, not super picturesque but it was a side of Paris I hadn’t seen before.  Slightly more dirty and industrial, it wasn’t pretty but it was new =P  AND some very cool graffiti too =).  Angled off into the Marais afterwards and man where was I last time I came!?  I don’t know what is my favourite now, Montmartre or le Marais but I really wish I had more time to explore this area.  The masses of jewellery stores aside, the winding alleys and haphazard houses did not seem like anything in Paris I’d seen before.  Outside was grand but in there it was the charm =P  cheesy non?  It did help that we had some awesome evening sun breaking through the clouds every now and then to light up the wet cobble stones =)  Check it out!  Crossed over to the otherside to the Latin Quartier…another little winding area with awesome laneways!  Though the hordes of tourist restaurants kinda ruined things.  Breezed past Sorbonne and its students towards the Pantheon before having lunch in the Luxemburg Gardens and there were even a few chrysanthemums bravely blooming in the wintery cold.  Here I kinda missed sun but what can you do…

Our final mission, the Musee d’Orsay.  I really enjoyed the paintings last time and I really did again with the awesome impressionist art.  Discovered the names this time of the guys I really liked…Sisley, Signac and Monet…and Renoir!  Everyone talks about the faces and I didn’t get it but I think you have to see it for yourselves, they really do come alive.  To my shame/pride, I actually left an hour before our meeting time for...wait for it…macarons!  Last time I skipped the macaron experience but Ammara had suggested La Duree before we left so away I went!  On a quest to get macarons!  Power walked up the Jardin des Tuileries, crossed the Place de la Concorde, saw the sunset behind the Eiffel Tower, sped up to La Duree and went back to d’Orsay all in record time =P.  Only to discover there was a La Duree right next to the museum…of course…*sigh*  But you know what, it was worth it =)  They were some of the most amazing macarons I’ve had!  Especially loved that aftertaste that hit you with all these amazing flavours.

So that’s it for Paris, headed on a train that night to Barcelona after a touristy dinner complete with duck confit and crème brule.  There you have it, if you’ve made it this far then congratulations cos I can barely believe that I’m still typing!  Was gonna do a summary but stuff that…need to do Barcelona before this ferry hits Rome‼
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