Friday, September 30, 2011

Europe 2011 Day 3 - Shocking Ourselves Silly

Date: 9 April 2011
Not many people around at 8:30am apart from Rubbish Collectors

Saturday 8:30am - Sacré-Cœur Basilica. The Sacred Heart of Paris. The proud monument of Paris representing devotion to the Holy Virgin. The highest point in Paris with one of the most breathtaking views in the world. SHOCK 1: Also a garbage dump of beer cans and broken bottles and all sorts of rubbish left behind from a Friday night party. There's no escaping the stench of rubbish and urine everywhere in front of the church. This is what makes Paris so unique. Behind the romantic facade of Paris is a culture filled with cigarettes, littering, rudeness and urinating in public places. Still, you can't help but fall in love with Paris.

Could have been breathtaking if not for the mist that morning

Beautiful cloudless morning on top of Montmartre

Moving on from Sacre Coeur, we headed to yet another astounding monument, the Arc de Triomphe at The Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Once again, a magnificent view for you to look up in awe at how proud Napoleon was with his victories. SHOCK 2: So many beggars and peddler and con artists hound you all the time for various reasons. Be extra careful of your pockets & bags and trust no one!
Arch de Triomphe which is at the centre of a roundabout

Spring flowers at Cambronne
We headed back to our hotel in Cambronne for lunch, at Cafe Cambronne. This place turned out to be my favourite in Paris, and decently priced too.
French Onion Soup. TOOOOOO salty for my liking

Duck Confit again with Mushroom Ragout. Yummmmmm!

My favourite dish in the whole of Paris. The Tagliatelle with Salmon
Our Paris-Prague flight was scheduled to depart at 5:05pm from the Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport. Can you guess what's a good time to start heading to the airport? I am thankful to Hui Hui's usual paranoid insistance on departing the hotel at 1.15pm. It was meant to be a simple metro to Denfert-Rochereau, then transfer to RER-B to CDG for €8.40. When we arrived the RER platform and waited and waited and waited, no RER trains came for CDG. They finally announced that because of a grave accident, there are no trains to CDG but passengers should stop at "Mitry" and a bus will take us to the airport.

I thought the metro was really backward, but the RER train turned out to be much worse. SHOCK 3: RER trains stops unscheduledly in the middle of nowhere for no apparent reason, and continues in such a slowwwwwwwwwww manner. As it went through the suburbs, I felt like I was transported back in time to several hundred years ago. The journey took about 1 hour to Mitry, arrived at 3:05pm.
This is "Mitry" where we got dropped off in the middle of acres of daisies
SHOCK 4: The bus ride saw the ugly side of Parisians, where they pushed and shoved to get onto the first bus to CDG. Thankfully we allocated more time. After arriving by bus at the terminal depot, we needed to take yet another shuttle train to Terminal 2, then walk yet another 500m to Terminal 2B. I was drenched with sweat and looked like I'd just gone swimming.

SHOCK 5: Terminal 2B was in total chaos; haphazard queues and people shouting, and NO AIR CONDITIONING! The Easy Jet counter staff were really shorthanded, queues for people with pre-checkin were much longer than those without. Checking of passenger names were manual by paper. This felt like AirAsia 5 years ago. It really makes you appreaciate AirAsia and LCCT for their effeciency. We finally got our turn at 4:15pm
Terminal 2B of CDG Airport. No A/C, Unknown queues, Total Chaos
SHOCK 6: If the plane arrives only at 5:15pm, do you have to queue to enter the plane? Parisians started queueing at 4:30pm! Though your seat is not pre-assigned, is there really a need to queue 45 MINUTES in advance? Ultimate KIASU!

SHOCK 7: There are no immigration counters between countries in Europe. One can just waltz in with their I/D card. So I did not get colourful stamps for the countries I visited.

SHOCK 8: Prague was freezing cold at night when we arrived. And Movenpick Hotel which was supposed to be just 2 mins away from the train station, turned out to be a 20 minute walk up a steep slope. Not an easy task pulling 2 huge luggages on cobbled stone roads, in the freezing cold at night. And to top it off, the beds at this hotel sank badly in the middle, causing us days of sleepless nights.

How Shocking.

Related Posts:
Europe 2011 - Day 1 Arriving Paris
Europe 2011 - Day 2 Cycling and Eating Like The French
Europe 2011 - Day 4 Backbreaking Prague
Europe 2011 - Day 5 Royal Animals of Prague
Europe 2011 - Day 6 & 7 to Cesky Krumlov
Europe 2011 - Day 8: Top 5 things to bring home from Prague
Europe 2011 - Day 9 Guten Tag Munchen
Europe 2011 - Day 10,11,12 Dedicated to Munich (Part 1 of 3)
Europe 2011 - Day 10,11,12 Dedicated to Munich (Part 2 of 3)
Europe 2011 - Day 10,11,12 Dedicated to Munich (Part 3 of 3)
Europe 2011 - Day 13 Munich to Paris
Europe 2011 - Day 14 & 15 Going Home

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