05.07.2011 23 °C
Sat 2nd July
Tourists in Paris, just us and about 1 million others, a pretty normal summer day in Paris.
Started off pretty quietly with a classic breakfast in the hotel - located in the stone walled cellar which only seats about 12 people, we were served orange juice, croissants and milk coffee by a very little old gentleman.
Booked on a open air bus tour, get on & off at whatever stop you want. Got on to an empty bus, easy to find a good spot but by the time we were 1/2 way round 1 of the 4 possible routes, the bus was packed and spent most of the time stuck in traffic. No quiet weekend here!
Each passenger gets some earphones and you plug it into a console next to the seat and pick whichever of the 10 languages you are happy with. Listening to the tour in Polish gives it a whole new perspective.
Cruised / lingered past all the famous landmark sites although when the bus gets stuck it is always in front of a chemist or bus stop.
We seemed to circled the Eiffel Tower a number of times I guess to get the 'look' and best photo opportunity from all angles. Viewing it from the bus the people in and around the area looked like ants scurrying around,then later we became one of those ants.
So the day was spent walking and admiring the enormity of all the buildings,places of interest and the learning more about Paris.
The day ended with the compulsory drink sitting amongst the locals and tourists in crowded bars, both sitting facing out onto the street watching the passers-by. Happy hour ( must be a french term!) begins at 17.30 - 21.30 and for 5.50€ you can get 1/2 pint beer or a choice of cocktails.
Meal time is also a circus with many bars and cafes having staff out the front encouraging you to eat at their establishment. We were taken by one such gentleman, whilst eating at a table on the pavement we were entertained by the antics of this fellow. He also was 'poking fun' at the staff across the path as he was filling his restaurant and they only had a few in their restaurant.
Highlights and interesting tidbits:-
a. When getting on buses/trains forget basic etiquette - push on
B. Can travel around by bus, foot, or Segway, these looked pretty cool but the guide didn't let them get far away.
C. Beware of young poor looking girls they pretend they are mute approach you with a clipboard wanting you to sign. If you do this they then create a raucous amongst their cohorts and rob you!
C. Whilst meandering around you can be approached by dark skinned men who offer make a string bracelet for you and before you know it they have it around your wrist completed. You ask 'how much?' and they say whatever you wish to give. One lady had a 20€ when she asked for change they ran off with her 20€.
d. Others will approach you and ask if you had dropped a ring whilst having your attention, rob you.
E. Around the popular spots such as the Eiffel tower there are men with small buckets filled with bottles of water selling for 1.00€,others selling bottles of wine or beer for 5.00€. Lots of men walking around selling trinkets.
F. If you are doing the Open Bus Tour be prepared for some delays at stops, usually for no reason, just bus driver having a breather.
Luckily for us we did not get sucked into any of these scams, combination of rudeness and care with our bags and good luck.
Surprising we didnt see anyone we knew, surely someone from our town was traveling in Paris!
Highlight, probably breakfast in the cellar and seeing just how big the Eiffel tower is. A worry was all the army guys walking around the place, in full gear including machine guns.