Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Paris Diaries: Day 4

And so we come to the end of our travels... click here to read about day 3!

The last day was so chilled. We didn't leave the apartment until the early afternoon, when we grabbed brunch from a nearby crêperie which turned out to be the best place ever. It was tucked away down a non-touristy side-street and it felt like we'd come across a hidden gem. I had a crêpe filled with creamed potatoes and French onion, and then shared a chocolate and cinnamon crêpe for dessert. 13/10 would go again.

Unfortunately I managed to leave the apartment with a dead camera so the following photos are from my phone...

After our crêpes, we went to Notre Dame cathedral and had a wander. The photos from my phone don't come close to doing it justice.

Aaaand then things got dramatic. One of my friends popped into a souvenir shop to spend her very last euro. We had a nice wander back to the Metro, got back to the apartment, packed our bags, tidied up and made the place look brand new again... we'd put the keys on the dining table and were literally halfway out the door when my friend realised that she didn't have her camera. Cue frantic unpacking of her suitcase with about 50 minutes to go until check-in closed for our train at Gare Du Nord. Nothing.

So that's how we ended up splitting, with two of us going ahead to the station with all the bags (so tiring, so sweaty, but restored my faith in humans as so many people helped on the Metro stairs without us having to ask) and the one who lost her camera going all the way back across Paris on her own to see if she could find the camera. To make things even more dramatic, when we left the UK her data roaming failed, meaning we had zero way of contacting her.

I stress-bought a pain au chocolat. Obviously.

She made it back to us a few minutes before check-in closed, empty-handed, which has to be one of (one of) the most devastating things that can happen on a holiday. I felt so bad for her, and so sad about the photos and videos of all of us that we'll never see. Felt even worse when the bar on the Eurostar didn't have the risotto I so desperately wanted so I had to settle for a sandwich. #FirstWorldProblems.

But all in all it was such an amazing experience and one which I will never forget. I'm so happy that I finally got to tick off what's been #1 on my bucket list for my entire life, and I'm already planning to go back next year.

Thanks for keeping up with my Paris travels!

Monday, 20 November 2017

Paris Diaries: Day 3

Click here to read about Day 2.

Our third day began with toast and a trip to the Picasso museum. Picasso is my favourite artist so we had to go there. Plus, because France appears to be a country that gives back to its young people as opposed to rinsing them of thousands like some countries I could mention, we got into the museum as well as most other attractions - like the Louvre - for free.

For lunch, we went to Hank Burger, which you can think of as a vegan Gourmet Burger Kitchen BUT BETTER. I would genuinely go to Paris just for a Hank Burger lunch and then come home. Also, the interior was white, grey and yellow, with copper accents, distressed wood and adorable mismatched cushions. It was like my brain threw up. They could've had better lighting for the Instagram hipsters like myself but I won't hold it against them.


As we'd done the biggest things on our list (the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower...) we decided to go back to the apartment for what I like to call Naps & Snacks™. We were exhausted from visiting so many places in such a short amount of time, and our lunch had been rather large... you know you're getting old when you have to nap after you've eaten. Life comes at you fast.

Once it was dark and we'd eaten dinner (4-minute noodles with boiling water as the only requirement, yes please and thank you) we made a spontaneous trip to the Arc de Triomphe which turned out to be amazing not only because we got in for free yet again, but also because of the view. Before the trip, I'd assumed that going up the Eiffel Tower would be my favourite bit, but you can't see the tower... from the tower. You can see it from the Arc de Triomphe though, and it looks incredible, especially when it sparkles (which happens for a couple of minutes on the hour, every hour, after sunset.)

By that point it was getting on for midnight, so we made our way back to the apartment ready for our final day...

Check back tomorrow for day 4!

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Paris Diaries: Day 2

Read about the first day here.

Having had takeaway Pizza Hut the night before, we made up for it on our first morning by going to a nearby cafe for breakfast and ordering croissants. We also walked around with neon 'tourist' signs on our foreheads...

The second day of the trip was our busiest. In the morning we jumped back on the Metro and visited the Louvre... because how could we not? We didn't have long and only stayed for a couple of hours, which was just enough time to see the Mona Lisa and grab the biggest macaron you ever did see.

After that, we headed to Pont Neuf to see the love locks on the bridge because, again: massive tourists.

Then we made it to the Eiffel Tower, albeit about an hour late... we'd booked tickets in advance so we could beat the queues, use the lifts, and go right to the top (when in Paris and all that) but we got a little lost. I'd just like to point out however that that was the only time we got lost on the whole trip and we dealt with it pretty well, so brownie points to us please.

Coming up from the Metro and seeing the tower looming above us was such a surreal moment, because it's one I've imagined for so many years. And there it was, right above us.

That night - and you'll be proud of this - we went to a proper French restaurant. Like, think of every French stereotype and plonk them in a building, and there you go: Chez Frezet. It was only a few minutes from our apartment and had one vegetarian option on its massive menu (yeah, I wasn't surprised either) but it was lovely. And stupidly classy and expensive. But hey, euros don't count, or that's what I kept telling myself. If I remember rightly, I had cheese and spinach lasagna followed by a pear and apple tart with raspberry compote and vanilla ice cream, and far too much bread from the bread basket. TAKE ME BACK.

Then we went back to the apartment and I edited photos whilst playing Cards Against Humanity. Are you sensing a theme? Same.

Check back tomorrow for Day 3!

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Paris Diaries: Day 1

Long time no see! I'm on a blogging break, but like I said in my announcement post, there are a few things I want to tell you about. First thing's first: I fled the country and ticked Paris off my bucket list.

I've been trying to go for my birthday for the past few years, but things kept happening: work, money, my health went downhill, and then we had illness in the family. But in July this year, everything came together and I finally got it booked for 22nd-25th October with a couple of friends. Not my birthday, but close enough.

We stayed in an AirBnB (this one!) for the first time and I can't recommend it enough. They're often cheaper than hotels, you get an entire home or apartment, and depending on who you book with, you may get to meet the owner of the place and get some personal recommendations, too. Our apartment wasn't in the centre or on the outskirts - in other words, close enough to the tourist attractions by Metro to not be annoying, but far enough away that I'm pretty sure we were the only English people around. It was tucked away in a rustic-looking courtyard with yellow shutters, balconies, and spiral wooden stairs which had the quiet atmosphere of a church and which were a pain to walk up with our suitcases. But hey, we were in Paris!

We got the Eurostar and arrived in Gare Du Nord at 1pm, planned so we could make the most of our trip. After settling in at the apartment and meeting the owner who gave us a tour of the place and made sure we were okay, we headed out to the Sacre-Coeur which wasn't too far away.

We took pictures, got crêpes, and listened to a busker with an amazing voice. I also got accosted by a handful of many people who were forcefully trying to scam money out of visitors, but luckily it's common knowledge that that happens in Paris, and with being in London so often where it's pretty much the same, it wasn't hard to deal with.

So... you can judge us, because I'm still judging us... we went to Pizza Hut. We'd had a long day of travelling, okay? I'd been up since 3am, on the road since 4:50, we hadn't made plans for dinner yet and it was getting late. We took our pizzas (and potato wedges in my case) back to the apartment and watched Crazy Stupid Love on my laptop before playing Cards Against Humanity. Is there a better way to spend an evening? The answer to that would be yes! You'll see on day three.

That's it for now. Check back tomorrow for a recap of the second day of our trip which was much more action-packed...

Have you ever been to Paris?