Europe 2016: From Paris with Love (Part 2)

Oct 2, 2016

20161002185954_img_5282

Prior to the whole trip, I booked a 2-day bus tour and a 1.5-hour night tour from a bus company called L’Open Tour. I know I’m a very touristy tourist – as much as I want to be a legit Parisian by taking the public transpo such as their trains and buses, it was not the better option when we only had 2 days left to tour around – we didn’t have the luxury of time to get lost!

20161002185329_img_5259

The tour bus in all its green glory

I recommend it for people who have very limited time but want to visit as much tourist spots as possible. There are many tour bus companies to choose from – I just chose L’Open Tour because of the price and reviews. The arrangement is pretty simple. You buy tickets online, print the confirmation page, and present it to the bus driver himself, and he will give you your actual passes with maps and earphones. Anywhere you sit, there would be an audio system in place where you can plug-in your earphones and listen to a recorded tour guide, which is available in several languages. Obviously, all tour buses should stop at major tourist spots and in our case, the nearest bus stop was the Eiffel Tower. Buses arrive every 15 minutes or so.

At around 10am that Sunday, we boarded the upper deck of the tour bus.

20161002174640_img_5223

Kilay on fleek

20161002173410_img_5201

20161002173544_img_5203

20161002174120_img_5210

Les Invalides – I only know it as the final resting place of Napoleon Bonaparte. We didn’t get off here, and up to now I still wonder why. Probably on next visit – fingers crossed! 😀

20161002174404_img_5215

The other side of Les Invalides. You can see some construction going on at the front.

20161002174708_img_5225

This is on Pont Alexandre III bridge a.k.a. where Louisa Clark walked in the ending of Me Before You movie (lol typical millennial references)

20161002174844_img_5228

The Grand Palais a.k.a. where Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show 2016 was held (again the references)

20161002174851_img_5230

If there’s Grand Palais, then there’s this Le Petit Palais just across it.

20161002175115_img_5240

Fontaine des Mers in Place de la Concorde. There’s also the Luxor Obelisk behind. I’m pretty sure I remembered the audio tour guide telling that some famous people were beheaded in this plaza (I don’t remember the names). Sorry I had sh*tty photos, there were just too many views I was so confused where to point my camera. I just gave up and inhaled the views.

20161002175318_img_5241

20161002175515_img_5246

20161002175706_img_5247

20161002180354_img_5248

I love Parisian buildings. Or probably all European buildings. Look at how uniform they are.

20161002181450_img_5253

Academie Nationale de Musique and our bus mates

20161002185319_img_5258

Seine River

20161002185405_img_5262

Now we decided to get off here, because just across this…

20161002185504_img_5264

…is the Notre Dame Cathedral! Remember Quasimodo?

20161002185739_img_5273

20161002185612_img_5268

It was a sunny Sunday but friggin’ cold. Just played it cool with my outfit. I have this habit of underestimating the weather.

20161002190321_img_5290

20161002190519_img_5296

All of a sudden people formed a line so we followed since it looked like they’re gonna go inside.

20161002191148_img_5299

Oh my God. This is the first time I saw such an old and enormous church. Because it was Sunday, there was a mass inside and of course visitors are not allowed to take photos during the mass. There are designated areas for that. We attended the mass first (though it was in French). After that, we toured around.

20161002194935_img_5300

20161002194946_img_5301

20161002195249_img_5308

20161002195301_img_5310

A scale model of the Notre Dame Cathedral. This is the side view of the church.

20161002195403_img_5315

A diorama showing how the church was built.

20161002195418_img_5316

20161002195515_img_5319

20161002195852_img_5321

20161002195910_img_5324

20161002200357_img_5328

20161002201216_img_5330

20161002201521_img_5341

My lucky scarf did little to save me from the coldddd. It bothered me in all ways. I can’t Queen Elsa  the heck of the day.

We bought souvenirs outside the cathedral. There were plenty of stores around selling souvenirs such as t-shirts, bags, ref magnets and keychains. There were also restaurants and small stores in front of them selling baguette sandwiches and crepes. Since it was around 2pm and we haven’t had lunch yet, we bought baguette sandwiches and ate them while waiting for our tour bus.

We decided to go back to the hotel so that I can change to a more thought-of cold weather-friendly outfit, and also to drop off the things we bought.

20161002221234_img_5350

20161002221929_img_5351

Hello again, dearie

20161002222104_img_5353

One does not simply pass Eiffel Tower without taking a photo of it. Even if you already have hundreds of photos of it.

20161002234506_img_5359

Inside the tour bus

 

20161002235839_img_5372

20161003001212_img_5376

Printemps, because even department stores look fancy in Paris.

20161003003016_img_5390

The Louvre Museum houses the most famous painting of all time – Leonardo da Vinci’s Monalisa. We didn’t go inside the museum because Rean and I share this passion of not understanding art.

20161003003251_img_5407

 

20161003003657_img_5416

20161003003729_img_5419

20161003004250_img_5428

20161003021920_img_5436

Les Invalides during sunset. This was about 7pm.

With more than 2 hours to kill before our night tour which was scheduled at 945pm, we decided to have dinner at a restaurant near L’Open Tour Information Office, which was the starting point of the tour.

img_2682

Inside Non Coupable restaurant and cafe. Here we see my enormous thin crust margherita pizza (but where’s the basil) and my cute espresso.

img_2683

Meanwhile Rean enjoys his steak.

img_2688

Just before boarding our night tour bus. We were among the first in line because we learned the hard way that in order to take good photos, you have to be seated at the very front of the bus.

20161003045719_img_5447

20161003051028_img_5458

20161003052227_img_5465

20161003052438_img_5469

Notre Dame Cathedral and Seine River at night

20161003054721_img_5483

Paris, the City of Lights.

20161003054949_img_5487

Arc de Triomphe at night. What a lovely sight.

20161003055046_img_5489

20161003055855_img_5497

Eiffel Tower view at night, from Trocadero side

20161003060726_img_5507

“Unbelievable sight, indescribable feeling…”

20161003061207_img_5511

Was able to catch Eiffel Tower sparkle a couple of times while we walked towards it.

20161003061836_img_5514

 

20161003062623_img_5529

 

img_2694

Stay tuned for Part 3!

Read Part 1 here.

You can also read my posts about Europe so far:

How I Got My Schengen Visa:

https://virtuallytalkative.wordpress.com/2016/10/17/how-i-got-my-schengen-visa/

Stockholm, Sweden:

https://virtuallytalkative.wordpress.com/2016/10/21/europe-2016-stockholm-syndrome/

Bergen, Norway:

https://virtuallytalkative.wordpress.com/2016/10/26/europe-2016-i-did-it-norway-part-1/

https://virtuallytalkative.wordpress.com/2016/10/26/europe-2016-i-did-it-norway-part-2/

Advertisements

Europe 2016: From Paris with Love (Part 1)

Or baguette, which is like the same thing.

20161002014719_img_5132

How to pack light for a Euro-trip. Keep on repeating clothes. (Of course wash them.)

Oct 1, 2016

We left early to catch our flight to Copenhagen, Denmark. Upon arriving there at 11am, we killed some time by lounging at (where else) Starbucks while munching on croissants. Rean also bought himself a polarized Rayban, which is quite cheaper there compared to its price in Manila. At around 2pm we were seated inside the packed (and noisy) plane bound for Paris.

img_2658

In Copenhagen Airport

After about 2 hours, our plane mates were still rattling on and noisy as ever. Luckily we have arrived at Paris Orly Airport. I stupidly looked for the Eiffel Tower while the plane descended, to no avail. We looked for a taxi to take us to our hotel. This was planned – taxi from Orly Airport to anywhere in central Paris costs a fixed 30 EUR, and I think the price is just fair since there were two of us. The driver was very kind and helpful and not chatty and spoke a little English which probably explains it.

We were met with a taste of Parisian traffic around 15 minutes into the route. After about less than an hour we finally arrived in Hotel de l’Alma in Rue de Exposition. This would be our home for the next 2 days.

Hotel de l’Alma

First impression: tiny. But I’ve read enough reviews so I knew what to expect. For the price of 98 EUR per night (around PHP 5300 ++) for me it’s also a steal since its location is a good walking distance from Eiffel Tower. We found the tiny elevator and looked for our room in 4th floor. The hallway was 100% dark we initially thought it was brown out or something. Rean even thought we were scammed lol. (We were paranoid about the tips we got from our friends who have been there.) Eventually we found out that the rooms were concealed behind a door that looks like it says “Staff Only” but we just assumed so. Light switches are actually in place and lights automatically turn off when no one’s around.

20161003065005_img_5542

20161003064951_img_5541

20161003065020_img_5543

Upon entering our room, first impression was OLD. Older than your grandma. It’s not as fancy and shiny and bright as what you would expect a hotel room to be. To be honest, the actual place looked different from the photos. Nonetheless, it was clean and it had a TV and working heater. Everything’s functional; it just had an old feeling in it.

 

Eiffel Tower – The First Glance

After a little rest we decided to go to – where else, Eiffel Tower. I Google Street View-ed enough prior to the trip to know which way to walk. Upon seeing “her”, damn. Butterflies in  my stomach. Kilig to the bones. The feeling was so surreal – it was quite an emotion. I was standing right in front of *probably* the most famous tourist spot in the world. Call me foolish or corny or whatever, but you know, Eiffel Tower is pretty in pictures, nothing fancy. However, seeing it in person is a whole new level of awesome. We literally took hundreds of pictures as we walk closer to it.

20161002014223_img_5111

I sometimes wonder how I ended up with a good looking boyfriend. I can’t help it, he’s too clingy. LOL

Even though half of Champ de Mars was not green at that time because of some on-going maintenance, and the sky was gray, the moment wasn’t spoiled at all. I was still giggling at the sight of it, smiling from ear to ear as we walk nearer.

20161002015104_img_5148

The dry and dusty grounds of Champ de Mars

It was quite a rainy Saturday afternoon but minutes later the weather gave way for a beautiful sunset. We were lucky since it started getting dark at around 730pm, giving us more day time. We walked some more and took photos and ate crepes from a nearby vendor. Understandably, there were many people – tourists and vendors alike.

We were even scammed for a stem of rose while taking selfies lol. I didn’t know why I took the rose from the vendor despite knowing we would pay for it. All I knew, I was holding my camera, the next moment I was holding the rose lol. He was so persistent that Rean just gave up and gave the man a 2 EUR coin. The man was protesting for 3 EUR but he eventually left when we totally ignored him. Sorry but Paris is full of them – street vendors selling stuff, especially around Eiffel Tower. Just ignore them and buy souvenirs from proper stores.

20161002013213_img_5098

I became clingy to Eiffel Tower that I got sad when Rean suggested to go back to the hotel. Honestly the day was full of commutes (what with the connecting flight and traffic) it was really kind of tiring. We walked back and bought water, coffee and snacks from a grocery store along the way.

20161002020650_img_5183

Just a beautiful Parisian building that turned golden at sunset

20161002020436_img_5168

20161002020023_img_5163

The hotel’s vicinity is comprised of quaint little corner restaurants, bakeries and stores selling fruits and other goods. We found ourselves looking at the menu outside one of the corner restaurants by the name of Le Petit Caillou. I confidently asked the attendant at the bar whether they have burger lol. Sometimes I tend to be unnecessarily awkward and stupid. Anyway, we were seated and being handed the menu. I had mussels in white wine sauce with a side of ratatouille; Rean had burger with mashed potato (weird) and Orangina soda (like our Royal Tru Orange). They gave us free house fries! Yay.

20161002025139_img_5193

After our scrumptious and legit French AF dinner in a legit French AF restaurant, we headed back to our hotel, quite early as one wouldn’t expect tourists to be. But the thing millennials like us often forget is that sometimes, when you’re on a vacation you need to rest. LOL. That’s so ironic. We gave a different meaning to travel. Nowadays it means exhausting our bodies by going to as many places as possible in a short period of time. Oh well.

Stay tuned for Part 2!