Day one tour
This morning I got up at a ridiculous time of 4:30 am to finish packing my bags and to catch a taxi to King’s Cross to commence the Top Deck Winter Express Tour. I met a few people and our guide Barry (an Irish guy about my age) then the coach left at 7am, headed to Dover. Driving through London was great and something I hadn’t done a lot of on my stay. As we drove through Kent and got closer to Dover the scenery was really gorgeous.
The Dover docks were huge and fascinating and after passing through border control and having our passports stamped we were allowed to board the ferry, which was more like a cruise ship to me.
There are more Australians than I expected to be on the tour. A few Mexican guys who are cool and interesting to talk to! I have only met one person who is older than 22!
As we departed Calais, Barry spoke briefly about the history of Paris, touching on The Battle of Normandy, Joan of arc (who was burnt at the stake and her ashes thrown in the Seine), The Battle of Hastings, Bourbon. King Louis XIV, the French Revolution, the reigning of Louis XVI, Napoleon, Napoleon III, The Franco Prussian war, the Treaty of Versailles, D-Day…. in Barry’s words, he knows a little about a lot!
The drive to Paris took about 4 hours and was very scenic.
The Charles de Gaulle airport is France’s largest airport. It is on both sides of the highway and as we passed it, a massive Air France plane was passing over a bridge across the highway on a conveyor belt.
Apparently the A380 plane was built in Tolouse, which was quite a big deal. The Concorde’s were built in France as well, but they are not being used anymore.
France is a very independent country and relies heavily on Nuclear power.
Champagne as we well know is French. The value of land where champagne grapes are grown rocketed from $5k/ hectare to $1m/ hectare overnight.
The hotel we are staying in is about ten minutes from the city centre and very nice. I am in a room with three girls – all Australian!
Dinner tonight was at a French restaurant. Everyone had snails and a beef dish whilst I had some lovely Cous cous with a vegetable sauce – apparently a forty year old recipe!
Dinner was followed by a bus tour of the city which was brilliant. Our driver Damien (he is from the South of Poland) is a brilliant driver. I can’t believe how bad everyone is at driving in this country! The roads don’t even have any lanes.
There is a lot of Baroque architecture in the city which is very pretty. We drove slowly past so many buildings of significance – I am going to try and see them up close tomorrow!
We drove through the Louvre, past the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomph, across the Tsar Alexander Bridge…
The Paris Opera House is the most unbelievable building. It was constructed to designs by Charles Garnier from 1861-1875. It was a hotbed of politics and factions and rose to pre-eminence in the eighteenth century. the Revolution it was restored to its leading positio After n in Paris by Napoleon in the reforms of 1807.
Tomorrow will be a very exciting day touring this amazing city.