A Travellerspoint blog

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Paris

Day 1 - 12th September

sunny 22 °C

7 out of 10. Last time we visited Paris, I am pretty sure I wanted to punch 7 out of 10 Frenchies. Lets hope the ratio is a little more favourable this time. Keep your eye on World news. The rudeness we experienced really upsets your core. I may lash out and notch up a victory for the tainted traveller.

Metro struggle. We remembered Paris to be easy on the Metro front. We weren’t wrong. Certainly easy to get from one destination to another but is it really necessary to have this many stairs? Fk me. Small oversight. Hugely painful.

Le Marais. One good thing about taking the metro was the immediate effect on the senses... once you'd negotiated all the stairs and finally surfaced. This place was alive. I’m sure Vicki shed a tear. This is exactly the experience she was after. Staying in the 4th arondissiment. Live with culture, youth and apparently gays (as we later found out). The hotel should be near by. So far so good.

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Hotel Caron. Great little boutique hotel.. Cute, fabulous location, tastefully decorated, clean, free movies, free minibar (no alcohol) and free wifi. Viva la France! Anyone that has been to Paris knows that nothing comes free. They’d charge for air if they could. Fkrs.

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Antique shop. Popped into an antique shop near the hotel for a poke around. Greeted by a lovely old lady. She turned out to be English. I didn’t hold that against her. She offered some good advice. Rattled on for way too long about how she hated her son in law and how he hated her. I don’t have that problem, lady. Pretty fortunate on that front. Bye for now.

Beer and popcorn. Our arduous travel day had this camel thirsty for amber fluid therapy. With all the luggage we were now carting around, the only thing I was missing was a saddle. I had my master whipping me, a load heavier than I and hadn’t downed a beer for what felt like 3 days. Free popcorn to boot. Let’s not stop at one…

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These boots were made for... Worked up a real appetite today. Paris is not the city of lights or the city of love it’s the city of f’n walking! No wonder they are all so slim. I’m still not sure where all the butter goes! Maybe they have a special butter synthesising gene and the reason we don’t have it is that it is attached to the ‘I’m an arrogant wanker’ gene. Settle Sammy. Give them a chance to redeem themselves…

Dinner. Time for a feed. Escargot for entrée s’il vous plait followed by steak tartare. I have now eaten steak tartare in every country visited. Can’t get enough of the stuff and love the local spin each of each country. Still, nothing beats kibbeh nayeh.

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Hotel De Ville. Glorious sight. Somehow we’d missed it last time we were here. Very close to Notre Damme. Glad we made it this time. Stunning. Can’t believe the Mayor resides here. Should have entered politics... hang on, I’m not a f’wit.

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Notre Damme.. Second time we’ve seen it but it didn’t dilute the beauty. Glad we don’t have to revisit the line to get in. So many tourists, no matter what time of day or night.

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Shrek 4. Free movies in the hotel were a treat. Nice way to fall asleep at night. Looks like we’ll be catching the start of several new release films. Maybe I’ll finish Shrek 4 tomorrow.

Posted by samandvic 01:40 Archived in France Comments (0)

Paris

Day 2 - 13th September

sunny 23 °C

Paul. The subway of France. Well, kind of. Big chain but the food is not made in a test tube. Vic's favourite. Baguettes and coffee on the run…

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Shoes. Walked into a shoe store and within about 15 minutes we’d bought 3 pairs. Shoes here are half the price of home and they are made in Italy, France or various other parts of Europe. The China infection has made it’s way here but fortunately not widespread… yet!

Foie gras. We messed up a little on the liver front in Hungary. Didn’t get the exact variety we wanted however I think we’ve just made up for it. The guy here was a great help. Looking forward to that Sunday brunch. Got some rillettes of Duck and Rabbit too. Flesh not liver… my style!

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St Louis vs St Germain. Got a bit lost on our walk. Thought we’d stop for a coffee. Didn’t look at the menu first. Big mistake however I see the $20 as an investment in discovering a French flaw. We have been trying to expose the French for a while, just one flaw, a single one will do. Today we found it. Knew it all along but for some reason it did not register. They can’t f’n make coffee! They have the best food, wine, liqueurs, architecture, décor, antiques, clothes and cars but they can’t make a coffee to save themselves. Got ya, Frenchy! So good at so much but yet you can’t froth a little milk. Too hard for your precious petite hands? Sure they’ll lose sleep over that one…

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Dyptique. The original store in St Germain. Vicki heaven. She loves their candles. They cost around $100 in Oz. Again less than half price here. Their range is amazing. The scents are so refined that they differentiate tree from leaf from flower from bark, etc. I told him how the fig tree candle took me straight back to my youth, climbing to fetch ripe figs for Mum and Dad. Vicki completed her purchase and he gave me the fig tree candle for free. Nice guy. He loaded Vic up with samples too! Thanks mate.

Trouble in St Germain. We stopped to see an Arab exhibition. Looked amazing from the outside. Minutes later, they’d sectioned off the end of the road and there were ambulances, police, fire, etc. everywhere. Not sure what happened but I had nothing to do with it!!

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La Fayette. Every label imaginable. To tell you the truth, we didn’t enjoy it and if memory serves us correctly, we didn’t enjoy it last time either. Way too pretentious and only top end products. Good if you are looking for something specific but not for general shopping.

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Dinner. Tried to avoid the tourist locations for dinner on the way to Eiffel…. and we did. Nice little place. They spoke very little English. Still very friendly, great food and a pleasant overall experience. ‘Menu’ as they call it here is a popular option and an affordable way to eat. A couple of courses for 20 – 30 odd euro depending on the restaurant and you get a good feed. Merci.

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Eiffel Tower. Had to visit the Eiffel tower again. Love that f’n thing. Fantasised about seeing it all my youth so couldn’t resist going back for another peep. Vic lost her patience a little, mocking me along the way. ‘Got it from this angle, babe? Now that you’ve walked 10 metres, want to stop and capture it from here too?’ Shut up, Piglet.

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Posted by samandvic 01:58 Archived in France Comments (0)

Paris

Day 3 - 14th September

sunny 24 °C

No menu. Walked into a little café and asked for a menu. ‘No menu!’ He mumbled something else under his breath too. How the f am I to know what you serve, d’head? Walked out mumbling something of my own under my breath. OK, maybe a bit louder than a mumble. First wanker award goes to…

Paul will do. Opted for the safe asnd quick option. Baguette and coffee on the run from Paul.

More shoes. Yep. Italian made. Me being the culprit this time. Won’t need any leather dress shoes for a while.

Suit. I needed an Italian made suit to match my shoes. Brilliant quality. Great price. Couldn’t resist.

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Pierre Herme. Macaroon god. Vic is obsessed with making them and to some extent eating them. I just eat the produce and at one stage starting to look like one based on the frequency of batches. This guy is the best of the best. Now for a taste...

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Printemps. Rival to La Fayette. Huge department store. Almost the same layout. Disappointing that they were virtual replicates of each other. The homewares section was cool. Bought ourselves a few little treats.

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La Fayette. On the search for Legles Limogues cups that Vicki buys for an exorbitant amount back home. Can’t find them here. Limogues is a region famous for it’s porcelain but they stock different brands wherever you go. Didn’t stop us buying a different variety. Can’t believe the Asian shoppers here. Can’t speak a word of French or English. They simply head to all the boutique outlets with a list. The salesperson gets the item, they pay and move to the next boutique brand. Amazing display of consumption.. probably only to bootleg!!

Le Marais dinner. Thoufght we’d eat more locally tonight. Vic had the escargot for entrée and I had a Ravolini. Both gorgeous. My main was probably the best thing I have eaten so far. Beef fillet cooked for 6 hours then placed on a bed of buttery mash with a wonderfully rich red wine jus. The Meat melted before it even made it to my mouth.

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Where do we put this? We had bought so much stuff in such a short time. I don’t think we were going to stop there either. Vicki spread everything out and commenced the dreaded task of packing all our new goodies. In the end, you wouldn’t have known we’d purchased anything. Great job girl. Can’t wait to get that Burka on you!

Posted by samandvic 03:07 Archived in France Comments (0)

Paris

Day 4 - 15th September

sunny 24 °C

Washing. Yep, that time again. I had to sample the rotisserie chicken that we passed every day. Smelt sooo good. Quick picnic back in the hotel room before picking up our washing.

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Antique. Got a real taste for antiques this trip. Walked into a store not really expecting to come out with anything but couldn’t resist the 1930s silverware. Nice momento of our travels. Obviously, I didn’t pay sticker price. She wanted to slap me with my first offer. I would have let her too... that one is going to cost me!

Place de vosges. Just around the corner from the hotel. Lovely little place and perfect for one last $10 coffee!

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Bomb scare. Made it to the train station with plenty of time to spare. Someone left a bag somewhere in the train station. Special police, military, local police and the bomb squad were all called in. Most of the station was sectioned off then the item was destroyed via robot. Vic got told off for taking pictures. HaHa

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Belgian train. Thalys. Very modern and FAST!. Free wifi all journey. Nice.

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Pastry. One last hoorah for Vic. She bought a French pastry to devoir on the train. I think she may have cried a little…

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Saudi man. I was eves dropping. His children are studying in Paris. Mandate from govt to have 150K students studying abroad. Currently up to 120K. All paid for by the govt, including living away from home allowance and yearly travel. Good system.

Friendly French? Not sure what has happened. Not a single rude experience our entire visit. Except for that ‘no menu’ guy but I think he was just the surly type. The people were a real pleasure this time. When I say pleasure, I mean they gave us free stuff, went out of their way to help, threw samples our way, gave us plenty of tips/advice… really nice experiences. We have a few theories:

1. We did less tourist stuff resulting in different interactions with different people.
2. We never opened with ‘Parlez vous anglais? Just went straight in with what we knew and allowed them to dictate the language switch. Highly recommended!
3. They are growing accustomed to differentiating between Americans, British and Aussies. Far more Aussie travellers abroad based on our dollar. We've developed a pretty good reputation. Go Aussie!
4. The entire French population were made to read my 2009 blog and focus on the feedback provided.

Posted by samandvic 03:27 Archived in France Comments (0)

Brussels

Day 1 - 15th September

overcast 23 °C

Arrival/hotel. Oh yes. Vic has done it again. Great hotel. Large foyer, funky music playing, large clean rooms and drinks available on arrival. Superb.

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Drinks. Got into a couple of pints pretty quickly. .. and ended up a little tipsy. The barman asked me if I wanted another. ‘One more and I won’t be able to explore your lovely city. “it’s not that special”, he replied. “Have another beer!”

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Wrong turn. Not sure about this place. We ended up walking in a not so nice part of town. Really weird. A mix of shops, old and new, cheap and boutique, nouveau and daggy 50s architecture. Can’t work this place out…

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Dinner. A big bowl of mussels. Apparently, a specialty. Don’t care, just give me a napkin. Another recommendation, the croquettes. Made from a specific shrimp found only here. We weren’t fans.

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Grand place. I think this is more like the Belgium we expected. Amazing town square. Filled with beautiful buildings and all the chocolate houses imaginable. Beer and chocolate their call to fame. Must give credit on both fronts.

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Posted by samandvic 04:19 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

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