It’s been such a long time coming, with so much anticipation from us and friends that I hardly know where to start now that we’ve arrived. For the record, our neighbour kickstarted me into writing anagrams. Being the word lover that I am, and for the word lovers who are out there reading this, I’ll start off each of my posts with an anagram of the city and country which we’re visiting. If you’re keen to work it out, make sure you do it before you start reading as I’m likely to give it away in the text. Be sure to let me know if you work out any better anagrams, especially as it’s a pretty ordinary one to start off. Refs, I can rap!
The usual laborious plane trips (3 lots of 7 hours for us) were as to be expected, apart from some drama on the last flight with our neighbouring passengers’ leg. Somehow she’d been bitten by some sort of insect, which they believed to be a spider. After seeing the extent of her heavily swollen ankle, the hostess inquired as to whether there was a doctor aboard. We assumed there must have been as she was shortly escorted to a different area before being returned next to us and given some medication. I had been hoping that it might qualify her for a seat in business or first class as she had her leg up on the tray in front of her husband, but either the flight was completely full (most likely) or they thought she could tough it out in economy. Upon arrival, passengers had to wait for paramedics to board and escort them off before we could then leave.
After checking in to our hotel, of course the very first thing we did was have a coffee and croissant. Both lived up to expectations, although it seems they have as much difficulty here deciding whether it’s espresso or expresso as they do in Australia. We’ve been true Parisians, buying a baguette each day, however since arriving at our studio apartment, we’ve been having breakfast in and making our own coffees with the machine here.
Both of us have found the traffic quite amusing. It took three hours to reach our hotel in the Latin Quarter from the airport, forty-five of which was spent collecting passengers from other terminals. The terminal where we arrived appeared almost deserted aside from the passengers on our plane. We could hardly believe it was an international airport, until we discovered the numerous other terminals after we were collected and informed that ours operated in the morning only. When we went to the main terminal there was a bus blocking the thoroughfare and the driver had decided to go for a walk while waiting for his travellers. Finally, after being sedentary for half an hour and the driver walking to find the passengers, our driver ended up reversing through boom gates. This type of situation has been seen frequently while wandering the streets. Despite the aggression and anything goes attitude of so many drivers, it was amazing to see how well the massive roundabout that is the Arc de Triomphe worked. The lack of road markings and rules seemed to work well for all the drivers and cyclists so that people actually seemed to be patient.
Many of the main sights have been seen so far, but we look forward to returning during the summer with Steve’s parents when the trees are no longer naked. We wandered down to Notre Dame for Ash Wednesday mass shortly after sunrise. It was a beautiful time to be walking around and seeing the strong architectural features in the soft morning light. Being our first fine day in the city, it also enabled the stained glass windows to work their magic and made it more interesting listening to a mass in French of which I only understood a few words and Steve none.
On Thursday we rode a tourist bus around all of the major sights and hopped off to stroll around the Eiffel Tower.
We arrived at the Louvre early enough on Friday that we didn’t have to line up to enter. We were all set on our way towards the Mona Lisa when an alarm was set off due to an unaccompanied bag in the main hall outside the room of the famous painting. Everyone was locked into the hall and herded to either end while a seemingly unprotected staff member went through the contents of the bag. Fortunately all was in order and we were soon again on our way with the crowds. We spent a few hours there in the morning, then broke up the day by visiting Galeries Lafayette before returning in the afternoon. Highlights for us were the Islamic art with artefacts from middle eastern countries from around the 10th century, the opulent apartment of Napolean and just generally all the architecture and decorative ceilings.