As you have now read in an earlier entry we got engaged in Paris, so not wanting to repeat ourselves in this entry we'll only cover the sites and other events that took place. For our stay in Paris we had decided to book in to a hotel, we where a little over the hostels! We found the hotel easily and set about exploring the city. From our hotel we walked to Saint Michael's square to catch a free tour of Paris (same as we had in other major cities) that left there a 4pm. It was a longer walk than we had expected and we where buggered by the time we arrived Determined we joined the tour and spent the next 3 hours wandering the streets of central Paris, listening to the great history of this famous city. In a strange twist the tour guide was actually and Australian that had been living in Vietnam before coming to Paris and was previously a tour guide on the same tour we did of Vietnam.
We had 5 days to explore and of course the Eiffel tower climb was first on Emily's list, I unconvincingly got her to agree to make the climb later in the week to give me some time to get myself organised and we spent a few days touring the various museums, galleries and famous suburbs / monuments of Paris. Armed with a copy of Rick Steves' Europe guidebook we had plotted out the main things we wanted to see. Highlights for me included the musee de orsay and the Louvre each taking almost a full day. We spent a lot of time wandering the back streets and finding little cafes to eat in, these proved a little cheaper than the main tourist drags, and some ellusive locals could be found there. The Jardin des tuileries was also a welcome refuge to watch the people go by after hours in the galleries. It was a strange feeling of an empty city in some areas, we had arrived at the beginning of their holiday season, so everyone had skipped off to the coast!
Heeding the warnings of large crowds we managed to hit the major sites early in the morning, we saw the Notre Dame in the early morning just as it opened and were almost the only ones in there, when we had passed by in the days before the line was snaking across the square. Inside the Gothic music played combining with dim lighting to give an impression of a mysterious transportation back in time. This effect was short lived as the endless opportunities to cash in on the visiting tourists reminded you which century you were in.
Another major site we got to early was Versailles. The extravagant palace of the Sun King Louis XII. We arrived before it opened and had a short line to get in. When leaving the line stretched for at least 300 metres with the 1 and a half hour minimum wait to enter sign at least 50 meters from the end. Feeling a great sense of our own intelligence, as we walk back to the train station passing hoards more people frantically heading towards Versailles to "beat the crowds". Inside Versailles we toured the main floors, through bedrooms parlous and ballrooms hearing stories of the past kings and queens of France all trumped up on their own self importance... We all so toured the enormous gardens finishing just before the rain clouds arrived. We opted out of the tour of Marie Antoinette's garden Maison for fear of reliving the horror that was the recent film following her life story. Those that have seen it will feel my pain, it was as bad as all of the Baz Luman films combined.
The day after the night before, on the Eiffel tower, we decided to check out the Jardin du luxembourg and then on to Montmartre to check out the Moulin Rouge, Amelie film sites and the Sacre Coeur. Finishing the Day of with dinner to celebrate our engagement and our last night in continental Europe before jetting off to Edinburgh.
The flights and processes of getting to Edinburgh was probably the least fun of the trip. We flew out from Charles De Gaulle airport, by all means avoid this airport if possible it is possibly the worst in the world! We flew with British airways, with a transfer at London to our plane to Scotland. This included biometric scanning and the removal of shoes, we were refused entry to the plane for a while because Emily's biometric scan didn't work.