My father died 2 years ago and since then really, Mum has been saying that she wants to go AWOL, just forget real life and go on an adventure. This time last year, Mum, my brother J and I (25 and 27) hatched a plan to all quit our jobs in March 2014 and go on a 3 month trip to spend some quality time together. I campaigned for India as it is a magical country and they have a unique way of dealing with death. Because this is a healing trip for our family, I thought it would be good to spend time in a culture where death is a part of life; as opposed to something that is never really mentioned until it happens to someone you love. Unfortunately, Mum wasn’t ready for India so we decided on Europe instead. It took almost a year to organise but we arranged to do house swaps for 90% of the trip, saving thousands on accommodation. Mum left for Europe a week before J and I, while we stayed home to clean the house, stain the deck etc for our house swappers. We had 10 days to spend around Paris while mum and her friend S from school popped in and out on their travels. I guess our trip really started on April 1st when we arrived in Montpellier, but this is going to be a 10 day trip report on my time in Paris with brother J and bf T. If it goes well, I might write about the family journey on the house swap trip around Europe.
NZ to Paris
After a week of cleaning and maintenance on mum’s house, my brother and I jumped on a plane in Nelson NZ, bound for Paris via Christchurch and Singapore. As you do in NZ, being a small country, we ran into some family friends in Christchurch airport as we were leaving. They knew why we were doing this trip and were so happy for us. They bought us a coffee and sent their love to mum before saying their farewells. Our 11 hour flight to Singapore was uneventful, but long! We beelined our way straight to the rooftop pool on arrival and for about NZ$18 we got unlimited time in the pool, free showers and a cold drink. Best money ever spent in an airport! We did some laps to stretch our legs, sat in the spa pool and watched the planes take off above our heads and then freshened up with a shower and drink. I have no idea why, but out of the thousands of people in the airport, there were only 10 of us at the pool. After some dinner and a wander through the butterfly garden, our 6 hour stopover was up and we boarded our A380 to Paris at 4am NZ time. I took a sleeping pill (or 2) for the first time and slept for 12 out of 14 hours of the flight. Amazing, arrived in Paris fresh as a daisy, will definitely be doing that again! So after a 34 hour journey, we had made it to Paris! On the way out of the airport J bought a 6 day museum pass and I was told that as a 25 year old with a 1 year visa, I get free entry everywhere. Bonus!
We checked into our backpackers in the Marais around 9am (MIJE – 33 Euro each) dropped our bags and headed straight out to Notre Dame, I love the exterior of this church and had to pinch myself that we had actually made it, but as always, I was a bit underwhelmed by the interior. On the way out of the cathedral we spotted St Denis with his decapitated head in his hands and also noticed it was raining. Our first museum pass outing was the Notre Dame crypt with roman ruins from Lutetia. This was quite a cool little museum, but if you have seen roman ruins elsewhere, you could probably skip it. The best parts were what looked like part of an aqueduct pipe and some ancient central heating. They did have a pretty incredible touch screen model of how they built the cathedral. It was in four stages, at each stage you could zoom into buildings; walk around the church and then up for a bird’s eye view. Fascinating stuff.
It was still raining when we left so we walked to the Louvre and spent most of the afternoon there. We skipped a small queue with the museum pass and went straight to Mona Lisa. I got a great photo of the crowd from her perspective that shows how crazy that room must be from open to close every day of the year. From there we went to the Raft of the Medusa and spent quite some time admiring this huge painting. The back-story behind this painting is so interesting; I recommended googling it if you haven’t heard it before. We spent the next couple of hours making our way away from the Mona Lisa and getting lost in the maze of artwork, the scale of this building is beyond belief.
We emerged into grey skies but no rain, so we walked up the Avenue L’Opera until we found some cell phone providers and shopped around for the best sim card. We went with SNF – E30 for unlimited calls and texts in France with 3 gig of data.
At this point we realised that it was about 5pm and we hadn’t had anything to eat all day, I wasn’t even hungry, I guess because my body clock thought I was sleeping. We took the metro to the hostel, walked to L’as Du Falafel to find it closed so ate at a kebab restaurant across the street. 9.50 for an average kebab ☹ Following a pretty average dinner we walked to the Place des Vosges to find it all locked up for the night and then back to the hostel. All in all, a long first day in Paris, but a good one. I think I was in bed by 7pm.
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