13.08.2001 - 15.08.2001
What follows is the travel journal I wrote during an Inter-railing trip around Europe I took with my friends Ollie and Julie back in 2001. Every detail whether insightful, embarrassing, naive or otherwise has been left in to add to the fun! Some notes will refer to receipts and other little things I attached to the physical copy, and watch out for references to about a dozen currencies that no longer exist :-) Bill, 2012.
By chance, Ollie got the same Aircoach as me. The flight seemed quick, with the lack of any U2-style airport terminals in the part of Charles De Gaulles that we passed through being the only disappointment, and a momentary hitch of almost leaving the airport without or bags was quickly followed by a near miss with some scalper taxi man offering us a ride to the city centre; just got a shuttle bus to the train station and then walked from Gare du Nord to Woodstock Hostel, which was booked out so we stayed in the quite reasonable one-star hotel opposite*.
Wandered the streets later on drinking Stella Artois and Kronenbourg ‘demis’ (500ml), which cost a pricey £3-plus in L’Ecran, Le Commerce and Bar de l’Atelier. Sat on windowsill in hotel smoking and listening to ‘Radio Classique’ before bed.
P.S. On our walk around, we stumbled upon the hugely impressive Sacre Coeur, a massive church on the top of a hill, the highest point in Paris. Three French guys sang ‘You’ve lost that lovin’ feeling’ to the hippie kids sitting on the steps below staring at the Paris skyline.
*The Perfect Hotel, rue Rodie where the attached bill shows a three-person room cost 375 francs a night
Myself and Ollie at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Julie and Ollie outside the Louvre
Ordered black coffee by accident with our free breakfast, which consisted of a baguette and apricot jam but it turned out to be gorgeous.
Went on a mad sight-seeing binge, taking advantage of Paris’s amazing metro system and our appetite for long walks in the sun, seeing Notre Dame (the flying buttresses reminded me of Junior Cert history!), Palais de Justice, Musee d’Orsay, l’Arc de Triomphe (with the flame for the unknown soldier), the Louvre (closed, but the building outside was the most impressive thing anyway) and the Eiffel Tower, which we were too knackered to climb.
Had lunch on a boat on the Seine overlooking the Tour d’Eiffel. Complications with Julie’s friend meant a second night in the hotel split into two rooms this time. Drank cheap Kronenbourg and Konigsbacker out of the bidet in the room!
Ollie admires the Hall of Mirrors
Devoted the entire day to Versailles – a slight mishap getting the wrong metro was an annoying but not too costly mistake (61f or 75-ishp for 10 journeys, and if you switch metros without leaving the station you only need one ticket!)
A 90-minute queue in the sun was worth it to see the amazing Hall of Mirrors where Louis XIV hosted festivities and where the treaty ending World War I was signed. Saw Louis XVI’s bed chamber – Marie Antoinette’s looked more comfortable! The sheer amount of gold and expensive paintings was amazing. Only had time to gander at the gardens, which are more gigantic than we thought.
After getting to Julie’s friend Elise’s granny’s apartment in Montmartre (‘bohemian quarter’, as she put it) we ventured to the African ghetto of Barbes, where after manky streets and drug dealers on every corner we reached ‘A la Goute d’Or’ where we had a tasty meal followed by the break in the heat wave of the last week that left us dashing inside the restaurant and watching the lashing rain for an hour. The waitress even gave us free hot milk tea to warm up!
Julie finds a picturesque place for a photo