Aug 15, 2010

The l'amour story of me and Paris

I've been back home for almost a week now, and even though home is always a good place to come back to, I can't help missing having croissants and Nutella for breakfast, seeing photo opportunities everywhere you look, not understanding a word of what people around you are saying and walking, walking, walking until your whole body aches (and then taking some Ibuproféne and walking a bit more). Here is a brief or not-that-brief describtion of my trip to Paris, also functioning as a personal diary entry.

Day 1, Thursday

Travelling, travelling, travelling. Sitting in a car, a train, a bus, an airplane, an airport shuttle, a RER train and a metro, and finally arriving at our hostel, FIAP Jean Monnet, which I can recommend to anyone looking for a reasonably priced place to sleep your nights in. And the breakfast was yummy (and included)!

Day 2, Friday

After a few hours of sleep, I was very dumb and put on some heels (a choice I would deeply regret later - my back punnished me for my stupidity and very determinedly killed me for the rest of the trip. Only Ibuproféne saved me) and off we went, to explore Paris. We took a metro to the Eiffel tower and it was like London and Big Ben all over again, as I saw the tower for the first time (= eyes like saucers and an ear-to-ear half-wit smile). After taking lots of pictures, we bought tickets to the Seine cruise, and although it wasn't similar to that boat Celine and Jesse ride in Before Sunrise, it was cool anyway.

Our next stop was Notre Dame, which I just fell in love with. Although packed with tourists, it was grand, atmospheric and so so beautiful. The bells tolled, which I of course associated with Quasimodo and I had a song from the Disney film stuck in my head all day. It would have been great to see Paris from the roof of the church, but the queue was quite, eh, long, so we skipped it and moved on.

We took the boat to Louvre, then discussed our priorities and went to have lunch instead of queueing to see Mona Lisa. No offence, Mr DaVinci, but it was a good decision! We had ham/cheese crépes and Orangina in a little cozy restaurant by a busy street in Tuileries. We also took a picture in Tuileries metro station, trying to impersonate Steve Buscemi in Paris je t'aime, but not very successfully. For desert we had the best freaking cake in the whole wide world. Then we tried to do some shopping in Les Halles, a HUGE shopping centre, but decided to come back some other day. I did find a wonderful Chaplin poster at a stall for just 5 €, it's preeeettyyyyy.

We walked through Champs Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe and then went back to where we began the day, to the Eiffel tower and queued for an hour and a half to get to the top. And there we were, 273 metres above the ground and my achrophobia hardly let me to stand by the window and look down. But it was awesome! It was well past ten and the city lights looked just amazing, and Seine and all, and we were able to spot all the places we'd visited that day. Then, as for a fraction of a second I wondered if we could be able to see the Eiffel tower from up there, we figured we'd better call it a day. Haha. When we finally got back to the hostel, I fell on my bed, took my shoes off (my feet practically sang Hallelujah) and fell asleep the minute I closed my eyes.

Day 3, Saturday

We left early for Versailles, where we praised the European Union to heavens: EU citizens under 26 get to enter the palace free of charge, and most importantly, without having to queue for the tickets for two hours (like a nice American gentleman we talked to at breakfast one day). The palace was RIDICULOUS, and in a good way. No wonder the people of France where a bit annoyed by the ridiculously luxurious life Marie Antoinette and co led while they themselves where starving. Anyway, the place was amazing, and I wanted to photograph everything, though photos really don't do justice to that magnificence. We happily paid 6 € to get to the gardens, which were ridiculously HUGE. The fountains, the geometrically cut bushes and trees... We hardly explored half of the grounds, because there were simply too many nooks and little corners in the maze-like garden. We also took a picture of my S-etukortti in front of the palace, because we thought it looked so weird and out-of-place there.

We could have easily spend the whole day exploring the gardens, but we had plans for the night, so we left and after a break at the hostel made our way to Montmartre. Moulin Rouge was cool and some pictures were obviously taken. Then we went to the Amelié cafe, which was most charming, with super kind staff, decorated with pictures of Audrey Tautou and some props from the film, like garden gnomes and the pig lamp from Amelié's bedside table. We had tea and créme brulées - the coolest part was to break the covering with a spoon. I'd go there all the time if I lived any nearer.

That evening was the only time it rained during our trip, and we didn't mind. We just took a metro to our next destination, Sacré Coeur, an amazing Catholic church on a hill above Montmartre. As much as I loved Notre Dame, Sacré Couer was something else. No cameras were allowed inside the church, and because it was so late, there were hardly any tourists. In addition, there was a mass going on, with organ music and nuns singing songs I didn't understand, people praying with their palms up and crosses on their hands... The atmosphere was something very unique. I'd go to church every week if we had something like that in Finland. We walked around in awe and then sat down in the back of the church. There was a Holy Communion, and we figured it was a rare chance to take part in the Catholic ritual, so we joined the queue. Don't know if the most strict Catholic dogma would approve, but anyway, now I can say I've taken part in a Catholic Communion.

Day 4, Sunday

The long-expected day in Disneyland. There will be a post devoted to just that day. Because it was effing fantastic.

Day 5, Monday

The morning of our fifth day was, um, slow. It took a while (and a pill) for me to get going again, but eventually I did. First we went to Mosquée de Paris. I'd never been to a mosque before, and it was obviously very different from any Christian church. We also felt like we had to watch our every step, and that we weren't really wanted there, though there were some other tourists, too, and the people were very kind. It was a nice place, very fancy.

Next we went to a maze-y old cemetary called Pére Lachaise. The highlight was when I got to kiss the grave of Oscar Wilde. Although my lips felt dirty and contaminated for the rest of the day, haha. We also visited the graves of Sarah Bernhardt, Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison, and a French journalist, whose name I can't remember, but for some reason there's a belief that touching his private parts gives you fertility. His groin was all worn-down, the poor fellow. But we expect to get a lot of babies now!

We had pasta for lunch and went back to Les Halles to do some serious shopping. Really serious, I mean, we'd bought hardly anything so far, no clothes at all, so we were face to face with a definite must to buy things. It would be more than a shame to leave Paris so empty-handed. Luckily we found some very nice and somewhat cheap shops, like Berska, Pimkie and Etam, and satisfied our need to shop. After this my friend went to see a French friend of hers, and I went to rest to the hostel for a few hours, because the effect of my painkiller was already gone. Afterwards we went to see the ten o'clock light show of the Eiffel tower, then bought huge lemon ice creams and sat by the Seine to eat them. It was so nice and pretty, and we sat there a good while before going back to the hostel.

Day 6, Tuesday

We treated ourselves with an hour of extra sleep, then had one last yummy breakfast and checked out. As we still had a few hours before leaving to the airport, we went to find a bookstore called Shakespeare and Company. And we did find it, eventually, it was just next to Notre Dame. It was the most charming bookshop ever, a little piece of England in the middle of Paris, with tall shelves, narrow corridors and a wonderfully mixed selection of new and used, recent and old books. I bought Atonement (didn't have it in English yet) and Boy A (had to call home to ask for the author) and got a lovely brown paper pack with the shop's name on it, which I will guard preciously.

We ate our last Nutella breads by Notre Dame and then had to pick up our luggage from the hostel and head to the airport. Back in Finland we felt blah and thought about going back with the passangers waiting to get on our plane. We had to wait for our train at Tikkurila for two hours (went a bit hysterical at times, but what do you expect (changing clothes in public is challenging but entertaining)). I was home at 3:15 am, and that was it.

In summary, an effing awesome trip. We did and saw and walked a lot, and this time that was just great. I would've been quite lost without my friend who speaks French and knew the city otherwise, too. I liked saying merci and bonjour and au revoir, learned that jambon means ham and was most proud of myself when at the airport was able to understand a whole sentence written in an ad. As expected, I fell in love with Paris - and I think Paris kind of liked me, too.


Paivi [] said...

Thank you for the travel story :) I may come back to check some details as you gave some pretty nice hints what to do. We'll be traveling to Paris in the end of September for just a long weekend, and it's going to be my first time ever in that city.

Eeva said...

You're very welcome! :) Ooh, there's so so much to see and do... We were on the move pretty much all the time, wanting to see as much as possible, but still there was a lot we didn't have time to explore. Well, there's a good reason for another trip... ;)

Paivi [] said...

That's what I'm afraid that there is way too much to see and do, and after the "holiday" I'll be even more tired than I was before the holiday... we also have the tendency of walking too much and seeing too much ;-)

Eeva said...

Yeah! I'm sure it would be lovely to spend a day just sitting in café and relaxing... but you just can't! ;)