Click here for the previous (and first) entry.
I woke up the next day while it was very dark. It was so quiet out I assumed it was very early in the morning and that jet lag was kicking in. Despite the hotel being on a main road, I could only hear the occasional car driving by. In Auckland, that means it's before 5am. In Paris, i've found, it means it's before roughly 7:30. I like that a lot, seems much more relaxed. Perhaps thats just my touristy impression, and not what actually happens.
Anyway, after freshening up I headed downstairs to try the hotel's breakfast. I started off slow, with some cereal, before I decided to get a little more adventurous and toast a baguette. Turns out you're meant to cut it before sticking it in the toaster. I overlooked that, stuck it in the contraption whole, where it promptly caught on fire. A woman comes hurrying out, laughing, while the room fills up with smoke and I melt into the floor, dying of shame. Never ate breakfast there again.
I left the hotel around 9 in the end. My friend Kelly was to arrive at 11:30 but was delayed an hour, so I had some time to kill. My first stop was at an electronics store to pick up a new memory card for my camera. I was using a 32mb card, which only held around 30 photos. Clearly not enough for a trip to Europe. Problem with my camera is that it doesn't support cards 2gb and above (but I was given the camera for free, so I'm not complaining), so a 1gb card was required. Unfortunately they don't make cards that small anymore, and I was unable to find one before leaving for Europe. The man in the store was very helpful and eventually found one in the back which he sold to me for 15 euro, which I was more than happy to pay as it increased my picture taking capacity to OVER NINE HUNDRED photos.
The next few hours essentially considered of me taking another pleasant stroll around the wonderful streets of Paris.
Racism? Yes We Can!
After a short stop in at a telephone/internet store, where I caught up on emails and posted here about how cold it was, I made my way back to Gare Du Nord to meet Kelly at the platform.
The main entrance
I hadn't seen Kelly for around half a year, but she was as bubbly as ever, as you'll soon see from the photographs. We then took the short walk back to the hotel to drop our bags off, before planning our trip for the day.
First port of call was to be metro station, on route to the Arc de Triomphe.
I'm told there are far pretty subway systems than those of the metro in Paris, but by god do they get you where you want to go fast and cheaply. Why anybody bothers driving in Paris is beyond me, such is the speed and efficiency. The tubes were full of graffiti to be sure, but I can't understand why we have such a love of roads building roads back in Auckland, has nobody in power ever been on one of these systems and seen how amazingly useful it is for getting around? Not to mention the other benifits of reduced traffic conjestion (which is a big problem in Auckland), carbon emmisions, parking requirements and so on.
So after mere moments, we were halfway across town at the Arc de Triomphe. I'd seen it in pictures before, but nothing prepared me for the sheer scale of the thing. It sits in the middle of a gigantic roundabout, and must be about 50 metres high. I've been around a bit, but i'd never before seen anything that spoke of such power.
And of course, we had to go up to the top. A bit of a climb I supppose, but well worth it. The panoramic view of Paris was pretty breathtaking, especially the view across to the eiffel tower, which my camera didn't capture as well as I would have liked (oh well).
Eventually the bracing wind drove us down, and we started our amble towards the eiffel tower. On the way we stopped in at a modern art galley. Kelly is quite an avid artist and throughly enjoyed the place, mostly seemed like a lot of wankery to me. One empty room/exibit had evenly spaced coloured dots on the walls. Not really my cup of tea i'm afraid. Just as we were making to leave though, we spotted a couple picassos just hanging in a forgotten corner. Amazing artwork! Funny to think that if we had one of them in New Zealand, it would be our prize exibit. In Paris, it's just one of thousands.
After grabbing a bite to eat, eventually we got across the Seine and there it was, the Eiffel Tower. Again, it's really something that has to be seen for one's self. Not the largest building i've ever seen, but huge and certainly the most impressive.
Unfortunately, the queue to go up it was massive. Only one pillar out of four was open. A bitterly cold wind began to blow, which seemed to cut straight through our clothing. We thought it best to call it a day, and headed to the nearest metro station, fighting our way through a throng of vendors selling Eiffel keychains and the like.
I had been walking all day, and was very cold. I hope you all wont be too disappointed in me when I say that once we got back to the hotel, I headed straight for bed, thus ending my second day in Paris.
+ Show Spoiler [Roughly 70 other photos from the day] +
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Staircase of doom
Statue inside the Arc
Model of the Arc, also inside
Will tag photos if requested, but I think it's all mostly pretty self explanatory.
Click here for the next entry in the series.
Almost midday here in Brussels, going to head out and get me some lunch and see some sights. Will probably finish up Paris and make a start on Brussels by tonight.
All the best everybody!