Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Part 5 - Je ne parle pas français

7am, blinding light. Not again. I groan. I had thrown away my drink bottle and was completely parched. I had again gone to bed in my dress from the night before, and still didn't have a quilt. I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to get up soon and was adamant I would make it down for the included breakfast today.

We'll skip past the bit where I'm feeling rather shonky and go straight to what I got up to that day. Except I made an exciting discovery. I thought I had two incredibly soft, wonderful pillows. Turns out one was my quilt folded up underneath my pillow. This solved the mystery of why everyone else had a quilt and I didn't - it was...literally under my nose the whole time.

I checked out and put my luggage in a locker and made my way out into the day. Today I was going to do be doing something that I was incredibly excited about and was number 1 on my bucket list for Paris - I was going to the Palais Garnier - the Paris Opera House.

Floating, falling, sweet intoxication.
Touch me, trust me, savour each sensation.

Why was I so excited to see the Palais Garnier? 5 words: The Phantom of the Opera.

The Palais Garnier is the basis of the original book by Gaston Leroux, with its underground canals, ornate decorations and sincere beauty. I had to go here. And now I've been, I have to go back to see something, wearing a ball gown.

I am getting ahead of myself. I arrived at the impressive building and walked a full circle around it. Once inside, I bought my ticket and even decided to get the headset self-tour. I sat on the plush red sofa and soaked up the atmosphere. Following the instructions on the headset, I looked up at the ceiling. I looked over here, I looked over there. I walked through that door. I made my way through to the famous staircase, and in all honesty, I got a little teary. It was so beautiful, and I was so giddily happy to be here. I adored this place. I could stay here all day and come back again and again. I took photos of the incredible architecture and artwork. I selfied, of course. I followed the headset into the theatre, and saw rows and rows of plush red seats. I saw the famous chandelier, the painted ceiling. 

Lot 666, then…a chandelier in pieces. Some of you may recall the strange affair of the Phantom of the Opera - a mystery never fully explained. We're told, ladies and gentlemen, that this is the very chandelier that figures in the famous disaster…

I made my way around to Box 5 and then simply marvelled at the beauty of this building, much of which I had been completely unaware. I can't describe just how happy I was in here, but soon my grumbling belly got the better of me and it was time to move onto my next destination.

Which was…back to the Eiffel Tower! My meerkat had yet to have its photo taken. It was a gorgeous day and as I made my way back to where we had been two nights before, I noticed the fountain that had been dry was now not only full, but putting on quite a water display. I snapped a few photos before they abruptly turned off. Good timing, I thought. While here, I and my meerkat took the liberty of a few photos (putting my dignity on the floor with my handbag).

Still starving, I decided lunch would be nutella and banana crepes and so my happy giddiness continued: eating crepes while sitting in the shade of a tree, with a lovely view of the Eiffel Tower. At this point I decided I would take it easy. No rushing around to see more, but just soak it all up. And so I slowly wandered around and through and closer to the tower, ogling the line of people who were preparing to ascend, and popped out the other side where I took another seat in the shade and just relaxed. What a beautiful way to spend some time. I was very happy, but decided I would make my way back to the hostel to figure out how to get to the airport and home again.

So long Paris, you were an interesting, polarising place. I actually liked more of your touristy areas than your hidden spaces - I did not feel in the least bit safe outside any tourist destinations. I also did not enjoy being accosted on the streets by people wanting to sign their petition (read: opportunity for them to pick pocket you while you're signing). I will never hear "Do you speak English?" in the same way again. I will be returning to you again; I will climb the Tower, I will visit the Moulin Rouge, I will see an opera in the Palais Garnier. You haven't seen the last of me, gay Paris!

And so that concludes Paris. I was terrified coming back into Heathrow as I had heard that the government was cracking down on terrorism and as I rounded a corner in Heathrow, the people backed up was mind boggling. I'd never seen anything like it. I panicked, thinking that I would never get back into the country. After a few minutes of terror, though, I realised that they were all British/EU passport holders and I managed to push my way through to the other passports queue, which ended up moving rather swiftly. I couldn't quite figure this out but I was too busy trying to prevent a panic attack that I didn't dwell on it too much.

Finally it was my turn to be called forward and I instantly explained my situation with the two passports to one of the kindest men I have ever met. We had a bit of a chat about why Heathrow was madness ("It's the students, you see, they bring Heathrow to a standstill for a whole month!" to which I could reply "Oh yes of course! It's Freshers' Week soon!") and to my incredible disbelief, he checked my fingerprint scans and waved me on through. No little holding pen. No nothing. I basically ran through in case they changed their minds - this seems to be happening more often than not, although no one can still tell me what I should do about my passport.

And thus I was back in London, back home.


Too many photos, sorry I'm not sorry.

Parlour for the Palais Garnier.

Stunning sculptures and you can see some of the
paintings on the ceiling 
At the staircase, I may not look that happy but I was so thrilled to be in here!

The famous chandelier

I could have lay down in the middle of the floor
in this room and just looked up for eternity
No Eiffel Tower this way!
A la fountains.

Nutella and banana crepes and the Eiffel Tower. #happiness

Not sure how impressed Meer was though.

Pretty flowers

Au revoir, Paris!