Thursday 12th February 2004
Jumping out of my skin here today.
I am going to Paris...tomorrow!!!
It is a really strange feeling - but a good one too!
So so so so excited!!!
Mum - the train station that we arrive at Gard du Nor (or however you spell it) is the train station in the movie "Amelie"
Dad - better be ready for a mountain of photos... I have a feeling there might be more than 100 - oops!
Friday 13th February to Sunday 15th February 2004
Hope you've got a long time...5 A4 pages!
So it all started on Friday 13th .spooky!
Actually it was a bit
I was supposed to meet Karen in the kitchen but was in the TV room having coffee with Adrian so I sent her an SMS to let her know.
About 30 seconds later I get a phone call from her saying that she wasnt even out of bed yet.
Needless to say she was panicking slightly!
She had packed luckily and I went up to assist with toiletries etc.
It was quite funny and she kept apologising but I said not to worry and the only reason we would worry is if we missed the Eurostar - which we didnt!
We got to Waterloo Station and found the tour guide.
An Aussie dude named Shane.
I checked us in and while I was standing there one of the guys asked Shane what he should do if he forgot his passport.
Should he try and go through without it.
Shane said that they wouldnt let him travel to another country without it so he had to go home and get it and catch the later train over and make is own way to the hotel.
Quite a hassle, I reckon.
The three of us were quite disappointed that they didnt give us a passport stamp for Paris but anyway we got on the train.
The train was quite comfy but I was a bit worried about the fact that half the seats face forward and half face back
It was a bit strange going backward so me and Amanda switched around - see the photos
We travelled pretty slowly through England and then we got to the tunnel and after 20 minutes of darkness we were in France!
There was lots of fog most of the way across the countryside and then all of a sudden there was bright blue sky.
Amanda and I who have never been to France before played a stupid game saying French Truck, French Farm, French Pig, French Road, French Fence, French Graffiti - it probably doesnt sound that funny to you but we were laughing and quite excited
Dad, there is one hour difference between here and Paris but none of us changed our watches because we had set them to GMT the weekend before and didnt want to change it - we changed the time on our phones and had to remember to add an hour if we looked at our watches!
We pulled into Gare du Nord on time and it is such a beautiful train station
They filmed a lot of Amelie there so I took heaps of photos.
We had about 40 minutes to kill before the coach arrived so we wandered around the station.
We found a loo (which we had to pay for) called McClean I got a photo of that too!
The bus arrived and we all got on and headed off.
We drove by the Arc De Triomphe
It is apparently the most dangerous roundabout in the world and I know why.
I reckon the cars were actually touching us and each other on the way round.
It was bizarre.
We drove into the Louvre, Napoleans Tomb, through the red light district and past the Moulin Rouge.
We could see the Sacre-Coeur but the streets were too small for the bus to get up to.
We also drove past the Notre-Dame.
It was quite bizarre to see all of those things for the first time in the space of about two hours.
The last stop on our bus trip before the hotel was the Eiffel Tower
It was just amazing
The weather was stunning and we all jumped off the bus and took photos mine turning out absolutely brilliant
We got to the hotel - which wasnt a whole lot better than the hostel but it did us all we had to do was sleep there.
After we checked in and unpacked and paid for our night cruise - it was 30 euro, we decided what to do.
We decided to go up to the Sacre-Coeur and wander around Montmartre until dark so that we could see the red light district and more particularly The Moulin Rouge at night.
We caught the Metro (French equivalent of the London Underground) and went up the hill.
It was a big bloody hill but it was gorgeous.
There were people sitting all over the steps looking out over the city.
We went in and it was quite amazing.
Very big and very beautiful.
We came out and sat on the steps too and just watched people.
Just in front of us there were about three guys with guitars jamming
Just playing quietly a few songs that we did know to sing along with
There was a big group of Irish school kids who were being ordered around by their teachers
The teachers werent having much luck but it was quite funny to watch
Then the guys with the guitars starting playing the Pink Floyd song that goes Hey, teacher, leave those kids alone
The kids all started singing along and everyone was laughing - including the teachers
After a while we wandered back down to the road and the carousel.
We walked around Montmartre for a bit but there wasnt much there.
Just a lot of lovely streets and buildings.
I loved that area.
It reminded me completely of the move Amelie.
We found a crepe-man on the road and he made us a chocolate crepe with Nutella and it was sensational.
We then eventually made it up to the Moulin Rouge and took heaps of photos.
It was really really lovely.
Just like it looks in the movie.
We only looked from the outside though because it was very expensive to go to a show.
We caught the train back home and went to a restaurant call Hippapotamus for dinner.
It was just a normal meal - nothing too French or exotic.
We then went to the pub near the hotel and met up with a few people from the tour - we chatted with everyone about what they did that day and we had a drink.
Very expensive so we only had one and then back to the hotel for bed because we had a big day the next day.
We got up early and had breakfast.
I had three chocolate croissants - they were only little.
We also stole yoghurt and fruit and spoons and cheese and bread rolls to have as snacks during the day!
We werent the only ones - we spied another couple doing it too.
We left the hotel at 8.30am and caught the train to the Arc de Triomphe
We were going to buy our museum pass there for 18 euro which gets us into heaps of places and we get to jump queues and it is cheaper than paying for everything separately.
The only thing was that it didnt open until 10.00am and we had a schedule to kept do.
We didnt really need to go in because we were going to get our city view from the Tower on Sunday.
We wandered around and took heaps of photos and looked for an accident but we didnt see one bugger - there were a few close calls though.
We then walked down the Avenue De Champs Elysees - it is full of lots of way-too-expensive shops including flash vehicle showrooms.
We wanted a coffee and I couldnt not find a good one anywhere so we figured we would give Maccas a go.
It was then that I remember Royale with Cheese (Brett will know this).
I took a photo of the menu and it was then that the trouble started.
One of the staff came over to me and said that it is strictly forbidden to take photos of the menu.
I said that I was sorry and would not do it again.
She asked me to delete it.
I said no.
She said do it.
I said no.
She said again it is strictly forbidden to take photos of prices.
I said that I didnt have prices.
She said show me.
I did and there were no prices but she still wanted me to delete it.
I said that I wouldnt because she had changed her mind and first said no prices which there wasnt and now is saying I still have to.
Then her manager came over and said that they would call the police if I didnt delete it so I deleted it!
I just wanted a picture of a sign that said Royale with cheese to show Brett!
Never mind It was pretty funny.
I was going to take one of the menu outside but they had placed a staff member on the door to watch us leave so I couldnt do it.
We came across another Maccas but they still had their breakfast menu up so I couldnt get one there either and never came across another one.
They were the only two fast food stores we saw the whole time we were the except when we were on our way to the train station on Sunday and drove past a KFC.
Dad, they also have a coffee shop devoted to Nescafe so if you go out for coffee so dont have to have that fancy shit and you can just get your Blend 43!
I thought you would like that.
We kept walking and came to a perfume shop.
We went in and spent about an hour trying to decide which one to buy.
I bought a lovely one by Calvin Klein called Eternity - Love.
Karen brought a nice one too.
We stood in the middle of the road and we were able to take photos in each direction from back up to the Arc De Triomphe and down through Place De La Concorde to the Louvre.
We crossed Place De La Concorde and found another crepe man so we brought one of those and asked a fellow tourist to take a photo of us eating them
Then we went into the Louvre
We brought our museum passes there which means that we get to avoid the really really long queues.
It cost 18 euro and we get to walk straight past everybody.
We were down inside the pyramid and I took a photo up and out
It turned out pretty cool.
We saw the Venus De Milo and of course the Mona Lisa - that was pretty cool.
We then walked across the river to the Sainte Chapelle which has the most beautiful stained glass windows and I was able to get some really good photos of that to.
It was one of the nicest I have been in on the inside.
We had lunch at a little café and then headed to the metro station to go to the Musee DOrsay
We had a little drama at the station as Karens ticket wouldnt work so she had to get down on her hands and knees and crawl under - never mind we got there.
There was heaps of Monet in there and I loved it.
It was also a beautiful museum.
It was an old train station and I got some good photos of that too.
I also had a look at some Van Gogh but I dont like his stuff as much.
Saw a gorgeous Renoir too.
When we walked outside we were done sightseeing for the day as we had to get back to the hotel to change and get ready for the cruise.
We had our museum pass still and it was valid until the end of the day.
The line had about 300 people in it waiting to get in so Amanda came up with the bright idea of selling the passes because they dont have to wait to get in and we will sell it to them for cheaper than the price of the entrance.
We found three likely looking girls and asked if they spoke English.
It turned out they were American.
We sold them our tickets for 7 euro each and then they went right up the front and straight in.
The tickets are usually 8.50 euro so we all got a good deal!
We went home and ended up on the wrong side of the train barrier so we all jumped over and then waved at the CCTV camera and ran off.
We went and brought wine and cheese and crackers for the cruise.
Had a quick dinner - Maccas - yes, I had a Royale with Cheese!
And then caught the metro back up to the Opera House to meet the bus to take us to the boat cruise.
The Opera House is stunning but at night it was just beautiful
My photos really dont do it justice but you might get the idea
We drove down to the boat and jumped on.
We sat at the back so that we could get a view from both sides and opened the cheese and crackers and wine and had a few drinks and watched the Paris go by.
It was stunning.
The Notre-Dame at night (apart from the Eiffel Tower obviously) is by far my favourite sight I have seen so far
They say it is a great gothic church and I think that it looks it best at night
The photo is not good so I brought two postcards (I will send one home) so that you can see what I mean
The Eiffel Tower all lit up and orange and it is beautiful.
Then every hour the lights sparkle for about ten minute
I got a great shot of that
Everything was beautiful and I am so glad that we did the cruise at night.
We saw the mini Statue of Liberty but it wasnt lit up so you got a postcard of that too!
Going under the old bridges and past the buildings was lovely
Then we did the bus tour.
That night there had been a soccer match between Tunisia and Morocco - there are a lot of ex-pats from both countries living in France so the place was going nuts.
Tunisia won and there were people hanging out of cars with Tunisian flags and tooting horns etc.
It didnt seem violent at all but the bus driver took us onto the Arc De Triomphe which was a bit scary with all the cars.
We drove past the Moulin Rouge and the Sacre-Coeur and the Louvre which wasnt actually lit up - never mind.
Past the Eiffel Tower and the Opera House - it is so lovely at night.
We drove through the tunnel where Princess Di crashed and saw a big chunk of concrete out of the pole.
The bus driver swerved towards it for us it was quite funny!
We got home and were far too tired and sore to go to the pub with the others so we went back to the room, finished the wine and at some more and chatted and then went to bed.
We had more sightseeing to do the next day.
We had to pack and put our bags in a different room and be checked out so we got that organised before breakfast.
At breakfast we stole more food for the day - love those chocolate croissants!
Our first stop was the Eiffel Tower
We got there pretty early and there wasnt a long queue.
I reckon we were at the top within about 25 minutes of lining up.
The elevator ride was a bit freaky
It isnt very big but it goes pretty damn high and it is glass all round and on the roof.
It was a bit overcast so we couldnt see heaps but it was lovely anyway
We hung around for a while looking but it was pretty cold so we went down to the second level
I had sent Brett a text message form the top and he rang me when we were on the second level - no hello just a Dont fall off that fking thing, will you!
We found a seat and sat down and ate chocolate croissants for morning tea on the Eiffel Tower - that is so cool!
When we got down to the first level we could see the queues had really grown
The photo I got of that was really good I though
I got photos of it every day.
My ones on Friday are definitely the best.
Anyway, we were heading back to the station to go to the Notre-Dame and saw a restaurant that sold snails so we went in - we all wanted to give them a go!
They were pretty nice actually.
I had expected them to be like oysters which I hate but they werent
You will see the photos the nice Irish couple at the next table took for us.
We were such tourists but it was fun!
Then we went to the Notre-Dame
It was so big and not quite as nice during the day but lovely anyway.
There was a big chandelier that had obviously been brought down for repair work and it was massive
I dont know that my photo does it much justice but you will get the idea
We went around the back of it and heard some music playing so we followed it and ended up in the middle of a bridge watching a guy on a clarinet type thing and another dude on a piano playing 1920s music.
It was great and they were really good.
We sat down and watched them for a while and I took a lovely photo of the buildings near the bridge.
We then by accident found the Latin Quarter.
It was a great little area with heaps of shops and restaurants tucked into the little streets.
We found another crepe man and had the best one we had had since we got there.
It was chocolate and banana and it was soooooo good.
We then went back out to the river to do some shopping at the little stalls.
They had some lovely old things and quite a bit of crap too.
I brought a few more postcards.
We had a bit of time to kill and were pretty cold so we went back into the Latin Quarter and found a bar for a hot chocolate/coffee and sat in there for a while.
We then decided we were hungry and looked for a restaurant.
We were reading a sign outside a Greek restaurant and the host came out and told us how it was the best restaurant around and we should come in.
He said that he would give us a free cocktail if we did - so we did!
The meal was great I had a lovely baked-eggplant-vegetable-thing and it was so yummy.
Then we were stuffed and it was time to go.
We caught the metro back to the hotel and then got on the bus went back trough Diannas tunnel the other way - not swerving this time) and we back to the train station.
We had a coffee and went pretty much straight through the passport inspection - we got a stamp!
YAY - my passport now says Paris - France and sat around
I had forgotten that we needed to go through British Immigration as well but obviously there was no problem.
Everyone was tired and the train ride was pretty quite.
We had the tour guide with us so we chatted to him a bit but generally just chilled out.
Caught the tube home from Waterloo and crashed straight away.
Linda was up so she wanted to know how I liked her homeland but we didnt talk heaps - I was far too tired!
That is it.
Hope it wasnt too boring and long winded and that you get a feel for my little holiday
Friday 20th February 2004
It is soooooo cold!
The temperature is currently 3 degrees and with wind it feels like -1 degrees!
It is colder than when it snowed.
Monday 23rd February 2004
I move house next weekend and I am really looking forward to it
There will be photos - don't worry about that.
I went to a travel show on the weekend --- and I want to go everywhere!
Anyone gonna buy me a lottery ticket?
I get a 10% discount if I book Egypt by the end of March
but it is only £35 or so so I am not sure I need to make a committment like that so far out.
I want to go and see the "Lion King" in March
I also would like to go to Wales as well.
There are a couple of tours that look okay.
One is a day trip to Cardiff and the other is to the high coutry and Snowdonia which looks lovely as well.
Hey, I might do them both!
And I found a good trip to Germany!
Also, the Australian Netball Team is playing a game against England in Birmingham on 20th March and I was thinking up going up for the game.
I might actually look at the draw and see if they are playing near London 'cause it might be cheaper.
Weather prediction for tonight is "-1" with late snow showers...chilly!
Snow again tomorrow too - Brrrr!
Tuesday 24th February 2004
I am going to see the Socceroos play!
They are playing South Africa on Tuesday 30th March at 8.00pm at Loftus Road, London
I am booking two definately and will fax the order first thing tomorrow morning.
£15 gets - a pre-game party, ticket with a group of 500 Aussies and a T-shirt.
I have organised a group of 25 of us to go from my work and the hostel and some other friends too....
It should be awesome!
We even got a South African to come in our group - poor bloke! - if we win he will get a hard time and if we lose he will still get a hard time!
There are also a couple of Kiwis and Derek (Canadian) wanted to know why I hadn't asked him so I did and he is coming too!
Friday 27th February 2004
I walked to work while little flakes of snow floated around me...
it didn't settle but was so pretty...