Our flight over to Paris was uneventful and short by comparison to our previous endeavors. When I had arranged everything I knew we were going to be arriving well before check-in was open at our hotel (Holiday Inn Canal De La Villette) but the reviews had said a few people had managed to wrangle their way in early. Alas we were not so lucky and had 3 hours to burn while we waited for our room so we could wash away the previous days travels. I had figured we could just take a short trip into the city’s center and wander around for a bit but my poor wife was in no form to do so.
We followed the canal southward, perusing the various cafes and restaurants as we went. I was a little taken aback by how similar all the menus seemed to be, all offering the same variation of a couple dishes. Turns out this must just be the street menu as when we finally decided on a place their offerings were far more wide and varied. I settled on duck with a pepper sauce accompanied by potatoes covered in bacon. A decadent meal, to be sure, but its simple composition is something that I really did appreciate.
Full from lunch we waddled our way back to the hotel, only managing to kill a couple hours. My wife decided it was nap time and used my legs as a pillow whilst I continued reading my book and playing a few games on my phone to pass the time. We were eventually allowed up into our room, a balcony suite on the top floor, and we both quickly made a beeline for the shower. My wife then collapsed on the bed where we inadvertently spent the next few hours, something that won’t do us any favors jet lag wise.
We then started to plan our activities for the coming days only to find that trying to book things this close is something of a fool’s errand. Now this may be because we’re here during the middle of the Euro 2016, something which I (in my usual fashion of not following sports at all) had neglected to account for. So instead we’ve settled on something of a priority system: go early to the things we really want to do and then do others if we’re able. This has us settling on doing the catacombs in the morning, the Louvre right after and then seeing what the lines are like over at the Eiffel Tower. Whether we make that all or not is a question I’ll answer tomorrow.
My first impressions of Paris are much like that of Montreal, although without the dichotomy of new and old in such stark contrast. It is interesting to note the cycle of the city is different to what I’m used to, the ebbs and flows of everything happening well after I’d expect them too. We’re towards the outer rim of the city so I’m sure it will be much more frenetic when we finally make the journey to the center tomorrow morning. I’m hopeful that we’ll get to do all the things we’ve planned tomorrow, even though we haven’t been able to secure our spots ahead of time.
We almost immediately fell back into our old habits again, trying to plan as much as we could in the short time we have here. Whilst I certainly want to make the most of this trip the last thing I want to do is burn myself out on planning before it even starts. I’ll have to keep an eye on that.
The final days of any trip are always a time of mixed emotion. This is especially true for today as we close the chapter on one part whilst simultaneously opening one anew. It’s also the time where the responsibility for our day to day activities transfer to us fully and, much to my dread, relies on the countless hours I spent planning our travel all those months ago. It doesn’t matter how many times I check our itinerary that feeling that something is amiss won’t go away until we finally make the journey. With all this in mind we didn’t have much planned for today and even that didn’t get done in the end.
We started our day at a local breakfast joint, one that was very much reminiscent of all the diners that we’d frequented on our previous trip through America. Our waiter’s tired eyes and frantic demeanour belying what must have been a rough night before. I, foolishly, ordered eggs benedict ala Harry (with bacon, onion and asparagus in the hollandaise) thinking that $15 would net me a decent meal only to be presented with something that could have easily fed a family of 4. I gave it the old college try but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to stomach breakfasts like that.
Unfortunately, my poor wife took a very hard turn for the worse right around the middle of breakfast. She has been struggling with something ever since she came back from Indonesia last year, something that seems to flare up at the worst of times. This torpedoed what loose plans we had, taking us back to our hosts home in the hopes to rest up before our flights over to Paris. Thankfully, with the help of some anti-nausea medication, she managed to overcome the worst of it just before we had to start making our way to the airport. I certainly wasn’t looking forward to explaining to airport security that my wife was fine, she just didn’t look it.
Much to my surprise getting through Montreal airport was a breeze, meaning the extra hour we’d allocated to getting through was returned to us. We’d hoped to make use of the American Express lounge which the website had told us was available however our Westpac Black Cards confused the reception staff. I heard them muttering “Centurion” several times over, which our cards are most certainly not, but I think the confusion was enough for them to say they wouldn’t let us in. My wife was very dejected at this prospect; she does quite enjoy the lounges when we can get access to them.
I’ll leave it at that for now, seeing as I’m writing this on the last leg of our flight to Paris and the definition of what constitutes a “day” is somewhat blurry at this point.
Looking at our itinerary I can’t help but feel that I might’ve been better served by cutting one location in favour of adding more days to the rest. Our brief discussions on what we want to do in Paris have highlighted the few precious days we’ll actually have to do things, the days that bookend our stay almost wholly dedicated to travel. Of course the places I wanted to stay for a longer duration do have extra time allocated to them, but there are 3 destinations where we really only have 2 days to see what we want to see. Still I’ve often felt I’ve stayed too long in places before so maybe the short time I’ve allocated will be enough.
You might be surprised to know that this is the first time I’ve ever written a new years post despite having gone through 3 of them in the time this blog has been active. Still this time around I’m lucid enough on the day after to be able to cobble together this post wishing you all a happy new year and all the best for the coming year. I know I’ve got a particularly exciting year ahead of me with many things coming together, new ideas percolating in my head constantly and above all the drive to make them reality.
I know you all do too 🙂