Traveler. Novelist. Freelance Writer. Blogger. Surfer. Artist. Crazy Cat Lady.

Traveler. Novelist. Freelance Writer. Blogger. Surfer. Artist. Crazy Cat Lady.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Paris



Paris was never somewhere that really fascinated me. When I heard that it was one of the places on my Contiki Europe Holiday I wasn't really 'excited.'
That makes me sound really spoiled actually.. I mean, I want to see everywhere in the world and the idea of climbing the Eiffel Tower etc did sound great but it wouldn't have been my first choice of a travel destination.
 
BUT - Paris took me by surprise and I had SUCH  a wonderful experience there!!!
 
There was so much to do and it had to be crammed into two measly days. There was no way I could have managed to do it all and for that reason, I'll just have to go back!

It was our first country to go to on Contiki and so it was the country where friendships were formed, family was made and the very first drinking missions were had. It was where we all got to know one another and that made Paris a very special city for all of us. 
 
As it was new, everyone obviously went all out. The first few nights of Contiki are always pretty manic. Actually... all of Contiki is pretty manic!!!
 
I entered Contiki completely alone, knowing no one, but by the end of the first night in Paris, I had over twenty new friends of all shapes and sizes, nationalities and religions.
We were SO lucky in our small Contiki group, one of the smallest groups in Contiki history apparently!!! We were only about twenty-seven people, which made our group really close and connected. It was intimate and homey... and no, it isn't as big of a shag-fest as people make it out to be!!!!

We settled into camp after the ferry ride across from Dover and we put our tents up for the first time. It is heart-warming just thinking back onto it!
We had to get the on-site cook, Elaine, to demonstrate how to set them up for us and the weather was just glorious.
We lapped up the warm temperatures and sun rays while figuring out which pole went where.


Night one was spent on the Contiki coach, doing a city by night bus tour.

Paris at night is absolutely breath-taking. It is so beautiful and we had the most incredible sunset painted around the Eiffel Tower as we drove past.
We were told that the tower lights up at night and it is pretty magnificent to watch, but we had to get back on a strict curfew so unfortunately we didn't get to see it.



Along the bus tour I drank up all of the amazing history that our tour guide, Bec, taught us over the microphone. My month in London had really helped me to grow as an individual and I found myself finding brand new passions for the world and its history, current news and my general surroundings. The little town in South Africa that I reside in is in its own little bubble. It is a very small, hippy town that runs at its own pace. I'd cocooned myself into that bubble for so long, having not a care in the world, so when I got to London I was overwhelmed by all the things I had not taken note of. The culture shock was intense.
 
 
At first I was sat on the bus by myself. I felt alone and awkward and didn't really know how to introduce myself and mingle with the other travellers. I was intimidated. But once the first drink was in me, my confidence came out and we had a wonderful night playing games such as Never Have I Ever to get to know each other.
 
The next day we were given a free day in Paris. We were dropped outside of the Eiffel Tower where the majority of us paid for our tickets to climb all 1710 steps to the top.
It wasn't as difficult as people make it out to be - anyone who has two fully functional legs could definitely suck it up and get to the top and it is so worth it... just to say you've done it. Something ticked off of the bucket list!!
 

 
 
 
 
We split into two groups after the clamber back down the tower - the girls and the guys.
The guys wanted to go and see some weapon museum while the girls were interested in seeing the Lock Bridge (where lovers go and lock a padlock that has their initials on, onto a famous bridge that crosses from the left bank to the Louvre museum. The lock is supposed to symbolize their eternal devotion to one another.
 
 
 
Well.... we got stuck at a cafe with delicious lunch, sparkling wine and trios of sorbet. What a feast - and an expensive one at that!  
 
 
We got hopelessly lost trying to find the Lock Bridge.... please don't ask me how. So we never ended up getting there.
By fluke we got to the Arc de Triomphe where we went underground to pop out into the centre of it. We wondered around there for a while having a look at the memorial for the unknown soldier and taking in the environment.
 
 
 
 
 
All the walking killed my feet and I got some major blisters that are still scarring my feet today. As we got close to the Louvre, where we were meeting up with the rest of our group to get ready for a real Parisian dinner, we lazed out on the grass in a beautiful open park where people were playing football or relaxing in the afternoon sunlight.
I put on my iPod and listened to the soothing sound of Damian Rice for a few minutes before we reluctantly got up and dragged ourselves outside of the Louvre, knowing full well it would be closing already and it was yet another thing we'd managed to miss.
 
The guys were outside and were full of stories about where they had been, which made me burn with jealousy but even so, our day had been a good one.
They told us that we should dip our feet into the water outside of the museum before meeting up with the group, so off we went. I swear, that water is Holy. My throbbing feet felt instantly better after swishing them around in the nippy water.
 
 
 
We changed for the Parisian dinner on the coach, having packed our goodies with us that morning.
It was the first time trying snails for many of the people on tour, which was hilarious to say the least. I'd had snails a few times already back home in South Africa, but these ones were different!
It was my first time having it still inside of the shell for a start and we were also given this odd looking clamping utensil to pick them up with. Let's just say that a number of my snails went flying.... and I was soon known as the clumsy, messy, disastrous eater from the group.
 
 
For mains I had this delicious rich duck with an orange sauce that literally made me drool. It was accompanied by a bottle of lovely red wine too.
We had this extremely vibrant woman playing the accordian and singing throughout the course of the meal which really helped to set the tone - so much so that there was a lady at another table who got so excited she fell backwards off of her chair!! (This may have been wine induced as well...)
 

 
Paris was a stunning city and one that I intend to visit again one day to see the Lock Bridge, the Mona Lisa (although they say it's small, it's still right up there on my bucket list,) visit the Notre Dame Catherdral and stroll along the Left Bank with a little more money in my purse to splurge a little!
 
After a wild night out in Paris involving a Nouvelle Cabaret Show complete with can-can girls and champagne it was time to get up painfully early and head on to our next destination:
 
Switzerland.

7 comments:

  1. Très jolies ces photos :)
    Bisous
    Yu'

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  2. Paris. Le ville de Lumiere, indeed my favourite city in the world closely followed by London and New York. Lovely travel blogging Jade - keep it up! Makes me miss it so much. France is an amazing country and yes I would definitely recommend spending more time there as adventures you will inevitably have on your own, will be your stories to tell for life xx

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    1. Oh wow thank you so much Lauren! I absolutely love your blog and find great inspiration from reading it, please update more often!! xxxxxx

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  3. What amazing photos! You inspire me to want to go back to Paris ASAP!

    xx

    thecultofstyle.com

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Jade