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Paris - End Point

Sunday, 10 Jan 2016 - 9:30AM

A pleasantly meandering lead up to our departure via overnight train to Paris.  We had a couple of hilariously named sleeper cabins which have up to three bunks, a teeny sink and a few places to stick stuff.  It leaves Venice at 7:30 and arrives in Paris at 10:00am the following morning and is relatively comfy.  Sleep comes and goes in rattily drifts and goes a bit like; sleep, jolting track change, sleep, loud passengers embarking, snooze, baby next door, sleep, squealing steel wheels, snooze, more jolting, alarming potholes in the tracks, sleep, border police checking passports, snooze, need a pee, sleep.

So it was a bit bleary and more than a bit grumpy that we emerged from this intimate form of travel into a large and implacably bustling Gare de Lyon in Paris. Only ten minutes to our Airbnb by Taxi where bags were dropped until check-in six hours later and so we found ourselves released into Paris looking for a coffee. We’re in arrondissement 5 of the city near Place St Michel which is in the middle bit very near Notre Dame so no shortage of café’s to choose from and retiring to one for coffee and pastry we plotted our next move.

The next four or five days involved some serious planning as it included New Year’s Day and a weekend so the mapping of opening hours of various monuments, palaces, museums, attractions and train timetables was a fairly complex exercise. It all went relatively smoothly.  The most panic filled moment came when we arrived back at the apartment after a night out to discover I had lost the key somewhere. Wondering how the conversation with the landlord was going to go at 11pm (and with the added ‘pressure’ of various members of our party busting for a pee) I backtracked through the various local bars and restaurants until I found the one where the staff had thankfully spotted it and picked it up.  They were having a final drink before going home for the night so good-timing there!

Security around Paris was both highly visible and high calibre with machine guns being standard issue for (admittedly relaxed looking) police and squads of (less relaxed looking) army in full kit with even bigger machine guns patrolling in threes.  Despite the obvious question, in my mind at least, of how often their guns go off by accident, their presence had the desired effect of making everyone feel safe and protected.  I felt a bit sorry for the military guys at places like Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower.  Their orders were obviously to stand in one obvious spot, much like a fixed target, so as to draw any un-friendly fire away from France’s good citizens, who could then make a safe exit if the balloon should, as they say, ‘go up’.  No wonder they looked a bit miserable.

Despite the fire-power on hand, we stayed in for New Year. The public fireworks display had been cancelled anyway and we had a nice evening eating, drinking and watching the telly.  It turns out there were fireworks after all, we heard them go off but weren’t really too fussed by it.  There’s a lot to experience in Paris so, unlike some of the other places we visited, you’d always find interesting stuff regardless of how often you visit. Stand-outs for me this trip were Versailles (despite a fair drenching), the Louvre (just never enough time) and just exploring arrondissement 5 and 6 where we were staying.  I was also very pleased at avoiding another ‘unfamiliar foods’ experience like the ‘hamburger aux cheval avec des oeufs’ rouse that Robyn inflicted on me the last time we were here.

Home again home again jiggidy jig. Luxuriating in that ‘glad to be home’ feeling that last for about three days, or until you go back to work. The streets seem cleaner and friendlier than when you left, the trees leafier, the average more extraordinary. I feel an odd delight with a corpulent blowfly swaying drunkenly past, a smile from a shopkeeper stands out for its familiarity, Megan says “look at us driving in the traffic”. The typically Auckland Rain today is stupendous (google James Griffin on flavours of Auckland rain) but it’s perversely summery and just great. So feeling both new and old and with our slightly battered suitcases, winter complexions, mementos and impressions we forge our way through the rain towards Taranaki. We drop Dash off at her new apartment in a freshly rinsed Hobson St. Hugs goodbye, feels weird; this must be the official end-point.

From the top of l'arc de triomphe

First obligatory shot

French chickie

A Pont

The shortest queue ever at the Eiffel Tower- see what happens when you get up early girls (#earlybird/worm)?

Second obligatory shot

A diceptively serene looking Robyn considering she's petrified at being on top of the Arc de Triomphe

A deceptively dry looking bunch of girls at le jardins de Versailles considering it's chucking down

Chateau de Versailles at dawn. Notice the queue. (#earlybird/worm)

Chicks at an arty metro entrance (Le Louvre)

Selfie (is it a selfie if there's two of you?)

New Year's wine and Tirimasu

Typical down-time moment 1

Typical downtime moment 2

 

Comments

Nooooooooooooo, I only just worked out how to log in and comment.  Now you are back and the vicarious adventure is over.  I feel I must jump in the car and drive to New Plymouth to check out your slides/photos/jpegs (whayever they are now).  Rest easy though, the urge to drive for longer tan 30 minutes soon passes me.  Seriously though, will you soon be in Auckland for anything?  Perhaps we should investigate the route to Taranaki. 

sarafro
10 Jan 2016, 12:31 AM

You're welcome anytime, it's only an hour and a bit!

Colin, Robyn, Megan, Ashleigh and Nicole
10 Jan 2016, 4:08 AM
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