Alex greeted me at the Gare du Nord train station in Paris after my flight from St Petersburg with a backbreaking hug - she quite literally ran at me and almost knocked me down. We walked back to the hostel then went out for dinner and prepared ourselves for Disneyland! We caught the train in early the next morning and arrived mid-morning to our 'Santa Fe' Disneyland hotel which was 'Cars' themed - so cute. We dumped our stuff and caught the shuttle bus down the road. First stop - lunch. Buffets are a big thing in Disneyland but so expensive! There aren't many options so we just sucked it up, paid 30 euros and ate as much as we could! Next stop - space mountain. We're both pretty hardcore ride enthusiasts so while some might think you'd need to take a few moments after a buffet before hitting the rides, not us. It was so good. I will admit that I had a headache for at least 2 hours afterwards BUT it was worth it.
Over the next 3 days we methodically made our way through the park seeing all the sights and going on all the rides we could. We hit up space mountain some more and took afternoon siestas so that we could stay awake through the evening fireworks and light display that shows nightly on Sleeping Beauty's castle. I think I can safely say that it was both mine and Alex's favourite part.
I feel I can also safely say that 3 days at Disneyland is a physically exhausting experience and we were ready to head back in to Paris.
We had 2 days in Paris where we went to check off some of the main touristy things - saw the Eiffel Tower light up at night and waited for it to sparkle as it does for 3 minutes every hour after 10pm. Quite impressive. The next morning we head to the Arc de Triomphe and wandered down the Champs Elysees, stopping to do a spot of shopping, then picking up some food and having a picnic next to a fountain on our way to the Louvre.
I confess that we never actually made it inside the Louvre to see the famed 'Mona Lisa'... I got sidetracked by a fair on the way that had these enormous rides. We ditched our original plans and jumped straight on the chair swings. Then, I tell you what, we went on what I think is probably the most insane ride I have EVER been on. It's hard to describe (I have pictures on facebook) but it spun you incredibly high and fast and we got some pretty awesome views of Paris - it beat the Louvre for sure.
It was hard to come down from that high but we managed to fit in one more tourist venture - Notre Dame - before hitting the hay. The next morning we caught the train to Aix-en-Provence. We were running a little late but to make things worse when we arrived at the station where our train was meant to leave from we couldn't print our tickets! We had only minutes to spare before the train was due to leave and explained to the train people that we had tickets and a reservation number but just couldn't print our tickets. They ushered us on because the train needed to leave. We spent at least 15 minutes with all our bags sitting in the stair well of this train as we waited for someone to come and sort us out. Eventually someone did come and they couldn't find any record of our tickets - excellent. So we sat for a little longer in the stair well and in the end had to buy new tickets but our troubles weren't over. With 5 different cards between us all but 1 was declined, close one! Finally after having paid for new tickets the train guard must have taken pity on us because he set us up in 1st class even though we'd only paid for 2nd :) So, after an eventful start we ended up in very comfy seats and on our way to the south of France! Can't complain too much, there are worse pickles to be in!
We arrived in Aix-en-Provence and were looking for a taxi to take us to our hotel but couldn't find one for ages. We had wandered all around before finding a taxi rank and once we'd got in the car and told the driver where we needed to go he said "you're actually on that street already".... how embarrassing! So, we got our bags back out of the car and walked literally 20 metres down the road.
Our room in this place was fabulous. We had the biggest bed I have ever seen and a window that looked out directly over a really central area with bars below. We could walk out the door and be amongst it all straight away.
We spent the next few days falling in love with Aix-en-Provence. It has narrow, winding side streets with boutique shops, fountains, frozen yogurt (winner!) and restaurants around unexpected corners. The food here was the best I've had on my travels so far and I tried martini roses for the first time, I think it's my new favourite! Our french skills were pretty appalling, it seems that neither of us have retained much from our school years. Learning russian and italian seems to have wiped it from our memories and both of us were reverting to our other language whenever we tried to say anything other than "merci". Thankfully, as always, most people spoke english.
I think if I win the lotto I'll be buying a summer house here for sure! It was a little sad to leave this place behind, probably made harder because we knew it was an 8 hour bus ride to Barcelona...
Will let you know how that turned out next time :)
Au revoir! xxx