It's now no longer a secret, and as some of you so psychically guessed (O-K guess it right to the place we're staying at, scary!) our family is currently enjoying a long overdue honeymoon in Paris. How we're so abruptly here in Paris is a long story, but to cut it short this was a holiday I originally booked for celebrating Eid in Malaysia. That explains why our holiday is strangely in the fasting month of Ramadhan. Instead of doing nothing in my already booked (and therefore set in stone) annual leave, we decided to make the most of it.
Please bear in mind that there are so many things to talk about about our journey that it would take volumes and volumes of entries, enough to even make DITH fold away her parasol and satisfy her reading hunger for months. Also, I took literally thousands of photos enough to tire even Ikelah's eyes.
I'll try and save you guys the time, and instead post what I unfortunately and arguably call the best of my photo collection:
No journey to Paris is complete without a photo of the Eiffel Tower, don't you think? I took this photo while on the night boat tour on the river Seine, it was around 10 pm. Sarah and Amar were long past their bedtime and before reaching this point we had to walk for miles in total confusion. Despite asking tens of people - no locals we asked had the tiniest clue how to take the boat tour!!? Later we found out that it was at Point Neuf. After waiting a 30 mins, we managed to board our boat and sat right at the roof. Paris lights up beautifully at night, but as you all know, night photography is extremely difficult - especially on a moving boat, with no tripod.
DITH et al, you guys may want to move on to the next photo/paragraph now: I am particularly proud of this photo as against all odds it turned out relatively sharp. And by "all odds" I meant a pitch black night, wind, a clingy 3 year old child, on a moving boat and without a tripod. The secret was I bumped the ISO to a whopping 1600 (for the fastest speed possible) and took tonnes of the same photo. I read on kenrockwell.com that camera shake is a random event, and the less probability there is to take a sharp photo the more you have to take so that odds are there'll be at least one that is sharp.
This photo was taken on the boat during the tour as the boat was passing one of the many bridges along the river Seine. I discovered that the best time to photograph the family was while the boat is passing a bridge as the people are wonderfully illuminated. As you could see from the photo, Amar is already asleep while the rest of us were trying hard to admire the scenery.
Was the tour worth getting lost late in the evening, with two sleepy little ones on a cold night and resulting in hundreds of mostly blurry night pictures? To me the answer is: No! However, the boat tour is arguably best experienced at night, when all the buildings light up.
This is a picture of Notre Dame, you know, the one with the Hunchback. This was one of the sights Puan Mama Sarah totally INSIST we see, and what a marvel of architecture this building is. It is one of the many absolutely wonderful places to visit as one travels along the river Sienne.
For those of you who don't know, along the river Seine lies many of the attractions of Paris including the Eiffel Tower, the Invalides, Palace, The Muse de Louvre, Muse de Orley, and Notre Dame - to name but a few.
Crazy as I was (emphasis on "I"), I traversed most of the length of the river - starting from Notre Dame ALL THE WAY to the Eiffel Tower. I started at 11am, and finished an inch from death at 7pm. Was it worth it?
It was worth every step. All the attractions and scenery is so beautiful that at least that night I slept with a smile knowing I've seen most of them.
Above are some of the detailed and beautiful statues near the Invalides and palace. The Invalides is where they have Napoleon's grave/coffin. From the Invalides one could already see the Eiffel Tower looming in the background, and I was foolish enough to think "oh, then the tower must be near". Several hours later by foot, I realised my mistake.
One of the many parks in Paris. I love this picture for it's autumn overview. Notice as well the cafe hidden by the foliage in the background. Paris is littered with Cafes such as these and throughout the day many people could be seen in these outside cafes, enjoying a cup of coffee with a friend while watching life goes by ... how I wish I could do the same with Puan Mama Sarah ... any volunteers to look after our kids?
Sarah was such a trooper. It surprised me how this girl who only recently graced the age of three managed to walk the distance she has covered the past few days. I totally feel sorry for her, and I know she must be shattered. One sad scene was on the train back to our hotel and the train was absolutely packed with people that Sarah and I had to stand. Sarah fell asleep while standing! ... and she became more or less unrousable for the next 4 hours. Thank goodness when she fell asleep we were only 1 stop away from the hotel.
We were sure to reward Sarah with plenty of sweeties and icecream. And speaking of icecream, the icecream and sorbet we have tasted so far in this country is the ABSOLUTE BEST I HAVE EVER TASTED, ever! EVER! Prior to this I have only heard that you could get delicious icecreams in Paris. It is not until I've tasted one that I truly know what "delicious" actually means.
Seriously though, the extremely creamy texture and the explosion of flavour is just absolute bliss.
(urm, but please note that the best icecream I have tasted before is probably only Haagen Dasz)
Sarah, overlooking the river Seine. This is on the bridge extending across just outside of Muse de Orsey. Going along the river Seine reminds us so much of Cambridge for the numerous bridges that (for lack of a better word:) straddles the river. All of the bridges are of a unique design, enough to make a bridge-spotter like me truly very happy indeed.
What I hate though (and this extends to all of Paris we've seen so far) is the UTTER LACK of push-chair-friendliness. Ramps and lifts are rare and difficult to find, and poor us had a miserable time carrying the kids as well as the blimming chair down hundreds of steps!
This is one of the Bateux Mouches or simply "boat" in English (I think). It is on one of these did we "enjoy" our night tour. It only moves at around 20 miles per hour (don't ask me to convert that to knots or parsecs, please) but fast enough for us to admire the landscape. Tours run every hour or so until around 11pm. It costed us 10 euros for each adult, but the children went free :)
This is one of the Metro lines or "underground" as they call it in the U.K. The system is almost 100% the same, with the same slightly confusing map. One of the differences though, is that some the trains are double-decker. Cool!! I love the above picture for the curved, sweeping lines :)
This picture is of us waiting for a Metro train to arrive. It was quite difficult with two little ones, and as I have mentioned before, escalators, lifts or ramps are difficult to find making transporting the little ones quite a nightmare. However, the trains are very frequent and always, we barely had to wait 4 minutes before one arrived. The underground .. whoops ... Metro system is also relatively easily understandable and we had it figured out within only a couple of minutes.
I included the above picture just to show you guys how a French train looks so different from a UK train.
Now to a topic I love: food. Simply put, the desserts in Paris - the Creme Broullet, the Profiteroles, the sorbets, the ice creams, the crepes, the tarts and all other patisseries are some of the best I have ever tasted in my life ... ever so far. I am not exaggerating.
Puan Mama Sarah enjoying her Creme Brulee.
As an example of how delicious the desserts are take the above fruit tart. Despite feeling absolutely chock-full after dinner, I finished the whole tart after just wanting to try "one taste".
Well, I'm sorry for not including enough relevant pictures but to do so would mean flogging my blog with hundreds of pictures. I also hope that I've written enough for DITH to read. So far, our adventures are not yet over, we have one day left before we head home and boy do we have things planned tomorrow :)
See you guys soon! That is, if I survive the coffee overdose. I am currently indulging myself with all sorts of coffee and hot chocolate in all of the different cafes. And Moby, the coffee here is even better than our favourite "non-specific" coffee-bucks. Err, some types that is. Still nothing beats a frapucc-non-specific-iced-coffee or a macchiato in my opinion.