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A day in Paris~ (aka Stranded in Paris)

Of course, you can't go to Disneyland Paris without seeing some of, you know, Paris, right? I'd never been to Paris before, so there's no way I'd miss the opportunity to at least try and squeeze it in. I'd heard that Paris was dirty and unfriendly by various people, but I can't say I saw it myself. We only had the day, fair enough, and saw quite a few beggars and street swindlers, I suppose, but you get that in any city and I'd happily go back to spend some more time in Paris. It's not fair to judge a city on a quick
day trip. I'll be back. :)

http://astoundance.com/livejournal/disneyetc/loltravel.jpg

Our train turfed us out right beside the Arc de Triomphe. I didn't know you could go up there, and if we had more time and money I'd have jumped at the chance! Just look how tiny the people are on top of it, to give a sense of scale to the thing.

http://astoundance.com/livejournal/disneyetc/archy.jpg

I had a check list of places I wanted to see, the big touristy three; the Arc, the Louvre, and of course, the Eiffel Tower. Next time I'd like to see Notre Dame, Moulin Rouge and take a stroll along the Seine, but we just didn't have time.

http://astoundance.com/livejournal/disneyetc/touristslol.jpg
http://astoundance.com/livejournal/disneyetc/tourists2.jpg

As we were wondering about, we finally made contact with an internet friend of mine and Moose's, a guy we met in TF2 years ago who lives in Paris. He wanted to meet up, so Moose and I went off to find him while DC and Luke took Sarah back to the hotel, as she was feeling pretty overwhelmed by the city. We headed over to his local area of the city, which wasn't on the typical tourist track and, as such, finally got a feel for the real Paris. It was so cool being around locals and seeing cafes and restaurants that weren't trying to cater only to tourists. He took us to Sacré-Coeur, Sacred Heart, a gorgoeus Roman Catholic church high on the hill that overlooks Paris. I wish we'd gone back there at night time because I think the lights from the city below would have been so gorgeous.
http://astoundance.com/livejournal/disneyetc/saran.jpg
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We grabbed a drink in a bar and spent a good while talking about League of Legends and TF2 while waiting for news that DC and Luke had made it back into the city centre. We had them meet us where we were so we could grab dinner in a more authentic restaurant, and because we didn't want to go back into central Paris until it got dark, so we could do the Eiffel Tower properly, at night time with all the twinkling lights. This later would turn out to be a Very Bad Idea.
http://astoundance.com/livejournal/disneyetc/loltourists3.jpg

Now, I'm a pretty cynical person. I'm working on it, but I don't think I'll ever get better at the optimism thing (hur, swidt?) - I fully expected the Eiffel Tower to be a bit of a disappointment. I thought it'd be a bit like Big Ben, far smaller in real life than you expected it to be. I thought the hype the Eiffel Tower received was through romanticism, perhaps - you see it because you should see it, because that's what Tourists Do.

I was so absolutely blown away as we turned the corner out of the subway and saw it. I literally could not get over how impressive the whole structure is, how downright tall it is. The arches that form its legs towered over us, made all the more magical and daunting for the fact we saw it at night time, light up like a beacon. It was absolutely breathtaking. I called my parents, who haven't been there themselves, and just gushed about how I didn't think it'd be this pretty, or this downright huge.

http://astoundance.com/livejournal/disneyetc/eiffelomg.jpg

We stood in queue, and in the rain, for hours. Half way along we saw signs saying we wouldn't be able to go right up to the top. I'm not sure why, but there were storm clouds in the distance (flashes of lightning just made the whole thing more magical) and apparently only one of the lifts was working anyway, and no way in hell was I taking the stairs. In the queue, we realised that on the hour, every hour, the already beautiful lights on the Eiffel Tower started twinkling, like a giant Christmas Tree. I'm getting all bouncy thinking about it! It was just so so impressive and beautiful and totally worth the rain and the wait. It was even worth the way the evening ended. Which I'll come to later, because it was one of Those Moments that you never forget. I guess every holiday should have one. Last year, when our canal boat got itself stuck turning around in a viaduct and I ended up downstairs downing whiskey and having a near panic attack, was last year's Moment. But anyway, I digress...
http://astoundance.com/livejournal/disneyetc/eiffelomg2.jpg

http://astoundance.com/livejournal/disneyetc/eiffelomg3.jpg


^ and that last picture there, I think, reveals why we probably weren't allowed at the very top of the heaping tower of metal. How amazing is that photo? These French guys took it for us and I just can't believe our luck that they caught a photo right at the moment lightning struck in the distance. Absolutely awesome.

The queue to get back down in the only working lift was so long, we decided to brave the stairs. It took ages, made DC and Moose extremely uncomfortable, and had my legs killing me by the end of it.

And that's when the fun started.

Our hotel was pretty far outside Paris itself - we had one next to Disneyland, which is a good few miles out of the city. We read that our last subway train left around midnight. What we'd failed to read was that the last stop it left wasn't anywhere near the Eiffel Tower. Because the Eiffel Tower's local subway station was closed off when we got there. And then things really got good.

There was a taxi rank just outside the Eiffel Tower, we thought, ah, sod it, we'll fork out and pay the extra buck to get a taxi home. Between the four of us, it won't be that much. Right? Wrong. Nobody would take us. They wouldn't even humour the idea of taking us that far, even when we offered to pay extra or pleaded. The queuing system was a complete joke, too - in that there wasn't one. We waited for ages, and when a taxi came near it would be mobbed by a thousand other people who had turned up later than us. So infuriating. Not as infuriating as nobody offering us the ride, but pretty danged annoying.

After an hour or so of getting soaking wet in the rain and being completely ignored by every taxi around, we decided to see if we could get any train that would get us even vaguely near our hotel. We caught a late train to some place I forget, which was on the very end of its line, but closer to Val d'Europe than anywhere else we'd found so far. And then we were stuck. By now it's getting on for one, two o-clock in the morning and when we do find taxis, they never stop for us, or get snapped up by clubbers and random folks before we got to them. After further hours waiting, in the rain, stranded in Paris, it was starting to look utterly hopeless. Moose called our hotel and asked if they could arrange a taxi for us, and was promptly hung up on (so there's a hotel we won't be going back to.) So we waited. And waited.

Finally, this taxi driver stopped, and we dived him. It's the late / early hours, it's pouring with rain and we are begging this poor man in broken French to take us to Val d'Europe, and he is trying to explain to us in broken English that it's a long way. In the end, he took us. I think he did it because he knew we'd not get home any other way. He spent the whole time talking about England and London and Brighton, specifically, and I think he was enjoying his chance to practice his English with us. It was awkward at times, but this man was a saint, our hero, our savior in the wet and desolate planes of Paris. We loved that man. Thank you, Taxi Guy.

We got back to the hotel at, I don't even know, three, four in the morning? Thank goodness our flight wasn't early the next day.

We spent the morning recouperating from the night before, haha, then we checked out the local shopping area (the mall was closed on the Sunday, just what, France?) and outlet village, then headed back to the airport via high speed train, which was fun. We got there hours early, which I'd rather, since airtravel can be a stressful affair, and just sat around playing Magic: The Gathering while we waited. 'Cause we're cool.
http://astoundance.com/livejournal/disneyetc/goingome.jpg

So long, Paris! I'll be back!

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
ladyguinevere83
Sep. 25th, 2012 09:41 am (UTC)
Your Paris pics look amazing! You're making me want to go back, lol. It's been a very long time. Love what you did with the images as well!
darkwingpsycho
Sep. 25th, 2012 06:59 pm (UTC)
Awesome pics!! Looks like a fun trip! :D
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )