21 March, 2010

Paris, First Timer

First time in Paris! So of course I did lots of mistakes commonly do by Paris first-timers...

I haven't done enough research before my departure, partly because I was too busy preparing thesis proposal, party because it's not a well-planned trip. I booked cheap Eurolines ticket (55 Eur two-ways) in between breaks while sitting at the university library.

To take the bus, I needed to go to Eindhoven first. Then boarded six hours ride to Paris via Brussels. Spent most of the journey sleeping. I was too tired because the day before we --Indonesian students in Maastricht-- had Karma's farewell dinner at Athene until late night.

For me, Eurolines should be the last option for cross-countries travel. I found out later that there are better options than Eurolines which is dirty and has extremely uncomfortable seats...my back was hurt when I woke up.

I did mistake in choosing a hotel too. Having been inexperienced and spoiled by auntie Mir's first class accommodation. I booked for the cheapest motel online without carefully checking its reviews on Tripadvisor (and even Tripadvisor could not always be a guarantee).

As a first timer in Paris, of course I could not missed the city's most cliche' tourist places:

  • Signed up for the Hop On-Off bus, I think it's the best way to visit touristy places for a first timer.
  • Waiting in super long lines for Eiffel Tower and could not help myself to buy cute souvenirs in its shop. I'm a sucker for souvenir shops.
  • Went to the Louvre and took a snap in front of Monalisa...so small, so ordinary!! There are many other magnificent paintings in Louvre, Monalisa however, is valued for its enigmatic codes.
  • Took a stroll through Seine and visited Notre Dame.
  • I once went to food court at Carrousel du Louvre for lunch...should have bought Parisian street vendor crepes instead.
Things I found out in Paris:
  • Paris has great supermarkets...I done it the Dutch way and bought supplies for simple breakfast and dinner. 
  • Paris is no different than any other big cities in the world. There are many parts of the cities that are beautiful and magnificent, but there also seedy neighborhoods around. My theory is the bigger the city, the more 'dark spots' can be found. 
  • It's better to go to Paris with train than Eurolines! I could not stand to take another Eurolines back home so I went to Paris du Nord station and bought a one way ticket to Maastricht. It only took three hours and so much better ride. Plus side, Thalys train is super comfy, I wouldn't mind spending the night in it.
  • Contrary to what people say, I found many quite helpful Parisians who are willing to speak English clearly. They even given me advises voluntary. When I bought my Thalys ticket at Paris Gare du Nord's ticket counter, the man behind the locket said, "You should buy your ticket long before, the earlier you buy the cheaper you get."