On Sunday, August 5th we took a train from Brussels Gare Midi to Paris Gare du Nord. From there we took the Metro to the 14eme Arrondisement (the Montparnasse area) where our hotel for the last leg of our trip was located. We had to switch trains in one of the main hubs of the Metro system which required several stairs and no escalators at all. It was then when we decided to take an Airport Shuttle on Wednesday as opposed to take the RER (Paris commuter trains) as we did when we arrived two weeks ago. Our hotel was in a very nice area, just outside a Metro station and very close to good restaurants and even shopping (although we didn´t realize this until Monday afternoon).
Pretty much there were two full days left of our journey and we really enjoyed them and squeezed them to the last drop. On the rainy Monday we climbed Montmartre to the Basilica of Sacre Coeur and then wonder around all the way up to the 19th Arrondisement through a lot of really urban streets with a Paris touch and all the way to tourist-free residential areas. Then we took the Metro back to St. Germain des Pres and walk our way back to the hotel. A long, yet productive walk (we got to find some goodies in the fnac at Montparnase). We even stop for a crepe and some coffee in a little stand run by Colombians. CMS thought I had chose the place because of that fact, but I honestly can say it was a coincidence as whenever I find Spanish speaking people all over the place.
The recommended (by guide books and friends alike) trip to the Pallais of Versailles was done on a glorious and sunny Tuesday. After lining up for tickets for over two hours, including some time where there was no tickets being sold due to a power faillure, we took a stroll on the gardens of the Palace. What a wonderful place for a walk, a pic-nic, or a day trip. The gardens, the trees, the fountains, the buildings are all impressive and worth the trip out of Paris. Once we decided to use our tickets to go into the palace the queue to get in was significantly shorter, around 15 minutes, as opposed to potentially another hour or lining up. The interior of the palace can only be described with one word: Decadent. Take it as you like it.
On Wednesday morning we were happy to have decided to take the Airport shuttle, because it was raining and it would have been dreadfull to drag our suitcases while getting drenched. The trip to the airport was eerie. I felt already in Toronto while we were driven in the highway sorrounded by industrial wasteland and big firm office buildings. The cars around were smaller and more cute, but a highway in and arround a city seems to be the same regardless of the country. After two delays, a blockade in one of the terminals which we were not sure if it was due to a strike action or a bomb threat, and a second one caused by an unattended suitcase being dilligently blown up by security in our departure terminal, we were bused into our plane with plenty of time before to browse the duty free shops.
I feel this journey ended with not only proper tourist things to do, but also with a second look into a real Paris, which happened to be as well a wet Paris. We tried to get together with a friend of a friend from York, but I was aware that our time in Paris was not only limited, but also at the beginning of the work week.
I will continue my blogging because my travelling didn´t ended going back to Toronto. That was actually pretty much another two-night stoppover before taking another couple of planes to get to my next destination. I left CMS behind and I hope she can rest from our adventure and from spending sooo much time with me :-)
Guatemala City, 12 August 2007