Went to Paris for New Years and met up with Karen, Richard, Simon and Simon's girlfriend Katrina. Getting there was a task and a half though... Got up at some silly hour of the morning in order to catch 2 tube trains and a bus to Luton airport by 7am (note to self - EasyJet is not so easy!). Was very pleased with myself and my achievement of arriving exactly on time only to be told at the check in counter that I was a day late! In my pre-departure haze I had booked the wrong day back in Sydney. D'OH! And to make matters worse I was told that there were no flights available to Paris that day. After checking other airlines I thought I would try www.lastminute.com in a last minute attempt to get to Paris from another airport or by bus, train or boat. I found a flight from Luton for a huge amount of money (cost more than my original round trip) but booked it all the same. It turns out that I bumped someone else off the flight and stole their seat as the airline overbooked. I had to spend 7 hours in the airport lounge waiting for the plane but I fought tooth and nail and managed to get to Paris after all!
On the flight I started chatting with the air steward about how to get into Paris and the guy sitting next to me offered to take me into the city on the train with him. Sounds a bit dodgy but he (Charlie) was really nice and got me to Gard de Nord which is the main train station. From there I changed lines 3 times and asked the Police directions but finally managed to track down the hostel that Karen booked. While I was waiting in line at the front desk Simon came through the doors and I can tell you, I have never been so glad to see someone I knew before in my life.
The next two days were spent wandering around the city visiting Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Arc de Triumphe and the Eiffel Tower (although we, and every man and his dog, decided to climb this on NY day and waited for 4.5 hours in line). The one thing I really wanted to do was climb the Arc de Triumphe and I am very glad that I got to do that. I missed out last time I was there and have been looking forward to it for ages.
For NY Eve we headed into the city to watch the fireworks. Surprisingly we got a good possie on one of the bridges that looked back towards the Eiffel tower. It was a bit disappointing though because there were no official fireworks at midnight. The only thing that happened was the tower lit up and flashed like a Christmas tree. The guy on the boat just below us let off some flares for good measure though and Karen made sure to yell out "Thank You" for us.
Speaking of Karen, she is currently living with these 3 Indian guys down in Wimbledon. She was explaining to me about how she is really ticked off that he usually clean housemate keeps leaving food out around the place and she has been having to clean it up all the time. Turns out, after a little investigation, it is an Indian holy tradition where you leave food out for the Gods - and Kaddy has been putting it in the bin and washing it up! Then again, you can't be surprised when she refers to Vishnu as "Noo-Noo".
Still on Karen... She has this bumbag thing that she hides her passport in while we were away. Excpet that more things went into the bumbag than just the passport. The result being that when she put her jumper on she looked about 5 months pregnant. A guy at the hostel was very excited for her one morning at breakfast and congratulated her and asked her how she was feeling (although I think that's what he said as it was in a different language). She had to try and explain that it was not a baby but rather just a passport etc.
Why the cursed sunglasses? That's all Simon's fault. He has these glasses that he "forgot" to give back to the Army when he was on tour in Timor. I think God knows that he appropriated them because everytime he put them on it rained and everytime he took them off it cleared up. Subsequently he was banned from wearing them for our stay in Paris!
I've got some more photos to put up here and on Ringo so I will pop the link up tomorrow when I get a chance. Am off househunting tomorrow and Friday. Job interview went well and I am visiting a couple of schools next week. Fingers crossed on the house front...