City of Lights

Trip Start Oct 22, 2005
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Saturday, September 2, 2006

Up early (with slightly bleary eyes) we headed to the Ann Frank House but unfortunately it was packed and had a huge line of people waiting to get in. Deciding to give it a miss as we had a bus to catch to Paris we toddled off to the bus station. After a few hours on the bus, doing what we normally do, snoozing, reading and staring blankly out the window, we arrived in Brussels and hopped off for a short break. Not much to see here around the bus and train station. We had planed to go to Brussels but it got bumped off the list as we are racing to Italy for our flight out on the 8th. Back on again and we were heading to Paris, the romantic City of Lights. The trip passed in a blur with the countryside whizzing past, French chatter behind us and the whiff of body odour (why cant people learn to wear deodorant?).

As we pulled in the station we were welcomed by a little kid from the bus vomiting almost on our bags and shoes. Hmmmm, luckily we were just out of the splash zone. We negotiated the Paris metro ticket system which had an English option but still didn't make sense to us. One of the joys of arriving in a new country is working out the local transport, every country has a different system and by the time you have it figured out, it is time to leave. Funny that you can now cross the borders into most European countries without the need for a passport or quarantine check, but they can't assimilate their transport ticket systems.

We found our way to an area noted to have cheaper accommodation and wandered into a hostel which was full, but the lovely owner rang his friend and got us a room a two minute walk away. What a nice room it was too, never before have we seen dark green carpeted walls but trust us it is a godsend to have dark carpet on the walls if you want to sleep in, undisturbed by the morning daylight.

Sleep in we did and then we wandered through the streets of Paris seeing all the usual sights, we posed in front of the Arc De Triomphe, marveling at it's likeness to the Patuaxi in the previously French governed Vientiane, Laos. We stared in absolute awe at the Eiffel Tower shocked by the mere fact that it is brown not black. Now be honest those of you that haven't been there thought it was black didn't you? Or gray maybe but actually it is a light brown colour. Anyway it is magnificent and HUGE. Deciding to climb the stairs instead of taking the lift we checked out the Parisian views, but to be honest we both enjoyed staring up at it more than looking down from it. From the top we noticed that Paris is a very white city (all the buildings are lightly coloured) and much cleaner than we imagined.

After a few hours at the tower we continued walking and had a look at the Louvre gardens and the much publicised and controversial glass pyramid at its entrance. From there we wandered on to the see the Notre Dame Cathedral. No hunchback here but we did sit down for Mass (Megan's first since her Catholic High School days) and had a look at the many paintings and stained glass windows.

After a very long day walking around we had planned to have a picnic dinner under the stars, looking up at the Eiffel Tower, but we couldn't wait until it got dark so we ate in our "lovely" hotel room. When the sun finally set we did head back to the grassy banks of the Chaillot Palace, a bottle of Moet champagne and chocolate mousse dessert in hand, and watched as the Eiffel Tower lit up the sky with its millions of glittering lights.

We did go into the Louvre the next day and to be honest the Mona Lisa is a tiny square of a painting, surrounded by a truck load of people trying to appreciate and understand it. Megan had more fun trying to visualise scenes from the book the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown that had sections based in the Louvre.

We don't seem to learn from our mistakes in regards to cheap airlines. Due to our lack of time we decided to fly from Paris to the second most romantic city in the world, Venice. Finding the crowded bus to the airport was a little interesting though it did take us out to an airport in the middle of nowhere. We arrived in Venice, worked out where we were on the map then wandered to every hotel in the area trying to find somewhere to stay. Everything was booked up or majorly expensive but luckily a couple of friendly South African girls lead us to their hostel, hidden down a maze of turns, across multiple bridges and canals and we took the last two beds available.
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