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France - Paris
15.12.97 - First Night in ParisAfter a reasonable flight over from SF we met one of Joe's friends, Maria, at Charles de Gaul airport and headed into Paris to find somewhere to stay that night. We caught the train into Gare du Nord (Paris North) station and were immediately picked up by a guy promoting his hostel (Woodstock). We looked at the info-sheet and figured "what the hell - lets do it" and headed out there. We got a bit lost on the way because of the stupid map of the hostel's location, but we eventually found it, there were heaps of people there which was good after our people-starved stay in SF.
We headed out onto the streets of Paris soon after checking into the hostel to find some dinner and ended up scoring a huge feed at a pizza joint of, what was essentially, a steak and chips rammed into a pita bread. We then walked for hours in the freezing cold getting lost several times before heading back to the hostel.
Despite their bad reputation, we have so far found the French to be very nice -- although I DID almost get pulled into a strip joint by an overly friendly older woman. This should be an interesting few days.
16.12.97I woke up at 2am after only a couple of hours sleep -- cursed jetlag. We got up around 8am for our free breakfast, which turned out to be all the baguettes and jam you can eat and hot chocolate, which was just fine by me. We hit the roads to do some sightseeing and it was snowing outside! We started out by heading to the Arc de Triumph, checking out the view from the top before walking back down the Champes Elysee -- checking out all the shops on the way back. COLD!
We stopped at one perfume stop (blame Maria) that had free Internet access from funky terminals. I think you were meant to use the terminals to check out the company home-page, but everyone was using them to access their hotmail email accounts. Unfortunately I got stuck behind a geeky guy checking out the latest screenshots of TombRaider II -- I guess he thinks Lara Croft is pretty hot stuff... Anyway, by the time this guy took all my not-so-subtle hints that he should go elsewhere Netscape was just about ready to crash and I ended up not getting to bring up my email before fate kicked in.
It was so cold in Paris we basically took every chance we could to get inside out of the cold. We visited a couple of museums and even took shelter in a Metropolitan (the underground rail system) station for a while. Unfortunately the Louvre was shut because it was Tuesday (go figure) so we'll be going there tomorrow, and we took in Notre Dame instead -- which was pretty cool.
We headed back to the hostel after Notre Dame and I slept for an hour before we headed out for dinner (I was feeling a bit sick with a headcold as well as being tired). We then walked up to the highest point in Paris (Sacre Coer) which had a really nice atmosphere -- we may go back again.
Tomorrow we plan on checking out the Eiffle tower and the Louvre as well as a few other things, hopefully. It'd want to be warmer tomorrow than it was today.
17.12.97 - The LouvreWent straight to the Louvre today to check it out. We got a 90min guided tour in English which was very good because the guide explained a few of the more famous works inc. Mona Lisa. We took a quick break because it is very tiring looking at art. We then went back in for a couple more hours but I got sick of it - you can only absorb so much art before it becomes a monotonous blur. Joe and Maria partied on for a bit longer in the Louvre while Brad and myself headed back to the hostel for some rest.
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18.12.97 - Eiffle TowerWent up the Eiffle Tower today. Great view, very impressive. To get to the top you catch a lift that runs up one of the four major supports of the tower so it isn't a straight path up. The top floor where the lift drops you off is enclosed, but you can get outside by walking up a set of steel stairs. Once outside the wind was so strong it was difficult to walk against it, and to stand still you had to lean right forward to maintain balance. The weather wasn't the greatest to check out the view, but we still took some photos and Joe took some video - when your at the top of the Eiffle tower, its kind of compulsory to do these things.
After the Eiffle tower we caught the Metro to the Latin Quarter and walked around for a bit, but pretty soon me and brad had to head off to catch the train to London, England to meet with family and friends. Joe would follow the next day.