Hi there everyone!
Very sorry for my lack of blogging recently but I had very good reason, and that was that I was overseas lapping up the culture and excitement of London and Paris.
Yes, people, I am now a worldly traveller.
I can't possibly sum up the entire trip on this one post but I'll tell you a little about it until I see whoever it is that I see and give the full story to.
Summary of the trip: Basically it was a two week trip with my older sister, starting off in London for 5 nights and then Paris for 6 nights. We met up with two friends already over there in London, and joined another in Paris so we weren't too alone and confuzzled in a different country.
Summary of London: London was terrific and really opened my eyes to how different two countries can be. I suppose when I thought about different English-speaking countries such as London before, I kind of imagined everything to be very similar to Australia, just in a different part of the world and with sexier accents, but so many things were different. The whole atmosphere is different. The people (no offence Londoners) weren't as friendly especially the shop keepers who all seemed bored out of their mind. A friendly foreign coffee shop barista told me he thinks English people don't know how to work and have fun, whereas Australians find the fun in everything. Go us.
The driving is also crazy in central London. I felt as if our hotel shuttle was about to flatten some people in the streets. This is because the pedestrians seem to not care AT ALL about traffic. They have this nonchalant kind of way of standing in the middle of the street that clearly says, "Hey, I KNOW you won't run me over, you're going to stop, because if you don't you'll have a big fat lawsuit headed your way" and most of these pedestrians were wearing the business suits to prove they're not bluffing. That's another strange thing about London - we saw many baby-faced boys in business suits, boys who looked like they should still be in year 9, not wearing sharp cut suits and stylish skinny ties.
It is also beautifully green in London. So many parks and trees and it's all a different kind of green. We have a browny yellow tinge to all our green in Australia, their's is like a fairytale forest, lovely and lush and makes you want to unpack a picnic and do nothing for a while.
We resisted the temptation to laze about though - five nights is not much! We packed it full of shopping at H&M, markets, three West End Shows, tourist attractions and museums (I discovered my deep and lasting hatred of modern art. I saw far to many Homage's to the Square for my liking).
Summary of Paris: Boy was I excited to be heading here. This time I was expecting big changes, after all they speak a different language, that's a massive change.
We realised several things about Paris. One, it's difficult to tell whether they want you to speak French or not. I was all geared up to whip out some of my remembered French grammar but at the first restaurant the guy ignored my French automatically, seeming annoyed by it, and commenced to speak in English. Other places flat down refused to speak English at all. Most people seemed to think I was French, maybe because I said bonjour with enough R roll to make them happy, but still the inconsistency threw me.
Next thing I noticed: I thought English driving was bad.... French driving is truly awful. Our shuttle driver from Disneyland told us that all French people are bad drivers, but it maintains a nice balance because they cancel each other out. If one of them was a good driver, chaos would ensue. We were also told that car insurance doesn't cover the round about around the Arc du Triomphe because there is an accident there, on average, every half an hour. Wowza.
Paris is a beautiful city, it really is. Yes, it is a bit dirty, and yes, there are a lot of beggars and gypsies (we got warned on a tour about all the cons people pull, and some of our fellow tourists got dragged into a choice few). And yes, we were staying in an area of Montemartre that was quite close to the red light district, but the very central Paris, all along the Seine, was stunning. And the artsy area of Montemartre was as well.
Again, we kept busy in Paris. We did two walking tours, the Eiffel Tour, Versailles, went to many French restaurants (all that oddly had the exact same menu...) and pigged out on at least two ice creams a day. Overall, a very good result I think!
So that's my brief summary of my trip. There were a couple of hitches on the way, (travel sickness and stomach flu, bleh!) but everything was splendiferous and an amazing experience. I am incredibly incredibly grateful to have gone!!