Sunday Souvenirs in Paris

Otherwise how do you prove you were there, right?

Paris is beautiful. The weather was fantastic, they have great things to see: the people, the architecture, the popular tourist things. It smells. Oh how it smells! It’s at times like you’re trapped inside a portable toilet and the temperature is steadily increasing because of bacteria respiratory cycles. We even had the pleasure of witnessing a woman check her surroundings and then squat to wee. I don’t know how she didn’t notice the tourist bus that was stopped next to her or perhaps it was a special part of the tour… then there’s the constant presence of this acid spit. You must watch where you tread because this continuously bubbling saliva is everywhere.
Our final day, we used the bus to deliver us towards souvenirs. We wanted fondue for lunch, the only thing we had left on our list, unfortunately the chosen place is not open Sundays. Despair took hold of our wretched beings! Luckily it wasn’t for long. Across the street also offered fondue. We made good of the list and insulted the waitress by getting so full before emptying the fondue pot.
We saw the Sacré-Cœur, which is as beautiful as all things Paris, perhaps more so, with the white purity that it exudes. We bought things for loved ones and to prove that our trip to Paris was as real as the moon landing.
Oh that brings me to the bus driver. I think he got a mention in my first day of Paris post. Well the bus was at least one hour later than the scheduled time. I had joked to Ingrid that it’s probably the same driver that was late in taking us to Paris. A bus for a different company pulled up and it was him! To make things slightly more comical, he woke up another bus driver who was on our bus! The late bus driver took control and got us on the road until Brussels, where we got another Germania driver.


Paris: The Sights, The Smell

Feeling pretty great after a good night’s sleep and ready for breakfast.  The hotel deal included breakfast, so we stumbled down for nourishment.  The early bird gets the worm and somehow that same bird ate a large amount of everything before we arrived.  Still we got enough into out bellies and I must say that the coffee machine made a very good cappuccino.

Now the uncertainty of the day ahead emerged and had to be addressed.  Deciding that we’ve already paid for the bus tour we should try our best to avoid paying again for it.  We went to the office of the tour provider and it worked and all was well.  We spent a large part of the day being driven around Paris, see all the sights and learning of the history of the city.  One of the greatest aspects of the bus tour is that you go virtually everywhere you could want, which was convenient for us, one of the stops was near the creperie that we had marked to visit.  We had crepes, oh boy!  Ingrid had one with Salmon and said it was amazing.  I had a crepe with cheese, mushrooms and possibly ham… hard to remember.  It was good.  All was forgotten after the dessert crepes though.  Ingrid’s chocolate sauce was one of the finest displays of wealth one could participate in.  The honey that accompanied mine was also delicious but it’s hard to compete with chocolate.

Nighttime was revealed Ingrid’s surprise for me.  She had booked a table at a very small restaurant that had a great deal of cow related things: photos, trays with cows, little toy cows.  The food was delicious forms of beef.  After dinner we re-visited The Tower, you don’t need me to name it, you know very well which tower.  The light display has the colours of the French flag and lots of people gather around the base of the tower to sit… really.  We sat too, for a little while.  Numerous guys were trying to sell us drinks, we weren’t interested.   That was very nice and restful.  It was spoiled by the attempt to get home.  The Metro stops working around midnight.  On a school night, sure, that seems fairly reasonable, I suppose.  This was Saturday night.  I know why Parisians don’t wake up until 9-10am, they are busy walking home after a night out*.  We walked until we eventually caught a taxi.  We were concerned with the route he was taking, maybe he was pushing up the meter, but we were thinking far more sinister things, he could have really taken us anywhere, to be met by anyone.  It worked out fine though, we slept around 2am.


*I must confess that it’s still not nearly as bad as the Blue Mountains line in Australia.  I cannot believe that anybody supports having the final train down the mountain leaving Katoomba at 10pm.

HeadOut Not Quite a Scam

Ok, this post is purely for those who may happen to use the service by Headout. It’s probably not of any interest to anybody else.
As written in this blog post, we travelled to Paris and had bought a bus ticket for L’Open Tour’s Hop On, Hop Off service.  Head Out had a great deal, I think for 2 days on the bus, we would save €9 each ticket.  We were skeptical that the deal would work.  We did a search and there seemed to be fairly positive and also, more importantly, comprehensive feedback all over the internet.  So we put our faith in other user’s feedback and made the purchase.

My email soon received the ticket with advice that we must print the voucher and go to Cityrama Paris, 214, Rue de Rivoli, Paris to redeem the tickets.  Upon arrival at the address in Paris we were told that they had relocated not far away.  Once we got to this new address the service lady kindly told us that there was an issue with her company and Headout and that she’ll see what she can do but that they are currently not authorised to accept the voucher.  Her phone call to management confirmed it and we were offered the option of buying new tickets or contacting Headout to organise with them some other arrangement.

We tried calling Headout, several times, no answer.  We left a message asking them to call us back when they are able, left our details and waited.  We also sent them text messages to get an “instant reply” as per their instruction.  The next day we received a text advising that they are investigating and will contact us with a solution.
I called my credit card company and requested that the payment be suspended or cancelled as we have paid for goods not received.

Out of frustration we decided to go to the L’Open Tour office itself.  Success!  They printed us tickets with no fuss.

It’s been a week since our attempt to contact Headout and we’ve still not heard anything.

My advice would be that if you use Headout for booking the Hop On, Hop Off bus service through L’Open Tour is that you go to L’Open Tour’s shop address: 13 Rue Auber, Paris, France.  It worked for us at least.
Further advice would be that Headout do not seem so concerned with providing customer service.  We’ve still not heard anything and coupled with their no refund policy, this is not a good way to operate.

Fear of Failure in France

Ok the subject may be a little too dramatic but you’ll see…
The bus trip to Paris was ok, fairly uneventful. I’ll mention the drivers because of future events it becomes humorous. The bus travels a distance before we meet it, Copenhagen, I believe. The driver then is Germanic/Nordic, makes sense. When we get further south, I think it’s at Brussels or the stop after, (I cannot remember, it was very early in the morning and I was in and out of sleep) that the drivers change. What is announced as a break of 20 minutes stretches out. The driver calls and asks if the other driver is finishing the journey. About an hour later we continue the trip with the new driver. A man who fairly frequently shrugged his shoulders and said that everything was ‘ok’ and didn’t matter.
We pull into Paris and get to the Metro. We struggle with the machine and a queue is forming behind us. I suggest we step aside until the veterans get their tickets and then we continue our effort. We notice some free machines not far away, there wasn’t a ticket person available unfortunately, and to our surprise none of the veterans use it and even further to our surprise we get the ticket we want quickly.
For lunch we were supposed to have Crepes, as per our plan. I think that purely out of location luck we ended up going to a Souffle restaurant. It was great! We both left with super bloated stomachs. Couldn’t help it, the lunch deal entitled you to a salad, a main and a dessert. The main was filling and the dessert was the same size, monster madness!
We booked one of those Hop on and Hop off tour buses online and went to the address the voucher provides to redeem the ticket. The window informs us that they have moved. We still have luggage, not a lot, but enough that it’s kind of annoying. On our way to the new address we pass a biscuit/chocolate store that Ingrid highly recommends, perhaps I’ll get the name of it and link it. We tried a cookie with a chocolate filling. Before we left the store, assuming we’d return later, we bought some little cakes in their assorted flavours. They were delicious.
So! New address, we wait for a little while and take our voucher up. The lady says that her company does not honour the voucher but she’ll she what she can do. Disaster! We were thinking that we’ve paid money for this voucher, we’ll get no service unless we pay more money (a whole new ticket). All the rather messy details are here. Needless to say we were angry, the weather in Paris was 30 degrees, which made things a bit more tense and now we were doubting all the other things we’d booked online for this trip. We left for the hotel, expecting the worst.
Check in at the hotel was quite painless. Our toilet didn’t have a flush button. Ingrid figured out a way to open the cistern and make it work, she’s a genius, MacGuyver-like woman. We nap.
I insisted on going to watch a band I knew called Rosetta. Yes, they are heavy metal. No, it’s not all terrible and scary. The venue is a small cafe and as we arrive we’re a bit concerned that we’ve got the wrong place. We order water and sit and wait until things are set up. Slowly many men in black shirts appear. The first band, Ovtrenoir, are the only French band of the night. They were quite melodic, a form of slow probably called “post-metal” style. We went out for some air and noticed that some military men were stationed on the corner just up from the venue. It made Ingrid nervous that something was going to happen. I guess the last American band I know that played in Paris, Eagles of Death Metal, had that tragic shooting. They were there to stop it, I suppose. Next were North, a complete sludge and drone doom set from America, messy, the way I like it but unfortunately sometimes overstayed their welcome I thought. The headliners were the professionals. Played well.
We retired, exhausted and unsure what we’d do the next day. The original plan was to bus, but we currently have no means to bus.

Before Paris

I have some time so I’ll write about our last few days since we discovered our weekend holiday. It’s been intense searching for things to do and the cheapest way to do them as well as packing and then organising the apartment before we leave. It’s done and we can relax, except for the excitement that WE’RE GOING TO PARIS!
I believe the plan features Crêpes everyday at different Creperies around the city. We have already checked out restaurants for dinner (breakfast is free at the hotel), giving us an approximate budget. We have the money. We have booked a hop on and off bus and we have figured out which Metro stations we need and what tickets are the best value. I’m hoping to see the band Rosetta, who happens to be playing in Paris on Friday for only €10! Saturday there’s a surprise for me, I’m told, and maybe we then go dancing.
Just before we left we had dinner, a delightful and delicious dinner, with my Football pal and German classmate who comes from Syria. Super food! Super full! We brought dessert, a Colombian caramel called Arequipe to have with figs and also a bottle of Colombian soft drink. It kind of tasted like Creaming Soda, which nobody has heard of, is that an Australian thing?
Now we’re going. Hopefully I’ll write more soon!

Cheap Travellers

Well… if you read this blog as soon as it publishes you’d know that something went wrong and the post was blank.
The weather is still miserable but we’ve managed to escape. We’re so good at what we do that we are going to Paris for less than €300 all up! Travel and accommodation. Tough to beat!
Now we’re researching places to go and things to see. I’m hoping for something Baudelaire and Rimbaud related.