Sunday, 27 February 2011

Plumstead to Paris

September 2010

The following Friday, after work I went across to the Scoop - an amphitheatre next to City Hall, and watched a couple of plays that were being put on - Toad Hall (Wind in the Willows) and Don Juan. Both were good, Toad Hall was well done and very funny, and Don Juan used the evening darkness well. On the Sunday, Merinda and I went for a bit of an explore. A few weeks before, when we were at Richmond, she'd closed her eyes and stabbed a train map with her finger, and I suggested that we should go to that place and explore it - the place chosen was Plumstead.In the week prior, I did a little bit of research, simply by doing a search on Google maps, and taking a satellite view to see what looked interesting around there. From that I saw that if we walked north to the river (the Thames) there were several things to check out. First of all there was something on a hill downriver that I couldn't quite make out - it turned out to be a paved area in the shape of a compass. Walking back upstream was Woolwich Arsenal - where there used to be defence arsenal - cannons and stuff. After a bit of lunch we went through the tunnel under the Thames and came out on the other side, by the London City Airport. We walked for a bit, and came to the Thames Barrier park (pictured above). After that we walked to Royal Victoria and had dinner at a Caribbean restaurant, which was interesting. After that we had an adventure in itself using buses, and tubes to get back to Waterloo and then home. The following Sunday my touch mates and I had decided that we would celebrate by going to 'The Church' called such, because it is on a Sunday. In the end only some of them came. It was alright, but one of those things that once you've done once, it's not something you need to do again. On a positive note however, they had cans of Tui beer - which was awesome. Hopefully you can recognise that I went as Shaggy from Scooby Doo.The following couple of weeks were nothing to write about, until the 23rd, when I finally got to ride the Eurostar, and move in on Paris. The 23rd was a Thursday, straight after work I headed to Kings Cross St. Pancreas - while waiting for our train I got to sample a 1/4 of a gourmet burger and milkshake. I also met Vinny, a guy on my tour, who had a similar interest in free food, so I found my roommate for the next few days before even leaving London. Once we got to Paris, we were met by some of the people from Hillsong Paris, who helped us sort out metro passes, and then guided us to our hotel. After a short walk for orientation, I found some where to eat with a friend from a previous trip, before I headed to bed for sleep.On Friday, I got up, had breakfast, and then we did the cliched tourist to Paris thing - the Eiffel tower. My roommate, another guy, and I power climbed the stairs to the 2nd level, took some photos, and decided it wasn't going to get any better, so we went back down again. We were debating whether to join the others on a Fat Tire Bike Tour (American - hence the wrong spelling) but first we had to find them, which we did, using an iPhone and Google Maps. The tour was good, although in retrospect I wish I had stuck to my original plan of just doing a walking tour, as the bike tour was 28euro, whereas the walking tour would've been a voluntary donation at the end (same company as I had done the walking tours with in Edinburgh, Berlin, Munich, Valencia, and Dublin) also, it was a little hair-raising on a bike crossing serious traffic, and as it was it poured down at one point, totally soaking us, whereas a walking tour probably would have allowed more shelter. Anyhow, once that was over, we went and had crepes which were totally awesome. I then headed back to the hotel to dry off, chill, and found the supermarket was literally right next door, so I did my usual trick, and bought some cheese, 12 croissants, and some chorizo - which did me for lunches and dinners for pretty much the rest of the weekend - and it was French and delicious!Saturday I had a bit of a sleep in, but was still up in time for breakfast - which lead to a massive conversation with some of the other tour people. Once that concluded, I went to my room with my map, and mapped out where, and how I was going to see Paris.So I started off with the Père Lachaise Cemetery - where Jim Morrison is buried, carried on - went to the Catacombs - which was interesting, amazing, and kind of gruesome all at the same time. They were rather huge, and it's full of human skeletons. Having been around Europe, I'm better with seeing human bones now, but this was still worth a look. It was a little macabre how in places they had made patterns, such as a skull in the middle, and then femurs surrounding it like the sun.From there I went to Notre Dame. There was a huge line so I just walked around it, not bothering to go inside. I then walked for a bit to another metro station and went to Le Defense - which is a modern business area - it's built like a windowed Arc de Triomphe. From there I then went to the Arc de Triomphe. Unfortunately when I got there they were having some sort of memorial ceremony, so I couldn't go up inside that either. Anyhow, I carried on to Sacré-Cœur - a church on a hill. I really like it to be honest, it was prettier than Notre Dame, less of a crowd, and I got to go inside. It was also a nice time of day, cool, but not yet dark. There was also a puppet show - from memory I think it was the story of Noah's ark. From there I went back to the hotel to rest a little and eat, and later on I briefly ventured out to the suburb where Moulin Rouge is, but didn't stick around.The following day was Sunday. We didn't really do much, other than going to church at Hillsong Paris - it was their anniversary or something I believe. From there we went to Gare du Nord, tried a couple of burgers from Quick Burger (I went halves with Vinny)(and also made smart remarks in English about what quick actually means) before we hopped on the Eurostar back to London.
I thought it was interesting that there was a metro station called Stalingrad, but then again, Stalin was on the Allies side.

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