So… here we are once again sitting at an airport! This time it's Charles du Galle in Paris!
The day Nick arrived started off with what seemed like another disaster! A panicked call from Mum at 9am informed me that Nick was stuck inside Angel station with no money… What this turned out to be (after running down to Angel to bail him out…) was that he was waiting outside Angel station but had no change to call me. Some emergency… lol
After making it back to the house to get Nick a quick shower and some water, we headed off on the trek to Luton airport… Now, let me start by saying this journey took me HOURS of searching on the internet to figure out… A combination of a bus, train and shuttle took us to the airport where we got the full Easyjet experience! This being the first time we'd flown with them, we had very little idea of what to expect, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. The most fun part would have to be the "walk-as-quickly-as-you-can-without-running" to the gate - where you then wait in your designated section to be one of the first to board. Nick and I made it onto the plane the first in our section (woot! Good thing we're both tall and have long legs!) and managed to keep a free seat between us so we had heaps of room!
Now, this might seem really stupid, but it didn't actually occur to me until we were standing in the French airport trying to figure out where to go that neither of us knows how to speak any useful French… we got hello, goodbye, and thank you down but beyond that we've got no clue (I did manage to learn bouisson which means drink though!). So trying to figure out which bus to get for the hostel was loads of fun… Especially when you consider we were missing the basic things like: numbers in French (how much do we give them to pay??), telling someone where you want to go (are they asking how I am or where I'm going???) and a million other things that I could say in English or Spanish, but have ZERO clue in French. Somehow we managed to get the bus in the right direction, and even to the stop we thought we wanted. The only problem from there being that the Lonely Planet (which we were using for the street map) doesn't contain all of the streets, or all of the street names… Awesome. Eventually we made it to the hostel, but we wandered aimlessly until we saw a blue neon light reflecting off the Seine which I VAGUELY recalled from the website photo of the hostel…
This seemed to set the scene for Paris. There was going to be LOTS of walking - and not always in the right direction… After we dropped off our bags (in what was the best laid out room I've been in!!!) we decided to walk to the Eiffel Tower to get a view a night. On the way we stopped for the very French dinner of kebabs (once again not knowing what we were really ordering…) before commencing our walk. I'm pretty sure had we known where we were going (and gone the right way) it would have taken us under 1.5hrs. As it was it took us over 3 hours of walking to get there. Needless to say we were both so tired after getting there that we sat down, then debated how we were getting home, then settled on a cab as the easiest way that would get us home before dawn (it already being midnight…)
We planned an early start the next day so that we could get to the Louvre. This time we decided to use the Metro - SO MUCH EASIER! Around 15 minutes (and 1.60 euro) later we were standing at the entrance to the Louvre. We headed straight for the Mona Lisa (having heard about ridiculous lines and waits) and managed to get straight in to see it - once you battled through the people who were 5 deep. From there we saw a number of other paintings (there are 3,500 on display, and 1,000 in storage!) before seeing the Venus de Milo (again, just AMAZING!!). The Louvre really looks like someone's private art collection, with paintings crammed onto walls, and the ability to get so close to the art (with the exception of the Mona Lisa) you can almost touch it. The museum itself is really beautiful too with some AMAZING architecture (I was constantly looking up at the ornate ceilings) and gardens outside.
On our way to the Louvre we stopped at a supermarket to buy one of our meals for the day to be eaten sitting outside the Eiffel Tower - camembert, brie and a baguette to be washed down with a bottle of local Muscat. After our visit at the Louvre we decided to eat our snacks for lunch and track down the restaurant we had seen the night before with escargot and duck la orange for dinner. Lunch was PERFECT. After seeing another amazing view of the Eiffel Tower (and getting a free train ticket as the metro barrier was out of order!) we chilled out on the grass next to some beautiful fountains, enjoying the warm sun, the breeze carrying the spray from the fountains, and the packed lunch. The cheese and wine both went down a treat, so apologies in advance to Mum and Dad for any spelling mistakes in your postcards… lol. After relaxing as much as we could without falling asleep, we headed back into the Latin Quarter for our free 3 hour walking tour. Whilst waiting for the tour to start Nick got an AMAZING nutella crepe (my mouth is watering just typing about it!!!) which was devoured in about half a second.
Luckily there were only four of us on the tour, so we made our way through quite quickly. Some of the funny things I learned were:
·There is a department whose sole purpose is to make sure English words don't make it into the French language (weekend and computer were examples!) and deciding gender of new words (is it la or le iPod? Apparently le because the iPod is cool not beautiful…)
·A Romanian woman threw a ceramic cup at the Mona Lisa because she was mad the French Government didn't approve her visa
·The Pont Neuf has faces all around it which are supposed to be the faces of guests at King Louis XVI's party when they were all drunk (he woke up 20 sketch artists to sketch them, and then made the royal sculptors make them for the bridge!)
·The only visible sign of WWII in Paris is the gun marks are on the Police Headquarters which the French fired as they were so fed up with being occupied and the Germans had taken it over
·The Eiffel Tower was entered in a competition in Barcelona first and was rejected as it wouldn't fit with the city. Other entries in the French competition that it won were a giant guillotine and a giant Cyclops!
After the tour we made our way back to the spot the hostel had given us as the only place in Paris for frog's legs… now, this was something that Nick was keen to try, and as we were going to a different restaurant for dinner I didn't want to order anything there. We didn't realize this was going to be a problem, until after we'd been seated and Nick had ordered his provencale frog's legs and I had ordered water, and the waitress left, only for the gentleman waiter to reappear and tell us that you could not have one dish between two people that we both had to order something. After looking through the menu, there was nothing that I wanted (and the cheapest thing was 10 euro!!) so we decided to skip the froggies and to head off to the main restaurant for dinner.
The place we had seen the night before on our wanders looked really nice and had a set menu for 25 euro where Nick could get both the escargot and his duck. On our way there we passed another restaurant which was really busy that had a similar menu for only 16 euro… so in we went! Nick ordered the escargot, duck la orange and a special chocolate cake dessert, while I got mussels in cream, salmon béarnaise, and crème brule. The food there was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! So much garlic, but absolutely amazing, the salmon was so tender it almost fell apart, and the small samples I had of Nick's (yes, I ate snail, and I even got some grit with it… yuk!) were really nice too. The whole meal I was looking forward to the crème brule and I wasn't disappointed. It was the best I've had yet!
After dinner we used the metro to get home (we quickly became experts!) but still managed to get lost when leaving the train station… we managed to turn a 5 minute walk into a 25 minute wander, and ended up getting to bed just before midnight. Not really a problem til you remember we had to be up at 3:30am this morning. This wouldn't have been so bad had it not been for the numerous people who got back to the room between 1 and 2am who made more noise than I have heard in a hostel this far. It could have been a body they were dragging around there was so much noise!
We're now on our way to Barcelona on another Easyjet flight - this plane is relatively empty, so we should be ok to get into the city quickly. I've written the name of the hostel and directions (I'm slowly learning!!) first stop after the Laundromat (for Nick!) is off to the BEACH!
Bad news I got yesterday was that the dress I ordered for the wedding no longer comes in the colour I wanted, so fingers crossed I like what they have when I get back to London! Missing everyone at home heaps, I can't believe it's been two and a half months (both only AND already!) and that I'll be home in 18 days! CRAZY!
Thanks as always for your messages - I promise when I get a moment to breathe I'll respond!