Monday, 21 January 2008

Paris - Part 1

Hi folks… back from Paris! We took a taxi to Shenfield last Friday, and then a train to Liverpool Street Station, followed by a trip on the Underground to St Pancras Station where the international train departs from. It travels at up to 200 MILES per hour apparently and it certainly seemed fast enough as it took a mere 2 hours 15 minutes to travel from London to when we alighted in Paris. The tunnel goes underneath the channel - a strange feeling looking up at the ceiling of the carriage and knowing what is up there above you!

It is weird sitting in a taxi with the driver on the left hand side, and made even worse as the roads don’t appear to have any sort of lane marking and cars seem to drift around as suits the whim of the driver.
After booking in it was time for a bit of shopping at ‘Galeries Lafayette’ - a HUGE department store - NZ has nothing even remotely like it!

Dinner that evening was at a ‘posh’ restaurant called ‘Julien’ where the food was nice, but horribly expensive. I encountered the beggars for the first time and, with David’s help, manoeuvred round the odd scam that they try on you.

On Saturday, after a very civilised continental breakfast, we strolled off. We eventually reached the Seine and walked along it until we reached the Louvre and the Jardin de Tuilleries, which we walked through and then up the Champs Elysses to the Arc de Triomphe. The Arch was started by Napoleon who wanted a grand arch for his armies to come back into the city through, but Trafalgar and waterloo kind of got in the way, and it wasn’t actually finished until 1836.

The Champs Elysses is home to many of the big names in consumerism and fashion - and they are very expensive. I saw a nice top for Elsa that I saw was a ‘mere’ 570 Euros! (Ouch! No, Elsa, I didn’t buy it… Sorry!)

The walk up the Champs Elysses is about half an hour so we were tired at the top end, and decided to catch one of the sightseeing buses which travels round Paris. This took us to the Eiffel Tower, where we got off. David & Julie went off to find a cuppa while I took the lift for some breathtaking views of Paris.

The weather was kind to us and Paris was very mild, considering it is mid-January, but the views were better without heavy grey cloud or rain. Climbing back on the red bus tour (Les Cars Rouge) took us past some wonderful architecture (including the Grand Palais built for the Universal Expo in 1900) and we got off again at The Louvre. The entrance is under the pyramid in the courtyard (think ‘Da Vinci Code’) and will blow you away when you see the art they have on display!

Quite frankly, it was simply too much to take in on one afternoon, but I can now claim to have seen the Venus de milo, and the Mona Lisa (the real thing! Heheh About A3 size, Sarah...) (As for the other artworks, no, I’m not going to give some in-depth artistic, critical observations… I’ll stick with a simplistic “Man, those guys could paint!”)

By now I was flagging (it had been a very full day) so we headed back to the hotel…

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