Thursday, December 18, 2008

Paris 2008 Adventures

Current Mood: Revelling

Current Song: I love Paris in the Springtime (by no coincidence!)

So I've been back from Paris for a couple of days now. It's actually very nice to be home, with the craziness and the hubbub of that city. I did say that I would give a play by play on it, so here goes....go get yourself a cup of tea and settle in for the blog of the century!

The Flight Over the Atlantic

I had to first go to Calgary to pick up my aunt and cousin. From Calgary we departed for Montreal at 5 on a very chilly morning...very very chilly. It wasn't all that bad. It was about a 4 hour flight over. The 7 hour layover was okay, but the additional 5 hour delay did not make me happy. I was just about ready to catch the next flight over to Vancouver. Why the delay? It turns out that a giant ice storm hit montreal bringing with it, at first, snow, and then rain. This meant that the cargo carriers outside couldn't manouever their way over to our plane to load the luggage. This took nearly 4 hours to do. After that, the plane had to be de-iced, which took another while because the combination of solutions did nothing. We finally left Montreal when we should have been landing in Paris. It was long. And hard. Made harder by the fact that we had dinner at sometime around dawn...which is not a good time to be eating neon red chicken and rice (yuck).

When we landed at CDG, we got our bags and headed to the cabs to get to our hotel. The driver had no idea where our hotel was and asked me if I had a map or directions. At this point, I was quite agitated. We finally just ended up taking the train.

Having been on the road for about 2 days I was looking forward to taking a nice bath. Much to my dismay our room was the size of a closet. Compounded by the fact that there was no phone, the jubilee celebrations were the following day and I was dead tired, I nearly started to cry. We decided we'd stay at the hole in the wall for about 2 days and transfer over to a decent hotel for the rest of our visit. It was a hard 2 days.

The Jubilee Celebrations

We got ready early in the morning and set out to a buffet breakfast nearby. If you ever go to France, take plenty of money because Paris is expensive! Also, eat your fill in may as well make it a worthwhile trip. A nice family from Avignon gave us a ride to the Paris Nord Exhibition Centre where the jubilee was being held. We were supposed to meet family from London there, but after about an hour and a half, we decided we'd just see them later since they hadn't shown yet. We headed for the already long lineup and stood waiting to be ushered in. The whole process of getting into the hall was exhausting. I felt like cattle. But in the end, we got in just fine, and settled into our spots. I went off for a little walk and ran into HJ (at this moment, it was the highlight of my trip). Whilst walking back to my spot, I saw that my aunts had found eachother...warm hugs all around...and the excitement grew. We sat through waiting for HH to show up. To our surprise, he brought his entire family...a complete treat! The celebrations continued into the night.

Sight Seeing Day 1: The Eiffel Tower...So This is It, Eh?

Day 3, we packed up our things and moved to a decent hotel, the Novotel in Le Bourget...which was not all that expensive, but came with soap...and a phone...imagine! the luxuries! We set out on the bus and then on the RER to get to Champs Elysees. We had lunch at the McDonalds filled with Ismailis. I treated myself to a Mocha from McCafe, a small separate part of the McDonalds that sells gourmet coffee and dessert (an idea, I think, we need to import). Check out the lemon tarts pic!

We took a lovely walk down the Champs and also took pictures in front of the Arc De Triomphe, which is beautiful. In our wonder at where the Eiffel tower was, we asked some nice french ladies to point us kindly in the direction, which they did (well, they told me, since I was the only one that spoke french in the 8 family members present). We took the metro to Trocadero and walked past the Museum of Man (Musee De L'Homme) and lo and behold there was the Eiffel Tower. Forgive me for saying this, but it's a bit of a disappointment. All I could think is, So that's it eh? For those ever headed in the direction of France, there is so much more to see....go see the Eiffel Tower, but don't make it the highlight of your visit. France is absolutely beautiful in its own regard; a metal tower is the least of those representations of beauty.

We also took an hour long boat ride down the Seine river. It was my drive by shooting type of tourism since I knew I wouldn't have enough time to see much of what we saw on this tour. I caught quick glimpses of sights like the Obelisk, the Notre Dame, the Louvre and the many palaces and bridges that dot the Parisian cityscape. Thank god for quick shutter speeds!
We said goodbye to our family from London at the end of the day and had dinner at the hotel (which came with restaurant). Fresh bread, a salad and some fries...good times...we settled into bed after that...a good night's sleep finally falling on us.

Salgirah Khushiali
This day was dedicated to the birthday of the Aga Khan so we spent a good chunk of it at the Exhibition Hall, eating, watching movies, dancing. I met a cute boy from Houston. He was impressed by me, and more by the fact that I could speak english fluently I think. A look of utter relief graced his face when I said "I'm well, how are you?" rather than "Pardon-moi?" Who can blame him? The language barrier is significant for the best of us. It was a long day, and I kept running into Vancouverites, which was rather nice. Having pieces of home is always pleasant.

Sightseeing Day 2

This day was a slower and longer sightseeing day. We headed over to the Opera area of Paris. As we left the Metro, I turned around to see the opulent and stunning Academie de la Musique. This building in itself is a masterpiece. Picture included! We toured around the Opera area, heading toward Lafayette Galleries...which makes Harrods look miniscule and insignificant. The three story christmas tree inside of the Lafayette was some indication of the calibre of product available. We came face to face with Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Burberry and so many more. It was a little bit of an overload quite frankly. We then headed over to the Palais Royale and the Louvre. I did of course, get a picture outside the famous pyramids built by IM Pei. How Da Vinci of me. It's a fantastic building and I will have to make a trip down again to go inside. there just is never enough time when you've got 2 days to view an entire civilisation. But now I have something to look forward to. After another visit to the Champs Elysees, we headed home to pack.

Au Revoir, Paris!

We headed back to the balmy -17 degree temperatures of Calgary after a short stop in Toronto. To my irritation, the following day I missed my flight back to Vancouver. Luckily I caught the next one...and good thing too, because it just crapped snow on us and most flights out of Calgary were cancelled or delayed.

Things I've learned from Paris.

I like things timely. I like to be on time and I like to get as much as I can out of my trips. Life is too short to dilly dally sometimes because you never know what will happen tomorrow.

I've tempered my expectations. I'm pretty good at it. It keeps me from not being so disappointed. Case in point: the Eiffel tower. sure it's nice, but meh.

My french sucks. I could get around, ask for directions, order meals and ask if they had a garbage can, but we need to get cracking on those french lessons in some formal way. It's a handy thing to have, so I might as well get on it.

There really is no place like home. After a total of 4 days on the plane, I breathed a sigh of relief as I saw us approaching Vancouver international. This was the first time I actually thought "I'm home." Most of you know that I've moved a lot in my life. Now I finally feel like I have roots.
There is no cap on the number of pounds a pigeon can weigh. You think the pigeons in Trafalgar square are fat. Well, just to wait. You can use the pigeons in paris as public transit. Forget buying a day pass, just strap yourself onto the pigeon and get going!

You can never have enough croissants. Ask the pouch I've developed. He'll tell you.

Well that's it for now. Enjoy the photos. A small sampling of course...and those of you who are my facebook friends, you can see the rest. Well, that's it for me! I shall write again soon. Take care of yourselves out there in the snow!


Karim Kanji said...

thanks for dropping by again. nice write-up on Paris!