Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Part 2: Backpacking Across Europe (Paris, France)

It's been a while since I've posted on my blog - the trip to Europe feels aeons ago. However the trip was eye opening and significant enough to put down in writing so I shall continue.

I left off with Barcelona with our next stop in Paris, France. Having purchased an Eurorail pass prior to leaving Canada we were a bit restricted on when trains departed as certain destinations were not as frequent. Paris from Barcelona was one of them, turning it into an over night trip. The train itself was an interesting experience. We were given a sleeper compartment where the beds folded out from the seats for us and turned into bunk beds. We spent some time having a beer and sandwich from their restaurant before handing over our passports. This was a bit unnerving but it was explained that since we were crossing the border in the middle of the night while we were sleeping, they would just hand over our passports at the crossing without disturbing us. Sleeping on a train was a bit tough due to the slight rocking and noise but we managed to catch a few winks. We crossed the border and made it into Paris without a hitch.

Once in Paris we turned to our trusty EyeWitness Travel recommendations for a hotel and called a cab. Our cab driver was awesome as the hotel was a ways away and he would point out famous landmarks - who needs a tour guide when you have our cab driver! Upon arrival to our hotel, we settled in and then went to explore. The first thing that left me awestruck was the Arc de Triomphe as it was 2 blocks away from our hotel - you always hear about it and see it in movies. We tried to get up close to it but with everything historical, you have to pay to see it and I really didn't want to see it that badly. The other thing that amazed me almost as much as the traffic circle that surrounded the Arc de Triomphe. I probably stood and watched the crazy drivers merge and exit for a couple of minutes - let me tell you, there are no lines on the street and about 6 lanes of traffic where drivers seem to know when to yield and let in incoming cars. This makes the 2 lane traffic in Saskatoon look pitiful. If you don't believe me how crazy it was you can see a video I found here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zy8GMN-Ji4E.

John ended up feeling under the weather so I went out exploring to see if I could find us some warmer clothes. Unfortunately the first mall I walked to had nothing but high end brands where a men's sweater I found was around $300 and super thin. I made it to another mall but then my motivation dwindled and I walked back empty handed. We did however make it to the Eiffel Tower at night which was cool to see. It was a lot larger than we expected and lit up during the night.

The next day we took the metro to reserve our next train ride to Italy and then walked to Museo D'Orsay after walking past Notre Dame. Museo D'Orsay contained many artists from the Impressionists/Post Impressionists era such as Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec and Claude Monet to name just a few. I could have easily spent more than a day there.

The food in Paris was good, with John trying out a huge ass MOUND of tartare and me trying froi gras (and I hate to admit, was buttery goodness and loved every bite of it) at L'Ecluse.

The next day we went to see the catacombs. It was interesting finding it as our hotel had never heard of it and it was far from the main center. It was approx. 130 step decent and a 185 mile walk containing the remains of over 6 million Parisians - it was a spooky and unnerving experience as there were plaques set up along the way explaining the deaths of some.

Back to the land of the living, we went to go see Centre Georges Pompidou that housed modern art. The building itself was neat as it had all its plumbing pipes on the outside of the building as well as an escalator that snaked its way up to the top floor, also on the outside of the building. It definitely housed modern art that isn't suitable for all kids to see. We weren't able to spend a lot of time here as we needed to make it to our train. Overall Paris was an experience I was glad to undertake but I'm not sure if I would make a repeat visit. It has a lot of history but to enjoy Paris you definitely need a lot of money.

Next stop Italy!

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