Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ahhh, Paris...

Yes, it has been nearly three years since my one and only visit to Paris...but thankfully, I kept a journal while I was on my Contiki tour.

Our Contiki bus left Amsterdam for Paris early in the morning (okay, it was sometime after 8 AM, but when you don't even know what time you went to bed the night before...). It was about a six hour drive through the Netherlands, Belgium, and France, but certainly one of the better drives of the trip as my sister and I wake-and-baked (can I say again how much I love Amsterdam?) and slept for basically the entire bus ride.

Christy and I with the Eiffel Tower

Thankfully, we arrived in Paris early enough to get the Eiffel Tower out of the way that afternoon. Because we got to go in the group line, the wait to get up the tower wasn't that bad. (Otherwise, we probably would have waited for hours!) The highest observation deck was closed because of the weather, but I didn't much care...we did have to wait next to forever to get back down to the bottom, where we walked around to take some pictures, until it started raining. At this point it was cold, so we waited miserably under some trees for the bus to finally come get us. Christy and I were really tired that night, so after the included dinner at our hotel, the Kyriad Porte d'Ivry Paris (the dinner was actually better than the one in Amsterdam, but still nothing to brag about) and driving around the city at night (of which the highlight was driving around the Place Charles de Gaulle at the Arc de Triomphe) we decided to call it an early one and go to bed. Two nights in a row of partying in Amsterdam had left this old girl just plain exhausted ;o)

The next morning the bus took us all into the city for our group picture in front of the Eiffel Tower. It was a very good thing that we had visited the tower itself the afternoon before, because we still didn't have enough time to see everything we wanted! After the group picture they dropped us off at the Arc de Triomphe, and from there a group of us walked down the Champs-Elysees to the Place de la Concorde to see the Obelisk of Luxor, where Marie Antoinette was beheaded. We had crepes there and then walked over to the Opera district for a little bit of shopping, and we also had lunch at this cafe across from the opera house. I think it was called something like L'Entracte d'Opera, but I had the most amazing Croque Monsieur and the prices weren't bad at all.

From the Opera district we took the Avenue de l'Opera down to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa. There was a Vermeer painting that I wanted to see as well but we got lost twice trying to find it and finally decided to leave so that we could go to the Ile de la Cite to see Notre Dame. We got a little lost on the way there as well--we were basically going in the right direction, we just weren't on the little island. No big deal--we found it but unfortunately didn't have time to go inside the cathedral, because it was already 4 PM and we had to catch the metro back to our hotel in order to get ready for the cabaret dinner that night. Let's just say that if we had been at a metro station where we could have taken one train straight to our hotel, we would have been fine, but as it was, we weren't. We had to make two changes, and although we never got on the wrong train, we had to ask way too many people how to get to each next train we had to catch, and this got very, very annoying.

Moulin Rouge, Montmartre
Still, we finally made it back to the hotel safely, and after touching up hair and makeup and changing, made our way to Montmartre for the Nouvelle Eve cabaret dinner and show.

The cabaret was a lot of fun, and the food was good--plus we, being sweet pretty American and Aussie girls, were able to get at least two extra free bottles of wine for our table ;o) From there we headed over to the bar next to the Moulin Rouge, where we had an absolute BLAST. Most of the music they played was older stuff (to me, anyway), and it was expensive (6 euros for a beer!), but it was more than worth it. One of the kids in our group literally ripped his shirt off and eventually got kicked out of the club, and then somehow five of us crammed into a cab to go back to the hotel. The cab cost about 17 euro, but between the four of us that actually paid it wasn't that bad.

I went up to the room at a decent hour--maybe a little before 2 AM?--but who knows what time I went to bed. All I know is that we had an early morning the next day for our drive to Switzerland, and it was far too early. We were supposed to pack an overnight bag, because we weren't going to be able to lug our suitcases to our hotel in Lucerne, and let's just say that I packed all my toiletries, and my pajamas, but forgot clothes for the next day. Smart one, huh?

As for Paris as a whole...in my opinion...it was beautiful in a classic sort of way, but that's not really my thing. The people were nowhere near as friendly as those in Amsterdam, either. The staff at our hotel was absolutely ridiculously rude! Our first night I had to go down to the front desk and ask for another towel because for some reason they had only left one in our room, and the guy at the desk had to get the manager, and then she played twenty questions with me ("how many people are in your room?" "what's your room number?" "are you sure there is only one towel?")! It's a FREAKING TOWEL. She finally gave me one, but the point is, I shouldn't have had to go through all that trouble, right? Then, on our final morning, Christy was running late and wanted me to bring her ONE croissant and a glass of water. I asked the girl at the front desk if I could do so, and she said it was okay...but when I went to bring it back up to the room, the morning manager stopped me and started harangueing me in French! I caught that I wasn't allowed to bring food up to the room, and I said, "that's fine, but the girl at the front desk told me I could, which is why I was doing so". The manager then went and started yelling at the girl at the desk, who then looked right at me and said "I didn't tell you you could bring a croissant up, just a glass of water". WHAT? Whatever, that's what. Needless to say, I was ready to leave Paris at that point, and whereas I would love to go back to Amsterdam someday, I will only go back to Paris if I can have the chance to go to Disneyland Paris...and that's that.

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