Category: paris

Le Moulin Rouge

Moulin Rouge, par moi

Just a photo for today, pets. I’ve been a busy little digger this week and this weekend I need to be a busy little student. Next week, posts about Italy, carino and sculptures.

La tour Eiffel

The Eiffel Tower, by me

#30. Climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower.

The first time I went to Paris, it was freezing.

Our beloved teachers had said that it was going to be warm in France, “like Spring!” They were wrong. It snowed. I brought a spring jacket, on their advice, and froze the entire time. We bought hats and mitts underneath the Eiffel Tower to keep warm.

There was almost no one around when we got to the Tower, at least nothing like the crowds you see in movies or hear about from friends. The wait wasn’t terribly long. We walked up to the first level… where it was extra freezing and, in my mind, terribly high.

You see, I’m afraid of heights. I try really hard not to be. I’ve been trying to conquer this.

I didn’t go up to the top of the Eiffel Tower that day, but when I wrote my list of 100 Things to Do Before I Die, I include “Climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower.” Because the cold and the heights kept me from doing it the first time and I sincerely regretted it.

So two weeks ago, when I finally returned to Paris, I simply had to go up the Tower. The friends I was with didn’t really want to go up, but luckily it turned out that I could drag my friend Steph, who is living in France right now and was visiting for the day, up to the top with me.

I remember the climb being very tiring, even just to the first level, the first time. I guess I’m in better shape now, because it didn’t hurt nearly as much. And we were lucky enough to get beautiful sunny weather, too, at about 12 degrees Celsius. (Only one week later than the week six years ago, can you say global warming?)

I had to hold on to the railing a bit too tightly when we got to the top. My knees were a little wobbly. But I did it!

Here’s Steph and I at the top!

me and stephy at the top of the Eiffel Tower

Ottawa is only 5,662 km away!

only 5662 km from home!

I’m glad I finally got a chance to do this - another step towards conquering my fear of heights and another (the 29th!) thing to cross of my list of 100 things.

J’adore Paris!

Hello, pets! I have returned from another stint of travelling* the world with a mind to start posting here more regularly again. I have some post ideas, and it’s getting to be the infamous essay/exam time, so obviously I will be procrastinating! So, it’s not a promise exactly, for those of you who are still reading, but it’s a quasi-promise.

So, two weeks ago I finally returned to Paris.

Paris was the first European city I ever saw, the first city I ever fell in love with. And it took six years, almost to the day, for me to finally make it back.

I was a bit worried it wouldn’t live up to my memories. It was a pretty epic trip - I was 16, I was with almost a dozen of my closest friends. I got my first rose from a boy, I drank my first legal cocktail, I ate my first nutella crêpe. It was my first international flight, it was my first hostel experience.

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But I have to say, there’s just something about Paris. J’adore Paris. The city has such a unique feeling. There are parts of it that are less than nice (like the extortionate prices and the fact that it smells like pee) but they’re all part of its character, its charm.

I got to sit in a café and drink a great latté, I got to drink beer on a patio facing the street. I got to eat nutella crêpes for most meals and croissants for breakfast. I got to spend an hour speaking only in French to my friend Steph. It was exactly what I wanted.

Number 54 on my list of 100 things is to live in Paris. I thought this might be one I wanted to revise, but it isn’t. Someday, I will live in Paris. Even if it’s just for a month or two, in a crappy apartment in Montmartre (it has to be Montmartre).

I can’t seem to put my finger on what makes me love or hate a city, but I always know it when I get there. And I still love Paris.

Paris 2010
*So I used to think I just couldn’t spell the word “travelling” because I always put two l’s. Turns out that travelling is spelt like that using the British spelling, and traveling is American. So, like a good little Commonwealther and someone who’s tired of correcting her spelling, I’m sticking with travelling from now on!

Hez and Fae Rewind Moment #2

Also known as why Hez and Fae shouldn’t travel together.

When I was living in Ireland, Fae came to visit for the last week before I went home. We decided to plan a Great European Adventure. We were going to go to London, Paris and then drive around Ireland for a few days to see what I hadn’t been able to see on a bus yet.

First thing, we found out that without a substantial credit card and at the age of 20, we could not rent a car in Ireland. Or anywhere. So that part was shot, but we were still heading to Paris and London!

On Thrusday morning, 5am, I got on the bus to Dublin to meet Fae at the airport. I had already had enough of Dublin by that point, from the week I was there at the beginning and then a trip for the weekend to pick up Kristen, so I was very done with Dublin. So instead of staying at all, we just got on a bus back. And we were going to London via the Shannon airport the next morning at 5am. So of course we spent the night drinking at the pub I was working at, and stumbled home to bed for about three hours sleep. We got on a bus to Shannon. We arrived, walked right up to flight counter. We gave the woman our passports.

I realized that it was taking a little too long for her to find us as passengers.
“Do you have a printout of your ticket information?” she asked. I handed it to her. She looked down at it, and looked back up at us.
“Your flight left yesterday morning at 6am.”

For anyone who’s ever booked through RyanAir, you’ll know that they give you a bunch of dates close to yours so that you can find the cheapest. I thought I was just chosing a cheaper time, when I was actually choosing a different day entirely.

It was just after 5am and we had tickets to see Wicked in London that night. And, again, for those of you who know RyanAir, you’ll know that they are absolutely completely unflexible, and any time you have to book something less than two weeks in advance, it’s ridiculously expensive.

Needless to say, we freaked out. We had to wait until 6am for the ticket counters to open to find ourselves a flight. Finally, 6 came around and 150 euros later we had a new flight to London. Understandably, we were upset for being a whole lot poorer. But we were optimistic.
“Well, when we get to London let’s check all our tickets. It’s fine, we’re going to get there in time and it was just a little glitch.”

So we spent the weekend in London. We were supposed to leave for Paris on Sunday night. Sunday morning we went for a free walking tour of London. At the end of six hours of walking, we were wandering around Westminster Abbey.
“We should go soon so we can get back to the hostel in time to take the tube to Heathrow,” I say.

So we headed back. We’re sitting on the tube on our way to King’s Cross and Fae turns to me.
“You know, the flight might have arrived in Paris at 7pm…” she says. I stare at her. It’s almost 4pm, Paris is a one hour time difference and we’re about an hour away from Heathrow. We practically run back to the hostel to check our ticket. Sure enough, our flight leaves at 4:10. I look up at the clock on the front desk.
“Is there anyway we could get to Heathrow in ten minutes?” I ask the girl at the front desk. She looks at me like I’m crazy. The next hour or so would prove her right.

Our problem is now compounded. Not only do we want to go to Paris, but we have to get to Paris to get our flight back to Ireland, so that we can each catch our flights back home at the end of the week. I go downstairs to the computers to see if I can find us a flight last minute. I give Fae the number for the hostel in Paris and tell her to see if she can cancel our deposit on our room there that night.

As I’m scrolling through the fares on RyanAir, I’m getting prices like 300 pounds one way to get to Paris. I panic. At this point I’ve been living off my credit card and my parent’s charity for the last two months, and I definitely don’t have 300 pounds ($600 Canadian at the time!). Fae comes down from using the phone and looks flustered.
“I hate you!” she says. I blink.
“What…?”
“I don’t speak French!!” she says. I burst out laughing. I had completely forgotten that I’d booked the hostel in French, that she would need to speak French to cancel our reservation. Apparently, she managed to do it anyway, in English. Much needed comic relief.

Finally, the only affordable situation that I can come up with is to exchange our flight from Paris to Shannon into a flight from London to Dublin, and pay the difference. Which was still a lot of money. The flight would leave two days later, at 6am.

On the plus side, we got an extra day in London - which meant we got to see some of my favourite things: the British Museum, Abbey Road and Spamalot. We also went out for Chinese food that was very expensive and I didn’t even realize it until I got my credit card bill the next month. $120 dinner? At least it was good!

But we never did get to Paris.

We finally got back to Galway, exhausted and very poor. I decided to pick up a shift at the pub the next night, to get some money to pay my last week of rent. Everyone else thought all of our misadventures were hilarious (which, in retrospect, they really were.) So my roommate texts me and says:
“Callan (the manager) says you can work, but if you’re late he’s going to charge you 150 euro.”

And then we went on to lose Fae’s wallet, complete with her last 200 euro, and our ability to walk in Killarney. But that’s a whole other story.

Of course, the reason Fae and I are best friends is because somehow, after all of this, we ended up having the best week of our lives and laughing our asses off that night at dinner.