Wednesday 9 October 2013

Paris, France I: embarking on my first solo Europe trip!

I was giddy with excitement and anticipation and grinning like an idiot as I stepped off the plane. How ecstatic was I to finally set foot upon this continent called Europe that has been my dream destination for oh so many years. People say Asians are obsessed with Europe, which is quite... true HAHA. The grass is always greener on the other side perhaps. But hey, I love my Asia too! This trip was also meaningful because this was the first time I travelled solo. After thinking about it for many nights, I finally decided to do it. I will probably write more about it in another post.

Dropped my bag off at the hostel lobby and went out to join a Sandeman's walking tour. I did absolutely no planning beforehand, well ok my 'plan' was to just go for the free (actually the more correct term is tip-supported) walking tours and then go on from there. I can't remember all the places that the tour guide (who is an American and has lived in Paris for 4+ years) brought us to nor all the stories he told us because there were so many names and my history is terrible. I should have brushed up on my European history before coming, and my French too for that matter. Ok see those faces on the bridge? There's a story behind it but I can't remember it in totality. Something about a party, Henry the IV, too much wine and erm puking guests. So those are actually the faces of the guests throwing up/having too much to drink. Another thing that he showed us were these stalls selling used and antique books and posters along the Seine river called Bouquinistes. They were so charming! I love notebooks, old books, paper stuff but most of the books were in French and je ne comprend pas, so didn't get anything. I thought the posters would make lovely souvenirs but it's only the first day so I kept them on the KIV list. By the way, these book stalls have no fixed opening hours, it all depends on the owners. We also passed by Notre Dame, Préfecture de police with bullet holes on the walls, Pont de l'Archevêché (the bridge with the love locks), Henry IV statue, Louvre (the pyramid looked so plain in the day sadly, should have gone again at night and no I didn't go in to see the Mona Lisa), Jardin des Tuileries, saw Eiffel tower, Arc de Triomphe and the Eternal Flame from afar. Paris is so mesmerizing, like a dream. It felt surreal that I was in such a beautiful place.

At the start of the walking tour, I was talking to this American who looks like Van Gogh when two people came up to me and asked if I'm Singaporean. These two became my buddies for the Paris leg of my trip and they gave me so much help (they were exchange students in Paris). Thanks so much guys! We went inside Notre Dame, explored Shakespeare and Company (I LOVE this place!! The heavy door, the old bookshelves, the way it's narrow, cozy and warm) and even Chinatown (which felt the least bit like Chinatown except there were more Asians around I guess).

Then J brought me to a French restaurant called Le Plomb Du Cantal in Montparnasse for dinner because it was my birthday!! Merci beaucoup beaucoup. I totally forgot about it by the way, too captivated by Paris. We had duck with this potato cheese called truffade, their signature dish. It was really delicious, we shared one set and it was enough to fill us up to the brim. The waiter was adorable! He saw that I took a photo in his direction and smiled belatedly aww. It was quite crowded but we didn't have to wait for too long for a table. We wanted to meet Q afterwards to go to the Eiffel and I had this idea of getting a small cupcake or something and celebrating my birthday beside it when it's all sparkly. But the sun didn't set until 9+/10pm which is 3+/4am Sg time! J forced me to stay awake to conquer the jet lag so I was up till 11pm, feeling and moving around like a zombie. But in the end the visit to Eiffel didn't happen.

P.S. Black and white photos are so nice! I want to make everything black and white now hahaha.

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