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Eurostar

Less than 12 hours after we arrived London, and we were on the move again, to Paris.

Departure time was 5:34am, and we had to get to the Eurostar train station about an hour earlier, so we got no more than 3 hours of sleep after that fancy dinner.

We naturally slept most of the way, but we did do some more last-minute research with the books I got from libraries in Toronto.

Train ride took about 3 hours, and with one hour time zone difference, we got to Paris just before 9:30am. Compared to the Shinkansen in Japan, I think speed of Eurostar is about the same, maybe just a tad slower.

We were shocked to find out that you need to pay to use washrooms in Paris; at least we didn’t see any free washroom. The one in the train station even have shower facilities. Of course we didn’t try the washroom there, thinking we could go to one in restaurants. Little did we know that even washrooms in restaurants charge for a fee as well.

After wasting some time at the train station, we got our subway daypass and started getting around Paris. Most subway trains in Paris have this European feel, i.e. old. Actually it feels more like a streecar. They do have some nice new trains around. Subway stations were fine, not unlike the ones we have in Toronto, maybe a bit older. And because there are very few washrooms (coin-operated) in the stations, we always thought there was this strange odor…

Montmartre
First area we visited is Montmartre, highest point in Paris. The only “attraction” I heard of in that area is Moulin Rouge (but it was early in the morning, so nothing going on) But the real attraction is Basilica of the Sacré-Coeur, a Parisian Roman Catholic church.

A few of my friends had visited plenty of churches in Europe, but this was a first for me. As great as the buildings are, it gave me a feeling of glory in the past; they don’t really serve as a church, no more than tourist attractions with gift shops. It reminded me of all those temples I saw in Japan a few years back; the money they collect is really for maintaining the attraction. Now, what about all those great big churches in the States, will they fade out in the future and become merely tourist attraction? (Probably not, they’ll become convention center first)

Since it sits at the top of the hill, there are quite a few stair steps in front of the church. Supposedly this was featured in the movie Amélie (Vince K never forgive me for bringing him to see this French chick flick) but I don’t remember it; I just remember enjoy watching it.

French Lunch
We probably spent a little too much time in Montmartre, pretty much the whole morning. We had planned to go for a boat cruise around 1pm, so we went for a quick bite, naturally we picked a sit-in restaurant, Les Deux Palais, having the “Tourist Menu” (Should’ve seen it coming…)

So, we have the French Onion soup, French bread…

Salad (with French dressing?), “Steack” with French Fries…

We were going to have tap water only, but then we realized no one in the resturant drink tap water; either bottled water like perrier, or wine. So we ended up ordering a French wine… and to end it all, French ice cream, Napoleon (OK, it’s actually Neapolitan, but it sounds the same to us Chinese)

I thought the restaurant was not bad, given the price we paid, the amount of food we got. Although Margaret was not amused by the steak with a strange cut, Tyatt was impressed by the fact that it actually tasted good, even if it was a bit burnt. And of course we weren’t happy about the whole bottle of wine we got (when we only ordered a half bottle)

Boat Cruise
We barely made it to the boat cruise on time. I’m sure the boat cruise was fine, but I was half asleep most of the time. We were sitting on the top level open to the sky, but it was getting cold with traces of drizzle. We saw quite a few famous landmarks in Paris, but with such overcast sky, they don’t look much interesting; even the Eiffel tower looked dull.

Louvre Museum
We knew all along that we wouldn’t be able to spend much time in the museum; we just wanted to check out the area and the gift shop (I don’t think we bought anything there) Oh, that’s right, free washroom! That was unexpected surprise.

Notre-Dame
This is where the guys and gals spliting off; while me and Thomas went to do some more sightseeing, the gals did something more romantic, shopping… I guess Notre-Dame the building itself is more impressive, but I get this same feeling from the big church earlier.

Arc de Triomphe
Original plan was to meet up with the gals here at Arc de Triomphe (because it’s close to where they shopped), but there were some complications, so it was just me and Thomas again. We were really tired and cold, so we spent no more than 10 mintues in that area; we went for McDonald’s for some snack.

Eiffel Tower
After being revived by McD, we went to our last attraction of the day: Eiffel Tower. Me and Thomas made it just in time to see the “light show”; basically it makes the tower more sparkling.

 

The later or darker it gets, the more we appreciate how beautiful the tower is. We didn’t realize how big the tower is until we get to the bottom of it. The area under the tower is actually one big open space. Just when we thought we might go up the tower, the gals came calling: it’s time to go for our train ride back to London. And it’s the last train of the day, so we could not afford to miss it.

End of Day 2
Everything looks nicer at night in Paris, do they have special light bulbs to make everything more romantic? Departure time of our train was 8:43pm, and we got back to London around 10:30pm. (Gained the one hour back from the time zone difference) We were tired, hungry, cold, not feeling too well with this Amazing-Race-style of trip. I was thinking to myself, we got to take it easy, to make this trip more enjoyable.

 

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