Tag Archives: Paris

From Pisa to Milan and on to Paris

Friday morning we left Pisa for Milan but decided to first stop in the town of La Spezia along the way. We grabbed some food at a grocery store where I also happened to find a Danish beer the size of my head. I had to get it of course.

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We walked down to the harbor area and sat by the ocean where we had a small picnic with our food.

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It wasn’t long before we had to catch the train that would take us to Milan where we were to take a sleeper train to Paris. We got to Milan far before we needed to catch our night train so we decided to check our bags at the train station and explore Milan a bit. Milan’s a big city and I was a little worried it was going to be as unpleasant as Naples, but it wasn’t. The streets were a lot nicer and clean. We even found a large park with ponds and fountains that was really nice. We walked around the city some more and finally stopped at a small cafe where we could grab some coffee and sit for a bit.

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The cafe ended up closing while we were there so we had to move on. We decided we’d just go back to the train station and get our bags out of storage and just wait for our train. Once aboard we got settled into our top bunks and I grabbed a couple beers from the train bar which was conveniently located next to our cabin. As I drank my beers in my bunk I over heard some Americans talking about how they were going to a Jimmy Buffet concert in Paris, I thought that was kinda funny. The train ride itself was alright minus the woman in our cabin who smelled like shit and decided it was a good idea to wake up at 7am and keep opening and closing the cabin door every two minutes, even though we weren’t supposed to get to Paris until 9am. Fuck you bitch, I’m glad the bunk ladder hit you in the head when you were getting your luggage out.

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Once into Paris we caught the metro down to our hotel in the Montparnasse area. We arrived at our hotel early and for the first time on our trip we where not able to get an early check-in. Lame. We were able to leave our bags in their luggage storage and then went to grab some breakfast.

After breakfast we were off to check out the Paris Catacombs which were nearby. There was a pretty good sized line to enter the catacombs when we got there and I’d say we spent a good hour waiting to get in. Once inside you descend about 130 steps down into an underground tunnel which was used for mining stone. You follow the underground tunnels for a while and eventually enter a passageway that is lined on both sides with stacks of human skeletal remains, which is a little shocking to see a first. The tunnel of bones goes on for a while until you finally make your accent back up to the surface.

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After we finished our tour of the Catacombs we bolted over to the train station so we could get a sleeper car reservations for Sunday night. Unfortunately for us the train was booked up. We had to get back to Madrid by Tuesday somehow and the only other way to do it was to take trains all day on Monday, which didn’t sound fun but we had to do it. We booked our trains for Monday and headed back to our hotel to check in and ask if we could book a second night since our Sunday night train plans fell through. Luckily, a second night at the hotel was not a problem.

That night we found a vegan restaurant to eat at called Tien Huang which we were pretty stoked about since we hadn’t eaten at a proper vegetarian restaurant since Prague. The food was superb. After dinner we hitched the Metro up to the Montmartre area to check out a bar called Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus I had Googled earlier that day. We thought we might be getting there too early since it was only 8pm but when we walked up the place was already jammin’ with a live band and people already poured out front in the street drinking. I was surprised. We decided to walk and grab some coffee and come back later to see if the crowd would thin out a bit. We got coffee at a Starbucks which was directly across the street from the Moulin Rouge where we got a table outside and people watched. After our caffeine fix we headed back to Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus to see how it was. When we got back the crowd was a little smaller and there was a DJ playing 7″ rock ‘n’ roll records. I went inside and ordered a whiskey and coke but only got a whiskey with ice, oh well. The DJ spinning that night was supposedly the oldest rock DJ in Paris and he looked it, but he was not messing around. He had an arsenal of props he used to try and stir up the crowd: moroccos, a whistle, and a dinner bell which he ran around with and banged with a spoon. But his antics didn’t stop there, oh no, at some points after he threw on a record he’d then immediately light off a large firecracker in the bar. Let me also say he looked like a bad fat Elvis impersonator. Pretty entertaining but it started to cook like an oven in that joint so I finished my whiskey and we made our way out.

Two Days in Paris

After settling into our hostel we decided to check out the Sacré-Cœur which was just up the street from where we were staying. From the top of the hill where the cathedral is located is supposed to be one of the best views in Paris; I thought it was alright. There were lots of tourists, beggars, and street venders there selling crapy souvenirs. We grabbed some coffee and sat on the hill for a while and then strolled down to see the Moulin Rouge and the surrounding area.

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We then decided to hop on the metro and head over to see the Arc de Triomphe. This was a landmark I was really looking forward to seeing. Coming out of the metro seeing this thing towering over the streets was striking. Of course there were lots of tourist here as well but less trinket peddlers which was nice.

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Since we were on a roll of touristy sightseeing stops we obviously had to make it over to the Eiffel Tower. On our way over we stopped in a market to grab some proper provisions for the park; it would’ve been foolish not to. It was a perfect day to sit next to the Eiffel Tower and have snacks and wine in the park.

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As the sun went down we left our spot in the park and took a bridge across The Seine River to The Jardin du Trocadéro to get a better view of the tower at night.

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We caught the metro back to the area our hostel was in and walked around that area for a bit. We finally retired to our hostel’s patio where we talked with a fellow backpacker named Ignacio who was from Costa Rica. He said he was also on a three week trip and talked about how much he liked Prague.

We woke up somewhat early the next morning around 7:30am so we could head down for the free breakfast. It was a standard hostel breakfast of coffee, juice, cereal, and bread. Not too exciting, but hey, it’s free.

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We headed out into town after breakfast but it soon began to rain on us. We decided we might as well go back to our hostel, grab our belongings, and head to our hotel booked for that night in hopes for another early check in.

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We arrived at our hotel far before check in time but luckily our room was ready.

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After settling in we decided to find a market so we could make some lunch. We picked up some bread, cucumber, tomato, and cheese for sandwiches which we assembled in the hotel room.

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After lunch I passed out for a bit to get reenergized for the evening. After a two hour nap I still wasn’t ready to get up but there is only so much time in a day. We ended up grabbing some coffee and checked out The Notre-Dame and then walked to the Louvre and hung around there for a bit. I took some nice photos and am hoping to put together some short time-lapse movies from the trip.

Tomorrow we catch a train to Brussels.

Madrid to Paris

Our flight into Madrid seemed shorter than we thought it would which was nice. We got in to Madrid pretty early in the morning around 6:30am. Our first line of business was to hop on the metro and head to the train station where we could make reservations for our night train to Paris.

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We bought a couple all day metro passes and headed for the Chamartin Train Station. Getting there was easy but booking our reservations was a little harder. After talking to two attendants and with some scrappy Spanish we were finally able to reserve a couple of beds on a sleeper train. With that all done we headed into central Madrid to explore.

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We got coffee and checked out some of the old plazas which were quite nice. After a while it started getting pretty hot and a walking around with our packs got a little tiring. All we wanted to do was eat and we had one specific vegetarian restaurant in mind, but of course it didn’t open until 1pm. We waited grumpily until it finally opened and ended up ordering way too much food.

Since we were still really tired from our 14 hour flight from the states, and we still had the afternoon left to spend in Madrid, we decided to head over to Retiro Park so we could relax. We found a nice shady spot in some grass where Sayaka ended up falling asleep for a bit. Later we walked further into the park to find an awesome lake with people paddling around it in boats.

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It was quite an amazing park and I wish we could’ve spent more time there, however we had to head back to the train station to catch our train. We got some weird sandwiches there for dinner and finally boarded for our night journey to Paris. I shared my cabin with a couple Australian dudes and Sayaka just had one French girl in hers. I fell asleep quite quickly on the train but kept waking up in the night thinking I was on a boat since the train rocked so much. At some moments I felt as if we were going to flip of the tracks. In the morning I felt amazingly rested. When we got into Paris we headed for our hostel hoping for an early check-in which we got. We booked a private room which is nice to have after traveling with a bunch of other people for so long.

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Our hostel is in The Montmartre area and we have a pretty nice view out our window. We will stay here tonight and tomorrow we move to a hotel in the same vicinity.