Traveling – my life won’t be complete without it. The intrigue of foreign travel lures me. It is a chronic case of wanderlust. What I love about traveling is soaking up the culture; fun and learning taking place at the same time, and in a place that used to be unfamiliar to the senses.
As for our EU trip, Cashmer and I only got few weeks to prepare for it. She would have to attend business meetings , so we had to be ‘more efficient’ in order for us to experience the best of the Parisian culture.
There was no excuse for jet lag. On our very first day in Paris, we were fueled by a high-level of excitement. Here are the ‘evidences’. =)
Day 1 – Sunday, 7:30AM: Cashmer and I met at Charles De Gaulle (CDG) International Airport in Paris. She came from Singapore, where she is currently based. I flew from Manila, then to HK – Paris in a CX flight. (Manila to HK = 1.6hrs, HK to Paris = 13.2hrs). From CDG, it took us about 30 minutes to get to the hotel via metered cab, 25KM, fare = 50Euros. Radisson Blu would be our home for a few days. It is strategically located along Boulevard Haussmann, a prime business center in Paris.
10AM – Off to Champs Elysees via METRO (Richelieu Drouot Station to Franklin D. Roosevelt). A day-ticket, which is good for unlimited rides within 24hours, costs 9.75Euros.
Pomme de Pain – our first cafe along Champs Elysees. The serving size is good for brunch. A set meal costs about 7Euros. I was never a fan of bread, but after enjoying a baguette at Pomme de Pain, that changed the way I look at bread. I survived 10 days without rice for carbs, only bread. Now, I love to eat croissants, pain au lait, and the deliciously chewy baguette with lotsa’ cheese (plus Sauvignon Blanc, if I get to eat baguette – late dinner at home).
Retail Therapy for BAGAHOLICS: Cashmer and I visited Louis Vuitton, Champs Elysees. We paid homage to the Maison, and paid for some precious arm candies, as well. It was not about ‘weak constitution’ for me, but I did survive months of bag ban and that it was lifted a week before my birthday (LV bags were virtually singing ‘Happy Birthday, Ann’ in unison). We also bought bring-home gifts for family and friends from L’Occitane. The sales associates gave us a lot of freebies (a lot!), and they did ask about our very own Boracay. Genuinely friendly AND English-speaking people in Paris are comparable to hard-to-find gems.
In other areas of the city, retail shops are closed on Sundays. The best district for shopping on a Sunday is Champs Elysees.
Toilettes (twa-let) may not be viewed as necessity at the Champs district. Only few shopping establishments have public toilettes. One has to pay 20cents to 80cents just to be able to use the toilet. In restaurants / braserries, it is not unusual to see signage that reads – “toilettes are for customers only.”
Retail therapy was completed at around 3PM. We headed back to the hotel to deposit our shopping finds. It was a 15min-drive via cab, for 9Euros. The cab driver was commenting about politics: Hollande vs. Sarkozy. That Sunday was the first round of the presidential election – an interesting time to be in France! Our first political discussion, very engaging one, was with a cab driver.
It was in the next few days that it became pronounced that majority of cab drivers in Paris speak good English; and they are generally friendly.
From Boulevard Haussmann, it was an easy METRO ride going to Trocadero <– station of choice when visiting the Eiffel Tower. From Trocadero, one has to walk about 10 minutes to reach the Eiffel Tower. It was quite an effortless walk because we got to see the extent of the tower’s imposing and majestic view.
Our plan was to go on a Seine River cruise after sunset via Bateaux Parisien…but sunset in springtime is at 9:30PM! From Eiffel, we went to Musee D’Louvre via METRO. The time was enough for us to get a quick view of the museum. We would go back to Louvre for a half-day tour in the weekend. We had our first dinner in a braserrie outside the Louvre. (In all Parisian restaurants I tried, veggies are fresh and naturally sweet. Average cost of a complete meal in braserries, 18Euros.)
We were back at the Eiffel Tower a bit before sunset. The boat stations for the Seine River cruise have ticket booths there. A BATOBUS hop on hop off ticket costs 15Euros per person. It is a 24-hour pass to 8 river stations: Tour Eiffel, Musee D’Orsay, Saint Germain des Pres, Notre Dame, Jardin des Plantes, Hotel de Ville, Louvre, and Champs Elysees. A night cruise is a way on how one can acquire a better understanding why Paris is called La Ville Lumiere or The City of Lights. The highlight of that night cruise was the Illuminations of the Eiffel Tower – majestic, monumental, romantic! =)
We were able to cover these places within a day. We capped off Day 1 with a picture-taking session along Trocadero. Temperature was about 3*C, which was literally shocking to the ribs. We were back at the hotel a bit past midnight <- disclaimer: we are not related to Cinderella. I had a little energy left to take photos of our room before I entered dreamland.