Sailing boats at the Palace of Luxembourg
What a great day!
Frog jumping in Paris.
“I’m the King of the World….” Again???
Crazy cats (Notre Dame in the background).
At the Louvre
Jo wishing he could be fishing.
Had a baguette in the park under the tower.
Inside Notre Dame.
Waiting in the two hour line at Versailles 🙂
In the Hall of Mirrors.
We made it to Paris! We took a 3 hour bus ride from Brugge, and arrived at Bercy bus station. From here, instead of taking more transit, we decided to walk the 5 km to our house…..easy peasy 😉 It really wasn’t too bad. Jo was the only one who gave up part way through, and said he couldn’t make it, so Papa graciously carried Jo’s pack the rest of the way. Anyways, we were in Paris from August 4-9, so we had a lot of down time, and didn’t feel rushed at all, or like we had to pick and choose certain sights to see. The first full day there, we walked to and around a lot of the major sights, and just enjoyed the Parisian atmosphere. We had a couple of days just playing at the parks in the area, and took one afternoon to go to the Palace of Versailles (about an hour total travel time each way). The boys were happy just chilling and sailing boats at the Palace of Luxembourg 🙂 We ate fresh bread (mostly baguettes) every day, had the best crepes ever, and will return to try out France’s best ice cream Berthillon’s), as it was closed until the end of August. I also saw an pickpocket attempt to steal a man’s wallet right out of his hand…she got it and started running, but another person down the path heard the yelling, and grabbed her. Some soldiers were walking by, so they headed over and were waiting with everyone until the police got there. We have never felt unsafe, but that was just a reminder to us to be a little more wary of where our wallets were, and to use some common sense…no travelling with a tonne of money in pocket, no flashing money around, etc. There are armed soldiers walking around a lot of the main tourist areas, as well as a big police presence. My mom had her bag searched twice when her and my dad walked down to the Arc de Triomphe, and there were two “incidents” (man with a knife threatening soldiers at Eiffel Tower, and soldiers attacked by a car on the Wednesday morning we left), but we didn’t hear about any of these things until we were out of the city and logged onto Facebook. Honestly, I feel like there is a big difference in the way the media in North America reports things, and the way things are reported over here. Like I said, we never felt unsafe at all, and didn’t hear about anything happening while we were there…it was just people enjoying life, eating, and relaxing in the parks 🙂
All that being said, I do have to admit though, that Paris wasn’t what we thought it would be. I really hate to say it, because I know everyone has these romantic views of it, but it wasn’t one of our favourite places so far…. We are returning in September to meet some friends though, so I’ll keep you posted on our thoughts then 🙂
And finally, in terms of big picture travel…planning and getting around the different places has not been too difficult at all. Google and google maps are our best friend. Nathan downloads maps of each place we go to, and we are able to use that for walking, and also for metro or city transit. We had ferries and major buses all booked before we left Canada (except for the one to Paris, which we booked about 3 days before we took it). We have travelled extensively around North America, and have learned that being organized and having stuff in place beforehand helps things go a lot smoother for us (we are not good at on the spot decision making 😉 ). Luckily, trains, buses and ferries have all been on time, and we haven’t had to make alternate plans (yet)…. Ireland was the only place that got a little confusing, and it wasn’t because of the schedules, it was because of the cost…we thought our cards were full and would cover us for the 3 days in Cork, but the driver told us one day we were in deficit. We found out later that although they have a posted price, turns out they charge whatever they want to on certain days….so I still have no clue how they decide that, but we just went with it. We also ended up walking from our place in Cork to the train station (about 35 minutes), instead of bussing it, because the bus didn’t come when it was supposed to. We waited about another 15 minutes, and then decided to start walking. People are usually very gracious and willing to help when you ask for it. As we heard on vinyl cafe while driving yesterday “strangers are not really bad.” In France, language was not a big problem. A lot of people would speak English when they heard you say “Bonjour.” And surprisingly, I was able to speak and converse (very limitedly) with people in French. I took French in university, but hadn’t used it since then, but was surprised at what I remembered. I think I was in shock when I asked our bus driver (in French), on the way to Paris, it we were at a rest area for 30 minutes, and he nodded and answered back in French. He understood me! hahaha. Anyways, I didn’t intend for this post to be a novel. Hope you are all doing well. Thanks again for checking in. I wish we could just bring you all along with us, but this is the next best thing I guess. Until next time… 🙂