Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Parigi, Paree or Simply Paris

The City of Love somehow did not inspire me to feel amorous at all. Then again I was not with a sexy man...

We took the horrible night train from Venice to Paris that took an excruciating 10 hours. 6 people occupied one cabin and the beds were like triple bunk beds. It was stuffy and yet cold and the noise of the doors outside clanging shut everytime the train departed from the stations irritated me. Imagine.. I who slept with ear plugs found the noise unbearable.. and not to mention the shaking of the train.

An officer on the train wanted to take our passports with him "For immigrations purposes" he said but I adamantly told him that I would not hand over my passport. He got a bit upset and threatened that the police will come for me. "Tell me to see me," I said coolly. When he went off to the next cabins, I enquired in the other cabins if the occupants had passed their passports to him. They all nodded in affirmative. I still thought that it was a strange procedure and so when the officer returned to collect the other passenger's (who got on board later) passports, I still refused to give mine to him. I needn't have worried because he returned everyone's passport about an hour before they got off the train.

We got off at Gare du Nord.. most convenient as our Hotel Grand Magenta (with a name like that I was really thinking that it would be crawling with prostitutues). It was a tiny hotel with a tinier lift (it could barely fit Shirrene and I together with our luggages. However, the good thing was, we had TV with CNN and we watched it every night we were in Paris.

We went to the Louvre on the 1st day. Spent 6 hours there and it was seriously NOT ENOUGH! What an impressive collection they had. We were at the Egyptian section for the longest time. Then we were off to see The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. You could only wave at Mona from a distance of 20 feet. There were so many people jostling each other to take a picture. So much for being captivated for hours by her enigmatic smile.

2nd day.. we spent it at Versailles (Parisians say "Ver sai" - sounds like shit in Hokkien). We took a train straight to Chateau Versailles and wandered in the magnificient grounds and the summer palace of King Louis XIV. It was opulent with rooms 'drenched' in gold or pink fabrics or yellow furniture and chandeliers (I had thought that Mark's impressive house by the Palace in Melaka would look a little like this). As far as the eye can see from the windows of the palace were the garden grounds. The gardens would take your breath away. Especially after you had to walk 3 hours to visit the length and breath of the gardens. There was the Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon and others which Shirrene refused to visit due to the xtreme walking that was needed.

3rd day - Eiffel Tower... my knees started knocking when I thought about climbing the tower....A strange feeling came over me when I was admiring Eiffel. Maybe the combination of the height and the thought that Tom Cruise proposed to his current girlfriend here made me a little sick. Visited Pompidou Centre -only viewed the frontage (it houses modern art - like huge LCD TV screens and fantastic new do-interesting-poses chairs). Also walked in Rue du Martin for the arty things like postcards, paintings and creative inventions. Trudged along Champ Elysee to see the Arc de Triomphe. We had to stop by Louis Vuitton after so many Chinese from China begged us to buy the bags for them. Apparently they were only limited to one bag a person. As if I was going to buy for them to make money!! What did I get in return?? LV was PACKED!! Were they that cheap? I had no idea as I was not familiar with the prices back home. We had a scare in LV.. Shirrene grabbed me and said that her money pouch and passport was not with her... we rushed back to the hotel in hopes that it was safe.. thankfully it was!

Definitely think that Paris was charming.. even the people were friendlier than the Romans. Always start the sentence with "S'il vous plait...Parlez-vous anglaise?" They warm up to hear you try to speak their language. And 4 days is also not sufficient to enjoy Paris.

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