One night a Paris…

After spending a wild weekend in London, meeting new people and seeing the city, I was back to where I now call home, Paris. Despite having a little less than pleasant run in on the metro with some thieves who stole my phone on my way back from the train station, I made it back in one piece. I spent the following week feeling a tad mopey about my phone being gone, and my roommate moving out, but started to feel better as I started my new job and had a super Friday night planned. My first week at the new job proved to be interesting and came with the bonus of no stress! I was excited to finally have a normal schedule where I too could participate in the ritual of Saturday Sunday weekends.

For my first real weekend, I didn’t have much planned for the days but I did know that my new friend Colin, who I met in London at the hostel, was coming into Paris on a layover for 1 night and that I had promised him a tour of Paris. On Friday night, Colin arrived just before 11 30pm and we rushed to get the evening started. We began by taking the metro, a must have experience, to the Eiffel tower, so as not to miss the flickering lights that go on at midnight for only 3 short minutes. We arrived just in time and watch the twinkling lights from below the tower on the Champs de Mars. After seeing the Eiffel Tower, we started to walk towards the Champs Elysees.

I think the Champs Elysees at night is one of the coolest places in Paris, because no matter the hour, there are always people out and about, little places open and lights on. It was so neat to be walking Paris at night with someone who I didn’t know well, because as we discovered the city we chatted and got to know each other. I can confirm to you all that Colin is a pretty cool guy as I had previously predicted. ☺ Once on the Champs Elysees we stopped to have a bite to eat. We had cheese crepes with wine followed by a decadent little chocolate mouielleux for dessert. We stayed on the patio and talked until the waiters in blue and white striped marine shirts gently asked us to leave, as the restaurant was closing. Rejuvenated, we moved along up to the Arc de Triumph, which we learned rather abruptly that you cannot approach in the middle of the night. It was about 2 am by this time, and the Arc de Triumph still has lights on it and the flame going in the middle underneath, so Colin and I crossed the deadly roundabout to get over to it and see. Once close up and taking photos and admiring how interesting it is, a police car pulls up and rolls down the window. They tell us that we are not allowed to be over in the middle of the roundabout, and that the Arc de Triumph is closed. We have to leave immediately because being over here is an “offense” that we could be fined for, if I understood correctly.

So we began to try and cross back over to the other side of the roundabout, where it was legal to stand and look at the Arc. I thought to myself, my goodness, Colin is here for less than one day and I have already found a way to get us in trouble. We walked plenty more, before stopping for a break and prepping for our last big visit to Sacre Coeur. So far, I was surprised to see how much had been accessible to us in the middle of the night and how many people, not a lot, but some, were still out with us. Once the metro restarted again, we made our way to Sacre Coeur, one of the, or maybe the oldest (I’m a little rusty on my history) cathedrals in Paris. As much as I knew that the cathedral itself was lovely, what I wanted to see was the view. Poised at the top of Montmartre, one of the highest points in Paris, you can see almost the entire city from just outside the cathedral.

So at 5 30 am, there we were, standing at the top of Montmartre, watching the fog clear, the clouds appear and the sun come up. Off in the distance, the tin and copper roves appeared and Paris was waking up. By 7 30, it was time for Colin to head back to the airport to catch his flight back home. So I left him at the RER train station and headed home myself. As my head bobbed back in forth, in and out of sleep on the metro home, all I could think was that my love for Paris had been restored, that I had re-found the twinkle that I had somehow lost since arriving in May and that things were looking up.

Day 3 in London – My childhood dreams come true!

Heya!

Sorry for the enomous delay in between day 2 and 3 of my London trip, I can’t quite figure out where the first 2 weeks of September have gone. Anyways, let me tell all about my favourite day spent in London.

On Saturday morning I woke up early so I could go to the Portobello road market. I have always wanted to go to the Portobello road market, and no it’s not because Hugh Grant lived there in the film Notting Hill.

I have always wanted to visit because I used to love the movie Bed Knobs and Broomsticks (with Angela Lansbury!) which is a Disney flick from 1971, and it has an entire scene and song about Portobello road.  If you don’t believe me check out the clip below.

Even better, it also has an entire scene with dancing clothes, which no one that I met in London had seen, so I must have sounded like a complete nut, but in the end I saw street performers doing the scene! I can now live my life knowing that I have finally experienced all these things!

Next time I go, I will get a picture with them.

Anyways, all that aside, the market was lovely. I walked in off of the main road which looks like every other little street in London with small shops and houses squeezed together like cannelloni’s in a casserole dish.

A few blocks in, the street turns into a market with shops full of people, tents and tables set up in every free open space. There were antiques, newtiques, junk and plenty of bits and bobs that I couldn’t identify. I walked for several blocks before stopping to have breaky. I found a charming little bakery called The Hummingbird Bakery, which, if you happen to be in London, you should definitely try. I ordered up a delicious hot chocolate and a whoopie pie. Now, I had no idea what a whoopie pie was when I ordered it but I sure was glad I did. It was like two perfect spungy pumpkin muffin tops with carrot cake cream cheese icing in the middle. Granted, I couldn’t eat the entire thing, because it was so rich, it was also very good!

On my way back up Portobello road, I got a strange pair of Native inspired boots and a Nottinghill shopping bag!

I had to rush from the market up to Hyde Park, because I had decided that with all this visiting in London, that I should probably do a tour of some of the more obvious must see monuments. I had taken a brochure for a free walking tour and met up with the group at Hyde Park at 1pm. It was just my luck as Jessica, the girl who was sleeping on the bunk above me at the hostel, was also on the tour. We became fast friends and spent the afternoon on the tour walking and taking in London. We saw Buckingham Palace, Trafalger Square, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and several other houses of royalty. I really enjoyed the tour and the guide was amazing. I was expecting a tour that would be interesting but potentially a little over the top on the history side, but our guide had stories and little facts that made the tour entertaining and really engaging and I couldn’t believe the 3 hours was over when it was. (If you want more info see the bottom of this post)

After the tour, Jessica and I and a few others from the tour went out for dinner with our guide and then signed up for the pub crawl that evening, that the tour company also offered.

After a quick wardrobe change, we were off into downtown London for a night out of pub crawling. The group of “pub crawlers” was enormous and we seemed to fill and empty out bars as we moved along to each new place. We also added a new member to our team, Colin, a guy staying across from us in the hostel, (and another Canadian… woot!), joined us for the pub crawl. We also picked up a new French friend, Pierre, so became a quad!

We had a wonderful night of dancing, drinking and then all losing each other, with the exception of Colin and I who seemed to stick together enough to get back to the hostel. Thankfully, Jessica made it back a little later and we were all reunited! We had hoped to get together and have a real English breakfast the following morning but being so tired and having to check out at 10 made that impossible for us to coordinate.

Instead, I reluctantly packed up my many new things into my new little bag and headed out to have a solo English breakfast. I found a little restaurant up by Oxford Street and sat down with my book at a little table for two. I ordered a proper English breakfast, complete with beans and a fried tomato. It was exactly what I needed after the late night from before. I sat and read my book for an hour or so before getting up and taking a quick last walk around the area.

At last, my stay had come to an end. I was sad to leave London but as they say, all good things must come to an end. I dragged myself onto the train and sat next to a nosey guy who I was pretty sure was trying to read what I was typing the entire time I was typing it. Don’t worry, I gave him the evil eye. 😉

Cheerio!

PS If you are heading to London and want info about the Free tour, because it was well worth it – click here!