I've realized that there's only ONE day left for the year 2009. I can't possibly leave the year without noting the key events that happened. So, i decided that this whole year was about fulfilling one of the goals I stated in january 2009; to travel as much as I can. To actually turn the words into reality,I got a job and save up money. This trip was the highlight of my year(to be perfectly honest,a milestone in all my 22 years of living). Ever since I was 13(when I started learning French as a foreign language subject in secondary school),I have always imagined seeing Paris. On 17th December 2009,I departed for London from Bahrain. On 18th december,5.30am,I left for Paris via Eurostar form London St Pancras station. Anyway,here's a little summary of the recent trip.
17th December 2009:
Got on the plane to London,around 10.30am Bahrain time. They said it's gonna take us 6 hours 50 minutes to reach there.Watched a movie 'PostGrad',was light hearted n entertaining,it's about life after uni. Reached London Heathrow terminal 4. Saw snow falling just outside my window in the plane,it was amazing yet so peaceful.
Waited for Aida and her sister,they were in another flight form Kuala Lumpur. Ate a sandwich but can't seem to find a rubbish bin anywhere(to be explained after this).
Finally met up with Aida and her sister. Challenge: pushing and carrying 3 small luggage and 2 big ones to Strawberry Hill. Getting there required 3 tube changes and 1 national rail change. No freaking escalators nor lifts at the stations,had to carry all that trunk through flight of stairs.HELL!
Arrived at Strawberry hill,snow covered walkway i.e very slippery. Took a short nap until 10.30pm,woke up to get ready. Have to leave for Richmond from Strawberry Hill to catch a train at St Pancras Station.
18th December 2009:
Took a train form Richmond and arrived at Clapham junction,scheduled to take a train to King's Cross/St Pancras after that. Waited for the train,suddenly heard an announcement that no trains will be going towards that direction,have to take the bus instead( Thank god we're only carrying one hand luggage each!). Raced to the bus stop,made it just in time to catch the last bus to King's Cross Stn.
Quite a long journey from there,the bus was en route to King's Cross via central London. Snow fell heavily,later heard from the news that it was actually a blizzard!
It was super cold.Rushed inside St Pancras n met up with Nizam(our voluntary tour guide in Paris,hehe and got my assam milk tea,thanx a lot nizam!). Sat down for a caffeine fix there,can still felt the cold wind from there.
4.45 am.rushed to Eurostar Ticket office(didnt realized we were down to the wire,check in closed at 4.55).We made it 2 minutes before the train departed.*big sigh*
8.45 am. Paris!I was in Paris!the train stopped at Gare du Nord. Bought 3 day pass for easy access to METRO,RER and bus(cost = 20 euros). Actual ticket was soo tiny,not clumsy people-friendly
18th december 2009(evening):
Familiarize ourselves with METRO,made a stop at Notre Dame Cathedral,Champs-Elysees,Arc de Triomphe,the Louvre(didnt go inside the museum today), walk around in Paris despite the heavy snow. We were determined!
5 pm,reached the Eiffel Tower(we've bought the tix in advance).Huge disappointment,it was closed due to the bad weather. Stomach growling,both feet numb.Got an Eifel tower background pic nevertheless.
HUNGRY!!solution: Halal KFC near the Famous Moulin Rouge!
I was kinda curious on what was going on inside Moulin Rouge(the evening shows were super expensive like around 100euros per person,so i have to scratch that idea off). Finally sat down and enjoy our meal. The sleepiness kicked in automatically after.
We went back to the hotel,get ready for bed and agreed to meet up at 8am at Gare du nord to go to Disneyland Paris
19th december 2009:
Woke up at 8am!rushing to get ready.Aida got a text from nizam, Eurostar has suspended all their service for the day(he was scheduled to leave that very evening to London). Made our way to Gare du Nord,looked at the clock,it was 10am!.Our watches were still on London time,hahaha.
Nizam had to change his train ticket,to either the next day or the day after that,even with that there was no guarantee that the English Channel tunnel will be open and eurostar services will b up n running.He had to find a hotel to stay another night,found one near Gare du Nord.
Things cant any worse from there rite?wrong!the lift to go to his room was broken and the door wont open. The housekeeping lady was NOT helpful especially when he asked her a favour in English. Thank God my french was adequate enough to communicate with the very grumpy(menopaus-ing possibly) lady.
3pm,took RER to Disneyland Paris,arrived around 3.45pm..found out about a strike from the ticket person so we had to be on the train before 8pm. Shorter time to be spent in Disneyland.
I love Disneyland,i have to go bck!
7.30pm,reached central paris..ate dinner.
9pm,got ready for bed..praying and hoping that the weather wasnt harsh.The thought of snow wasnt at all pleasant at that time.
20th december 2009:
4.40am,received a text from my dad saying that all Eurostar services is suspended until Monday.
9.30am,met up with nizam,had to go to an expensive internet service to check the status of our flight,as of that moment,everything was still good
1.30 pm,bid to goodbye to nizam and made our way to Musee de Louvre..the view from the inside was as astonishing as the view outside. I didnt know anything about paintings and their values. Seeing the paintings on display there made me understand why people go through great length to acquire these pictures,they're soo detailed and articulate.
3pm,saw the famous 'Monalisa',visitors can't get close to the painting though..people were crowding the area..i bet Leonardo Da Vinci couldn't even anticipate the commotion the public would have over his painting
3.30pm,made our way to Galleries Lafayette(Paris's version of Harrods),the christmas decoration set up was beautiful..we were taking pics in the concourse area and out of nowhere,a Chinese lady approached us asking for a favor. She wanted to buy more stuff at Louis Vuitton but she cant as they put a restriction on the number of purchase on Chinese passport holders.
There were A LOT of people inside the boutique,I thought to myself,"Man,there are a lot of rich people in this world". We bought the stuff for her.
8pm,arrived at CDG,checked in for our 9.55pm flight bounded for London Luton.
9.15pm,plane arrived..people lining up to get into the it as the stewardess made the announcement
10pm,starting to lose our patience,still waiting to get inside the plane..exhaustion began to kicked in
10.15pm,boarding began finally!me n aida were worried. Missing the last train from Richmond to Strawberry is a high possibility.
10.45pm(London time) arrived in London Luton,went to the bus counter straight,it was fully booked 11.30pm,had to take the later one instead,12am..At this rate,we were probably gonna reach Victoria Station at 1.15am or so..there will be no train running by that time. Got hold of the internet and wrote down an alternative route,an 11 minute walk from Twickenham bus stop to the house in Strawberry Hill was included
21st december 2009:
1.30am,took the 1st bus according to the journey planner. got down to catch the 2nd bus but missed it(stupid journey planner forgot to state that we had to walk to another bus stop located on the other side of the road).had to wait for another bus 20 minutes.
2.45am,arrived at Twickenham bus stop..tried calling a taxi using a number we got off the internet..The operator told us that their cabs didnt operate in that area, he was gonna give us another number..*connection lost*insufficient credit,darn roaming charges..we were stucked
3.00am,saw a phone booth not far from the stop,tried calling the cab company again but alhamdullilah,this time around we got the other number and 10 mins after that,a car came and picked us up.
3.15am,finally got inside the house..get ready for bed. We only had 2 hours max to sleep,Bath,Stonehenge and Salisbury tour lined up at 9am
I'm gonna continue the summary in my next post tomorrow