February 11, 2011

Leaving for Paris Part One

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So I'm leaving for Paris, won't you try to take care of yourself? Rufus Wainwright

24 December 2010

Had to set the alarm obscenely early this morning (4:20am). Thankfully most of my things were packed the night before and I only had to throw in the few last minute things. It was freezing walking to the tube, but I was glad of the company from Angie. We made it to Turnpike Lane in time for the first tube, and went through to Great Portland Street. We arrived right on time (6.00am) and at five past, I was waving goodbye and on my way to the tenth country of 2010.

The first part of the trip was spent picking up other travellers at the other collection points and then driving through the English country side to Dover. I was asleep though, so what all of this looked like, I’m still none the wiser.

We boarded the ferry to Calais at about half 9. I was apprehensive about this crossing as I know how wonderful I am with travel sickness. As I listened to the engines starting up, the Captain came over the speakers to advise that overnight, gale force winds had been experienced in the channel and that the crossing would be quite rough, however, they had engaged the dampers to their highest point to try and buffer the motion. Five minutes later, I was in the bathroom, door locked, sitting on the floor with my head over the bowl. It is incredible to think that even when your stomach is empty you can still vomit, even if it is stomach acid. I have heard people say that sea sickness is like nothing else you will ever experience, and I can whole heartedly agree. I prayed for death. I had lived a good life and was happy for it to end if I could stop feeling so terrible.

An hour later we were docking in Calais, and with delicate stomach I re-boarded the coach and promptly passed out. Didn’t see much of France on the way in, but I was awake to see signs for Dunkirk and the Somme so I feel I experienced something. The tour guide, Andrew, was telling us about the revolutions, the caretaker princes, the many and various Louis’ and the Napoleonic wars. One day I will read more French history.

We arrived at the hotel – the All Seasons in Bercy around 1600. Room keys were distributed and we all went to relax and freshen up. My room mate for the next few days is Mertyl.
Our room was similar to this.

Map of the area we stayed in.
At 1900 we went downstairs and took a scenic coach tour of the city at night. Paris under lights is glorious. Merytl, Ronnie, Shannon and I (my newly adoptive Chicagoan family) went for dinner at a little French restaurant and had traditional dishes, pastries and coffee.

Heading towards the Arc de Triomphe

Freezing in the park near the Eiffel Tower
25 December 2010 – Part One

The day started at 0900 with a short journey to Sacre-Coeur. It was a brilliant clear day, the sun was out, the weather was freezing, but you could see so much. We walked up the stairs to Sacre-Coeur, about 100+ of them, but there were plenty of places to stop and admire the view. I didn’t get to go into the church as there was a Christmas service going on and the group was moving to the next point.
Sacre- Coeur

View out over Paris
view in the other direction
Right around the corner is Montmartre. Little cafes and art shops surround the little square where artists set up their easels and offer to paint portraits of the tourists. One gent started doing mine but I stopped him before he wasted his charcoal.

Playing Edith Piaf songs for the crowd, while little kids danced around him.

Artists setting up for the day.
View from behind the square.

I fell in love with one painting but it was 290€ and completely out of my budget. I tried to get a picture of it but the artist was keeping a strict eye on people and chasing anyone who tried. I don’t blame him. The other painting I liked and was tempted to buy was 90€. I did manage to get a photo of this one.
There was a little Catholic church beside the square, tucked away in a little corner. We snuck in up the back and heard the last hymn, sung solo by the priest and in Latin. Very moving.

We met up with the group again and walked through the little streets. We passed by the only remaining, original wooden windmill and stopped outside the café where the film Amelie was shot.

A little further down the street and to the right is the Moulin Rouge. It isn’t as big as what I imagine. Can only blame the movie for that. Didn’t get to go inside but next time I’ll try and get tickets to a show.
Last wooden windmill

Moulin Rouge

The bottle of water in my hand was colder now, when this photo was taken, than when I brought it.
From here we walked back towards the coach, past a street lined with various types of sex shop. There was an erotic museum, which I’m curious to go into, and a few cheekily named night clubs. I was surprised today that so few on the group wanted to go in as a few of the shops were open. Some of the Spanish boys were laughing but offended at the same time.

The shop where I purchased Mum's birthday present


  1. *sigh*
    Paris in December!
    Great photos, I love the one of Sacre-Coeur

  2. "prayed for death" - Hope you learned what a great time you could have missed out on :) please, please tell - what did you buy your mum?
    Now the cold - frozen eye balls? Have you discovered any tips to alleviate this yet?
    Love this blog so please keep writing.

  3. @ Jenny: Once I reached Paris it was all fine but while it's happening, its horrendous

    @ Sarah: It was beautiful! Come visit me!