We’re now back in the UK and after some afternoon (warm) beers followed by a few jugs of refeshing Pimm’s whilst watching the Wimbledon finals on TV, I’m feeling quite chilled and relaxed.
A couple of days ago we jumped on a night train and trekked from Rome to Paris where we spent a couple of days.
My first impressions of Paris weren’t fantastic. I contribute this to:
- Being our first stop (so we didn’t really have much experience dealing with many different public transport networks, dealing with language differences… and let me tell you the French are not very willing to communicate with you unless you speak French even though many of them can speak better English than I do)
- We stayed closest to the first major attraction we wanted to see – the Moulin Rouge, which happens to be in the heart of the red light district (so everything in the area was a bit dodgy)
But on the second time round, we knew how busses and trains worked in the UK, Italy and also had some experience (from our first visit) with France, plus we know how difficult the French are to communicate with, so we were much more prepared which made our stay a little easier.
We pre-booked accomodation in a reasonable hotel and managed (after changin trains a few times) to navigate our way there and then to the major sites we wanted to see.
In the space of about 6-8 hours we managed to see the Lourve, then caught the Metro to the Arc de Triumph before jumping on another train to the Eifel Tower. After chilling-out for a while on the grassy area in front of the tower, we then cruised back to the cathedral at Notredam before heading back to our hotel.
Since we were staying in a slightly nicer area in Paris we found that it was a lot tidier than the red light district (what a surprise) although there was still the distinct smell of wee throughout many of the areas in Paris we visited.
All the sites mentioned above are big and very cool to see in person… we have lots of photos that I’ll upload once I’m back on my laptop and have uploaded them all, but until then, you’ll just have to take my word for it 🙂
The one thing I still dislike about France is that they really make it difficult for you to communicate. For instance, we were behind someone in a train ticket line and we clearly heard the guy in front of us chat with the teller in English. When we were served, we politely asked if they spoke English (knowing that they did since we just heard them) and they shook their head and said ‘no’.
In Italy, people were happy to communicate in English at train stations, bars, cafes, hotels etc. etc. but not in France. Despite the fact that we tried to talk to everyone in French (or at least with the little we knew), but it made no difference. In France they make it as hard as possible to communicate the simplest things and subsequently I’m sure we paid more, went the long way around and had to do things the hardest ways possible.
The day after seeing all the sites we jumped on a train up to Calais and caught the ferry across to Dover (saw the white cliffs) and then trained it back to London.
In a few days time we’ll be heading back home, so we’re planning on spending the next couple of days chilling-out and not doing much… maybe some shopping, perhaps catch a movie etc.
I don’t expect to have much to report between now and the end of the week when we head back home…. but maybe if you’re lucky I’ll get a chance to upload some photos.
Over the past few weeks I think that Kristy and I have become stronger as individuals… our levels of patience have increases substantially from having to spend hours on flight half-way around the world, waiting for trains (we spent about 6 hours in Rome waiting for our night train), plus all the other queues and line-ups that we’ve been in to see a lot of the sites. We now know that if we can order food, find accomodation and navigate our way across places that often won’t communicate with you in English, we can pretty-much do anything.
It’s been a great trip, but we’re looking forward to getting back home as living out of a backpacks, being in a different country every second day and sleeping in dodgy hotels, hostels and friends lounge rooms (although we’re eternally grateful to have a place to stay) isn’t quite the same as having your own comfy bed and your own space to walk around in your undies without offending anyone.
See you all back home soon!