(We are only up to day 6 and you may feel a bit snowed under by the amount of reading and the photos. It will taper off once we leave London. You won't have thirty odd days of this. I don't have the time to write and shape pictures for everyday anyway)
It seemed like a good idea when we booked it, but no sooner were we in London than we were off to Paris, the next day in fact. We were collected by coach near Lancaster Gate Station and with some driving around to pick up other passengers, we were dropped at St Pancras Station amid much busyness and organised chaos. We made it onto the Eurostar train and found our seats, which was more than other people could. Why do people sit anywhere when it is booked seating. So much trouble was caused by people sitting in wrong seats.
Just as we left our hotel at about 5.15 in the morning, we saw a squirrel, which was quite exciting. We took a photo but he or she blended into the background.
Anyway in no time at all we were out of London and quickly at the coast and then briefly under the English Channel. What took the time was travelling through the French countryside. I would hazard a guess that we were travelling at about 160 to 180 kilometres per hour, but the train was very smooth. The French countryside was grey and it was drizzling. This didn't bode well for Paris, but as we neared Paris, the weather improved. We experienced our first use of euros on the train when we bought breakfast. They actually took both pounds and euros. I think the trip was about two and a half hours.
We were driven around Paris and saw many sights. We were dropped at the Eiffel Tower and walked to the Seine for our lunch cruise. It was a pretty fine meal and well served. We sat with two lasses our age from the Texas, but one was Scottish born and she had lived in Melbourne a couple of decades ago. The unlimited wine flowed freely and we were all in stitches. Who said Americans had no sense of irony? They can certainly bitch as good as any gay guy. Another in our group said to us later, I knew you two looked like fun when you boarded the bus, probably because we looked hung over. I made a vague effort to notice the banks of the Seine. I even got a photo of a couple sitting on the bank kissing.....so romantic. I now forget which is the Left Bank and which is not. An anecdote we were told, the Left Bank squanders the money that the other bank makes.
After the cruise, up into the Eiffel Tower and the views were stupendous. What a beautiful city is an understatement. Then off to the Louvre but instead of going inside, R and I decided to experience some Parisian street life. We found a cafe and ordered coffee. Very good coffee too. I just found the receipt yesterday and we paid around $12 for two cups of coffee. Clearly we were still in the tourist area. My mind must have tired of translating dollars to pounds and then to euros. I had decided before we went away, that I would not fuss about money, and I didn't, within reason.
Back to Gare du Nord but the traffic was very heavy in Rue La Fayette, so we did not even have time for duty free at UK customs before we boarded the train back to London. The day was only marred by the bus being late to take us back from St Pancras Station to Paddington. We should have just caught a train.
Back in London, it was late and we decided some greasy original recipe KFC was appropriate for dinner. Tired and to bed in our thankfully changed room.
In summary, Paris was great. It was clean, any locals we dealt with were friendly and I did not see any dog shit on the streets. Not sure why, but we did miss the area where the immigrants live and rioted a few years ago.
Graffiti as we entered Paris. It was in French, so I could not read it. Duh, I can't read graffiti when it is in English either.
The Gare du Nord where we left our train. It was just one of many grand railway stations I saw in England and France.
Some of these additional low level traffic lights like in Singapore. They must be for low riding motor cycles and bikes.
Orderly traffic around the Arc de Triumph. Our guide said it is the only location in France where drivers must give was to the right. From my observations, no one was giving way to anyone.
THE tunnel taken from our coach.
Our lunch cruise boat on the Seine.
Our guide told us that a previous mayor of Paris raised the ire of motorists by widening footpaths, turning car lanes into bus lanes and introducing these bicycles which are free for a small yearly fee. You scan a card or similar at what looks like a parking meter, take a bike, ride to where you want to go and leave it at another bike stand. Smart idea.
Stuck in traffic in Rue La Fayette. I was looking for hot Parisian guys on the street, but I did not really see many.