A Travellerspoint blog

'ello, guv nuh!

London.

Don't ever book a hotel that's not at least within zone 1 of london metro. We arrived at 1130am at st pancras and proceeded by taxi to the british tourist center to pick up our London passes. From there our day went into disaster mode. The line taking us to out hotel in north acton was not very functional and we took directions from a worker at the metro station on how to get to north acton. We found the bus she mentioned and had to squeeze ourselves into the seats with our luggage. The bus continued on with each stop not being the one the lady had mentioned through a less than wonderful neighborhood and with a lot of dirty looks from the locals as we took up so much space on the bus. We finally gave up and found a minicab to drive us there. The driver was an interesting guy who had immigrated from Kabul, Afghanistan. 
By the time we checked in and ate, it was fairly late so jen and Elayna decided just to walk around Piccadilly Circus and do some shopping. 
We met up with alex for our reservations at one of Gordon ramsay's restaurants, maze. The food was delicious and the atmosphere was elegant, but the meal took so long that we were all half asleep by the end of it. We took a cab home and called it a night.

Hoping for better luck tomorrow.

Posted by E.M.N 19:52 Archived in England Comments (0)

La Fete National

Bastille Day

Our last full day in Paris was fully dedicated to "Bastille Day", or la fete national. We headed over to Champ Élysées and arrived around 1020am. We found a section near the George V metro stop with shorter people so we could see the street. The military parade started around 11am with the president riding down in a car. There was then a long wait until the air show started. If you've seen the blue angels, then this is nothing impressive. A variety of military planes fly down in a straight line down champ élysées. We then waited for what felt like forever with  marching music playing on speakers nearby. The music stopped and the military vehicles proceeded to parade down the street. We realized later that the music was playing for the actual military men marching further down the road, so if you plan to stand for this parade make sure you are further away from the arc de triomphe than the george v metro stop. The parade ended with helicopters flying down the street and the massive hoards of people began to move. 
We went looking for crepes and found none within the immediate area, so we decided to walk down the champ élysées. Needless to say, this was a terrible idea. There was one point on the sidewalk were it was squeezed into a tighter space because of a sandwich shop and we all were separate. I, Elayna, following Jen, was squeezed away from jen and had to smuggle my way through the crowd only to find myself in between a "female dog" of a French woman and her husband. She yelled some choice French words at me but not knowing what she was saying and not knowing how to cuss back at her, I proceeded forward. She commenced to try to physically prevent me from moving forward but seeing as how I lost both of my friends I shoved my way through. We all found each other on the other side eventfully though and breathed a sigh of relief and laughter after surviving people-geddon of champ élysées.
after eating lunch, we decided to catch up on some sleep before dinner. 
We ate dinner earlier than usual or this trip, so we could claim a nice spot on the champ du mars to watch the fireworks show. We waited for about 2.5 hours and stood near the end of champ du mars. People were surprisingly civil enough and we were all able to get a really good view of the Eiffel tower. The fireworks weren't entirely all that special, but being in Paris in a sea of thousand of people, watching the fireworks go off behind the Eiffel tower, was the perfect way to end our stay in Paris.

Au revoir, Paris!

Posted by E.M.N 19:49 Archived in France Comments (0)

The Louvre

Amongst other things

Sorry, everyone! No Internet in England so I am post blogging from the notes I saved in my iPhone. Forgive any errors! Haha -Elayna :)

Wednesday  in Paris
Alex found fleas in his bed last night. It was not quite the perfect night. We ended up sleeping really late and waking up early to deal with it with the company. (get an international phone...you never know when it'll come in handy...) 
So extremely tired and having a late start on the day, we got out favorite lunch, a baguette sandwich, and ate it on the go as we headed to the louvre. Wednesdays are the days when the louvre is open until 10pm and also it is when it is the busiest.
We thought we were going to need an entire day to get through all the major stuff. The louvre really is huge. You could spend days in one wing alone, but when you are short on time and sleep, Rick steves tour plan works just perfectly for you. Haha. We saw the famed Mona Lisa, winged goddess of victory, Venus de Milo, code of Hammurabi, and many others. By far the most impressive in the massive crowds of people was the winged goddess of victory. We couldn't truly appreciate the Mona Lisa because it was like being at a sungod concert that when you get to the front, everyone is trying to knock you and the gate over. We finished the louvre or most of what we wanted to focus on in about 4.5 hours. We were too tired and sweaty by this point and had to head back to our apartment to pack up and move to our new bug free apartment.
Alex really wanted to visit Paris' Chinatown, which really is nothing compared to San francisco. So we decided to pick dinner by our noses and eyes. We decided on pho cuon 14, which is supposed to be the eat Vietnamese food in Paris. The pho was perfect for the cold night and the rare steak slices were extremely soft and tender, but the pho itself wasnt mind blowing despite being fairly tasty and having way less msg.

Posted by E.M.N 19:47 Archived in France Comments (0)

The Palace of Versailles

Parle vous englais?!?! (anthem of the trip in paris...)

We are pretty sure that Rome ran us to the ground because we can't seem to wake up earlier than 9am nowadays.....

We had a relatively light day today....or so it seemed.

Jen and Elayna had some errands to run in the morning and upon finishing said errands, Paris began to rain and RAIN HARD. We were drenched by the time we reached our apartment. Luckily, the weather cleared up by the time we had dried off.

We took the lovely RER to the ~40 minute away Palace of Versailles. Upon approaching the palace, we saw how much difference gold decoration makes. Palace of Versailles is covered in gold....gold gates, gold fence, gold decorations on the roofs. We entered the premises only to findwhat could possibly be one of the longest lines ever. This line resembled the nephron of the kidney system. haha. Versailles was incredibly crowded today......=[

We finally were able to enter and headed to the information section where you can get a free audio tour headset (bring some earphones this day if you go!). We traveled through the Palace with the tour and saw how French kings had lived. This Palace is so huge that it would put all the houses on MTV Cribs to shame. Gold and silver decorations were common all over and only added to the grandeur. We saw the hall of mirrors , the bed chambers, and many paintings covering walls and ceilings. We quickly got tired of the palace as it was incredibly hot with all those people and no A/C and we were famished.

After eating, we went outside to the beautiful Garden of Versailles. Tip: If you have a museum pass and could care less about the musical gardens, get to versailles by 9am and head to the garden first; otherwise, there is an entrance fee to the gardens. We all agreed that the gardens were the highlight of the day, especially because we rented a golf cart to drive around in. =] The gardens are huge. Think Golden Gate Park or Central Park but covered completely in flowers and water fountains and minus the homeless people. You could definitely spend the whole day if not more here. The golf cart was fun because we were able to drive around the majority of the vast gardens and saw the grand canal, parts of Trianon, and the musical fountain. However, the carts are rented by the hour and we didn't really want to pay even more especially since the gardens were close to closing, so we only had an hour to look around, leaving little time to dwell at each site. I'd recommend the golf cart if you just wanna see everything on your own time and you have the money, but the mini train is cheaper and let's you stop at certain spots without the time constraints. You could also rent a bike or suck it up and walk.

We left Versailles tired and glad it was pretty cool weather most of the day. We went home to gather ourselves. When I, Elayna, found out that Albany had accepted me. I was super stoked and jumping for joy. Thank goodness for Princesse Didou wifi!!!!

After the good news, we headed to Bouillon Racine for our fancy French meal of the trip. The place was nicely decorated but required no dress code. The food was delicious!! But expect to get a colder shoulder from the waiters if you don't order wine. Jen and Elayna shared the 12 escargots appetizers, which was the best part of the meal. Yum! Alex had a salad that was never ending. We all ordered different entrees.....Alex=suckling pig, Jen=chicken, Elayna = rib steak with frites. All were very tasty and devoured accordingly. To cap off the huge meal, we all indulged in some desserts. Jen and Elayna both had creme brulee and Alex had the chocolate cake. We left the restaurant feeling satisfied and happy that we had had the best meal of the trip so far!

  • Note: visited a Monoprix today. it is very similar to a super target.

Pictures to come......

Posted by E.M.N 15:32 Archived in France Comments (0)

We LOVE STAIRS!

We've walked like 5 miles worth of stairs......

Today, Alex decided to rest, so we (Jen and Elayna) traveled about Paris on our own.

We started off the day with some grocery shopping at Franprix and our first Parisian baguettes and a croissant. They were delicious. Bread here is by far superior. (Like Yakitate Japan status. haha)

Then we departed for the Eiffel Tower to get some more pictures and to buy some souvenirs from the illegal immigrants selling them cheap on the street. =] We got a really good deal and headed on to our Les Car Rouges hop on hop off bus. We took it to the Louvre stop thinking it was the Notre Dame one, but ended up taking a really nice stroll along the Seine River and on the Ile de la Cite. When we reached Notre Dame de Paris (the cathedral associated with the hunchback of Notre Dame), we had to wait in a line that took about an hour to climb the Towers of Notre Dame. Paris is extremely busy currently and due to this fact, we only managed to see the towers, but they were worth the wait.

We climbed 387 steps of spiraling doom to reach the top. The first set of stairs brought us to an intermediate floor where we saw the Major Bell of the North Tower. The bell was nothing special but it was cool seeing it in the belfry, however Elayna unfortunately missed part of the steep steps coming down and almost swept Jen along with her. She made it out ok though. =] We then went to the very top to see a beautiful 360 degree panoramic view of Paris. Notre Dame Cathedral is a great place to visit. The church has tons of unique gargoyles and awesome flying butresses so common of gothic architecture.

We left the church for the Latin Quarter where we had some sandwiches and headed to the Pantheon. We find it amusing how taken with Roman architecture and styles the French were. The Pantheon has so many similarities to the one in Rome. We first entered into the crypts, which give you an eerie feeling the entire time you walk through it, despite how nice it may be down there. We saw the tombs of Pierre Curie, Marie Curie, Voltaire, Rousseau, and Louis Braille. We finished in the tombs and headed to the main floor where there is a huge pendulum hanging from the central dome. It looks similar to the one you may find at the Academy of Sciences, only grander. The rest of the Pantheon had these beautiful paintings on the wall as well as statues resembling Roman times.

Considering the time we had left until our rendezvous with Alex, we visited Pierre Herme, one of the famous patisseries of Paris. We bought a pack of 12 macaroons, one of each flavor. The macaroons are so soft that they practically melt in your mouth.

We headed over to the Opera Garnier area to meet Alex for some dinner at Entre 2 Rives. The Vietnamese food here was a great change in our eating pace and there imperial rolls (or Nem) were truly delicious. No pictures included because we were so famished.

After eating a nice meal, we left for the Arc de Triomphe. We lucked out and caught the arc at around sunset. The Paris skyline at night is beautiful and the lit up Eiffel tower adds to the grandeur. In order to reach the top of the arc, we had to yet again climb a few hundred spiraling steps. We hate spiraling steps. They make you dizzy and nauseous. The view at the top is worth it and the interactive machine that displays arcs from around the world was very informative and interesting to look at.

On to the next day!

The Seine River
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Notre Dame de Paris
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Eiffel Tower at night from the top of the arc de triomphe
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I'm pretty sure this is Geisel Library on top of an arc......hahaha (korean arc)
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Arc at night
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Macaroons!
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Posted by E.M.N 14:56 Archived in France Comments (0)

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