Family Bonding Weekend In Paris
Views from Eiffel TowerClick thumbnail to view full-size
Amsterdam - Paris
Have you ever been thinking of spending your weekend with your sister and nieces in a foreign country? Two generations together for two days and two nights. Well, try to do it. It could be fun! It´s a challenge for me on how we can be getting together without misunderstanding each other and without ending the weekend with a fight.
I heard from my sister and nieces, they all live in The Netherlands, that they are planning to go to Paris by train. ` It´s a great idea, I have been to Paris twice but I was not able to climb the Eiffel Tower due to the long waiting line for buying the ticket. If you don´t mind, I´ll come with you.´ Having said that, I realized that I have to be driven by my hubby for I don´t drive a car, to Amsterdam where we started our journey.
It was said and done. My sister arranged all the bookings with Thalys train and the hotel near Gare du Nord train station. She paid the train tickets for us four and I only have to pay her when we see each other. I live 2 hours away by car from her house while Vet, my niece live 1 hour away from my sister. Eng, my other niece live by my sister.
It was Friday at 5.16 p.m. in Amsterdam station that we went inside Thalys train and were looking for our seat reservation. The train was very clean, beautiful, had comfortable seats and Wifi connections. We could even push a button for calling a steward to order something to eat and drink. It feels like we were inside an airplane only without TV in front of us.
As we seated comfortably, we talked about what´s new for we have not seen each other for a few weeks. My sister and I seated side by side while the girls seated parallel to us. We were so excited and we kept on laughing about something we talked about. Then my sister wrote a message with her cellphone to someone. Every time she pushed a letter, it made a loud sound that we giggled. Then we heard a loud sound but not from her cellphone. ` Her´s is louder than mine!´-said my sis. Then we burst out laughing until water came out of our eyes. That was not a cellphone. That was the starting sound of the announcement in the train.
We arrived in Gare du Nord station around quarter to 9 p.m. Our hotel was only 100 meter from the station but it took us about more or less one hour to be in our hotel room for we took the wrong direction. Pulling our trolleys behind us and two maps in our hands (mine and my sis ) we started our walks to the hotel. We did not know exactly if we had the right direction until two dark men asked us what street we were looking for. My sister told them the street and the men kindly showed us where the street was. In the background I was telling my sister in Visayan language (Philippine dialect) not to tell them the name of the hotel and thankfully she didn't for I was scared. The two men were behind us and I was thinking already negative things that could happen. But then I was thinking wrongly. They transferred to another street. There were lots of colored, maybe oriental men talking to each other on the sidewalks we passed through in going to our hotel.
Arriving in our hotel, we checked in and my sis give the reservation paper to the old man behind the reception desk. Then he said in his french accent - ` why is it written in dutch, why not in french? No French? English? OK, English.´ Then he gave us our key for four person room and showed us the way.
When we were in our room I started inspecting it. Just like the way I always do in a hotel room or bed and breakfast room when I´m on a holiday. I checked the locks of the door and of the window for I heard a loud noise from an opposite window. I kept on opening and closing the window and telling my niece that the window can not be locked. The three family members of mine were laughing for I was so funny for them. Then Vet helped me lock the window. The window could be closed but different than what I´m used to. A french window!
Having calmed myself I said, ` So girls, where shall we go for our late dinner?´-- ` I want rice. I have not eaten rice for two weeks,´ said Vet.--- ` Shall we eat frog legs?´, asked Eng.--- ` No way, I will eat rice as well, I have not eaten a normal meal since yesterday. I had a 2 1/2 hours treatment by the dentist´, said I. ` Alright then, we go to a Chinese restaurant,´ my sis commented joyfully.
The Chinese restaurant was not far from our hotel. It was a small restaurant and take away with a few small tables. The foods displayed inside a glass cupboard were not much anymore. No wonder, it was already ten in the evening. So we just ordered what was left. It was a strange restaurant. We had to order and had to pay the food by 100 grams. The saleslady put the food in a plastic bowl and made it warm in the microwave and served it on our table. Strange! But it did not matter, we were hungry. The food was OK but the 1 liter water was €4.
Beside our table were four Chinese men eating. They talked to us and found out that we are Filipinas. The older man said he was once in the south of the Philippines doing his business. He was in Davao and in Butuan City. The world is really getting smaller and smaller. Imagine they were in Paris for a visit and they came from Amsterdam...Like us...
Travel Guide Paris, France
Travel Guide, Paris
It is a must to have a travel guide book or map for strolling in and around Paris. It saves time in looking to the places we want to visit.
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A Very Long Day!!!
Saturday the next day, we woke up at seven in the morning preparing ourselves to conquer the Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysee's, Arc de Triomphe and the rest of the city. Not to forget the shopping malls La Fayette and the Printemps.
Before we went out of our hotel room, we contributed money for our expenses on our food or tickets for the metro to my sister who is appointed as a cashier. It does not look good if we pay our meal one by one. We started our day with a breakfast in a bakery. We ordered 3 croissants,a slice of cake, 2 cups of coffee, one cup of tea and a coke. I did not know what came into me. I ordered coffee! I never drink coffee early in the morning. I hate the smell of broth coffee in the morning! But I drunk the coffee.
After breakfast we went to Gare du Nord train station and went to the information and asked what train we had to take in going to Eiffel Tower. We paid € 6.80 ticket for the 4 of us. We arrived at EiffelTower at around 10 a.m. There was a long queue for the people who wanted to go up the Eiffel Tower. There were also lots of black men selling souvenirs of Paris. They kept on asking the people to buy their things. For me, they were just molesting the tourists.
Eiffel Tower ticket costs: youth until 24 years old -- € 6.50, adult to 2nd floor only------€8.10 adult until summit ------€ 13.10. Of course with elevator.
We have waited for almost an hour until it was our turn to come up to the 2nd floor with an elevator. We actually wanted to go to the summit but it was shortly closed due to fullness. It was a strange ride with the elevator full of tourists and all their cameras (included us) and we could see the lovely view of the city. We took a lot of photos from every angle. We could see the Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, Pompidou, the Seine and many others. Though it was a bit foggy, we could still see the beauty of Paris from the Eiffel Tower.
Having finished seeing the Eiffel Tower, we decided to walk passing the Trocadero, to Arc de Triomphe and to Champs Elysees. Oh my, that was a long walk! If somebody asked one of my relatives to walk with him/her in the forest, I don´t think she will go. There´s no shops to look at, hahaha...No window shopping.
Champs Elysees was full of tourists from different countries especially that we had around 20°C. It was then past 2 p.m., we were tired, hungry and we needed a toilet. There were loads of shops, restaurants and brasseries but we were not sure which one has a toilet. Then I saw the big sign of Mc Donalds which was not far from where we stood. ` There is only one shop that I´m sure of, that they have a loo. Who wants to eat hamburger instead of frog legs?´---I asked. The girls were delighted.
Mc Donalds was full of people and there was a long queue for the loo that we decided to order first and eat our lunch. We had an enjoyable lunch. My nieces and I were admiring the blouse of my sis. It was a beautiful blouse. Then she said something that made us laughing loudly that the other customers were looking at us. ` I should have worn it with braless´, said my sis instead of saying strapless. We kept on talking and laughing while eating. That´s the thing we do while eating with Filipinas. My hubby usually wonder how we could do those talking and laughing while eating. After enjoying our lunch, we were able to relieve ourselves in the loo after half an hour of waiting in the queue.
As I have been to Paris for the 3rd time now, I know what shops to visit for a woman who is interested in beauty. We went inside Sephora. It´s a beauty shop where you can go inside with your face "naked" and come out with your face done for a party. This shop sells a variety of different kinds of products to make a woman beautiful like makeups, nail products and other beauty paraphernalia. You can try everything you want and there were lots of salesgirls and beauticians who can give you advices of what you want. You can even learn how to do your makeups. There was a large range of different kinds of perfumes as well. Not to forget the loads of security guards observing you.
Continuing our long window shopping, we have visited loads of expensive shops. All the popular expensive shops like Louis Vuitton, Channel, you name it...are all in Champs Elysees. As the afternoon began to end and it started to rain, we decided to go by metro to La Fayette. Suddenly a Chinese woman stopped us and asked us if we can speak English. She said she had a problem if we could help her. She wanted to buy 4 bags or so in Louis Vuitton shop but she was only allowed to 2 items and she wanted 4. If she could give us the money and we could buy for her the products. It would be a great help. We said, ` Sorry, we are in a hurry to catch our train´ and we went away. Then it rained cats and dogs. We went inside Louis Vuitton to wait for the rain to stop. O my God! What we have seen in that shop were all beautiful and very costly. Imagine, a bag for €20,000!!! Sunglasses for € 2,000!!!
We went to La Fayette by train after that and bought some food for snacks and water to drink. The girls bought some Flip Flops to wear for the next day. We wore the wrong shoes for our sightseeing. Typical women! Then, we went to our hotel to deliver our full shopping bags before taking our dinner in a French restaurant. Our farewell dinner in Paris. A French dinner without frog legs but mussels cooked in dairy cream, beef, chicken, scallops, etc....Again, we made some jokes about every word we read from the menu, while eating. We were laughing again until tears came into our eyes.
Have you been to Paris before? If so, how did you like it?
Half Day in Paris
Our last half day in Paris was a very turbulent one. We talked to the old man at the reception that our things are still in the room and we´ll be back before 12 noon for check out. He said we can check out immediately but then can leave our luggage in their storeroom so we don´t have to be in a hurry for checking out. So we did as what he has told us. He gave us the walking direction to Sacre Ceour and it took only 20 minutes until there. It was eight o´clock so there were not many tourists yet when we arrived.
While waiting for my sis and Eng who were buying battery for their camera, Vet and I were taking photos of ourselves and the Sacre Ceour. As the two came back, we started our traditional Filipino picture taking. First, the solo with the view. Second, the "duet" one. Third, the three of us and keep on changing the partner. It was really funny. There was always one missing on our picture taking. Some observers were smiling seeing every pose that we made.
Sacre Ceour has still the same beauty since I last saw it. But there is a change. The side steps in going up, was so smelly of urine. A very intensive one that I almost puke. The door has plastic bag bins in both sides. Almost every corner of the church has the ugly bin bags. It really destroyed the beauty of the church. Inside it is lovely but we were not alowed to take photos. I intended to climb the summit of the church but doing alone while the three were waiting down was not funny for me, so I did not do it. Maybe next time whoever I´ll be with. Before going out, we lighted some candles in memories of my mother.
We continued our tour to Montmartre. It was early in the morning that there was no sign of painters yet. We kept on walking until we found a Chinese restaurant and take aways again. The food inside the glass cupboards was so inviting that we ordered a lot even though we have eaten our breakfast in our room. We agreed to eat a heavy meal for who knows when will be the next time we can eat. Our train to Amsterdam was 2.25 pm. So we had time until then. The food that we ordered was too much that we brought the rest home in case we get hungry in the train. The coffee that the girls ordered was not coffee but espresso. At least I was able to drink a cup of tea.
We kept on sightseeing and took a stop just to buy souvenirs. We passed the street in Montmartre where 3 or 4 tables displaying different kinds of fishes and mussels, shells, etc. for sales. It was a pity we had long hours to go to my sisters´ house. We could have bought plenty of fish and shells for dinner.
Then we arrived in the popular Moulin Rouge, it´s only a few meters from the Fish Stands. Again we took a lot of photos. We were not the only one doing it. Then to Pigalle, the " red light" of the city. The window shopping in this place was very interesting. We came across of things on the window cell we have not seen before.
Sacre Ceour, MontmatreClick thumbnail to view full-size
Turbulent Happy Ending
We forgot the time. We only had one hour left to go back to our hotel where our luggage were stored. We were in a hurry not to miss our train. From the metro near Pigalle, we bought ticket at the information and we asked what train we should use. We went up and down through the long and steep stairs. We were supposed to get inside the blue line colored train but we took the green. I was confused for I have seen a blue line in a metro map. Since the three were already inside the "green" train, I had to follow. We got out at the next station. My sis suggested that we should take a taxi but I disagree for there might be a traffic jam. We had to buy another € 6.80 ticket again so we could go to the right train. We emptied our wallets for we needed coins for the ticket machine. The coins that Eng collected from us for buying train tickets in Holland were used. We did the same procedure going up and down, me always behind. The train came, we had to get inside. `Te (short for auntie), the train in going to Nation is on the other side´, Eng said. Too late. We were in the wrong train again!!!!
Exhausted as we were, we had to be in a hurry. 30 minutes left...We took a taxi to our hotel praying that there was no traffic jam. We asked the taxi driver to wait for us getting our luggage. We told my sis to stay in the taxi while we were getting our things. `What if he will leave with me? ---`Don´t worry. We will not pay him yet,´ the three of us chorused.
We got our things and the taxi driver hurriedly drove us to Gare du Nord Station. When we asked him about the fare he said € 15. `Every person?, Eng commented. The driver said no. We give him € 20. God bless him. He could have said more than that and I think we were forced to pay more as long as we were not be missing our trip home.
Thalys was preparing for the next trip to Amsterdam. We wanted to asked in the information what platform is it located for there were two Thalys waiting but there was nobody at the information desk. So we asked the man in the uniform beside the train. He told us that it was the train to Amsterdam. We had to wait for the announcement. Having heard the announcement we went looking for our compartment. My sister was busy looking at the paper of our reservation seats that she stumbled on a ramp. Luckily the trolley of Vet catched her. Then we started laughing again!!!
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