Paris Travel Blog› entry 4 of 5 › view all entries
October 27th, 2008 – by: seahlk
My trip to Paris actually started 1 week before I arrived, when I have to brave so many obstacles to get the tickets. The system does not allow me to book because I cant select Singapore on the eurostar website, and I have decided to book the tickets so late that most of the low-price tickets are gone! In order to buy the tickets at the central ticket agent, I got myself a parking summon (so that I can speed down to the office to do the booking after work), leave office on the dot, brave many heart-stopping instances because I am walking around with SGD2000 in my pocket (I dont have credit cards).
I have decided to just do the L'open bus tour, since we only have a few hours in Paris, and then stop at the Victory Arch (I have translated in directly from Chinese "Kai Xuan Men", which is actually the Arche de Trompolie. I am really bad at remembering names in languages other than my mother tongue. We also stop at Eiffel Tower (Who doesnt if they come to Paris?)
Anyway, crossing the English channel was fun, though there is nothing much to see, except for greens when we are not underground. But our ears do hurt everytime we enter a tunnel.
Anyway. the moment I reach Paris, I was lost. I have not have the chance to study the layout of the station, and we wanted to go to the bathroom. At the same time, I am trying to locate an exit, find a Chinese restuarant and the L'open bus station, which I know is nearby. I was caught by an intial panic by the whole list of things I have to do, but dont know how and where to start. Salvage comes when we spotted the toilet sign, the Information board, the L'open bus logo at the information board and a Cantonese restaurant right outside the station within the next 15 minutes of my mild panic attack.
I have to write it down. I love the Cantonese restaurant.
The food is nice!, the prawns and the fried rice, and the sweet and sour pork, oh man, I felt so much like I am back here eating at the coffeeshop. Whats more, they have Yeo's! hahaha. Some sense of familiarity in a place I thought I would be totally, definitely lost.
Anyway, my panic came back again when I failed to locate the bus stop. I walked around, and then I saw the bus. We literally followed the bus along the road, and when it stopped, I realised that the stop is just in front of the Cantonese restaurant. Oh man, I guess, panic is not a good way to deal with anything, anything.
We sat at the top and off we go. Saw buildings, and immediately, noticed that Paris is totally different from London. I havent been to alot of places and tend to groups European places as a category, well, as do the travel agencies here. I cant really bring myself to group London and Paris together, because they are just too different. Language aside, the buildings, culture and even my feelings are unknowingly affected by the different atmosphere of the place.
Paris, it took me while to understand why it should be pronouned without the "s", is lovely. The bus took us to the city central where we changed for the Grand Tour line. Along the way, we managed to see a "potential con" in action. I have read about those con tricks involving person "picking" up a gold ring in front of another stranger.
Anyway, we went to the Palais Royal. Hmm, I have spelt it wrongly. The place which houses the Mono Lisa and showcase the glass pyramids. What interests me about this place is the link with Da Vinci Code. I like imagination. Whatever real history is, or what science can prove, or just plain fiction, I thought I like Da Vinci code because of the capacity to imagine. Basically, I have bever read the book, I just like the movie. We saw a group of students have their lunch and were very amazed at how people can just lay down the mat and pinic wherever they please.
We then pass by many buildings, and the wind hit us harder and harder. Finally saw Notre Dome, and I like it. I love the fact that it appeared to be isolated in the middle of the river, and it looks like a mini palace to me. Saw pigeons flying in flocks. I think I like to interact with non-humans. They are cool and plentiful, especially when it is late autumn and nearing winter.
Then we went to a place which is packed with cars. There is a column there, but I really dont rememeber the name. I am very shameful at my unpreparedness about this Paris trip, actually. The traffic was horrendous. I finally hear cars honking, because I havent got a chance to hear it in London. The honking was so intense that it attracted my attention. Hmmmm...
And finally, we saw the Arch. It was grand, very very grand. The walk along the Avenue is really something that one should try. There are shops, people, cars, people, shops, food and just grand.
Many people told me to buy designer stuff in Paris. It's cheap they say. I dont know. It is not my philoshopy to buy stuff because it is designer or what. I just find it materialistic. Of course, it depends on people. When we finally reach the Arch, I really regret this tight trip to Paris. Should have taken more leaves from work, and booked more days and spend one night or two in Paris. I soo wanted to go up, because I like to climb and take in the whole city view from a high point. The Arch is really the most impressive Arch I have seen. Imagine Napolean and his soldiers marching through. Wow.
We went to Eiffel Tower next. No time, again, to climb up the Tower, but to be near such a massive amount of steel, I felt anytime I can be magnetised as well. We took more pictures along the river. The river is romantic. It would have been nice to walk along the river, but sigh.
Just to be on the safe side, we went back earlier. Had dinner at the Canton restaurant again, while me and my sis shared a baguette. Our train was scheduled to leave at about 7.40pm, so we join the already long queue for check-in at 7pm.
The check-in was terrible. The counter opened only 15 minutes prior to departure, and everyone just swarm towards the counter to be allowed through. I felt like I was a refugee. We were initially queuing (Singapore national hobby), but when we saw how messy the queue is, and how people are just rushing forward, I grabbed my stuff and beckon my sis and mum to stick close to me. We made 2 queue jumps and reached the counter. The staff put stickers on our ticket we were allowed to go through. I darenot look back at the massive crowd since there, because I know that we are among the first 50% who made it through.
It was a mad rush to go through security, go through customs (twice, one for leaving France, and the other for entering UK). Then we run, really run to our car. It was way in front and the staff were telling us to hurry, because the train is leaving in 5 minutes time. We ran and ran, and finally reach our car, but the nightmare did not end there. We tried looking for our seats (84, 85, 86), but there is only 84, 87 and 88. We cant find our seats! The manager was trying so heard to help us, but in our frantic mind (are we going to be kicked out or do we have to sit in the toilet for the next few hours), I just cant reason. Lucky for us, there are empty seats, and the manger told us to take the empty seats first. Before the train moved, we pray hard the no one is taking that seat.
It was a short while after we settled down when the train took off. I wondered if there are people who cant make it to this train due to the late opening of the check-in counter. Apparently, no one took our seats, so alls well.
It turns out later that even the manager on the train does not know what happened. The stickers have changed most of the seating, and families are seated in different carriages. We are not the only ones affected. Apparently, there have been another train service back to London just a few minutes before ours, and that sort of explains the delay. But somehow, we manage to reach London ontime. I could feel the train flying because the ride was bumpier as compared to our onward journey.
Anyway, the experience for the return journey was, I dont know how to describe it. It was the first time I felt like a refugee (remember I have to take this train back, because of the package I took from the agency). I am a self-proclaimed organised and prepared person, but this Paris day trip has shown me how the opposite and vulnerable I can be. Oh man, I should be more relaxed and not be too bothered by small things. Gosh, this trip is memorable, because of the things that happened to me, not the things I have seen.
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