Sprinting down a main road in Amsterdam in jeans and dragging 16kg bags behind us we swore to never again trust Google maps. It had sent us to Amstel St. instead of Amstel St.ation. Fortunately the bus station was only a thirty minute walk away. Unfortunately we only had fifteen minutes to get there – hence the running. Thank you to the kind stranger who saw we were lost and asked if we needed help before pointing at a tall building in the distance and saying that that was where we needed to be – never would have made it otherwise – and tears would have occurred. The bus ride was another long one, and we made it to Paris in the late evening to stay with Hayley’s friend Amelie who kindly gave up her cute French apartment for us to completely take over for a few days. Not only that, she then shouted us to a gorgeous dinner at a local restaurant before finally getting some rest after our morning marathon.
Our first full day began very slowly with pains aux chocolat in a park we found near Amelie’s apartment. It continued on slowly as we went for a short wander around the area before hitting up a supermarket for some picnic supplies, returning to our park with food and books in hand, and spending the entire afternoon lying in the sun. That night we went on a bike tour of Paris with Fat Tyres bike company, Ella’s aunty had given her a voucher for Christmas so thank you Odette for something we wouldn’t have otherwise done. The ride was tense at times when we were biking through very central parts of Paris at a very busy time of day, at other times we got to go cruising around the Louvre at sunset and really couldn’t complain at all. At the end of the tour there was a one hour canal cruise with wine included to see the Eiffel Tower light up at night, which was absolutely spectacular, and something we had wanted to see for a very long time. We returned home knackered once again despite our deliciously lazy start.
Day two in Paris was something we’d been looking forward to for a really, really long time. A whole lifetime kind of a long time. We finally got to go to Disneyland. We made it there just as it was opening and walked into a random ride as our first stop. Little did we know it was the most stomach churning ride we would go on all day. It was essentially a roller coaster in pitch black darkness, and we’d somehow managed to get seats in the very front row. After taking our earrings out to avoid further spiking, we wandered out to find some tamer rides. We got to go on plenty of cutesy fantasy rides, with lots of distressed princesses and heroic princes and enough souvenir shops to keep our heads turning all day. One surprising aspect of the whole day was the amount of smokers. Not just in the park, but literally rocking children in their prams in one hand and holding a cigarette in the other. We were slowly getting used to the huge numbers of smokers in Europe but seeing parents so cavalier with their behaviour in front of kids was incredible. Perhaps this is why so many of the kids were little brats – the park was very nearly a giant advertisement for contraceptives. Eleanor thinks that comment crosses the line but Hayley would like to add that this is a personal point of view and that seriously, some of them were little tyrants in the making. We found our way home again, watching some Glee (with French subtitles – awesome) with Amelie before bed.
The Saturday in Paris was a public holiday due to it being the anniversary of the end of WWI, so it was extra busy everywhere we went with locals enjoying the sunshine and the day off. We enjoyed a sleep in before setting out to Galleries Lafayette and the surrounding shopping area to drool over some of the designer brands and crazy high-heels. Our wonderful local guide Amelie pointed out some of the more interesting buildings and monuments and showed us around a few of the more popular areas of the locals, including the main park and a fashionable café area. That evening we did something even Amelie had never done, something as highly touristy having a picnic on the ‘pont des arts’ is not an activity a lot of locals do – but should – which we enjoyed in style with baguettes and brie. Amelie’s friend joined us for a wander around the night club area (passing a bar where the waiters wore boxers only) and spending the rest of the night in an ice cream parlour for some delicious treats. It was a nice and cruisy way with plenty of localness to spend our last day in Paris until we return there to fly home in January.