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Published: January 12th 2015
What? 9 days in Paris? that was the comment that I got from my sister when I told her I'd be going to Paris for the year end holiday with family. She thought I was insane, but she had no idea how it's like traveling with my teenage kids! She decided to join us anyway. Our family of four took advantage of the promotional airfare offered by Malaysian Airlines, which flew us in with Airbus 380. It's economy class was spacious enough, and its high ceiling made us feel less cramped among the hundreds of passengers in the same flight. Fortunately, the inflight entertainment had kept me busy as I was able to catch up all the movies missed. Arriving Paris early in the morning, we took a cab from the airport which was efficiently handled as the cab organiser noticed the four big luggages plus the two carry on we had and gave us a van without being asked. The hotel check in was painless as we managed to get one of the two rooms checked in before noon (thanks, Meridien Etoile). The first day for us was just going around nearby around Champ Elysees. Somehow, I had expected a
much grander look of the famous street, full of branded shops. Instead, other than Louis Vuitton, I saw the same stores available in Singapore: Zara, Gap and Massimo Dutti; this must be the byproduct of globalisation. This year, the Christmas decoration on the street was quite modest, which might reflect the state of the economy. Jet lagged, we retired early for the day.
The next morning, my sister arrived from Jakarta taking the same Malaysian Airlines flight and took the shuttle bus which stopped in front of our hotel. As she was more knowledgeable with Paris, she was able to help us navigating the metro (I'd have been hopeless) and led us to Eiffel Tower. Strangely at the metro station, we kept hearing warning of pick pockets. Even though we were aware of the rampant pick pocket in Paris (both my brother and sister had been the victims years ago in two different occasions), we had no idea the government acknowledged the issue and warned visitors! The cab driver told us the modus operandi changed too. It's no longer the old trick when some one asked for a direction while small kids surrounded us and did the job. Today,
many are teenagers acting like tourists, pretending queueing at the metro ticket counter of which wait can be long and gave them plenty of opportunity to do the job.
Unfortunately, Paris had been gloomy and grey when we were there, and I was not able to get my dream shot of the Eiffel Tower (those taken when the tower starts to light with magical blue backdrop). After our delicious late lunch, we decided to check out La Valle Outlet Village, located near Disney Park. It was not as big as Woodburry Common Premium in New York, but it has some great brands such as Ralph Lauren, Tods, Loewe and even Givency. It's still worth a visit if you have plenty of time like us.
The following day, we decided to have a city tour and went for the hop on hop off bus, which turned out one of the best decisions that we made during the trip as we got to see many historical buildings such as Petit Palais, Grand Palais National Gallery and Musee de L'armee etc. The sight was amazing; buildings built in the 18th century were line up meticulously. I could not help admiring the
impressive city planning back then (and even now as the government insisted on preserving the authenticity of its look while modernise it). I could see how the horse carts roaming around the city during the Napoleon days. Kudos to the government which has such a grand vision to transform this historic place becoming a charming and modern city. I just wish some countries in Asia would follow its steps in preserving the historical buildings. Even the cafes and boutiques along the street are beautiful designed with such high taste! Unfortunately, we didn't get the chance to visit every single one of them as by afternoon, Paris had turned wet and we ended up at Gallery Laffayette. It was a Christmas eve so the store closed earlier.
On the Christmas day, we decided to go to Disney as all other places were literally closed. We didn't realise that all other tourists had planned the same. The Disney Park and Studio were packed, and queue for each ride and attraction was long. The size reminded me of the one in Hong Kong but it felt older. We had an unpleasant situation even though it was rectified in the end. My husband
paid the ticket in cash EUR400 for the five of us, only told a few minutes later that he gave only EUR300. It didn't make sense because my husband was not the careless type. He had counted and recounted the money before he handed in. Confused, he gave additional EUR100 and took the five tickets (in hindsight, he should have asked the lady at the ticket counter to count the money in front of him or pay the ticket using credit card; it didn't occur to us this kind of experience would happen at Disney). Before we headed home, I insisted reporting the incident to the Adminstrative Office, and after a long explanation by my husband, the ticketing officer apologised and gave him EUR100. He said the lady at the ticket counter had miscounted our money and when she wanted to call us, we had left (seriously?).
Post Christmas on Friday, we had expected crazy sales happening just like the Boxing Day in London. Off we went Gallery Lafayette after breakfast and were so happy to see the blue, yellow and green tags on each items displayed only to find out later that the sales were applicable for local
members only! We had our Gallery Lafayette membership from Indonesia but it did not apply. Only later on we found out that it was a government regulation that general sales started on January 7th. The next few days after my husband left, the temperature dropped to sub zero for which reasons we spent most of the time in either malls, boutiques or cafes sipping hot chocolate. Without realising it, it was time to leave; we had spent the entire 9 days in Paris and didn't even do much! we should have gone up to the Eiffel Tower, took a river cruise or went to Versailles. We who came from he tropical country found it too freezing to roam around in the sub zero degree. Did we have a good time? yes, we did! would we come back again? of course, but not during winter.
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