So we got a wee bit of a sleep in this morning, before heading down for breakfast at 8:30am. It's just me and Stacey sharing a room this time. We were mixed up with people to begin with but we managed to swap for the 2 of us to be together. The bus left the hotel at 9am and dropped us at the Arc de Triomphe (the giant roundabout with 12 streets). Driving around this, and in Paris in general, is absolutely insane! There are literally no rules - it's just a free for all. And they don't just putt around it going slow in case they crash, the hoon through! There're no lanes, they just swerve all over the place with cars facing vertical while others are horizontal and then they just stop in front of each other. I got some good photos from being up in the bus.
Once we got off the bus, we walked under the road and it brings you back up into the middle of the round about where the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is. We took a few photos here, including the second letter of my phrase (H), and then attempted to find the Paris underground from here. This took a little while to find but we got there eventually. It's definitely not as well signposted as the London underground. It took us a while to navigate the subway and figure out what train/route to take, but we eventually did it on our own (which we were quite proud of haha). The refresher with the London tubes definitely helped. We had to swap half way, but we finally made it to the Catacombs.
As we were crossing the road to the Catacombs, I almost got run over because over here they split their roads and for each part of the crossing there is a new green/red light to stop/go for pedestrians. I didn't realise this, so I started walking when the light turned green, and then I kept going when all of a sudden the cars started driving, so I had to quickly turn around and run back. Once we got across the road, we had to line up for 2 hours to get in, and that was with pushing in too because luckily we saw some other Contiki people that we joined in with. Half way through it started to pour with rain! I had my umbrella luckily but my legs still got soaked. And then my umbrella started leaking! We probably had to stand in the rain for half an hour at least before getting in.
The Catacombs are a giant tomb under the ground which holds the remains of about 6 million people. When old graveyards became too full, they dug up all of the bones and put them in this underground tunnel. We had to walk down some spiral stairs which seemed to go on forever and then we walked through the tunnels where there were millions of bones stacked up on either side of the tunnel, as well as human skulls. The tunnels also went on forever, until we got to some more stairs which we had to walk up at the other end.
From here we had to find the underground station again because the exit came out to a completely different place from the entry of the Catacombs which was right by the metro station. We found a station eventually but it was a small one and we couldn't buy a ticket there, so we still had to find the first one that we had come out at. We found it in the end and caught a train up to Notre Dame.
We needed to have some lunch before visiting Notre Dame, so we went into a restaurant but the waiter thought we just needed to go to the toilet so told us we needed to buy a drink. We didn't really know what to do, so we just grabbed a menu and sat ourselves down. Someone came to serve us eventually and we both just ordered chocolate and banana crepes as it was something French. We also had a bottle of coke each which after the bill came we realised cost 5€ each (about $9NZ). We weren't impressed. Stacey keeps telling me I'm not allowed to convert money.
The Notre Dame was just across the road, so we headed over there and only took photos because the line to get inside was too long, and we only had limited time after having already queued up for 2 hours at the Catacombs. After this, we headed back down to the underground and it took a bit longer to figure out our train this time. People seemed to be getting on and off with suitcases and the trains were double decker (which we were impressed with) so we were a bit worried we were getting the wrong one. We took it anyway and luckily it was going the right way. We headed to the Eiffel Tower and had to walk a little way to get under it. I took a photo of the 3rd letter of the phrase (E) plus a few others. There were armed army guards patrolling the tower. That didn't seem too positive! Lots of police around too. The queue to go up the tower was also huge (more so for the elevator) so we didn't have time to go up. Plus I was too scared to climb the stairs anyway when it had been raining. Later on we were told about 2 girls who from our group who slipped down, so I was glad I didn't.
After visiting the Eiffel Tower, we had to head back to our meeting spot for transfer back to the hotel at 4:15pm. On our way we encountered a gypsy lady on the train. She came up and asked us for money, and we said no but afterwards we were told that apparently they wait for you to get your wallet out and then grab what they can and take off. We've been very paranoid with our bags all day. When we got to the next station we started walking to the meeting point and a lady came up and 'found' a ring in front of me. She asked me if it was mine and I said no so she asked if I wanted it and again I said no and so she asked Stacey. Then later on that day someone told us about the 'ring scam' and I started to freak out. Apparently they pretend to find a ring and distract you with it while someone else grabs your bag. Thankfully no one took anything off us though, but I was creeped out afterwards!
We caught the coach back to the hotel to shower and get ready for dinner. We left the hotel, in the coach, and headed off for a French dinner. To get to the restaurant, we had to walk up some massive steps past Sacre Coeur (a massive church), and we were warned beforehand that there would be more scammers along this path. Sure enough we came across 2 more lots of scammers, luckily this time though we had been warned. The first were men who stood at the top of some stairs and tried to grab your hand as you went past, then they would do some sort of string tying on you and then would expect you to pay huge amounts of money. So I just held my hands low and held my bag because they were persistent. Then the next scam was where someone shoves a petition in front of your face and asks you to sign it, then once you've signed it you've agreed to give money so they hassle you for it. Or another thing they might do is have someone else steal your bag/wallet while you're distracted, or if you do happen to give them money then they watch where you keep your wallet and get you latter. So I just ignored the guy who did this too. Apparently they do this scam at Notre Dame too, but we didn't see it happening. We definitely saw our fair share of scammers today. Also some creeps - guys telling you they love you and others making kissing sounds, etc.
Finally we got to the restaurant and for dinner I had French onion soup, duck in orange sauce, and then some French chocolate cake. It was all quite nice. From here we walked to the cabaret show. We had to queue up outside for about half an hour. Unbelievably it was still broad daylight at 10pm when we went in. Because we're doing so much during the day it's incredible what we can do in the daylight. The cabaret show was about 2 hours long and it was good, but again I was so tired and couldn't keep my eyes open (it's becoming a bit of a pattern and a real pain) so I had to go and stand up at the back. We were told before the show not to drink too much because they won't let us in, but there was wine on our tables at the dinner and the cabaret so of course some people went wild. As we left the cabaret, one of the girls spewed all over the floor as we walked out the door. There were 3 shuttle buses heading back to the hotel at different times but me and Stacey caught the first one back, but being the nana's of the trip no one else was catching that one. We had to walk down a reasonably dark street to get there and then we couldn't see the bus so started to freak out a bit, but finally we saw it round the corner so we took off towards it. After today's scams we have been reasonably freaked out. We headed back to the hotel and then just went to bed, while hearing other people coming in at all hours.