Friday, February 21, 2003

Paris Day 1

We woke up extremely early to catch our train aboard the Eurostar to Paris today. For the first time, Evelyn did not complain about waking up early. It must be that she is just as excited as I am to visit Paris. The train ride was rather uneventful other than the fact our train did not actually leave. �Ladies and gentlemen, this train cannot continue. Please go to the train on the other platform.� Hello? Continue? The train never started! Once onboard the other train, the announcer bloke did not stop talking (in his French-accent laden English). Every fifteen minutes or so, you would hear him say �Ladies and gentlemen�� and tell us something trivial, like the food carriage is in carriage 6, or the toilet is out of toilet paper, or something like that.

Arriving at the Gare du Nord, the first task was to find the toilet for Evelyn. We found this, McClean - a pay-per-use washroom facility. It costs �1 to use! Luckily, for blokes alike, urinals are only �0.70. Quickly grabbed an overpriced and hard-as-brick baguette for lunch, and we headed to our first sight-seeing destination, the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Both of us climbed up the stairs to the very top of the Cathedral which gives a nice view of the Ile de France, as well as further down into the heart of Paris. Looking down reminded me of Montreal, especially the way houses are stacked on the hillside. Climbing even more stairs we reached the top of the clock tower, where the story Hunchback of Notre-Dame was based on. I saw the actual bell inside the tower, and promptly climbed back down because they have a limit on the number of people at the top.

Dropping our luggage off at the hotel (it�s just two backpacks) and eating a Croque Monsieur at a nearby caf�, we eagerly ventured off to the Arc de Triomphe. Climbing those stairs proved to be a challenge, as we were both recovering from climbing the Notre-Dame earlier in the day. Nevertheless, we reached the top and the view was spectacular! We could see all the streets stretching out towards all directions from the Arc de Triomphe, and the Eiffel Tower in the distance. We took quite a few pictures up at the top, but since digital cameras don�t work very well in the dark, the pictures did not turn out too focused.

Dinner was an interesting affair. We walked up and down Avenue des Champs-L��lyse�s, trying to find something that is not too expensive to eat. Let this be a warning to you - nothing is cheap in Paris. At last we stopped at Leons, and behold, it is a seafood restaurant! Funny enough neither of us ordered seafood (to which Evelyn regretted afterwards). Next to us was a couple that spoke Cantonese, clearly on their honeymoon from Hong Kong or something. It was quite funny watching them trying to speak French. Not spoiling the fun we went back to the hotel to rest right after - because we know we�ll need it!

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