07 January 2011 @ 04:52 pm
For those whom I've not had contact with yet: guess what, I survived Europe! :D No trains de-railing in Paris or falling off cliffs/getting eaten by sheep in Scotland. The trip was amazing and like my last major trip I'm going to try and do summaries by place - unfortunately I was an idiot and didn't have my camera out for the majority of the time, so there won't be pictures, really.



Paris, in short, was the mildly frustrating combination of utter epic amazingness with some of the worst transportation luck I've ever encountered and that beats getting delayed four hours on my way home for thanksgiving because we had to go backwards for an hour to switch tracks. gdi Amtrack, get it together

I was flying in to meet up with three friends who had spend the last few days in Germany. Maddy's family lives there, so they had free lodgings with which to use as a base to explore the Christmas markets. If I'd been getting out of Japan a bit earlier, I would have joined them then, but as it was we arranged to meet up in Paris - they were taking a night train in. This was when the first part of the transportation fail happened. I got to the train station I was supposed to get to at roughly 9AM, which was when their train was originally expected to get in. However, overnight several feet of snow had been dumped on Germany and so their train was delayed.

For six hours.

Honestly, I'm not quite sure who's situation was worse - I was stuck in a chilly train station, and was incredibly bored because by then I'd read all my books and had nothing to do, but they were trapped in a small compartment with screaming children on either side of them. Probably theirs, I at least could wander if I wanted to drag my stuff with me We finally met up at like 3:30 and grabbed a taxi to our rented apartment...which we couldn't get into because the cleaning lady hadn't gotten to it. So we dumped our stuff in a closet at the rental agency and headed out. One quick snack at a patisserie later and we were wandering around Les Galeries Lafayette, a massive, high end department store that decorates it's window displays for the holiday season. This may not sound like a big deal, but when I say "decorate" I mean with like moving dancing puppets and music and other still windows by famous designers. It was really impressive, and afterwords we wandered the inside a bit to see the seven story Christmas tree that was suspended from the ceiling in one of the atriums. You could walk under it, it was really cool.

After that we headed to dinner (Moroccan food, which I unfortunately didn't have much of because my stomach was feeling kind of off after all the traveling/time changes) and back to the rental agency to gather our bags and crash at our apartment (which was quite nice, once we actually got to it).

The next day we hauled across the city to the area where Lizz used to live. Breakfast was in a lovely little cafe, while it snowed outside - and fresh snow in Paris has got to be one of the prettiest things anywhere on earth. Unfortunately, it had stopped by the time we were done eating, but it was nice while it lasted. We spent the day wandering the street Lizz used to live on...which also happened to be home to seven of the ten best Chocolate shops in Paris. My wallet was ready to cry by the end of the day but oh was it worth it. Oh, and we went bra shopping :D which was also awesome, if again rather expensive. We had lunch at a small Korean restaurant, which was excellent and very cheap, and then finished our explorations with a walk up the Champs Elysées to admire the christmas lights. We dropped back in to our apartment briefly to change and then headed to dinner at Le Souffle for a proper French meal. Ie, three course souffle dinner with wine and an aperitif. It was incredible and our waiter was hilarious and wonderfully attentive. He also spoke a bit of English so poor Lizz didn't have to do all the talking XD After dinner, we dragged our poor, overstuffed selves back to the apartment and crashed.

Our final day started out just fine, we packed our bags and dropped them off in the same closet at the rental agency so we would be free to explore the city for one more day. We had all booked tickets on the eurostar for late that evening, to take us to Lizz's current home in London, where we would spend the next week before heading off for Scotland. Morning began with another cafe breakfast and a bit more shopping. This was where the second half of the utter transportation fail hit.

We got a message from Lizz's mom saying that the Eurostar was running irregularly, and was honoring tickets on a first-come-first-serve basis. They had no idea when service would stop completely or how many trains they would be able to get out, and there were lines around the station of people trying to get out of Paris. With this information in mind, and the knowledge that we no longer had a place to stay (or really money to spare to get one) in Paris, we decided to cut our day short and head to the station after lunch.

Mind, lunch was amazing. We went to Mariage Freres, a primarily tea shop that had attached a restaurant known for serving every kind of tea offered in the shop and for cooking dishes using those same teas. To give you an idea of the variety of tea offered...the book listing all of them provided at the table was about an inch thick. They were organized by color, country of origin, what dish they were best served with...everything you ever wanted to know. And the waiters? Had to know the entire thing by heart. It was an incredible meal - Lizz and Anne each got a cut of veal with a sauce (they called it a lacquer, actually and boy did it deserve the name) made with the tea "at the Opera" which was so good I ended up getting the tea.

Now loaded with our purchases, we hopped a taxi back to the Rental agency and paid extra to have him stick around while we grabbed our bags so he could take us all the way to the train station. There, Lizz vanished into the crowd to get our tickets - and we were lucky. There was a train waiting to leave, and they still had a small stack of tickets left. We grabbed four and raced for customs. After a brief panic of having all but one of the scan-and-print machines broken (if they'd all been out I wouldn't have been able to get my ticket) we scrambled to get past British customs and through security to get to our "gate". After another wait, we finally got on the train, somewhat frazzled and frustrated that our last day had been cut in half.

The ride itself was alright - it took longer than normal, apparently outside of Paris there was snow in practically whiteout conditions and the tracks kept freezing so they had to go slow, but we did eventually arrive in London.

Which will be picked up in the next post...whenever I get around to doing that >> now, to get on that studying that I've been putting off all day...

 
 
Current Mood: nostalgic
Current Location: home sweet home
Current Music: Kingdom Dance ~ Tangled Soundtrack
 
 
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