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  1. Europe Travel: The Long Flight to Paris!

    Friday, 15 February 2013

    Happy Valentine's Day! Here's the first of many posts to come on our happy trip to the West! Look out for travel tips which are highlighted (use control F), they might be useful snippets of information which may help you on your trip to Europe!

    IT BEGINS!

    One thing a traveller would have to note is the possibility of jet lag if you are those with a well timed body clock. It wasn't a problem for me as I have been sleeping odd hours, Sheena was fine as she can just doze off easily, getting the rest she needs. This is because if one would like to save a day, you would have to fly at night, which meant no sleep on a bed, but on an aircraft. Our flight was a midnight one on Emirates, refer to our previous post  if you want to know the price and details! It connects in Dubai, which meant we landed there in the wee hours of the morning. 


    A lucky view of the A380 cockpit from our seats! Travel tip: If you want to disembark quickly choose seats near the front. Because of this many people prefer front seats, hence freeing up the rear seats for sleep. Take a walk and feel free to lie down on all 3 seats for a good sleep. Wake up for meals though! and remember to try the wine, it's free!

     
    Onboard cameras (A380 silent takeoff!) and a spacious seat with our lovely in flight meal

     
    Disembarking at Dubai and transit in Dubai International Airport


    The flight time from Singapore to Dubai is about 7 hours, and Dubai to Paris takes about the same time. However, due to the time difference, you would "save" on a lot of time when you travel west wards. Shops are still open in Dubai Airport, but there is really nothing much there to shop (too bad for me), and just find a place near to your gate and rest!

    After 3 hours of transit time, we took a connecting 7 hour B777 flight to Paris Charles De Gaulle airport.  It isn't a huge mess which I imagined it to be. Navigation was pretty easy with English signs. However, do take note that English isn't a big hit here, which brings me to another travel tip: use Bonjour as a greeting in France, it could go a long way. So, we made our way to the Paris RER, which is sort of like a regional MRT. 


    English signs for easy navigation

    So before we got to Paris, we had to find a way to get around. As it was our first time there, there were many attractions which we had to visit. This calls for a pass that allows both travel deal and entrance to attractions - the Paris Pass. Since we were only spending two days in Paris, we got the 2 days pass for €64 per person, an additional 35 for express shipping to us because we ordered a little too late. So remember to order early to save money! If you want to know whether it is worth it, look up the attractions you want to go and sum up the entrance fees as well as the transport fees. It most likely will be if you plan to pack a lot of places in so do check it out! 

    RER map

    The Paris Pass includes an attraction pass, a transport pass, and a guidebook which is extremely useful. First and foremost, let's talk about the transport, more details will be revealed about the Pass as we go along! The only drawback is on the transport as it only spans zone 1 to 3. Paris is divided into 6 zones, and the airport happens to be in Zone 6. So we had to pay for a ticket to Le Blanc Mensil, circled on the map above, exit the station, then activate our Metro tickets (small white ticket you receive with your Paris Pass) when we go in. From then on, it was unlimited travel in Zones 1 to 3! During the RER ride you might encounter a man who pops a card on ur luggage for some money or ticket, just don't be alarmed and he will collect if after a while.

    Card from man

    Our hotel was in Cambronne which could be reached easily by the metro. We chose hotels based on their locations and most are very near to major forms of transport which is a travel tip for you! Another note about the Paris metro system is the severe lack of escalators! My poor boy had to lug two huge pieces of luggage, each weighing more than 20-22 kgs up and down flights of stairs. Do take note of this if you have a lot of luggage! 

    Metro map

    The Paris transport system brings you to most places, so it wouldn't be tough to find a hotel which is near to a metro station. Our budget for a night was about SGD150 for two people at the maximum, of course, the lower the better. Most importantly, pictures for toilets had to look good for Sheena haha... 


    So we settled on a hotel which was pretty near to the Eiffel tower, a metro station and within our budget whilst still looking decent, which was Ibis Paris Hotel by Accorhotels. Due to it being close to the metro the price was SGD174 per night for 2 people, which is pretty decent from what we experienced at the hotel. 

    View from our room (left) and of our room (right)

    Small but clean toilet!

    We took quite a while to travel to the hotel, about 40 minutes journey due to the lugging of luggage and so, but we managed to make it and check in at about 12 pm. Following our schedule, we rested for awhile and made our way to Montparnasse tower.

    Montparnasse tower is just a skyscraper in the heart of Paris, which isn't that big a deal if you have been up other high buildings. However, the Paris Pass includes free entry to the top floor so do give it a try. Unfortunately for us, it was extremely foggy on that day, and there was nothing to be seen. Coming back another day was out of the question because of our schedule but hey, we still had some fun!

    Poor visibility due to fog of war muahahaha BLACK SHEEP WALL

    Failed handstand!

    As most of you might know by now I'm a vegetarian! So is it possible to survive in Europe as a lacto-ovo? Kerwyn was really sweet by doing some research on food before we went, so it did seem quite possible to find suitable food. Basically crepes are a commonplace food in Paris, and we stopped by the first creperie outside the metro stop of Montparnasse Bienvenue. 
    Creperie behind us! 

    The food wasn't that expensive as it's meant for the local working class, which put us back about 4-5 per crepe without drinks. I got to eat a banana chocolate crepe (my fav!) while Kerwyn tried a Panini...

    The panini was epic. It was just cheese, lettuce and tomatoes. But the cheese was just great, which is something you have got to learn to appreciate when you're here. After lunch, we dropped by the Pantheon, which is nothing like the Roman Pantheon. To us, as we are less learned about such historic places, most of the ancient buildings are just picture taking moments.

    French Pantheon

    Real Christmas Trees!

    It's winter time so we got to see real christmas trees! Definitely can't miss out on a photo opportunity such as this right? After checking out the Pantheon, we moved on to the highlight of every first time Paris visitor - the Eiffel Tower! Travel tip: If you're not sure how to get to all the attractions, don't worry, your Paris Pass offers a guide to every location so keep the guidebook handy! 

    Me and my churros!

    There were some carts along the route when we walked to the tower, and one of them was selling churros.. so here's what went on...

    Sheena: CHURROS!
    Kerwyn: ?
    Sheena: Churros, OMG you never try churros before?
    Kerwyn: No leh..

    Next thing I knew we were eating churros haha... but it tasted pretty damn good with the sugar and all. Although it was a tad bit expensive at €5. I do feel its worth it since Kerwyn hasn't tried it before and I know he would definitely like it!

     
    More photos of the majestic tower

    Being first timers, we couldn't help camwhoring with the tower in the background. But we had to move on, because the highlight of the day was a cruise down the River Seine, which is part of the Paris Pass package. It's operated by Bateaux Parisiens and lasts for one hour. We managed to get the timing just right, and we managed to catch a glimpse of the City of Light during dusk which was absolutely stunning. Kerwyn really knows how to arrange the time isn't it? Hee~!!

    Boarding at Pontoon 3 and our voice guides

    Board your cruise at Pontoon 3, it's a huge boat, and we were lucky to be first. We managed to snag seats at the back, which guaranteed an undisrupted view of the city but no protection from the cold.
    If you are afraid of the temperatures, don't worry! There are heaters in the enclosed areas, and the entire enclosure is glass so you still get to see most things. Best of all, there are audio guides which brief you about various attractions as we go along, in English. 


    Various sights along the Seine

    Dusk transformation

    People wave to you from bridges!

    The cruise was quite an experience and the best part was I didn't get seasick! Although I did drop one of my poor gloves into the river because of the wind... ): The weather gets really chilly once the sun sets at about 430 pm so be prepared! The final part of the cruise as we docked was a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower, which was lighted up!

    Trying to get a good photo but difficult lighting conditions...

    What better way to end the day after the cruise, than to have a good dinner? We stopped by Pizza Iolanda, where we had some carbonara and a pizza margherita. Although it's in close proximity to the Eiffel Tower, the food wasn't that bad at all, and the price was in the range of our budget of 15 per pax. Beer seems to go well everywhere in Europe, so unless you're really tight, have a pint or at least half. 

    There's definitely a choice for us vegetarians so fret not when it comes to meal times, just ask the waiters nicely and they'll get back to you. With that we have come to the end of the first day of Europe, but remember to check back for more as we bring you the rest of the trip!

    I would like to take this chance to thank Kerwyn here for getting my fav tulips for valentine's! The tulips in Ireland are really gorgeous and because of the cold weather, the flowers are still doing really well! (: 
    Can't wait to be home!

  2. 2 comments:

    1. Nice blog, nice pic's...

    2. Thanks for the support!

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