it’s the day we left barcelona, and we woke up late! oh no!
aina and i showered as quickly as we could, while half cursing that we didn’t shower last night before going to bed. we’re very thankful that checking out at the Barcelona Garden Hostel was quick and painless. we had about 10 minutes to get to the station to catch the train. not much, but we thought if we ran, we could make it.
and we were wrong.
it turned out that out of 5 or 6 Passeig de Gracia metro entrance, there was only one or two entrances that serves the Renfe train which goes to the airport. and we found out after going down and up the stairs carrying our luggage 3 times. yes, three times! thank god for ari’s endurance and the fact that we only have 1 medium sized luggage. but, still, we ended up missing the 7:02am train and had to wait for another half hour.
the train arrived directly to terminal 2, which was the good news. the bad news is that the EasyJet terminal is located on the other side of terminal 2, which is a looooong way (we even had to go to another building) from the rest of terminal 2. so we had to run.
fortunately, the EasyJet ground crew were quick, efficient and very friendly, so our check-in went very smoothly. it makes me wonder why is it that the ground crew of full-service airlines are usually unfriendly and super slow (when we left Singapore, the British Airways crew was terrible! it took her almost 15 minutes to check us in and was not helpful nor friendly one bit), while most of the budget airlines counter crew are fast, smiley and usually extremely helpful… isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?
oops, i digress. anyways, since the check-in was very quick, we had time to have a quick doughnut and sandwich breakfast at the airport before flying. yay! filled stomachs means happy passengers 🙂
the flight felt quick, probably because we slept all the way through. once we landed, we immediately took our bags and walked to the train station. the Charles De Gaulle airport was much more crowded, busy and wasn’t as pretty as i remembered. the last time i went to this airport was back in the 90’s and i remember thinking how futuristic and pretty the airport was… maybe i landed on a different terminal or 20 years proved too long to stay futuristic.
the train station was pretty cool, though.
we took the RER B that goes directly to St. Michel – Notre-Dame station, where the apartment we rented for 3 nights was located.
i’ve been checking the apartment building out from Google Street View, so it was easy to find. as we got to the unmarked wooden blue door, a big black guy approached us and started speaking French. we were like, huh? then he switched to english and asked, “you’re looking for the apartment, right?”
ari and i looked at each other and hesitated. but he continued, “follow me!”
he opened the blue door with a key, waved his hand signaling to follow him into this dark and very run-down alley in the building. the paint was peeling out of the wall, there was water dripping from the ceiling, and there was a steep and narrow wooden staircase that made me thankful that we’re small people.
ari whispered to me, “be careful! are you sure this is the place? are we just gonna follow him?”
honestly, if i hadn’t checked the Google Street View every other day before we left (it was my way of procrastinating: google street view my vacation destination. it felt good!), i would be hesitant too. but i was sure this was the place, no matter how dodgy it looked.
“the apartment is on the third floor”, he added.
poor ari, had to lift our suitcase all the way up… and the third floor in France means the 4th floor in Singapore, as they call the 1st floor as ground floor. It was a long way up on those skinny stairs.
but once he opened the apartment door, the view was completely different. a beautiful, modern and cosy little space. we, even aina, fell in love immediately.
the apartment is located in the Latin Quarter, one of the oldest areas of Paris, on the block where Shakespeare & Co. is located. the entrance door faces the Rene Viviani Square, where the oldest tree in Paris stands tall. as we exit the door, we can see the Notre-Dame Cathedral in front of our eyes.
after getting to know the apartment, we went out to get our late lunch. we had crepes in mind. so, we stopped at Creperie de Cluny on Rue dela Harpe — a short walking distance from our place. cute place!
we had to go back to the apartment after lunch because aina ate so much that she needed to go to do number 2. oops.
before leaving Singapore, lisa gave me a latin-quarter walking tour itinerary using the Google Map. it basically goes through the cute little alleys into the Pantheon, Jardin du Luxembourg, all the way back to Notre-Dame. it’s a very detailed and interesting walking tour.
so, we headed to the Pantheon, taking pictures of all the little things that amused us along the way. small cafes, arches on top of roads, mixte bicycles, even manga cafe. paris is definitely a beautiful city, no doubt about it…
i’ve never been to Rome, so i have never seen the original Pantheon. but Paris’ Panthéon was huge! since it’s a mausoleum, the building practically has no window. the tall, smooth, window-less walls made it look much taller and gigantic.
aina had a great time running around in front of it…
along the way, we tried to visit an Orange service center to ask about the sim card we borrowed from Lia, but the service center lady was very rude and not helpful at all… and unable to understand french probably doesn’t make it easier either.
by the time we reached the gate of Jardin du Luxembourg, it was already late. lisa and i planned to meet up at Notre-Dame a little after 6pm, so we didn’t go into Luxembourg and went to Notre-Dame straight away.
despite the crowded plaza, it was very easy to find lisa! we took a few pictures, including aina on Kilometer 0, and we went back to our apartment, to show the place to lisa and because Ghislain (the apartment owner) was supposed to come at 7.
aina got a fashion sticker book from lisa and célia… such a perfect gift! aina couldn’t stop working on it, that for the next 4 days, we literally had to drag her off the book to get out of the apartment.
but we couldn’t wait for long because we got too hungry. so, i called Ghislain to leave a message and we left the apartment to get some dinner. originally, we were going to Café Procope, the oldest continuously running cafe in Paris. it was also located in a very pretty Cours du Commerce Saint André.
and Café Procope looked quite fancy.
but we should’ve known. it was the weekend, and it seemed that everyone wanted to eat out. the restaurant was booked and the waiting time was over 30 minutes. and we were too hungry to wait.
so, from the fancy Café Procope, we decided to walk back to Rue de Severin and bought ourselves some kebab. cheap and soooo yummy!
lisa also explained about how to buy (what to say to the shopkeeper) and add prepaid top-up for my phone (the voice menu is all in french!).
after lunch, we separated as lisa had to take the RER back to her home (it was past 9:30pm anyway!) and we went straight to the apartment. i was beat. ari was beat. and aina just wanted to play with her sticker book.
the rest of today’s pictures are in the flickr’s 14 march 2012 archive archive.
Crêperie de Cluny
20 Rue de la Harpe
13 Rue Ancienne Comédie
if you’re interested in the studio, please visit delareynie.fr. Ghislain is super nice and i totally recommend this apartment. superb location, clean and comfy apartment… what more can you ask?