Sunday, August 21, 2011

Europe 2002 Trip Reports Part 2 London to Paris

This is the 2nd of a series of posts recalling my trip to Europe, using e-mails sent at the time. Unlike later trips, I didn’t e-mail people everyday. Trip reports are largely as I wrote them at the time with two exceptions: 1. I was usually pretty rushed due to Internet fees in Europe, so I’ve cleaned up my e-mails to make them more coherent, which wasn’t a priority at the time. Also, in some blog posts I’ll add additional thoughts with the hindsight of nine years later or to add further clarification. I’ll use “NOW” in such cases.

This 2nd report covered the remainder of my time in London plus my time in Paris.

I regret to report that trip has gone downhill. One of the ears of my glasses broke off.

[NOW: This was the result of humidity].

Worse, an encounter with your friendly neighbourhood London pickpocket left me sans credit card. I cancelled the card before he made any purchases but this will still make life difficult.

[NOW: Ironically, prior to this incident I did a walking tour of Notting hill and the guide warned the group to beware of pickpockets in a crowded area. However, the actual pickpocket incident came later in a pretty deserted area. The thief pretended to ask for directions.

Other things I did in London: visited the Tate Modern Museum (I wasn’t too impressed but it was pretty new at the time), visited the British Library, and visited a war museum].

I took the “Chunnel” train to Paris. My body went into shock for a split second as the train left the tunnel on mainland Europe. I had my first meal at a non-English speaking restaurant at a Quick’s near the train station. Quick’s is a French version of McDonald’s. It was the first time that I had a panhandler approach me inside a restaurant, though they’re now starting to do so in Victoria].

Paris has similar traffic conditions to London. Credit card situation prevented me from booking places in advance but got by through booking two different hostels.

[NOW: Actually in some ways the traffic matters were worse: cars parked at the end of crosswalks and partly on the sidewalks. And there's one spot where quick a few roads converge together].

Prices are expensive here. I went to the Louvre on a free day. Liked it.

[NOW: The free day was the day I arrived. I made the mistake of heading from the train station to the hostels on foot, though missing most of the time allotted top the free day. Finding the entrance to the Louvre was a challenge because I didn’t realize it was an escalator underground. Was bad and took photos there including of the Mono Lisa even though you weren’t supposed to take photos. Later that day I visited the Eiffel Tower but didn’t go up. The next day I visited a zoo and the Notre Dame cathedral].

Versailles was overrated. Have to pay separately for different areas which I didn't know in advance and movement was difficult.

[NOTE: I’m referring above to the Palace of Versailles of course, and not the city. I no longer recall why movement was difficult].

Parc Asterix was fun but prices were outrageous aside from rides and shows which come with entry. I especially liked the Toner de Zeus roller coaster ride and the playful Grand Splatch.

[NOW: The Zeus ride had a statue of Zeus wearing a skirt. It’s hard to resist looking up when you walk underneath; the statue had polka dot shorts on underneath.]

That day was fun but trip is proving to be more of a learning experience and less of a fun time aside from the Parc. The loss of credit card is adding to the anxiety of a different language. Can't wait to be back.

[NOW: I definitely recommend a travel companion if doing a trip around Europe. Having a second set of eyes would have proven invaluable during this trip.]

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