Day 4 & 5 – Hobo Pee & Sweet Parie

So you know that bus trip I took from London to Paris. Well what an adventure that was. Only a mere 90 min into the trip one of the more ungainly dressed decidedly not all there passengers was not able to open there door to the toilet. So he just did his business right then and there against the door. Nice. This was only made worse by the fact that I was sitting directly opposite the top of the stairway to the toilet. Double nice.

IMAG0188 After that it wasn’t all so bad. The trip went fairly quickly. I managed to get some sleep and woke not long about an hour or so before we arrived in Paris. It was absolutely freezing for the first two hours before we stopped at the chunnel. I managed to communicate with the french driver and did my best impression of shivering (sacre brrrr!) and got him to turn up the heat. I don’t think the hobos would have survived the night if I didn’t. I know I wouldn’t have. Something interesting I found out was that the bus doesn’t actually drive through the chunnel. It parks itself onto the carriage of a train and then the train takes the bus to the other side of the channel. Interesting. In hindsight I think I would have preferred the option of taking the ferry across instead so that you could at least get out and stretch your legs.

The bus actually arrived in Paris about 45min early which unfortunately was not such a good thing. Nothing was open and I had no idea where I was and no money to anything about it. When I finally found an ATM up the road and managed to work out what metro ticket I needed to buy I headed into the centre of town. It was a pretty cold and dreary day and I wasn’t able to check into the hostel until 3pm. I ended up leaving my bag there anyway in their luggage locker and went about doing some sight seeing. My Laptop, Phone, and Camera were all flat from the workout they’d been given the few days before so I took the day to just walk around and check out a few things.

I slept very well that night.

The next day was when it all started to get going. The sun peaked its head out a few times (although still not enough) and I headed out to Versailles. This was one of the palaces of Louis XIV among others. Utterly awe inspiring. Walking up to it actually gave me the same impression as when I first approached the grand canyon. The haze that indicates distance was visible from where I started walking towards it. Making it look both huge and far away. That was no trick of the eye either. This place is truly monstrous. The gates are gilded with gold and the palace wraps itself around the U-shaped courtyards and dares you to enter. So I did.

IMGP0486 I bought a Paris Museum Pass as it should save me some money (most likely not a lot but it does have its conveniences) which lets me skip the line to buy a ticket. Unfortunately that left me with the line to go through security instead which was many times longer. I was actually impressed with how fast the line actually moved and I was through the door in no time.

The inside of the palace is about as awe inspiring as the outside if not more. I’d be hard pressed to choose which was more impressive Versailles or Windsor. I actually think in terms of the grandiose that the french might actually have this one. Everything was ornately decorated, painted, and marbled. The enormous cathedral was stunning, and as you move through the palace you can really get an idea of how life would have been living in the palace. The standout areas for me were definitely the Hall of Mirrors and the Hall of Battles. Unbelievably long and wide corridors hung with chandeliers and art work. The Hall of Battles is lined with painting 10 metres or so across.

Then there were the gardens! Immensely vast, lakes, canals. Shame I could only see them from the windows. There was some musical thing going on and you had to pay extra to go into the gardens because apparently the ‘music is everywhere!’

So once I’d seen the entire palace I headed back into Paris to do some more sight seeing and take some photos. I stopped off at the Eiffel Tower which looks to be under renovation and then walked across and up the hill a bit to the Maritime Museum for a better view. I then headed out to the Sacre Coeur Basilica.

IMGP0619The Sacre Coeur Basilica is a chapel on one of the highest points in Paris in the Montmartre district. Its a pretty steep climb from street level but worth it once you get to the top. Unfortunately the place is crawling with hasslers trying to sell you all sorts of crap and behave like flies until you swat them away.

The view of Paris is tremendous just from outside the basilica. The Sacre Coeur is free to walk through although you can’t take photos inside unfortunately. For 5 Euro you can take the stairs up to the dome for a 360 degree of Paris. I did this (much cheaper than the Eiffel Tower) and again the view was amazing. The stairs were bloody steep and narrow though. 300 in total. If you’re someone of large stature I wouldn’t waste you 5 Euro though.

IMGP0472 From there I headed over to the Arc de Triomphe and climbed some more stairs. Another great view of Paris and there is also a bit of an exhibition inside there too. On top there are two little glass security enclosure where the security guards sit all day to keep out of the wind. I’m sure everyone is on their best behaviour. ‘Don’t you make me come out there!’

So at the end of a long day I headed into McDonalds to start doing some research for the next day. I’m heading out to Mont St Michel and need to make sure I know how to get there. I also will be stopping at the train station to book my reservation and get my Eurail ticket activated. About time I started using it.

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