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London/Paris Trip Reports (from a couple of weeks ago)

London/Paris Trip Reports (from a couple of weeks ago)

Old May 22nd, 2007, 06:33 AM
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London/Paris Trip Reports (from a couple of weeks ago)

I had posted these on my website, I did mention the photos (so far I haven't posted the London ones, but I do have Paris ones up): http://www.mousesteps.com/index.php?...d=38&Itemid=68

Day 1, London

I finally made it to London, about 25 hours after I left the house. My husband drove me to the airport, I took two planes, the metro from CDG to Paris - then the Eurostar and the tube. I slept on and off the whole way, so I'm already well acclimated to the time, thank goodness! I'd bought some great (and inexpensive) sleep masks online and that helped a lot.

I missed an earthquake that affected the Kent area today, not far from where the Eurostar travels.

Covent Garden was suggested for me this evening, so I'm heading there. The next two days will consist of a lot of walking (including 2 walks with the London Walks company). I certainly got my exercise in today, but I also travel light - my heavy bag weighed in at 14.5 pounds, and that includes another bag inside it for souvenirs. It's much easier to maneuver with less weight!

I did have lunch in Paris - at the Buffalo Grill, which we really enjoy up near Mont St. Michel. It is across from Gare du Nord, though I had to dodge all the beggars to get there. It was a nice lunch! (for those who have not been to Paris - if someone asks if you speak English, usually the best answer is to give them a quizzical look - unless they look like they need help!)

Now on to Covent Garden...


Day 2, London

Last night I went to Covent Garden - one of many places I've not been in London.

It was quite busy (being a Saturday night), and the Tube station was packed. Some stations have both elevators and stairs - and I saw the very long line at the elevators, and the non-existant line heading for the stairs...but missed the sign that said that it was 193 steps.

I made it about 150 steps before I gave up and walked back down. My legs are still a little wobbly!

After Covent Garden, I went back to the B&B. Steve and I stayed there in September, and the owners are the NICEST people you will ever meet. It's getting to the point where it's getting harder to book a room, the B&B is #1 on Trip Advisor for London. There was a very nice couple from Canada there, and we were joking about all the bad things we could say on Trip Advisor (to drive some potential guests away so we'd always have room there! I hate to think I won't be able to book there in the future, it's so popular!

The B&B is just outside of London (about 20 minutes into town), and even with the dollar as weak as it is, I am paying $88.00 US, which includes a fully cooked breakfast - as well as snacks, fruit, and they always send guests out with a bottled water (and often welcome us home with tea!) Pretty great! (It definitely helps with my food bill - which shouldn't top $12.00 today!)

Today I took a London Walk tour of Little Venice. I very much recommend the London Walks company - they are very well-regarded and the tour guide was fantastic. I'd never even heard of Little Venice before! There have been many famous celebrities who've lived in that area (like Joan Collins), so that was interesting to see their homes as well.

I'm heading out shopping in a few minutes - I love the grocery stores here (and in Paris), it's like shopping in Epcot, but with more stuff (or the small section of Publix with foreign items). And much cheaper here!

Day 3, London

Well, I did make it through some of my plans for today! London is a big city, and everything I wanted to do was a distance from the next.

I'd added on the Imperial War Museum, I found out a couple of days ago that they had a Holocaust Exhibit. So a London Walk tour I'd planned to do, and the Tower of London ended up dropping by the wayside.

I actually planned to get up early - and I did, like 5:30 (it was bright out!) I grabbed my sleep mask and went back to sleep, hoping to get another hour or two. It wasn't until the sound of banging on my door at 8:30am by Janice (an owner), seeing if I was okay did I end up getting up.

Everybody was already at the table by then (it was another full house last night), and James asked if I wanted anything hot to drink. He started with tea, coffee, then cocoa - I was like "you have cocoa"? The cocoa was sooo good, everyone was like wow! - it looked like it came from Starbucks or something!

After breakfast, I went to Sainsbury's - off of the Gloucester Tube exit. Steve and I had stayed down that way previously, so it's like another home base for me (very familiar). I'm a foreign country grocery-store-aholic, so Sainsburys was a must! (That is where I get most souvenirs/gifts as well).

Within a 10 minute walk of the Sainsbury's is the Victoria and Albert museum (and the Science museum, which is huge!) I had never been to either. The V&A museum has a Kylie Minogue exhibit - and since Steve likes Kylie, I figured I'd go in his stead. Mostly just costumes, and I picked up a few postcards. What interested me more was the rest of the museum, it is a fascinating place (medieval sculptures and other exhibits).

After the V&A museum, I got the tube towards the Imperial War Museum. I'd never been there either, and was very interested in the Holocaust exhibit. It was already afternoon, and I stopped for lunch first (at a crazy-busy diner, after getting ignored at a not-so-crazy-busy pub). The food was actually quite good, and not too expensive.

If you get to London while the Holocaust exhibit is going on, I highly recommend it. I believe the sign said for 14 and over only. It is a heavy couple of hours, but it's worth my time to remember what happened during the last century. We spent a couple of hours in Dachau in 2005, that was quite moving as well (if you get to the Munich area).

I am debating going out for a couple of hours this evening - I have so few photos of London, but I didn't expect to get nearly as many as of Paris (I do have a LOT of pics of London from the last couple of years at home). The pollen is falling like rain here, and my allergies are acting up - so I might just stay in! I did get to Asda also - owned by Wal Mart. So that is 2 full days, 4 supermarkets (and a mini-Tesco).

Tomorrow - Paris!

Day 4, Paris

Instead of going out last night, I stayed in and hung out at the B&B.
It was nice to just spend time with James and Janice, as opposed to running around London for another couple of hours (it was chilly out last night too!)
I was really sad to leave so quickly, they are great people - it's staying with friends, which they are now. I had some of the hot chocolate (I found out it is the Sainsbury's brand, which is great!) I even took photos of it this morning.
The trip to Paris wasn't eventful - I took the tube to Waterloo, and the Eurostar to Paris. Today is May Day (I didn't realize it), so the metro was more crowded than I expected in the middle of the afternoon. I have more stuff now - after my grocery trips to Marks and Spencers, Whittard, Waitrose, Sainsburys and ASDA! My room at the Hotel de la Porte Doree' is much smaller than the last time - not renovated, so it is very different. But I love the neighborhood, the room is clean and the best boulangerie is across the street (and Monoprix up the street!!)
I met up with my friends at the hotel, and we are at the Fat Tires bike tour office to book the Versailles bike tour, and to use the internet. We were going to go to a wonderful Italian restaurant near my hotel, but it's closed today. Thursday we plan to head to Disneyland Paris.
There are some restaurants open, so we'll be heading somewhere inexpensive now I also wanted to see if the Disney Store had the discounted Disney tickets available.


Day 5, Paris


I'd mentioned that yesterday was a bank holiday - there wasn't much open, though some restaurants were.

We stopped at a place called Paul on the Champs d'Elysée, which wasn't too bad (but I'd not choose it on a day where everything was open).

We wandered around for a couple of hours - and actually, that is one of my favorite things in Paris is to just walk. It's such a beautiful city!

Yesterday I thought I was coming down with a sinus infection (at first I just thought it was allergies). I definitely didn't want to wait a week for an antibiotic. This morning I walked down to the front desk, asked Christine (one of the owners) about my options - she made a doctors appointment for me for 10am, I was out of his office by 10:10 am, and had my antibiotics and Nasonex at the Pharmacy by 10:20am! The doctors visit was 30 Euros, the 3 drugs I purchased were 35 Euros. And no line to see him. So if you are ever in Paris, don't wait for care! The doctors office was only a 5-7 minute walk away from the hotel.

There are some wonderful food options near my hotel - I started this morning at the boulangerie across the street, which has the BEST pastries. Then we had lunch at the lovely Italian restaurant (Villa Romano) just a few steps from the hotel. Great food, fast and friendly service, and reasonable prices (my pizza margherita was 7 Euros). Steve and I had wonderful meals there several times in September.

Today we are heading over to the Notre Dame area - I want to get Berthillon ice cream (I've been in Notre Dame several times, I really just want the ice cream today!). We may do a boat cruise tonight, and a picnic at the Eiffel Tower. Tomorrow is Disneyland Paris, Friday I'm doing the bike tour of Versailles. I guess I'll be packing the museums in on the weekend! I wanted to go to the American Cemetary here in Paris, and the Monmartre cemetary - so much to do, so little time to do it.


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Old May 22nd, 2007, 06:45 AM
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Day 6/7 Paris:

Yesterday I did make it to Disneyland Paris - it is a bit of a blur because I felt so sick, but today is better!

I do need to head back to the Disneyland Paris resort area this weekend, as I am not yet done photographing/timing. I just couldn't drag myself any further than I did yesterday.

The best part of the Disneyland experience was a quiet moment with Pooh. I am not a big character type person - not anti-character, just more of an Epcot/World Showcase person who enjoys the quieter moments at Disney (most of the time, anyway). I was at the Sequoia Lodge, and Pooh and Eeyore were in an area having photos taken with guests. I debated going out a door onto a patio, but there were some workers outside and I wasn't sure if it was okay. A moment later, the door opened - and Pooh motioned me outside. I did. and he (she?) came out, nobody else followed us. So we just sort of hung around on the large deck for a couple of minutes. I asked Pooh if he spoke English, and he used his fingers to signal "just a little". Then Eeyore came out, and we hung out for another minute before other guests realized they were out there. But it was pretty cool - just hanging out, with whoever inhabited their costumes. I got a couple of hugs from Pooh and Eeyore, a little video of Eeyore dancing for the guests.

Today I went on the Fat Tires bike tour to Versailles - which was awesome! Steve and I had taken the Monet's Gardens tour and the evening tour in September - I definitely recommend Fat Tires. There is something very cool about biking around Paris, and around Versailles - stopping at the outdoor market today to pick up food for a picnic (I had a delicious chocolate meringue for dessert). We picnicked on the grounds, next to the water - a couple of guys offered me some wine (and then a little more - the latter I didn't take - no need to bike in a loopy condition!) I did run a little late this morning - so another guide and I raced the streets of Paris to catch up with the group.

I plan to stop at Villa Romana again for dinner - my 3rd time this trip, the food is SO good and reasonably priced, they know me there now.

Tomorrow I plan to walk from the hotel into central Paris, stopping at museums and parks along the way.

Day 8, Paris

Today I almost got hit by a bus - but I'll get to that later. Just remember in Paris that you never truly have the right-of-way.

Last night we were planning to go out, but we had a true Florida-style thunderstorm. It was very nice, and left cool weather behind (perfect!)

Today I got a little of a late start, but did the walk from the hotel to Bastille. It is a lovely walk called the Plantee' Promenade, elevated walkways and gardens above the city. Just a lot of slices of French life below, with joggers, families and such on the path.

I met my friends at Berthillon after 2 - I guess I should be glad we don't have ice cream like that in Florida, I'd be out of money and up to my former clothing sizes. Maybe not so bad, but the ice cream is the best!!! We went into Notre Dame, which is always beautiful to see.

Then onto Monmartre Cemetary, to look for Truffaut and Dalidas graves (we found neither, so not much to say there, though the cemetary is very interesting - and large - as is Pere Lachaise, both worth a visit). We passed by the Moulin Rouge, it was right before that that a rogue bus didn't feel like stopping for anyone. We had the right of way, but he had the large vehicle (a friend said he missed me by a couple of inches, I wasn't trying to look anymore, just scoot!) It isn't uncommon to have cars go through while you have a green walk sign, but they generally are still ready to stop (really take care there, and in Britain too - the latter where you have to look the opposite direction than normal - I caught myself a few times and then only crossed where it prompted me to look right or left).

I had a very nice dinner tonight at Villa Romana - my neighborhood restaurant. I will miss it again when I leave! Great food, friendly, fast service, 3 doors or so from my hotel. 14.5 Euros for a dinner of spaghetti, salad, glass of wine and a scoop of ice cream. I told them that they were quicker than McDonalds.

Tomorrow I plan to finish the Disney resort area walk in the morning, and head to Paris for the remainder of the day. I then leave Monday! I think I did okay this evening for my first time on a French keyboard. The Internet cafe is very close to the hotel and cheaper than Fat Tires internet prices.


Day 9 - Paris

This is my last report from Paris - I head home tomorrow. I'll be glad to see Steve and the cats.
This morning I woke up to an alarm. Not my alarm, nor was it some sort of outside alarm (I was thinking maybe it was an election day alarm!) I finally figured out it was the hotel alarm - it was just around 7am, and everyone appeared to have still been in bed. I threw on enough clothes to go outside, took my passport and important items, and went downstairs until the sound stopped. (and then I went back to bed!) I did meet some nice people from Sacremento, who didn't have a chance to change out of their bed clothes.

I took the RER to Disneyland Paris this morning to get some more photos and walk times around the resorts. The only resort I didn't walk into was the Sante Fe, I find it confusing to get around (and everything just looks the same to me - very plain, unlike the Cheyenne). Today I went into the New York and Disneyland Hotels - I've been inside both before, and I'd like to stay at the Disneyland Hotel for a night or two someday! The Disneyland Hotel is beautiful.

I had a nice lunch, and I'm really ready for a nap - but it's my last day in Paris so I'm going to do something for a few hours. Not sure what, it will be a surprise to me! Maybe a museum, a boat ride, a walk - and then a nap. I have a big travel day ahead, and a lot more weight in my luggage than when I started.

Well, I'm home! It's really good to be back, but there is so much I still wanted to do - which means I'll have to start thinking about the next trip. But not too soon, I'm tired!

My last full day in Paris was election day - and I wasn't sure how that was going to effect the city. So after I posted my last report, I went to the Louvre (it is free on the first Sunday of the month), and then wandered around Paris for an hour and a half before heading back to my hotel. It was a really lovely night, though the police presence was quite apparent from the time I left the Louvre - and built from there. There had been talk of possible problems/rioting, so I wanted to be back at my hotel just in case - but it was just the opposite. Had it not been my last night, I'd have likely turned back and gone into the city for the evening. I had a nice dinner, and the restaurant actually gave me extra wine for no extra charge - and as I don't drink often, I was a bit unsteady anyway.

The next morning I tried sleeping in a bit - which didn't work out, I was up by 7:30am. The metro is right next to the hotel, so I walked down to the ticket machine to get my ticket (before I had to deal with my bags too). The amazing boulangerie across the street is closed on Mondays, so I found another down the street - not so amazing, but still better than not having a pastry in Paris.

There are other transportation options, but I picked the metro - I know it better than any other way, and I routed myself where I had 2 small stations to change through. There were other stations a little more direct, but they were large - like Gare du Nord, which I didn't want to deal with while bringing my luggage.

The flight to Philly was fine - I watched Dreamgirls and Miss Potter, both great films! There was one severely personality challenged flight-attendant (she was really rude to a number of people), I think I might stick with Virgin and/or BA airlines next time - they also fly straight from London and I'd not have to switch in Philadelphia again (it was a horrible airport to fly into, IMHO - as far as treatment of those flying in from other countries). And Virgin Airles and BA have great flight attendants and better food. I assume they also still have free wine and other alcohol too (the last time I went on Virgin, they had Baileys for free - that was a good flight!)

That is it.

Oh - the photos for Disneyland Paris, if anyone is interested are here:

http://www.mousesteps.com/index.php?...d=33&Itemid=63

I do like DLP, but it's hard to tear myself away from the city too.

I am glad to be home!

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Old May 22nd, 2007, 06:46 AM
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Oops - Virgin Airlines.
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Old May 22nd, 2007, 11:00 AM
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Great report.

I leave today for London and the Eurostar to Paris before returning to London.

Having done both DLP and it appears WDW, what do you think? My thoughts are that DLP is a beautiful park, but not much there I can't see here. (that said a week in Paris can be cheaper then a week in Orlando!)
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Old May 22nd, 2007, 11:50 AM
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Hi Carol!

You may not see this if you are leaving.

Disneyland Paris is a beautiful park. It is different in many ways than WDW, just as Disneyland is. I am at WDW several times a month, and I'll be at Disneyland for the first time in a few years in July. If you do head to DLP, don't bother with the Studios if it's just for a day. There are a couple of decent attractions there, but that is about it right now.

First priority (for me) now is always Paris itself. I may actually stay again at DLP for a couple of nights next trip, as I did in 2002 - but I need a lot of Paris time too. I would love to stay at the Disneyland Hotel next trip.

Have a wonderful time in London and Paris!!!!
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Old May 22nd, 2007, 03:21 PM
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I agree, Disneyland Paris is worth visiting if you have extra time. Remember to visit the dragon in the castle, it's different than any other Disney castles!
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Old May 22nd, 2007, 04:03 PM
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Enjoying your trip report. I'm a grocery store fanatic too. I also get things to bring back home with me.
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Old May 22nd, 2007, 04:37 PM
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Thank you! I started out with a 14.5 pound bag on my flight to Europe (though I could have gotten it under 12), plus my daybag - and ended up probably with 35 - 40 pounds total after the grocery stores and Whittard.

I didn't know if anyone else was a grocery store nut like me in foreign countries. I remember enjoying the ones in Munich very much as well.
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Old May 22nd, 2007, 05:20 PM
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Went to that same Sainsburys almost every day of my 10 day trip last week. Love to look at all the stuff they have that we don't - wish I'd had room for some of those interesting cooking sauces. Some of their prices were really low which surprised me.

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Old May 22nd, 2007, 06:38 PM
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I didn't even look at the sauces (next time I will!) - the Sainsbury's is awesome, probably my favorite store. Though I do like M&S and ASDA - and Waitrose at Gloucester for Indian takeaway.

A lot of people complain about London being pricey, but I didn't spend a lot there. My biggest day was spending maybe $12.00 on food total. I went to free museums, I still had a leftover annual pass to the Royal Palaces had I wanted to use that. And many grocery type items (biscuits/digestives, candy, etc.) are very inexpensive. I forgot a razor, so I picked some up at ASDA - 10 disposables for .58 US (29p). ASDA Puffins (yum!) were like $1.25 US? Same as what they'd be here. Store brands of items can be soooo cheap. Oh - and I love the body sprays, I brought a couple of Palmolive body sprays back for myself. I wish I had bought some Sainsburys hot chocolate.

I can't wait to go back. I need to lead a grocery store crawl. I've never been to a full size Tesco yet, and I'd love to find a Costco just for fun.

I would love to spend 10 days in London - but then it's like "I need to go to Paris, etc." too.
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