Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Paris: Day 5

This was our last day in Paris. You can catch up with the previous four days here: 1, 2, 3, 4.

After the previous day's excitement, we spent our final day in Paris with a spot on shopping and super last minute sight seeing.

Our first stop was at Galeries Lafayette, a French department store that I personally like to explain to people as the French version of Selfridges. Granted, the interior design is far more beautiful in Galeries Lafayette - just look at the ceiling!

Once Sharon had made her purchases, we headed back out towards the Metro station, where my dessert radar located a free-standing Amorino store just across the road!

I went all out and asked for three different flavours, since it was our last day... totally justifiable, no?! I seem to remember choosing the lemon, hazelnut (nocciola) and raspberry. Just thinking about the lemon flavour is making my mouth water D:

With me devouring my Amorino, we headed towards Musée de Louvre for some last minute tourist shots.

We then hurried back to our apartment to finish up packing and headed for the airport. Sharon had a forward flight to Belgium later that evening, but came with us to the airport. Once we'd arrived, we checked in, strolled through a few souvenir shops, then found a place to chill out together in our last hour or so together :(

With our hand luggage in tow, we said our sad goodbyes to Sharon and headed towards security and immigration. Before we'd even managed to reach the queue, we were pulled aside by a couple of Air France staff who gestured towards the luggage measurement racks and requested to weigh our hand luggage.

At this point, I panicked. I knew for sure that my suitcase would not fit into the luggage rack - the wheels make it too long to fit! Despite this, I did as requested and hoisted my luggage onto the rack. Turns out it doubled up as a weighing scale! Once my suitcase was balanced safely on top of the metal rack, the staff asked me to place my hand bag on top - a huge, black, never-ending pit of a bag...

Needless to say, I was heavily overweight - as was Kin. We were both instructed to go immediately to the baggage drop counter and pay £30 each to check in our luggage. (Joe had only brought cabin luggage so just waited during our ordeal.) In refusal to pay such an extortionate price for a few extra kilos, we opened our suitcases there and then, deciding to put on every single piece of heavy clothing we could find. On top of the day's ensemble which consisted of a lace dress and my emergency shorts, I immediately donned a pair of jean shorts, a pair of Converse, a tank top, a t-shirt and a jumper. I gave my non-liquid make up to Joe as he still had some space in his backpack, and wheeled my suitcase back over to the guy who had been dealing with me.

I was still overweight. So was Kin. But when I looked up at the man weighing our suitcases, I could tell that he didn't care any more - he knew that all we'd do would be to reopen those suitcases and throw on more clothing.

It was such an eventful departure, I'll never forget this holiday. It took us from a sad farewell that caused a few tears from Sharon, to her laughing at us endlessly with Joe filming it on his phone.

It was definitely one of the best holidays I've ever had - it's funny how you can become so close to people when you've known them for such a short amount of time!

Thank you for reading this long overdue and extensive blog series - I really enjoy reliving my holidays and sharing them with everyone. To many more holidays to come!


Disclaimer: The amazingly beautiful and professional shots featured in this blog post are not my own. They have been used with kind permission from Kin :) A few of my own photos do appear, but the majority do not belong to me.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Paris: Day 4

This is the fourth post in my Paris series. You can catch up on days 1, 2 and 3 as linked!

On our last full day in the City of Love, we set off on an early escapade in an attempt to reach our destination before the crowds began to gather...

Can you guess where we were off to?

It was my first time at Disney in over 10 years! Unfortunately, my childhood memories of it were far better than what I experienced. I'm not saying it wasn't fun, but I guess the Disney magic really does work a charm when you're a child. I guess I had high expectations. For some reason, I managed to forget that Disneyland is really just a theme park.. slightly disappointed, but it didn't ruin the day... I just got to experience Disney again, but this time, as an adult :)

I promise I was trying my best to look like Mickey (and not like I have back ache..!)

We started off at Walt Disney Studios!

One of the first 'rides' we went on was this spacecraft explosion simulator type thing.It was a strange experience where you supposedly crashed in some sort of space ship. It was rather worrying - they had real fire flaming from behind the audience.. it was so, so hot that I felt that perhaps it was a little too close for comfort... I think perhaps my job is getting to me.

We also stopped for a quick 'Cars' show which had plenty of stunts and clever trickery.

We then set off to the 'Toy Story' area, where we queued for the RC Racer - essentially a banana boat in the form of a race car.

Finally, we made our way over to Disneyland Park!

Sharon and I had already set our eyes (and hearts and wallets) on some Minnie Mouse headbands in Walt Disney Studios, but decided to wait until we'd set foot inside Disneyland Park to make the purchase. That way, we could say we'd bought them at Disneyland, for real! :P

We went and had a go on the Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast ride... I was just point-and-shooting aimlessly for the first half of the game, until I realised there was a way to line up the gun to the target... FAIL.

Yay, matchy matchy with Minnie! :)

We also queued up for Space Mountain, which I remember skipping when I was a child. We had so much fun, we wanted to queue and go on again!

We definitely saw plenty of paper/leaflet hat inventions in Paris!

We decided on lunch by this point which consisted of home-made baguettes with salami and cheese, alongside French biscuits that we'd bought a few days ago from the supermarket. It was a good thing we brought our own food - the prices were more extortionate than I had imagined they would be.

We had lunch in here!
After lunch, we headed towards Sleeping Beauty's castle, which had the beautiful stain glass windows of scenes from the movie.

I'd always wanted to dress up as a Disney princess when I was younger...

Fits quite well, right? :D

There were so many shops with costumes and accessories, it was hard to resist taking a photo with everything..!

After we'd gone on 'Snow White's Scary Adventures', 'Pirates of the Caribbean' and 'Peter Pan's Flight', we headed for the parade!

I apologise for constantly comparing this trip to that of my childhood, but as those fading memories are the only thing that I can refer back to, I guess it's difficult. Due to the longer summer days, the parade felt a lot more casual and less magical compared to what I can remember. In my mind, the parade from my childhood felt a lot more special - perhaps entirely due to the fact that it had been dark, with the parade being made up of floats sparkling with lights...


After the parade, we stepped into several restaurants in a bid to chow down some food before the fireworks show. Unfortunately, they were all fully booked and reserved for tour groups. Our last resort was to head back towards the Videopolis for some fast food.

Cute Disney packaging (but so, so, overpriced ><)
Once we'd finished eating, we headed back out to see the rest of the park. We allowed ourselves another hour or so before we would need to head back to Sleeping Beauty's Castle to find a good spot for the light/fireworks show.

Tweedledum/Tweedledee - not sure which one, but he was the only character we saw that we could take a photo with! We also saw Captain Hook and Mr Smee, but as they were surrounded by several children and we were short on time, we left them to it.
I wish I'd gotten a photo with Captain Hook now... Does anyone watch Once Upon A Time? I've fallen in love with Killian Jones... :D

Queuing up for 'It's A Small World'!
 This was my favourite ride when I was a child, and I'm happy to say I wasn't that disappointed! :P

As you may or may not know, I am a huge fan of Alice in Wonderland (and the Wizard of Oz), so when I saw the section dedicated to Alice, I may have hurried towards it... I really wanted to sit at the head of the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, but as there was little time left, and the children were abundant, I had to make do with taking the one below instead.

You should have seen my smile when we discovered Alice's Curious Labyrinth - a hedge maze which reminded me of that belonging to the Queen of Hearts! 

The first half of the maze was mainly made up of Alice's adventures in Wonderland before she met the Queen of Hearts.

I've always wanted to go through those tiny doors like Alice did!

We found the Caterpillar's Mushroom Lair!

I hate butterflies - they seriously creep me out, but luckily he hadn't transformed yet. Plus, I love Alice too much to complain :P

After we'd passed the flower arrangement which made up a huge Cheshire Cat with eyes that rolled, we finally found the entrance to the second part of the maze; where Alice encounters the Queen of Hearts.

Of course, you can't forget a photo of the Queen of Hearts - especially when she scared you senseless by jumping out and shouting at you in French when you were little...

The Queen of Hearts: Terrifying innocent children since 1992
^ I look like a guard, right?... Right?!

And finally, the view from the Queen's castle!

I had so much fun in the maze, I think it's safe to say I don't plan on growing up any time soon.

Skull Rock!
The beautiful sunset view captured from the stairs of Phantom Manor
Terrified even before entering Phantom Manor!
The experience was a bit strange - you entered a very dimly lit room with what I guess was supposed to be a ghost inhabitant of the house (basically a girl with super pale face make up and olden day dress who spoke in a bit of a monotone). After she lets you in on a few things, the floor suddenly begins to sink, and you find yourself queuing up for a go on the floating seats that swivel 360°C through the entire mansion, with ghouls jumping out at you/suddenly lighting up in an attempt to surprise you. To be honest, it was rather boring, but the fact that we didn't really have to queue made up for it. When you've gone all the way to Disneyland, you might as well try every ride, right?

Once we were out and our eyes had readjusted to natural light, we headed back towards the castle for the show.

We'd arrived at least 2 hours earlier, but there were already crowds of people!

The castle got more and more beautiful as the sun began to set.

 It was packed!

Once the show began, the people at the front started to stand up, to which everyone behind them proceeded to shout "sit down!!' Luckily they mostly listened, and we were all able to see the show properly, with a seat and no obstructions! :D

I'd also like to share some video footage of the show - unfortunately it came out a bit grainy, and I didn't manage to capture it all since I was low on card space. I hope you enjoy watching them as much as I do when I re-watch them now :)

Apologies for the shakiness towards the end of the first video! Joe knew all the words to 'Be Our Guest', including all the French - he sung it all so enthusiastically that I couldn't help but laugh :P

With that, our exciting day at Disneyland Paris ended. We followed the crowds down the parade road that was now lit up with fairy lights, making our way back towards the train station.

When we'd arrived at the station, we realised that we had no idea how to make it back to our apartment. The train station appeared to be closed - it was dim, and there didn't appear to be anyone inside. Worried about how to get home, we took a look at several bus stops to try and navigate our way back without having to spend a fortune on a taxi. We were very, very far out from the centre of Paris, so a taxi would have most likely cost an arm and a leg.

Eventually, we asked a security guard for help. To our surprise, he told us that the trains were still running, and that the train station was not actually closed! We were told to hurry, as the last train was about to leave! We thanked him continuously before we legged it towards the station and down the stairs to the train that we could see just sat there waiting!

Once we'd arrived at our interchange station, we realised that perhaps the Metro would be shut at this point - what occurred next involved us running through an entire station, up and down stairs and escalators, before arriving at the platform just as a train was pulling into the station. Once the passengers had alighted the train on the other side, we waited patiently for the driver to open the doors and let us on... which never happened..! We were so confused, we waited again for the next train, which did exactly the same... The driver said this was the last stop, which left us and several Parisians confused and stranded in Charles de Gaulle Etoile.

With no other choice, we decided to walk out of the station and attempt to go back to our apartment by foot...

By the time we'd arrived at the Champs-Elysées, we decided it was impossible for us to walk the rest of the way, and hailed a taxi which took us safely home.

It had been extremely fun, but also very, very tiring. Nevertheless, I'm glad we went to Disneyland Paris - now to save up for Disneyland Tokyo! :D

As always, thank you for reading :)


Disclaimer: The amazingly beautiful and professional shots featured in this blog post are not my own. They have been used with kind permission from Kin :) A few of my own photos do appear, but the majority do not belong to me.
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