18.10.2010 - 18.10.2010 5 °C
Suffice to say I didn't get any sleep last night either, I caught the 4:30am bus to the airport. As I had arrived with plenty of time up my sleeve I headed to the cafeteria for some breakfast. I headed through customs and lined up to board the plane. I got on the plane and found that the back seats were still free so I grabbed a seat right there. Ryan air open both the front and rear doors for people to enter and exit the aircraft from and if you are closest to the front or back door you are generally one of the first to get off the plane. At 7am I was on my way to see the city of love. I tried to get some sleep on the way but it didn't really happen. Once I opened my eyes, looked out the window and saw the alps rolling out before me.
I arrived in at about 9:30 or so, grabbed my carry on bag and walked straight past an unatteneded customs terminal and straight to the ticket office to buy my bus ticket to take me to Paris which cost 15 Euros. I loaded my bag into the hold and climbed onboard. The bus journey took about an hour and a half. We arrived into Paris and were dropped off right next to a train station. I walked over to the train station, bought a one day pass and headed for my hostel. After checking in and leaving my bag in the lugage room, I headed back to central Paris. I walked up Champs-Élysées which was filled with elite shops and spent some time window shopping. If my budget hadn't been so tight I would have bought some coats and sweaters which were smick and reasonably priced. As I walked toward the Arc de triomphe I was blown away by the amount of police and police vans. There must have been at least 25 to 30 vans parked on the side of the road with 6 coppers each. They were all parked on the side of the road talking to one another. I eventually arrived at the Arc de triomphe roundabout and watched in awe for over half an hour as the traffic flew in and slammed on brakes, bikes swerving around the traffic, cars and trucks weaving thier way through. I found out later that this is the only place in France where your car insurance is not valid. As I was standing watching the circus of traffic I suddenly realised that some one was close to me. I turned to see a woman bending over and picking up a ring. As she started to stand up again she looked at me with the gold ring in hand. I instantly said no, no no no! She again beconned the ring and once again I said no no no no, turned around and walked off. I watched as she walked acrross the road and began the same procedure with another couple of foriegners. As soon as I saw her picking up the ring I remembered the scam from a book that I had read in Canada. I laughed as I thought about how it had been tried on me! The actual arc de triomphe was surrounded by barricading stopping anyone from actually accessing the arch itself. I then headed in the direction of the Eiffel and eventually stumbled upon it.
For the next hour or so I walked upto and around it looking at it from different vantage points. I headed over to the queueing point and found a line that looked like it was about an hour long. I walked over to the opposite corner which had a very short queue and enquired what the difference was between the lines. Apparently the long queue was to take the elevator to the second and top levels. The corner that I was at was to walk to the second level. I was through in less then 10 minutes and climbing the staircase to the first level. There was a lady who was climbing up the staircase, with her mother and daughter, who was scared of heights. She made it up to the first floor though which was pretty impressive. As I was climbing the stairs I stopped from time to time to watch the painters hanging from cables and scaling up and down the tower painting it brown in that spot. It is painted every 7 years and it takes 60 tonnes of paint and over a year to paint. I arrived at the first level and checked out the view as well as reading the information boards on how the Eiffel was built, how it changed over the years etc. I then climbed to the second level. By this time the wind was really blowing and as I had left my jacket back in Tuscany it was getting rght to the bones. Every Parisian was wearing jackets and scarves. Heres some great pictures.
After relxing and taking in the view for a while i decided to head back as it was freezing cold. I got to the train station and was trying to figure out how to get back when i bumped into 3 aussie guys who were also staying at the hostel so I joined them and we headed back together. We had a lovely french/Turkish dinner from the diner next store, bought a couple of beers from the local corner store and eventually hit the sack for an amazing sleep!