France

A Note on Thursday Travels…

These travel posts were originally posted on my old, now-defunct blog that I wrote with my sister Vicky. The majority of them recount our adventures in Europe in May-June 2011 (in all our terrible hair extensions and Ugg-booted glory), but I thought I’d transfer them over anyway. More than anything, we wrote them to keep our memories alive and share our scattered observations — they are by no means meant to be comprehensive travel guides or anything. Just thought I’d clarify that 🙂

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Thursday Travels: Nice & Monaco

Nice is definitely nice, but we wouldn’t be the huuugest fans (at least I wouldn’t…Vic isn’t too keen on Paris so in making the Paris/Nice comparison, she doesn’t really favour one over the other). The only two occasions I’ve been to Nice have been directly after visiting Paris, and in my opinion, it just always seems ever so slightly boring. Some people really love the gentler pace and sunnier clime of this French Riviera city after the bustle and grime of the capital, but I find it a bit meh as a city. Having said that though, the south of France as a region has to be one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to, (the sunflower and lavender fields! the quaint little villages!) so there’s that.

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{Ok, fine, Nice is pretty damn nice…there’s just sooo much of this}

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{We loved all the warm, sunset-coloured buildings though}

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{A yellow and burgundy palette is super popular here, we noticed — every restaurant we were in was done up in those colours}

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{No idea why this one was so sulky, after being so well-fed and all!}

We did a lot of walking in Nice. Our hotel was by the train station, in the somewhat less salubrious part of town, so the walk in to the city centre was a good twenty minutes through lots of these kind of streets:

nicemon5We did make some interesting discoveries, though, like the fact that there exists a type of burger called “Bicky”!!! So of course Vicky and Becky had to have their picture with it.

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{Vicky + Becky = Bicky! Still no idea what exactly this “bicky” burger consists of…}

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{We also did boring things like laundry}

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{Posing in the Place MassĂ©na — Nice’s main square}

We then took an evening trip to Monaco. We were only there for a few hours so didn’t have too much time to explore. After briefly having a look at the legendary Monte Carlo casino, we went in search of somewhere for a bite to eat…but the part of town we were in was strangely deadsville (seriously, there was no one around) and the only place we could find was this fancy outdoor Haagen Dazs. So ice cream for dinner it was. And there were no complaints.

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{Casino}

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{There were actual menus…}

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{…and actual tables and chairs and even a hostess at the front like in a proper restaurant. So weird.}

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{Every bit as good as it looks}

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{Monaco at dusk}

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{Sea front views}

And then it was goodbye to the glamour of Monaco (well, supposed glamour — it was super soulless when we were there) and back to our shabby little Nicean hotel. And a little midnight snack at the Chinese across the road from us. Delicious and elegantly-served as that ice cream was, it wasn’t very sustaining.

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{Chips and chow mein — the best of both worlds}

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Thursday Travels: Paris

Welcome to the second instalment of Thursday Travels! We hope you enjoyed last week’s feature on Ljubljana. This week, we thought we’d go for somewhere a liiittle more well-known, and decided that Paris would fit the bill nicely. Hope you like this brief account of our adventures in the beautiful City of Light.

Even though we’d been there already a few times, there is no such thing as running out of stuff to do in Paris; you cannot possibly get sick of the place. Seriously, just sitting all day long in a little outdoor cafe watching the world go by is the ultimate in entertainment. But, in all fairness, you can’t go to Paris and not see the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Montmartre and the Louvre. So that’s what we did. (With quite a few cafe-stops along the way, might I add.)

We arrived on a balmy day late in the afternoon and headed for Montmartre, Amelie Poulain’s vicinage; a hill-top district dominated by the Basilica of the Sacre Coeur. We had to climb 300 steps to get there, thus entitling us to copious amounts of croissants, pains au chocolat and raspberry meringues in payment for all that calorie expenditure (or so I reasoned).

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{Outside the Sacre Coeur}

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{Charming until you have to climb up and down them, in wedge heels nonetheless}

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{We stopped by the ET for some romantic Eiffel-tower-at-dusk shots}

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{Sisterly love}

The next day we were up bright and early to see the Eiffel Tower by day, and go to its topmost level (which none of us had ever done). We were there at 9, there were very few people, and we had no bother at all getting tickets to get the lift up (no more stairs for us, thanks very much!) As was to be expected, the views were stunning; a real-life panoramic postcard of hazy early morning Paris. We were all full of the joys of spring until it was time to head back down again… Oh. My. Lord. The queues were absolutely insane. We had to wait over an hour to get back down again, and never were we happier to set foot on solid ground again.

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{All smiles not realising the horrendous wait ahead of us}

At this point we were fairly famished, so we went in search of a cafe that was simultaneously non-depressing and reasonably-priced (which proved to be a tough find) but this little place hit the spot. I had a croque-monsieur (grilled ham and cheese sandwich) and a French-style chocolate-chip cookie (oddly crispy, with the chips sprinkled on top rather than embedded).

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{Bon appetit!}

Next up on our itinerary was to take a Bateau Mouche trip down the Seine. It was about an hour, and not thoroughly riveting, but you can’t really go wrong with sitting back and relaxing while sailing past Paris’s landmarks. There was a group of around 50 French schoolchildren aboard and their antics never ceased to entertain us. Every time we passed under a bridge they would get super excited and chant out “Une, deux, trois, OUIIIIII!!!!!!” (Roughly translated as “One, two, three, YEAHHH!!!!! So darn cute. Even after the twenty-ninth bridge.)

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{Becky aboard the Bateau Mouche}

By this time, it was getting on in the day, so we had to hightail it to our two other destinations: the Louvre and the Notre Dame cathedral. You could easily spend a full day at the Louvre and not see all it has to offer, so we followed the herds to its main attraction, the Mona Lisa (cos you know, you kinda have to see that) before making a hasty exit.

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{Louvre shot}

Our final cultural stop of the day was the majestic Notre Dame Cathedral, one of my favourite places in Paris. There’s just something so atmospheric and haunting about it, especially on a gloomy day.

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{A lot of grass and people in this pic, but what can ya do!}

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{Having a moment}

Image 2 via Wikipedia

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