Friday, July 21, 2006

First stop Paris

I was quite sad leaving Newcastle on the train on Sunday. It had really become my home, after living there for over a year. My last few days there were lovely too - sunny weather, great farewell drinks, seeing the toon play at St James' Park, an evening trip to druries beach (not sure of spelling there) and quiet drinks by the quayside at the Baltic bar watching the sun disappear behind the old buildings.

I spent a nice Sunday night in hot London staying with Katie (thanks Katie and Daf!). We went to Anna Doughtey's (from college days) place for dinner, which was so lovely (thanks Anna!). I must admit I was feeling a bit of culture shock being around a bunch of Aussies after hanging out with Geordies and English people for so long.

I flew in to a stinking hot Paris on Monday. I managed to negotiate the subway system to get the train to the hotel with 3 changes (which I couldn't have done without the handy metro map that Bolt had given me on my last visit), to meet up with Nita and Erwann (Nita's Dutch friend). We went out that evening to Champs Elysee and we lay on the grass next to the Eiffel tower watching the sky change colour as it set. It was a great way to start our Paris adventure.

We began the next day with a trip to the Cemetery Pere Lachaise. It was very leafy, and the mausoleums were quite spectacular, there were so many! We went to Jim Morrison's grave, and kind of wondered why it was so popular.. Perhaps it is the interesting surroundings. After walking up a slight hill we had to sit down to recover (it really is very hot, and living in Newcastle has not prepared me for the heat at all! Nita is feeling the same way, having just left Glasgow. Hopefully we will acclimatise soon because it wont be getting any cooler...)

We descended to the sniffling metro system and arrived at the Luxembourg garden with some sandwich stuff to join the masses of Parisians sitting in the shade enjoying the summer. It was lovely just lying there enjoying the weather. Parisians really know how to do the outside thing. England hasn't mastered it, for obvious weather reasons I presume.

Highlights from the nest few days include having a drink at Le Deux Magots (where the philosophers Sartre and de Beauvoir sat), a picnic at the Sacre Cour (more sunsets!), walking undergound through the macabre Catacombs, Musee d'Orsay (gotta love Renoir and Rodin), tucking into Lebanese food near our hotel, breakfasting on croissants and pain au chocolats, the Pompadieu centre (very interesting art work), Notre Dame (I don't know, I think the York Minster and Durham Cathedral are just as good, although the Vatican probably wins in terms of spectacularness), Le Sorbonne and the Pantheon.

Getting around Paris was quite easy considering Erwann speaks fluent French, having been brought up by French parents in Holland, and my mastering of the metro system :) My French still doesn't get past the 'Bonjour" and "merci" unfortunately, although sometimes I think I understand more than I realise because of my experience in Montreal 5 years ago.

Paris is such a beautiful city, there is some kind of magic about it - the buildings, the white and silver rooftops, the grand scale of the avenues, the leafy tree-lined streets, the spacious parks filled with people enjoying them... I still think it is the most beautiful city I've ever seen. I was just a little sad that Chris wasn't there to enjoy it with me. Some day soon perhaps.

Last night we drove out of Paris in Erwann's car, through Lille, Belgium, and now we are in Den Bosch, Holland at Erwann's very nice apartment. We are in Holland till Monday when we will make our way to Krakow on the train, and begin our Eastern European leg of the trip. I was quite sad leaving Newcastle on the train on Sunday. It had really become my home, after living there for over a year. My last few days there were lovely too - sunny weather, great farewell drinks, seeing the toon play at St James' Park, an evening trip to druries beach (not sure of spelling there) and quiet drinks by the quayside at the Baltic bar watching the sun disappear behind the old buildings.

I spent a nice Sunday night in hot London staying with Katie (thanks Katie and Daf!). We went to Anna Doughtey's (from college days) place for dinner, which was so lovely (thanks Anna!). I must admit I was feeling a bit of culture shock being around a bunch of Aussies after hanging out with Geordies and English people for so long.

I flew in to a stinking hot Paris on Monday. I managed to negotiate the subway system to get the train to the hotel with 3 changes (which I couldn't have done without the handy metro map that Bolt had given me on my last visit), to meet up with Nita and Erwann (Nita's Dutch friend). We went out that evening to Champs Elysee and we lay on the grass next to the Eiffel tower watching the sky change colour as it set. It was a great way to start our Paris adventure.

We began the next day with a trip to the Cemetery Pere Lachaise. It was very leafy, and the mausoleums were quite spectacular, there were so many! We went to Jim Morrison's grave, and kind of wondered why it was so popular.. Perhaps it is the interesting surroundings. After walking up a slight hill we had to sit down to recover (it really is very hot, and living in Newcastle has not prepared me for the heat at all! Nita is feeling the same way, having just left Glasgow. Hopefully we will acclimatise soon because it wont be getting any cooler...)

We descended to the sniffling metro system and arrived at the Luxembourg garden with some sandwich stuff to join the masses of Parisians sitting in the shade enjoying the summer. It was lovely just lying there enjoying the weather. Parisians really know how to do the outside thing. England hasn't mastered it, for obvious weather reasons I presume.

Highlights from the nest few days include having a drink at Le Deux Magots (where the philosophers Sartre and de Beauvoir sat), a picnic at the Sacre Cour (more sunsets!), walking undergound through the macabre Catacombs, Musee d'Orsay (gotta love Renoir and Rodin), tucking into Lebanese food near our hotel, breakfasting on croissants and pain au chocolats, the Pompadieu centre (very interesting art work), Notre Dame (I don't know, I think the York Minster and Durham Cathedral are just as good, although the Vatican probably wins in terms of spectacularness), Le Sorbonne and the Pantheon.

Getting around Paris was quite easy considering Erwann speaks fluent French, having been brought up by French parents in Holland, and my mastering of the metro system :) My French still doesn't get past the 'Bonjour" and "merci" unfortunately, although sometimes I think I understand more than I realise because of my experience in Montreal 5 years ago.

Paris is such a beautiful city, there is some kind of magic about it - the buildings, the white and silver rooftops, the grand scale of the avenues, the leafy tree-lined streets, the spacious parks filled with people enjoying them... I still think it is the most beautiful city I've ever seen. I was just a little sad that Chris wasn't there to enjoy it with me. Some day soon perhaps.

Last night we drove out of Paris in Erwann's car, through Lille, Belgium, and now we are in Den Bosch, Holland at Erwann's very nice apartment. We are in Holland till Monday when we will make our way to Krakow on the train, and begin our Eastern European leg of the trip.


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