Migrated post from Blogger.com Refer to Europe 2009 Blog Migration
Wednesday 9 September 2009: Paris Day #1
Early start this morning – woke up at 5:45am! We all met up as a group at the reception area of the Umi Hotel in London. I didn’t really sleep well – I kept waking up periodically wondering if it was time yet to get up…
We took a transfer coach to Dover where we caught the ferry over to Calais across the English Channel. While on the bus I slowly woke up ( I wasn’t the only one in this state of partial consciousness) and got to know my fellow travellers. I was sitting in the immediate vicinity of two couples, a couple of singles and one other single guy. In total there were ~35 of us on board the coach.
The bus journey was about three hours to Dover. The Dover cliffs are impressive and famous for the movies they have featured in – see the photo above. The ferry was a fun experience – to me if felt like a cruise ship in size and feel. Unfortunately we couldn’t get access to the really fun areas where the best views were available. Seeing the European coastline was a great moment – we all turned to look out the windows and a few of us attempted to capture the moment in photos. Photo-wise, it was not picturesque which is why you won’t see a photo here.
From Calais, we were introduced to our coach driver who took as through the rules… (boring). Travelling on coach is limited to 2~2:30 hours legs, with a short 15 minute service stop in between. Just to give a little perspective, a 15 minute break for a group of ~40 people is actually quite a challenge… but as a whole, we all worked within the apportioned time to stretch our legs, go to the restrooms or visit the service stations for snacks/drinks.
We entered Paris in the mid to late arvo; the weather was quite hazy – I wasn’t sure if it was pollution… We arrived and checked into the hotel and then set off on our TopDeck guided tour of Paris which was a combination of walking and on the bus. The walking tour was a block of one hour for us to explore and solve the “problem” of dinner whilst being dropped off at the Sacre-Coeur. A few of us decided to band together and have a “typical” Parisian dinner of sampling crepes and red rose wine along the Rue du Mont Cenis.
The bus tour was really hectic – we were driven around in the coach past all the key sights – the Lourve, Arc de Triomphe, the Pantheon, the Grand Palais, Notre Dame de Paris, Moulin Rouge Cabaret, gardens, shops and the most famous landmark – the Eiffel Tower. My camera ran out of battery from all the photos I kept taking – left, right, centre and behind… at one point it was like every/any angle a photo could have been an awesome shot. I managed to get a single night shot of the Eiffel Tower on my iPhone which naturally became my wallpaper.
If this day set the pace of our tour, it was going to be one whirlwind of a tour over the next week…