• Tuesday, May 01, 2007

    Vienna to home, via Paris..

    We had just enough time for a shower at the train station (3 euros) and some breakfast before the train out. We managed to get a train to Paris with one change at Munich first and a 2130hrs arrival in Paris.

    This being our first daytime journey I wasn't looking forward to the prospect of more than twelve hours on the train. As it happened it all went very well. The train had an excellent restaurant carriage and we had enough books and coloured pens to entertain the daughter throughout the journey.

    Just before we crossed the border into France a group of French school children in their teens joined us and suddenly the carriage was alive with shouting and kids running around and smoking, despite it being a no smoking carriage. Their teachers did nothing to stop them and eventually one of the train guards came and suggested we move in order to get more peace.

    Stupidly we had nowhere to stay in Paris as I hadn't managed to find anywhere online. The one place I did find sounded excellent but when I finally remembered to call and book they were full. For the first time during the journey I resorted to the Lonely Planet Europe guide to find somewhere to stay. I'd been using it for finding where to go and things to see but wanted to try to arrange all accommodation and transport via the internet.

    Off we trotted to the Nevers Hotel on Malta Street having called and booked a room. Half an hour later we managed to find the place only to find they'd decided to let someone else have the room, which was their last. Utterly pissed off and trying to explain it to the daughter who was tired and making every question begin with "why", we wandered down the road and managed to get the last room available at Hotel Notra Dame.

    It was the smallest room we'd been in so far and had a window on to a small internal square with windows to about thirty other rooms on about seven floors, all with their windows open. This internal void acted as a echo chamber and meant we could listen to several conversations, most noticeably a couple of English girls fresh in from a night out who wanted to go over their entire evening of fun again.

    Paris was mecca for my daughter. She's a huge fan of all things French and wants to learn French, possibly inspired by her art teacher in Bangkok who is French. From the moment we sat down for breakfast at 0700hrs she began saying "Bonjour" to everyone and practicing her small French vocabulary. And she made the most of her new found passion for croissants.

    We were only going to be in Paris for the day so we walked around a bit and then headed for the Eiffel Tower. Having bought her a pink "Paris, France" sweatshirt we bought our tickets and headed up to the top. I thought she'd be terrified but she wandered around the top without a care in the world and looked out on to Paris enthralled and kept saying that she could see "all of Paris from here."

    We did more mooching and then had lunch and tried to find our way back to the UK. Reluctantly I decided to go for the Eurostar under the tunnel. Ferry would have been cheaper but with getting to the port and then getting up to London too it would have taken so much longer. So, we had our first trip on the tunnel which is excellent but pricey.

    Two and a half hours after leaving Paris we were in Waterloo station in London and then got an underground connection to Paddington for our train back home. Having come all the way from Istanbul by train and bus and covering nearly two thousand miles without putting a foot wrong we managed to get on the wrong train and headed off down to Somerset rather than the West Midlands. In my defense we got the right platform but there were two trains on the same platform and of course I chose the wrong train. Arghhh!.

    Vienna to home, via Paris..


    Anonymous Sensei said...

    Welcome back! Personally I think it says more about British Rail than your travelling skills! Sleeping for a week now then?

    4:13 pm  
    Blogger Life Out East said...

    I was trying to be fair to the rail operators but yes, I have to question the logic of putting two identical trains on the same platform nose to bumper.
    All rested and ready to go!

    8:04 pm  
    Blogger zen wizard said...

    You really need to get out more often...

    3:40 am  
    Blogger Life Out East said...

    zen wizard: That's your opinion. I had a look at your blog, seems you have way too much time on your hands.

    6:22 am  

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