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Published: September 25th 2009
London to Paris
Waking up at 4h00 was a breeze since we were SUPER excited to be on our way to the City of Love. The taxi picked us up at 5h00, dropped us at the train station, we traveled by train and tube to arrive at St Pancras station, its HUGE!! Almost as big as an airport. Since we were a little early Leon had a cup of tea and Melinda spoils herself with hot chocolate, with whipped cream & a block of chocolate that she stirs in for sweetness! It’s heavenly!
The EuroStar train is very comfortable and neat, we fall asleep easily and when we woke up we were already in France. We arrived at Gare du Nord, the station is huge and you can quickly see that you're now in Paris. The architecture of the old building is beautiful.
From the station we started looking for the hotel to drop of all the baggage, and explore Paris. As we walked further and further from the station we start getting nervous about the area we find ourselves in, the streets are full of doggy looking places and it’s a bit
filthy. We realized that we were in the mostly indian and arabian part of town as everywhere you looked there was indian shops around. If I was looking to buy a sari, this would be shopping heaven, but this is not what Melinda had in mind for the city of love. We soon entered a scruffy neighbourhood and there were gangster looking africans everywhere. By now Melinda is not only sweating from the heavy bag, nervousness is also getting the better of her, and just before she gets a full fledged panic attack, Leon whips out the Paris map and voila! We were walking in the wrong direction. We should have taken Ferdi’s advice and packed a compass.
We finally found our Hotel and the Hotel Bellevue was a very welcome sight for sore eyes (and tired legs). The staff is extremely helpful and friendly and after a quick walk around the area of the hotel to get orientated we were off to see the 1 main attraction of Paris! Eiffel Tower here we come!!
We quickly figure out the transport system, bought a "carnet" (10 train tickets) and took the train to as close as we can
Very comfortable for sleeping
get to the tower, we had to walk about 200m, if it was even that much. The Eiffel Tower is spectacular, we thought that we knew what it would look like, but there is no way to prepare one for the actual size and structure if you see it from the grounds and gardens around it. Melinda had to suck it up as this was her chance to make-up for giving in to the fear of high stairs in Scotland.
We decided to use cheaper option with the shorter queue, so we climbed the 700 stairs to the 2nd level, and the view was amazing. Melinda didn’t worry about the height at all. I have no idea why I sometimes get freaked out by heights and other times I enjoy it. The climb up the stair was like climbing up a fire escape. You can see through the gaps in the mesh like structure to the ground and see all the tiny people scurrying around like ants at the bottom. But the view from there was breathtaking. Compared to the view of Dublin, this was “angelic”. Most of the buildings are built using a very light coloured stone. Very
classy city. To reach the top of the tower we took the elevator, and when the doors opened our breaths were taken away by the sights! Simply spectacular. It’s understandable why so many people get engaged at the top of the Eiffel Tower, and to celebrate you can buy a super small glass of champagne for a mere 15 Euros! Needless to say we passed on that. We wanted to stay a bit longer to see the lights of Paris, but as in the rest of Europe the sun goes to bed way to late and we decided to rather use what is left of the day to get back to the hotel and get some food. At 19h00 it’s still bright outside. It’s wonderful to have long days that we can use to see everything there is to see, but next time we come it will be closer to winter so we can experience a bit more of the night life.
We struggled to understand the people in the restaurants. We stayed in a part of Paris that looks like we imagined Italy will look. There is a lot of Italians in all the street cafés and they
seem to “own” this part of Paris. We bought the best pizza we had in a long time. Real oven baked pizza with a thin crispy crust. We have been pleasantly surprised by the toppings we picked, as we don’t understand a word of the menu.
Back at the hotel Melinda’s feet were throbbing with pain. After convincing Leon she’s not just being a drama queen, he had a look at the boot. She’s not much of a complainer, but the pain was unbearable. The hiking boots she’s worn for most of the trip has a thin innersole that is starting to wear through. Underneath the sole Hi-Tech imprinted their brand logo in hard plastic that is damaging her heel. The worst thing is that Melinda didn’t pack her other walking shoes as we had limited space in our hiking bags, and she only packed one pair of walking shoes and then some fancy boots. Luckily their not high heels, so she’ll try them tomorrow. There is no way she’ll be able to walk with her hiking boots if we don’t replace the soles of her shoes.
Hope tomorrow goes well.
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