Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Europe Trip: Paris 100115


Today I will blog about my trip to Paris! Very fortunate to be traveling a new country in the start of my 2015- France. When you actually get to visit places you thought to only see on TV or desktop wallpapers, can't help but believe that dreams do come true. :)

Traveling to Paris left a skin-deep effect on me. Can't really find the right English translation for the words- 深有感触. I am always up for exploring unfamiliar places and I am never afraid of getting lost because I am not afraid to ask for directions. I'm always a preacher of being fearless in life. But while back in London before traveling to this new foreign land, I actually had a few moments of panic. It was my first time visiting an unfamiliar place where I do not understand nor speak the main language. The pessimist in me worried most about the language barrier that I would encounter- how we would get lost and couldn't find our way because we couldn't ask for directions or read the maps or signs. For a moment back then, I actually regretted idea to have chosen to go to Paris. Tim kept trying to calm my nerves with comforting words, 'We'll be alright. Don't worry.'

From London, we traveled to Paris by bus. Departure was 8pm and we were to arrive at 6am next morning. Saved us the expenses for one night of accommodation! We arrived at Maillot Coach Park earlier than scheduled, 445am. It was pitch dark outside and we arrived at which to me was in a middle of nowhere. We did not know where and how to get to our hotel. No taxis in sight and I got really frustrated. Plus no wifi and no data to use the internet. We walked to the nearest metro station and at 5am in the morning it was dead empty. Information was closed, ticket machine in French. We stared long at the huge metro map of the city and tried to scout for the station nearest to our hotel. Found the area after much effort and Tim found some locals to help us find out where to go. Faced problems buying our tickets because we only had €50 and €100 notes with us while the machine only takes €10 or less. There was no shops open yet for us to get change but luckily I had a UK debit card that worked. My attitude by then was really bad especially towards Tim. Him and I bickered for a bit.

I felt let down because the underground was really dodgy and old and I had high expectations for Paris. I complained, how can a city recognized internationally as a tourist attraction be so under-kept? But it was all just my frustration talking. We made it to our hotel finally, around 730am Paris time and check-in time was only after 2pm. Felt so much better after finding our hotel. Thankfully the receptionist spoke English. After we left our luggage at the hotel and with 6 hours to spare, we set out to find a nearest restaurant to freshen up. After being told however that shops only open at around 830, I doubt we would find any place especially when we only had €50 and €100 notes (because from experience in the UK, shops are reluctant to take £50 for small amounts and I just sound like a brat complaining about only having large notes don't I? Really not proud of myself). Luckily there was a McDonald's down the street near our hotel, the very nice Parisian guy at the counter accepted my €50 for an order of less than €5. First meal in Paris was a cup of hot mocha and a cheesecake. Made peace with my love and it was all uphill after that. :)

Reflected on myself and I admit my attitude given the circumstances, could have been so much better. With a clear mind, I came to realize that Paris underground transportation is actually really really efficient and with it you can actually reach everywhere. Disneyland was located at the outskirts of Paris city and I worried before coming how and how much would it cost for us to travel there but turned out we could easily, and inexpensively, reach there by metro. Language also happened to be of zero issue as people here are really nice and helpful. There are a lot of people we met who spoke English and for those who didn't, they tried their best to explain to us even when they cannot speak English. Was in a convenient store and we were not sure whether the meat we are going to buy could be readily eaten. Asked another customer who didn't speak English, and he was like, "Jambon, jambon. Bon appetit" while gesturing that it is ready to be eaten. Only to find out from Google later that jambon meant ham lol how silly did we seem to the guy back then I don't know. Tim and I also studied basic French before and it came in handy- it was a quite joy to be able to use basic phrases to greet Parisians, saying hello, goodbyes, thank yous and excuse mes. For our two-night stay, I'd also say we got quite attached to French TV- watched two episodes of The Voice France going on and on in French without subtitles and without understanding anything but we really enjoyed it. :D

Paris was really humbling. And eye-opening. We are just a small tiny human being in a big world with so much to experience. But it does not mean that it's a bad thing. Or a scary thing. It may be overwhelming to think about but it reinforced my belief to be fearless. No point worrying about things that you cannot control. And 90% of the things you worry about never happens. My daddy's words to me growing up, and also Tim's words. Thank you Tim for being there to calm my nerves when I get worked up, he is a year younger than me but so much wiser. My short-temper gave the trip here a rocky start but the happy moments by contrast became prominent and even more memorable. Everyone has flaws and I'm also learning. Travelling is the best teacher, and indeed, I've learnt so much during. :) Paris turned out to be perfect.

Enough said. Here are some pictures of our adventure around the beautiful city. :)







The charming and ever so majestic Eiffel Tower. Breathtakingly beautiful. :)




In the city of love with each other. Lucky us.  A candid shot using the selfie stick taken before the obligatory couple kissing shot with the Eiffel Tower. The kiss shot will be saved for personal treasuring but decided to post this because Tim said I looked really cool and the picture is like a magazine shoot haha.



Love this picture of us too. :) I also liked it that my lipstick shade matched my burgundy gloves.





Exploring the beautiful sights along the river La Seine including the majestic Pont Alenxandre III. Don't know how we missed the love lock bridge Pont des Art though!





Lunch was at a local artisan sandwich shop that we happened to find while wandering. Had their Salmon and Goat Cheese Panini while as usual Tim forgot the name of his order lol. :) The waitress was a French lady who was not forgiving at all to us non-French-speaking tourists and spoke to us in full French. Not complaining because in a way it gave us a fuller Paris experience haha!






The grand Musée du Lourve, art museum that houses the original Mona Lisa and many other classic art pieces.



It was a really cold day and we were both tired from all the walking at that point. But the journey was priceless. :)




Checked in to our hotel Hotel Devillas after exploring the city, which is located near metro station Saint-Marcel and Gare d' Austerlitz train station. :) The receptionist said they arranged for us a nice suite and I couldn't agree more. Had a room facing the main road and view was beautiful in the evenings. Two nights in Paris was made comfortable and cozy here. Very nice bathing facilities. Convenient location near the stations, shops, bars and restaurants. I really recommend this hotel to anyone visiting Paris!





Woke up after a nap and went out for a walk around the neighborhood to hunt for dinner. Our hotel building can be seen in the middle picture. :)



Had Japanese take out in the comforts of our hotel room. :) Was craving for something soupy the whole day and the Beef Udon I ordered satisfied it. Tim had a rice set completed with sushi, skewers, coleslaw and miso soup. Our dinner was made perfect with some Hoegaarden Rosee.



One of our finds in the local convenient store that's worth mentioning- Aperivrais cheese topped with herbs and flavors like pepper, tomatoes, thyme and chive. Really really good eaten on its own and it also made a nice bread spread for our breakfast the next morning, eaten with some jambon (lol yay if you understood the reference).

Original plan was to go see the Eiffel Tower in the night but it didn't happen because we were both too tired. No complaints though! Turned in early that night after some tv because we needed the energy the next day for Disneyland! Plus Tim reassured me we'll be back in the future for sure so. ♥ Had an amazing day in Paris. :) 




With all the love,
Kxin

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