Two cities

I meant to write this last year. Opps. I never got round to it. I went to Paris on my own back on November 21st. The accompanying photo album was waiting on my desktop to be uploaded here along with an article. Then it went to the front of the queue. It was joined by the album of when I also went to London in December. It didn’t get uploaded. Time moved on. It’s now fast heading towards the end of February I still want to write about them in this – my online diary.

They need to be remembered as I had a wonderful time in both these cities.

Paris

Whenever I go somewhere I go accompanied with a friend or with family. This time, I fancied travelling alone.

On Tuesday I got the train down to Luton airport and flew to Charles de Gaulle.

The golden arches immediately caught my attention at the airport. I was quite hungry but mainly thirsty. The silly no-liquid unless it fits in a 20cm by 20 cm see-through bag is, quite frankly, utterly ridiculous. My water bottle was at home. I began to feel quite dehydrated, especially after consuming a whole pack of M&Ms on the aeroplane.

After my McDonalds, I headed to the RER. I was going to attempt to ask what to do in French but I blurted “Est-ce que vous parlez en anglais?”. She told me about a week long pass, and although I only stayed a few days it worked out better for me than buying individual day tickets. For about £35.00 I had unlimited usage of the RER, Metro and any buses. Pretty good.

The RER led me to the Gard du Nord. I got the metro to near my hotel. I checked in. Then unpacked and headed straight back out to see the Eiffel Tower.

It is a pretty sight. The fact that it was spitting meant the cloud hung low which made the point disappear. It looked even more spectacular.

I then went back to the hotel.

The next day, I walked 5 minutes away from the hotel and went to a little French café. It was cute. I had my croissant.

This day was supposed to be my longest. Sadly I had a thing about going to bed late. I’m working on it. It’s my one of my New Year’s Resolutions. I can’t seem to get out of the loop. I awoke at an unreasonable time, went back to sleep and by the time I had fully got ready and left I think it was midday. My plan was to visit the palace of Versaille. I got the metro at first. I noted that I had to get off after a few stops and hop on to the RER. I saw the stop I had to get off at was near the Sacre-Coeur, or so I thought. In fact, I needed to go off two stops prior. It was such a long walk. It was not helped by the fact I got lost and the hills around the area are so steep. Nevertheless, I did get to see it and take some great photos.

I ate a sausage. I saw some police officers on bicycles. I got the metro.

I missed the RER and had to wait about 35 minutes. By the time I arrived in Versaille and walked from the station to the palace, the doors were about to close. I opted to save the money and instead explore the gardens. Look how big it is!

From the outside of the palace, I could gather the value within. The gardens were amazing. They were enormous. I walked and walked and walked. It was dark and I was completely on my own. I loved it.

I’ve seen them before but just wanted to point them out. Double decker trains. I love it.

Back to the centre of Paris and without googling I attempted to see if a particular area was close by to the Notre Dame. I ascended on this. I love how escalators just come out of the ground. I wasn’t close by.

I decided firstly to go in Le Louvre. I’d been here before but I wanted to see the Mona Lisa again and explore some of the wonders.

I walked around Notre Dame and then headed to the gay district. Here I had a lovely crêpe and beforehand a Malibu and coke.

The next day I awoke and explored the local area for a bit. As I arrived it was dark, and the following day I had plans to go further a field. This final day was lovely exploring the vicinity. I stayed in the Ibis Canal Saint Martin. I walked along the canal. It’s so weird how one’s coordination is affected a night-time compared to during the day.

I headed into the centre. I was on my own. I had no one to hold me back. I hired a bicycle and went riding around the city. I was riding for hours.

I cycle to the Statue of Liberty. France has a smaller one. They gave the big one as a present to New York.

I cycled past this. I cannot remember what it is called?

I went back to the hotel, collected my holdall bag and walked to the the station. I got the RER back to Charles De Gaulle.

As I landed in England, I came out of the airport, collected my item was “duty-free” cough and went to get the shuttle to take me to the train. Sorry, there are no buses going. The man told me that every train had been cancelled for the evening. Everyone else was panicking and wondering what to do. I calmly walked along to try to assess the situation. I saw coaches! A National Express stop was there. I found out where the coach to Northampton was and explained the situation and asked for a ticket. “You can’t,” he said. He gestured to the lack of card machine. “Oh, just get on”. It was such a nice thing to do.

London

I decided I wanted to go down for a couple of days in London. With work, I can stay for a free of charge two nights away including breakfast. I chose the 4 star Novotel in Paddington with a swimming pool.

The pool  <3

On the first day I went down with my sister. We went in the hotel room, dropped off our bags and went straight to the theatre. After sorting out our tickets, we went next door to Byron Burgers.

Having a burger

I have ate here in the past and had a meaty feast and was just about to order the same. I suddenly wondered what on earth Tiff would eat. She’s a vegetarian. Vegetarianism and burgers don’t really go. To my shock, there was a selection of non-meat produce on the menu, albeit small. She went for a mushroom burger. I love mushrooms and too opted for the same. It came and I enjoyed it. I felt full. The reason I have gone on about this so much now is because it made me try vegetarians. Well, I only managed to keep it up two days but from the 1st January I haven’t touched meat, ish.

Anyway, after our lovely burgers, and a quick McFlurry, we went to the theatre to watch Kinky Boots. I had absolutely no idea what the production was about. The only reason I chose this performance was because I saw a friend, Tom and his family had attended a few months prior. The had loved it. I was shocked to see the opening scene was set in Northampton. I am from only 8 miles down the road.

Kinky Boots at the Adelphi Theatre

I loved Kinky Boots. My love of the theatre has really grown. It wasn’t a case of not liking it before now but more of a case of lack of opportunity to love it. I just had not attended very much. I loved the singing and dancing and watching the narrative as it played out.

Tiff and I went back to the hotel. Tiff had a lot of revision to do and had told me that she needed to head back to Wellingborough the next day. I originally planned on also having an early night and going exploring the next day. I thought I’d text my friend Max to ask him whether he was free the next day. I met Max on a work training course and we got on really well. He had texted me back to say that he was sadly working the next day but was going out to Heaven, the gay night club that evening. He invited me to the hotel where he worked. After I arrived back with Tiff, I had a quick freshen up and went to meet them. A few drinks later and we were on the bus going to Heaven.

I had a wonderful evening. I even got a kiss on the dance floor and I didn’t even catch his name.

Usually after a night out, I’d have to sleep all of the next day but I came back to the hotel around 6am, waited a while and went downstairs with Tiffany for breakfast. I am not sure where I got the energy from.

Lift down for breakfast

I had a nap for an hour or so then went to the gym. I decided to utilise day light and went straight out. Possibly I should have had more of a nap. I definitely should have had more of a nap.

I went out.

As per usual, I hired a Sadiq cycle and went exploring.

I purchased a pair of Tom’s. I rarely ever purchase shoes and if I do, I would try to find a discounted pair. I paid full price. I think it was £35. For a pair of Tom’s this was extortion. I think the tiredness was messing with my mind. They do look nice however.

Unless you really look, you do not notice

Development

Hi Big Ben

Life moves fast

Hey bicycle

Hand in hand

Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square

Feds on peds

I went back to the hotel and slept for a few hours. When I awoke, around midnight, I felt like going out exploring again. Wearing my new red Tom’s, I walked a short distance and then hired another bicycle. I aimed to cycle in a straight line. My geography around central London is quite good. From my experience cycling over the years, I am able to roughly trace out where I am. But this time, as expected I ended up at the edge of Hyde Park. I didn’t realise, for I hadn’t been there at 1am before, that the park is locked. Unmoved by this, I lifted by bicycle over the fence and cycled through. I said my geography was good. Well, when there are no well-lit roads and with only bendy dark paths to follow, I ended up seemingly cycling around the edge. Hyde Park is a big park.

Cycling through Hyde Park

Anyway, I ended up at the other edge and then once back on the road I headed to Vauxhall. I went in a gay club there. I kissed a guy. He was cute. But regrettably, my new Tom’s got trampled on, on the dance floor. I was sad. I got the bus back to somewhere central. I can’t quite remember and then got the tube back to Paddington. I slept for a bit and then checked out around 2pm.

Catching the tube to St Pancras, here is a photo showing my trodden on left shoe.
Waiting for the tube I got the train back to Wellingborough, and then I then I caught up on sleep.

My thorough exploration of London, my city, as well as Paris a month before was truly wonderful. I encourage anyone to explore the city by bicycle. You can see more, stop off and get your bearings and you feel fitter for it. For me, it beats walking. It is cheaper than getting a taxi. I admit that sometimes the bus is useful. For the few times I got it in London, it was nice being on the lovely, warm upper deck, looking out as you go.

This was an incredibly long post but one I will look back on and remember the lovely times I have had. It is a few of the many hundreds of photos I took. If I go and seek the photo albums, memories on top of the ones listed above will come flooding back.

Speak soon,

Samuel x

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