WEEK 2.5: PARTIES, BBQS AND BASTILLE DAY :)

 In My Blogroll

Two guesses where this one was taken…

I never did get to meet Karen that day we went into Paris. We lost contact somewhere down the line and I couldn’t get through to her once I actually landed in the city centre. Apparently she had left out some sort of area code when she gave me her number… Regardless, I was incredibly disappointed as I took the Metro past her stop knowing that I was somewhere vaguely near her house and yet had absolutely no way of getting through to her. Gutting to say the least.

Anyway, not meeting Karen aside, Paris was excellent. I’ve said it so many times before but I’ll say it again – cities are best explored when you’ve no where to be and no schedule to stick by. We (Anna, Tamara and I) spent the day exploring Paris, taking lefts and rights until we eventually found ourselves at the various touristy spots and monuments of the city. Since we were there on the 13th of July, right before Bastille Day, we managed to catch Paris just as it was preparing for the festivities. The weather was glorious, as it has been since I landed, but to add to that, we arrived at the Eiffel Tower just in time to see the orchestra do a run through performance before their big show for the following evening. Nothing feels more Parisian then lounging about on the green beside the Eiffel Tower listening to an outdoor concert on a hot summer’s evening.

Moulin Rouge 🙂

Actually a bottle of wine would’ve been nice. That’s the only thing that I felt was lacking.

We also took a trip to Montmartre (packed with tourists, far too many steps, amazing view – all the things you’d expect when visiting the place. We weren’t disappointed) and from there we briefly visited the Champs Elysée and the Moulin Rouge. We also spent a few hours touring a rather eccentric museum but I’ll pass on the details…
I’ve decided that I thoroughly appreciate the benefits of owning a Navigo pass. I knew we’d get into Paris for significantly cheaper on the trains at weekends but I wasn’t aware (til the trip) that this applies to every day for the rest of the summer. With a Navigo pass, a person gets into the city and all around it as much as they like whenever they like for free. It’s surprisingly easy to get in and out of Paris too – it’s exactly 40 mins on the train. Now that I’ve figured it all out, I fully intend to head in at every opportunity.
As for Bastille Day, I ended up spending that day by myself. I had initially planned to head into Paris city once again to see the fireworks at the Eiffel Tower, but then I found out that Disney put on a special 14th of July show too. I was working all morning and afternoon in the place so for the sake of convenience (and yet another chance to explore the park) I opted for the latter. After I left work that evening, I just got changed and headed into the park. I took out my park map (I keep the same one with me and tick off attractions as I do them) and found some things that might be worth doing before I settled down to watch the fireworks.

Us at Montmartre!

I wasn’t in the mood for any great roller-coasters (I’ve yet to do Walt Disney Studios – that’s for tomorrow, my next day off!) so instead I rambled towards Adventureland and Fanstasyland and took to wandering through the Pirates Caves, Davy Jone’s Locker, the boats, the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle… so many little things that make Disney the aesthetically pleasing place it is. The attention to detail in the park is astounding. To fully take it all in you’d nearly need an afternoon dedicated to such. Any child rushing about from ride to ride must barely notice how expansive the pirates caves are, the rope bridges, the gardens, the streams and waterfalls… I’m glad I took the time to see them all. It’s also how I found out that there’s a dragon at the bottom of the Princesses Castle. I had NO idea that was a thing.

I also took the train ride all around the park. It wasn’t something that was high up on my list of priorities (it doesn’t share the appeal of the treehouse, that’s all I’m saying) but since I had so much time to kill, I figured that I might as well spend some of it on a train.

The Disney train takes about 20mins of queuing and does a full circle of the park every half hour or so. It stops at each of the stations – Discoveryland, Fantasyland, Adventureland, Main St USA – and a person can get on or off as they so wish. The train doesn’t just skirt around the edges of the park though (that’s it’s downfall. It needs to be advertised better. I thought at first that it was just a ride for lazy people who’d rather spend time queuing than walking to the next land in the park), the train actually goes through pirates caves, through cowboy scenes, through forestry and directly into the “It’s a Small World” attraction. I loved it. I was so impressed with the little train ride. It gets four stars. I’d give it five, but the waiting time at each station detracts a star. Tough call, but fair.
So once I’d finished ticking things off the park list, I headed to the centre of Main St so I could get a good seat to watch the fireworks and the Disney Dreams show. I’ve seen that show three times now and know for a fact that I’ll be seeing it at least twice again in the next week! It’s worth it – the novelty doesn’t wear off, and for me that’s certainly saying something. I had been on Main St earlier, buying cookies from the bakery that Siina works in before sitting down to watch the parade. The cookie was delicious and the perfect accompaniment to the parade. I had seen the typical “Starz in Carz” show in the Studios where a few of the characters are driven by and wave to the crowd, but that was nothing in comparison to this. Again, Disney come up trumps with their attention to detail. The floats, the costumes, the paint… Epic. Five stars. Deservedly so.
After all else was said and done (all caves explored, all cookies eaten, all parades and dragons seen) I finally got to see the fireworks display. It was spectacular. Disney didn’t spare a single expense. Then again, the park has fireworks on a daily basis, so they were obviously going to go above and beyond for their national day. It didn’t matter that I had spent the evening by myself. I don’t think I’d have enjoyed it any more had things been different.
So all that brings us up to present day – I just spent yesterday and today working and I’ve the next two off work. It’s Iina’s birthday party tonight, her 21st, so we’re having a get-together at mine to celebrate. Once I finish this, I’ve to launch into making origami flowers from coloured paper in preparation for later! Strange fact about the Finnish – they don’t consider that turning 21 is a big deal. They celebrate it but no more than any other birthday. Still, celebrating your birthday in Disney is a very special occasion – they let you into the park for free and give you a birthday badge which lets you fast-pass in every ride. We’re doing that tomorrow (her actual birthday) just because of that! The only downside tonight is that I’m missing the staff barbecue of the week. I would’ve loved to attend, but I couldn’t have possibly managed both.
Maybe next time.
Sorcha x
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