By this time, superwoman has just arrived from a lovely trip to Rome and Greece (both will be tackled in two separate blogs soon.) After a 7 hour flight from Greece, we arrive late evening once again in magical Paris. Upon claiming our baggage, we head to the “sortie”, the french term for exit. hehe We made sure we knew a little about the city. So we did our research regarding transportation, transfers from airport to hotel, food, etc. Here are a few tips which may be of help to you just in case you’re planning a trip anytime soon:
1. When dealing with connecting flights, always make sure you take note of the baggage tags for baggage destination confirmation. Most flights carry your belongings to the last destination. Meanwhile others do not. And this may pose a problem especially when one is required to transfer one’s luggage to another carousel during a layover. Failure to do so may mean arriving at your destination with your stuff left at the previous layover. eeek!
2. Upon successfully claiming your bags at the carousel, go to the nearest Tourist Info counter for free maps of the city, then head over to the baggage exit. Now’s the tricky part. Getting a taxi to your hotel. ALWAYS make sure you take the cabs from the official taxi stand at the airport.This helps ensure you are being charged fairly. Most of the time, tourists are being charged twice or even thrice the fare price if they just hail a cab elsewhere, that’s according to an article over the internet. In Orly Airport, the official taxi stand is located at Exit 8. The lady from the Tourist Info counter was kind enough to lead us the way. (NOTE: We would have taken a train had it not been for the late night arrival. We landed at 10PM Paris time. And we decided that taking a cab was the safest choice.)
3. If you are staying anywhere near Champs Elysees just like us, the taxi fare from Orly airport would be around 40 euros (2,284.83 php). It’s best to have a travel buddy as splitting fares proves quite helpful. Euros compared to pesos burns holes in the pocket in a matter of hours! hehe The trick is to stop converting. Live in the moment. You will only explore such a lovely city once, so make sure you blend in and act like a local. Heck, you’ll only be broke once. It might as well be in Paris. hehehe just kidding. Of course we didn’t always ride a taxi. The cheapest way to go is the metro. More of that later.
After a few minutes, we arrived safely at our hotel, checked ourselves in, unpacked our stuff, and did a little planning before we called it a night.
After several hours of tossing and turning in excitement mixed with tired feet and aching lower backs, hehe MORNING FINALLY CAME! The alarm went off and it was time to wake up, dress up and explore beautiful Paris! We might have woken up a tad bit too early though. hehe We decided to start early so that we will be able to make more out of our day only to find out it’s still dark out. That one hour delay allowed us to plan our day once more- maps, city tours, budgets and all.
Around 8am we went out and walked to the nearest Mcdonald’s. Champs Elysees has this very classy Mcdonald’s store just 3 minutes away from our hotel. Stephanie (my travel buddy) and i have this really weird goal of trying out every Mcdonald’s branch specific to a certain country. hehe And surprised we truly were. Where else can one find a tiled staircase and delectable french macarons in a fastfood chain? Them french people are really something else indeed.
After breakfast, we headed back to the hotel to grab our scarves as it started to get chilly out. Temperature in the mornings ranged from 14-17 degrees. Afternoons were usually warmer and more comfortable around 19-20 degrees. Summer was bidding the city goodbye and fall was just so eager to welcome us.
A Paris Pass truly helps first time visitors as it already covers a lot of areas: Free train usage covering zones 1-3. No need to fall in line for tickets for every train ride; Free 1 day hop on hop off bus tour all over the city (with a specific route); Free 1 hour cruise at the River Seine; Discounts at selected restos and cafes; and Free SKIP THE LINE passes to over 60 different attractions/museums all over Paris including the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Opera Garnier and Musee de ‘Orsay (excluding the Eiffel Tower). Now THIS was the one that sold me out. The Lourve had this suuuuuper long line even when you start off early. And most people wait for as long as 1-2 hours just to get in. But with the Paris Pass, we skipped the long cue and just walked past everyone in a separate pathway for all Paris Pass holders. Talk about saving time! Kudos to the one who invented this pass! hihihi For those who want to get their own passes, check out Viator.com. We purchased ours there.
I’ve always loved Big Bus Tours. They have these very systematic routes that take you to almost all the important and famous tourist attractions all over the city. All you have to do is map out every place you want to visit and get off the nearest bus stop. Another bus arrives every 30 minutes so the moment you’re done, you just hop on the next bus and continue on to your next itinerary. That easy! You can buy tickets separately at the Big Bus Tour website or you can purchase the Paris Pass at Viator.com and get 1 day free bus tour. To make things easier too, i researched and found out there’s a free app for the Big Bus Tours available at the apple store! I’ve been using this for several bus tours in Korea and Shanghai. Super helpful!
Now on to the fun part: PHOTOS OF OUR CITY TOUR!!! weeeeeee =)
I could feel my heart making tiny leaps for joy as our bus neared the famous Champ de Mars. And every time a part of the Eiffel Tower peaked from the tall architectural structures of the city, i secretly let out a dreamy sigh. Hmmmm.. she was a beauty to behold indeed. And all i could think of while staring at her was : “This can’t be happening. This is really it!!!”. That feeling of finally seeing a childhood dream come to life—- simply priceless and truly amazing beyond anything i had ever imagined. I couldn’t stop saying thank you to the Big Guy up there that day.
Since this was one of our most coveted spots for the entire trip, we decided to take our time and just enjoy the view around us. We whiled the hours away taking in everything before us— the iconic Eiffel Tower, the french speaking locals, the lovely view of the Champ de Mars garden, and of course, the yummy French street food.
And these were the amazing sights we saw:
There you go ladies. A few tidbits of our Big Bus City Tour around the City of Lights. I’ll be sharing more in depth photos of what’s inside what in the blogs that will follow. For our first day out on tour, we decided to listen to the audio guides provided by the bus and minimize going down so as to finish the entire tour with all the information we needed. Once we had taken one full course of the bus route, we already knew what important landmarks to look out for in every stop that we made. Apologies for some crooked photos though.. hehehe Most of them were taken atop the bus while it was moving. Quite a challenge but it was loads of fun playing tourist and all. hehehe.
As darkness befell us, (the sun usually sets at 7-8pm in Paris) our tummies let out a hungry groan. teehee And while we walked in search of something less French and more of something close to home, we found this Korean restaurant two blocks away from our hotel. (No name actually. It just said “Korean Restaurant”). Amazing. We never expected a Korean resto in Paris, but who’s complaining? It can only mean one thing…RICE!!! hihihi So enter we did and the kind owner was there to take our orders along with short chitchats on the side. While waiting for our order, her eyes lit up when she found out we were Filipinos. She went on to tell us that the cousin of the Philippine President and Kris Aquino always dined in her resto everytime the lady was in Paris. She spoke of many other things, most of which we could no longer remember as our focus was on the sumptuous plates of Bulgogi meat, kimchi, gyoza and rice that were being served on our table. That was one fantastic meal after one crazy busy day around the city if we do say so ourselves.
Seeing that our tummies were super full after our huge meal and that there was still time for a short walk along the lovely streets of Champs Elysees, we decided to walk our way again to the Arc de Triomphe to see how majestically it lights up at night- this time, up close. And yes, we stood in the middle of Parisian traffic to get that famous pose in front of the Arc. hehehe
Yep, our official first day out exploring the city was one for the books indeed. We saw so much sights we thought we’d only get to see in history books. That wonderful view of the Eiffel Tower over lunch was the highlight of our day. And while we couldn’t believe what had just happened that day, we knew we must retire to bed and get some rest for a new day awaited us tomorrow.
Much as i would love to tell more stories, i shall reserve them for the next blog ladies. teehee Day 3 will be all about the Louvre, Hanging our own locks at the Pont des Arts, Finding the Saint Chapelle and so much more. Thank you for dropping by and sharing this wonderful recollection of a magical dream brought to life with me everyone. Till the next blog post!!
All my love,