Paris Travel Journal
> How it all began...
By the end of the year 2003 we started to dislike the idea of another time the same old things to do on the holidays: to eat, to drink, to visit our family... We thought it would be a nice change to spend either X-mass or Sylvesternight somewhere else. Eventually we decided to leave for Sylvester, as we had our doubts about anything being open during X-mass. We were not sure, but just in case we wanted to leave only after 26th of December.
> The Plan
It was hard for us to get many days-off to go abroad for a long time, and the original idea was to go and celebrate new year's eve in another environment and to see something from the place we should visit. Several ideas for short trips crossed our minds and we collected some brochures...again. We thought it would be best to pick a city not too far away, so that we could take our own car to get there and we wouldn't need a Paris Car Rental for example. Soon there were only 2 cities left: Paris and Berlin. Both great cities, but Paris was just a bit higher in ranking of must-see-cities. So, it was obvious that we should book a few days to Paris. I once visited this romantic city on a 1-day-excursion from school and loved the city, but didn't have enough time to discover everything. From the many hotels in Paris, we picked hotel Paris-Nord, because it was situated close to the metro and 2 trainstations. But the hotel was not quite what we expected from it: That awful bed on the photo is really there, and it was in our room! And for real it is even smaller than it looks on the picture. They must have done a magic trick to get it look this big Our room was very small and the shower was all damaged and small as well.
Some days after our booking we started wondering if 3 days in such a wonderful city wasn't too short to see everything. We thought that it would and we tried to get us one night extra in the hotel. But that was not possible, so we searched the internet and found hotel Bagnolet, an Ibis-hotel on a very good location. Perfect to reach by car and not too far from the city center. The inside of this hotel was (of course) a copy from any other Ibis-hotel in the world, with its nice green and pink details, but... (!) with a large, nice bed and the bathroom very clean and even bigger than our entire room in hotel Paris-Nord (well, at least it felt like that).
> Journey to Paris
The whole trip is a very easy one and in no time we're close to the French capital. Thanks to our map we only make one tiny mistake and we find the hotel in less than 30 minutes. The parking is right next to the hotel, so very good for us. If you ever decide to stay in the same hotel and you want to park your car in this parking keep one thing in your mind: always check if the door that's closing behind you will open again from the other side. We forget to do this and we walk through one of the doors when we first try to leave the building. Well, it turns out to be the emergency exit that hasn't been used for many years. When we go through the door and see the dusty and dark staircase we're surprised and want to go back. But it's too late, the door is closed already and there is no doorhandle on this side. So we have to climb the stairs, as this is the only possibility. We see another door without a doorhandle! And another one. And none of them will open from our side. Just when we feel a small panic attack coming up we come to the last door, which happens to be one of the back doors of the parking. We're glad to see the blue sky above us and the people passing by are surprised to see us there. It doesn't seem a normal exit to us as well, but at least we left the building now and we are outside.
When we finally reach the center of Paris it's 3 'o clock and already getting dark. We are still able to shoot some nice pictures of the beautiful Opéra-building. We go for a walk in this area and when we get around another corner we are surprised to see the wonderful enlightened superstore Galleries LaFayette. Incredible, how many lights there are. The Louvre museum also looks great in the evening. From here we walk in the direction of Place de la Concorde and for the first time we see the enlightened Eiffel Tower in the distance. We move on to the Champs-Elysées which is hard to miss: all the trees at this 2 kilometres long road are completely covered with small lights. It looks wonderful. It's a bright winter evening, very cold, but not too cold for us. When we are half way on the Champs Elysées we try some French Crêpes, the small pancakes, at one of the stands. I think it's good that they don't sell them in the Netherlands, otherwise I would be very fat in no time. Unfortunately the Arc de Triomphe, at the end of the Champs-Elysées, is not enlightened because of renovation activities, but it is a wonderful walk anyway.
The next day the weather is extroardinary clear again and we first go to the huge cemetery Père LaChaise. There are the graves of Edith Piaff and Jim Morrison and many more. After this we go all the way up to the Sacré Coeur and enjoy the wonderful view with great clarity of the city of Paris. We walk around in Montmartre and admire some of the work from artists at Place du Tetre. We also pay a real visit to the Eiffel Tower, but we both prefer the enlightened version of this giant, with all the lights in the dark evening. That's why we come back again in the evening and for the first time we see it twinkle when it becomes a new hour. Later that evening we go to the office where the lighttour by bus should start, but some things are not arranged very well, so we have to wait a whole hour before the bus finally leaves. Anyway, the tour is really worth waiting for and we see many beautiful, enightened buildings from our chair in the bus. When we are half way we can easily get off the bus and hop on a boat that will show us the enlightened bridges from Paris. The bridges really are wonderful, and when we come back the bus is there waiting for us to show us the rest of the city and bring us back to the office.
The next day it's a bit of a disappointment to find out that the Arc de Triomphe is almost completely covered with scaffolds, so not very nice to take pictures of. There are more clouds than the day before and it is also hard to take good photos of Place de la Concorde and the Louvre-museum. It's still very cold and we drink many cups of tea to keep us warm. We also go to the Notre Dame today. Unfortunately also this church is partly behind scaffolds, but seen from a bridge over the Seine river it still looks marvellous. There is a man on the square in front of the church feeding the birds. Sparrows are eating out of his hand and even out of his mouth! By the end of the afternoon we go for a quick visit to the Centre Pompidou (what an ugly building this is) and a small gallery with very special and old photos of Paris. As it is New Year's Eve we first want to check the Champs-Elysées, to see what is happening there. A few 100.000 people are on the street here and some acrobats show their "tricks" to any one who wants to see them. For the rest not so much is happening here, but the athmosphere is nice. We use the metro, which is for free during this night and very well guarded by the police, to go to the Eiffel Tower. It is crowded here as well, thousands of people on the streets and salesmen on every corner. We find ourselves a good spot next to the river Seine with a view on the Eiffel Tower and when it turns midnight this giant starts twinkling again with all of its 1500 small lights. It now is 2004! There is not a lot of fireworks to see, and later we heard that you should be at Place de la Concorde if you want to see the fireworks. Right after midnight it gets very hectic, as there are people who want to party and people who want to leave. It's hard to get away from the Eiffel Tower, and the metro stations are even worse. When we arrive at a station at 1 'o clock it is crowded and there are many people waiting outside the station as well. People even climb the highest fences to get themselves on a train. We decide to visit another café first. When we try to reach the metro again, about an hour later, we find out that there are no more trains leaving at that moment, because they were too packed and that might be dangerous. Only later that night they start to ride again and we get back to our hotel very late.
Now we are happy with the conditions of our bed: it makes sure we won't sleep too long the next day. When we wake up at 10 and look out of our window we are surprised to see it snowing... It's even snowing a lot. We see a white Eiffel Tower later that morning, for the first time of our lives. And the Hôtel des Invalides is all covered with snow as well. Nice photos! Than it's time to get to our car and drive back home, which is not that easy with all the snow. But we see beautiful white landscapes passing. An excellent end of a great mini holiday.
> More Info
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