Well, first of all, I am sick of waiting. I feel at the moment as if my whole life consists of me waiting for one form of public transport or another. If it's not waiting for a metro to get to the train station, it's waiting for the train to the airport, if it's not waiting for the plane it's waiting for the coach back to Prague, if it's not waiting for the first coach it's waiting for the connecting coach to Brno, if it's not waiting for the connecting coach to Brno it's waiting for the tram back home and if it's not waiting for the tram back home it's waiting for the tram to my first lesson in Jundrov and if it's not waiting for the tram to my first lesson in Jundrov it's waiting for the tram to my next lesson at school and if it's not waiting for a tram to my lesson at school it's waiting for a tram to my lesson at a stupid company.....you get the picture I do A LOT of waiting around. Now, I know that I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to travel to some amazing places like New Zealand and China and even Italy and EVEN here in Brno and experience some amazing things, I am seriously considering a heist of some sorts so I can buy a private jet and f*** waiting around for ever more. Less than an hour commute somewhere would be GREAT. But what can you do eh? I'm a poor peasant and so it looks like I'm just going to have to suck it up.
Anyway...not that I didn't have a fantastic time in Paris this week! What a good time we had :).
Andrew did a sterling job of organizing this one, particularly as we managed to get flights that landed roughly the same time in Paris. We hadn't anticipated the fact that Charles De Gaulles is MASSIVE however and spent a good 20 mins wandering around trying to find a good meeting place but once we did we just had to get to the hotel... 1 train, 2 lost wanderings, 2 metros and 3 hours later we finally arrived at the hotel. We managed to have the most miserable night shift receptionist going too but we were just happy to flop on the bed when we got there.
The room was OK, not as nice as Rome, bit smaller and a little grubbier, but for the price it wasn't bad at all. The bathroom was fine, the bed quite comfy and we were on the 4th floor so we didn't get any noise at all and it was really dark at night so no city light pollution which was good. We were also really close to a good metro link called Oberkampf which we utilized a lot over the 4 days so it was perfect.
So, our first real day was Tuesday. We got up early and decided on the Eiffel tower today. We bought 3 day metro passes for 23 euros and must have got our money back on them the first day in the end. Really good value for money, we thought. We were still a little bit shaky on the metro at this point but we managed to get around quite well in the end.
We went for breakfast at a little patisserie across the road from our hotel before we set off. I cannot tell you how nice that pain au raisin was....god it was heaven. So soft and perfectly cooked, it was yummy. Sitting in this place next to the window with sun streaming through, a coffee and pastries was my idea of heaven that first day. We eventually finished though and braved the cold to the Eiffel tower. I was expecting a lot of tourists and massive queues, particularly in the run up to V day, but it was not too bad at all. When we got to the desk, with our passports we also realized that we got a discount for being under 26. This happened a lot throughout the week which was great! So we paid 12 euros to get to the second level and have a wander around. The view was amazing (you can look at the pics) even from just the 2nd floor. It's such an iconic building and I really didn't realize how big it was and what a feat of engineering it really must have been to erect this thing. Fecking windy up there though! When we'd got pics from every angle, we got back in the lift and went down to the first floor, which was nice but not as impressive I have to say...there aren't as many open viewing spaces, but there is a restaurant and boutique places for the wealthy.
We left the tower after taking lots of piccies and decided crepes were on the menu for dinner. We found a little place not far from the tower that did them. They were nice and not too expensive which was unexpected. We then decided to do the Arc De Triomphe and Champs-Elysees. Another huge monument but very impressive. We walked down the C-E and back up the other side. I didn't feel we were even rich enough to be walking along the road but Andrew just told me I was stupid. He was busy enjoying the strange car showrooms they have scattered along the avenue. People just go into Mercedes and Renault, etc. to take pics of the cars and leave again. It's quite weird but the cars are very impressive, expensive models and even some had things like F1 models and restaurants inside so you can spend hours in them...we didn't.
We finally got back on a metro and came back to the hotel for a while to get ready and then headed out to Bastille in search of a restaurant. It was bloody freezing and despite our best efforts to find a set menu, we eventually went to the first place we had come across getting off the metro. Everyone spoke English in Paris (unsurprisingly so I didn't have to remember too much French) and our waiter was nice. The restaurant was very French and the food was delicious. I had salmon that night which might possibly be the best I've ever tasted. Andrew had a sort of duck gratin thing which also looked yummy if you're into meat. We eventually left the restaurant, braving the cold again and rolled out of the metro into a bar just up the road from our hotel where they advertised cocktails for 5.80 (whereas in the absolute centre they were double the price) so we had a sneaky drink before heading off to bed.
So today we decided to go to the Palace of Versailles. I have to be honest; it was a ball ache and a half to get this place. It took us 2 hours to eventually find where to go and how to get there (because we had to get off 2 stops before the palace to get extensions for our metro passes) and wait at this tiny freezing little station for 20 mins before we could continue and it has snowed overnight....BUT it was very pretty and when we got to the ticket office we realized that once again being youthful was an advantage, the price being FREE. Yes, that's right, FREE. Brilliant. Due to the weather, the gardens weren't open, but for free I didn't care. The view from the road was beautiful of the big golden gates. We got into the palace and spent a good couple of hours looking around and taking photos. Some of the rooms were amazing. The hall of mirrors was really impressive, at 240 foot long, mirrors lining both sides and chandeliers every 2 feet it looked amazing and must be beautiful when the sun hits it...unfortunately today we had snow but it made the grounds look spectacular blanketed in white.
When the tour finished we made our way back into the centre for dinner, where we had French onion soup with a view of Notre Dame :). God that soup was good. It should have been for 8 euros each but it was worth it. Nearly overflowing and bursting with onions and bread it really warmed the cockles.
We visited the cathedral next. Andrew hit the nail on the head with this one- I asked him whether he thought this or the basilica in Rome was better to which he answered that he thought the basilica was more impressive in terms of size and commercial status but Notre Dame has somehow managed to keep some reverence and is still used for the purpose it was built. The stained glass was gorgeous and we managed to get a few pics despite not really being allowed. We didn't manage to get a sight of any gargoyles though, again due to the weather. It really is a beautiful building though and must be heaving in summer.
We stayed around Saint Michel (where Notre Dame is) to ear that night. We dressed up a little bit more for this meal cuz we had it as our V day meal. We stumbled across a little place in a small cobbled street that was doing a set menu really cheaply so we went in. I managed to fit in 3 courses (including a chocolate mousse for dessert) a bottle of wine and a few cocktails that night for not much at all. The waiters were really helpful so we left a nice tip there and headed back.
So our last full day in Paris came around far too quickly. We decided on the Louvre today, however I wasn't feeling too fresh after a heavy night last night, but nevertheless I did enjoy the Louvre. It's very dramatic, as soon as you step off the metro you find yourself lost in a warren of huge marble corridors leading to the ticket office at the centre which is again, enormous. The whole place was just sweeping out in front of us for miles. I estimated that if you took your time to look at everything properly it would take you a week. We got in, again, for free. We took our time for a while, strolling through the ancient history sections and trying to take in as much as possible with a pounding hangover headache! Eventually, after walking for what felt like miles and being lost somewhere about 10 miles from the exit we decided to try and find the Mona Lisa before heading out. After a few stewards pointing us in the right direction, we eventually found why the rest of the place had felt quite deserted and quiet; it was because EVERYONE was standing in front of that bloody painting. There was a big crowd so we spent a few mins taking pic and looking around it, before leaving for nurofen and dinner.
We found a little cafe where we had baguettes and French fries for dinner before we headed off to have a look at the Grand and Petit Palais. We didn't spend long there, but just took a few pics before getting on a metro to the North of the city to have a look around Montmartre. We climbed the hill to Sacre-Coure and again had another stunning view of Paris. It's very white when you look across the landscape and the Seine looks very blue. We walked through the little streets together and eventually came to the Moulin Rouge. It would have been nice to see it at night, lit up, but it's very iconic nonetheless. Andrew had really wanted to see a show but at 88 euros EACH, even after all the free stuff, we couldn't afford that. I suppose it gives us an excuse to go back though!
We got back to the hotel and decided to stay around our area to eat tonight. We found a nice place around the corner from our hotel where we just had humble food like an omelette but god it was good. We treated ourselves one last time and had a melt-in-the-middle chocolate pudding which was absolutely amazing. Sooooo soft and scrumptious. We had a last couple of cocktails at our local bar before heading back to pack :(.
So, Friday was leaving day. We spent a couple of hours in the morning just lazing around before checking out. Andrew didn't have to fly back till 8pm so he was organizing what to do with his last few hours in Paris. He travelled with me to Gare Du Nord where the train to the airport departed from. We had a little breakfast together again (another pain au raisin again- if I could teleport food that would definitely be one thing I could not get enough of!) before my train arrived. I left him on the platform to get another metro to the natural history museum before returning for his train to the airport later.
I got back into Czech with no hitches really and finally flopped into bed 11 hours later, wishing I was still in Paris.
So there you go, a brief description of a great few days in Paris. I'll put a couple of albums of pics up over the next few days for you to see :). Hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoyed taking them :).