Saturday, 22 October 2011

Paris? Parfait!

Mais tres tres froid!

So, it's been the last day of my holiday proper – there's still an overnight in London and the train journey back to Scotland to do, but today was the last day free for adventuring. And, once again, I've had great fun. Are you surprised? Thought not.

The hotel was the same one I stayed in on my way out at the start of my holiday. When I arrived last night, it was like coming home. I was back on the 6th floor, with a (marginally) bigger room this time, but more to the point, with a rooftop view of the Latin Quarter where I was staying. It felt great.

My plans for today were to head for the Musee d'Orsay, fill my socks with art and culture and then see what was left of the day for sight-seeing. But the best laid plans and all that – the museum staff were on strike! I timed my arrival for just after what should have been opening time, only stopping briefly for a cafe espresso en route but when I arrived instead of the open doors, I was met with a disgruntled line of visitors all milling around trying to work out what to do. Me? Well, I got my camera out, took a few photographs of the fascinating surroundings and the building, and got my trusty guidebook out to look for alternative entertainment. Part of my entertainment, I confess, was watching the other visitors steadfastly queuing to get in, despite all the signs advising of the strike, certain that if they waited long enough and in sufficient numbers, the workers would see the error of their ways and open the doors. I don't think it happened, and I certainly didn't hang about to find out.

The only problem was – it was really really cold in Paris this morning. There was a misty cloud settled over the city and with it a crisp fresh wind. Before long, my little fingers were like blocks of ice and my nose had turned its usual winter Rudolph colour. The frozen fingers were a real handicap. I had started enjoying myself with the camera – taking lots of detail shots, quirky features and overlooked perspectives. What a previous partner would have called my BBP shots – Becca's Boring Pictures! But as the cold got to me, my fingers refused to obey and the shutter button got harder and harder to find. There was nothing for it but to find somewhere indoors and warm up. And don't you know it, the closest indoor place was a shopping mall – damn, what a tragedy! 

I spent about an hour wandering round, bought a few more layers, a scarf and a pair of gloves, and then headed off for the next round of girl v. city. Before long I found the Batobus stop and hopped on board. For those who don't know, the Batobus is the cheap version of the Bateaux mouche that ply their way up and down the Seine, fleecing the tourists – sorry, providing quality touristic experiences of Paris.

The Batobus is the water borne equivalent of the Open Top bus tours – hop on, hop off all day – and a great way of seeing the city from a different angle. I hopped on long enough to get me to Ile St Louis, where I promptly hopped off again, found a bistro and settled down to tuck myself round a 3 course, 2 glass of wine lunch – my first ever bistro meal in Paris. The only time I’ve been before – when it was also Baltic as I remember – my then travelling companion insisted in eating in, of all places, Macdonalds the entire time. So it was with great relish that I whiled away a good couple of hours in a pretty side street near Notre Dame.

Back on the Batobus for the afternoon, a trip to the Eiffel Tower – where I hopped off long enough to take a few (?!) photos, marvel at the length of the queue and hop back on for the return trip to Jardin des Plantes and a short walk back to my hotel. From there it was the Metro, Gare du Nord and the Eurostar back to London.

As I waited at Gare du Nord, I couldn't quite believe it had only been 2 weeks previous that I'd got off the train from London at the start of my adventure, little knowing exactly what was in store for me. Have I enjoyed it? Immensely. Was it easy? Much of it was, but not all. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat!

Tune in tomorrow for my highs and lows, gold stars and D- moments. You know you want to... I only hope you've enjoyed reading about my travels as much as I've enjoyed writing about them. If not, I guess there's not really anyone left to apologise to!!

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