I’ve learnt something pretty fundamental this week. Travelling to the other side of the world is great until you come back. I arrived home from a fleeting two-week trip to Europe five days ago and I’m still like a zombie. Granted, I still haven’t had time to properly catch up on sleep due to social butterfly commitments and that thing called work. It’s just so ridiculous that I felt fine when I arrived over there and so… not fine when I returned. I can’t wait for my Saturday sleep-in!
Dan and I tripped off to England to spend Christmas with his family, catch up with friends, and pop over to Paris for New Year’s Eve. I was only able to get two weeks off work but I really wanted to make the most of it. The other, more exciting, thing I’ve learnt from this trip is travelling a really long distance even for a short time is still really worthwhile.
Part of my Cutting Corners philosophy is trying to fit as many exciting and fun activities into my life as possible, so I was always committed to taking this trip despite wishing it could’ve been longer. But I suppose I really got a sense of how many hours are in a day (despite England’s days at this time of year being cold and dark and short), and when you’re not working or otherwise committed, you can certainly feel like you’ve properly “been away” from “normal” life in only a few short days.
In nearly seven days at Dan’s parents’ place we spent quality time with his family, saw heaps of friends, drank plenty of ale, walked the dog, wandered the streets, had a grand history tour of the city, visited the aquarium (sorry, they call it a “submarium”… the world’s first, whatever it is) did some quality shopping, went to the cinema, the gym and watched a football game. Not to mention the numerous delicious meals and time spent relaxing and catching up on the English newspapers.
We really visited Paris at a bad time but totally made the most of it anyway. Here’s a handy hint for anyone who doesn’t know: most shops are closed Sundays and many museums are closed Mondays. Public holidays are also a problem like they are in most places, so you can imagine since our three full days in Paris included a Sunday, a Monday and a public holiday, we were going to have trouble getting things done.
On top of this situation, the queues were phenomenal. I expected a lot of people but I was completely blown away when we saw the crowds waiting an hour or more just to enter Paris’ most famous attractions. So we decided the Eiffel tower, the Arc de Triumph, the Louvre, the Musee de l’Orangerie and Notre Dame were nice to take photos of from a distance, and we walked on.
We did cover a lot of ground and felt we really got to see the city through walking around it, chilling out in plenty of café-bars and visiting some lesser-known attractions like the sewer museum and the museum of erotic art. Our favourite habit in the evenings was to split a three-course meal between three different restaurants. We’d start at about 5 or 6pm for entrée and drinks, move on to a different place for mains, and work up our appetite for dessert by strolling the streets to somewhere else, usually concluding the evening by 9 or 10pm. We were only there four nights but we experienced plenty of restaurants!
A couple of days in London at the end of the trip included catching up with some friends, an absolutely awesome day of shopping at Camden market (a whole suburb of markets – my heaven!) and wandering around London town seeing a few sights.
Oh, and for those of you who were wondering… our “romantic” New Year’s Eve in Paris was probably the least romantic New Year’s Eve either of us had ever experienced. Sorry to crush your dreams and all. We went to the northern hilly area of Montmartre, envisioning huddling up with a bottle of red and a view of the Eiffel tower, but instead ended up desperately sheltering in the grand church of Sacre Coeur from the cold wind and rain until just before midnight, then huddling under a broken umbrella among a massive crowd who forgot the countdown and blocked our view of any fireworks. A quick escape to a taxi saw us in bed by 12.30pm – a pretty hilarious, and certainly memorable, start to the year.