France, Brussels & Amsterdam

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

So back to Bordeaux . . . Bordeaux!!! With Ali and Lisa and Audrey !!! How fun!  The first night we went to a real French party where we didn’t know anyone, only spoke French, and kissed everyone on the cheek 3 times!  The next day we visited beach with the biggest sand dunes in the world, and then had a real French lunch with Bordeaux wine, and then a real French dinner as well!  A totally great couple of days. Then we wandered around Bordeaux for the majority of our last day there and took the afternoon train-vitesse to Paris.

Ahhh Paris. What an amazing city! We were so fortunate to have the use of Jake’s friends’ step dad’s apartment on Ile St Louis. Our own little place, with a kitchen. Unfortunately, my allergies and the cold I’d been fighting kicked into super high, and I got really sick, but because of our amazing place, we were able to stay for a week and recover – most excellent.

We did and saw so much in Paris, and had such a great time, that it would take hours and pages to describe . . . but I will try to give you the bare bones here.  We walked – a LOT.  Staying on the ‘little island’ in the Seine made life very easy for us.  We also purchased books of Metro tickets so we could easily get anywhere we desired.  Up to Montmarte, across to La Tour Eiffel, down Les Champs Elysees, through the Latin Quater (gyros with french fries IN the pita), visited the Louvre, the Pantheon, the Tuleries, Notre Dame, Les Jardins du Luxembourg (my personal favourite) and basically just tried to take everything in.  We climbed stairs to get the best views from the tops of the monuments, and even visited the Catacombs outside of Paris.  We spent a day at Versailles (a MUST see!), and enjoyed just relaxing in the (FREE) gardens there before touring the palace twice (hint – don’t exit through the gift shops of these places, turn and go back to the beginning for another look!).  All too soon, our week of relaxing and eating in Paris was at an end, and it was back to the train station yet again.

On our way to Amsterdam, we took a quick, and I do mean quick, pit-stop in Brussels.  In the space of a few hours, we managed to have beer, chocolate and waffles, and I don’t ever intend to go back!

Amsterdam was quite the experience.  By day, it was one of my favourite cities.  The canals, the quaint old houses that are so bent with age they lean into the streets, the french fries with mayonnaise, the Heineken factory and the endless ‘ting ting!’ of cheery bike bells as the locals ride about their day were so endearing that one could easily prefer this ‘Venice of the North’ to the real thing!  By night . . . well, you’d have to see it to believe it.  Let’s just say I preferred Amsterdam during the day.

After a couple days there, and our dreams of taking the Eurostar through the Chunnel to England dashed (450Eur EACH!!) we boarded the absolute longest bus trip ever in the history of man (18 HOURS) and travelled back through the Netherlands, through Germany, through France, to Calais, where we boarded a ferry that took us to the white cliffs of Dover and from there we took another bus to London.  I will never eat Nutella again.


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