London, Paris, a tale of two Cities (27 December 2007)

11:27 PM

We were going for our last city for our honeymoon. Our train departure time was 2:04pm.

We love London, there were still places where we didn't explore in London and we didn't want to waste time. So, we left for London city from Uxbridge around 7:30am with our luggage.

The first stop was London Bridge. When we were little kid, we heard a lot of this nursing rhyme, London Bridge is Falling Down. We must witness the landmark of London. At first we were mistaken Tower Bridge as London Bridge. After some reading, we managed to locate the actual London Bridge, it was not really that remarkable. It is just a normal bridge across Thames river.

We went back to the Duke Street Hill and then Tooley Street towards Tower Bridge. We ordered our muffin and coffee at one of the coffee chain near Tower Bridge.

We didn't have a chance to have a close up look at Tower Bridge a couple of days ago. This was our chance to pay Tower Bridge a short visit. Tower Bridge undoubtly is one of the iconic symbol in London. It has two towers connected by the walkway. It is a suspension bridge. The lower portion of the bridge is able to be opened up for river traffic. River traffic has become less, but Tower Bridge opens up about 1000 times per year. The bridge twin towers housed the exhibition of the bridge history.

The day was gloomy, the wind was gusty and cold on the Tower Bridge. The sight from Tower Bridge was marvellous too with the new modern looking financial district of London on the southbank of River Thames while the north bank is the old, grand Tower of London.

We continued our journey towards Tower of London. Tower of London was fortress, royal palace and a prison for the high status and royal prisoners. Queen Elizabeth I was once a prisoner in Tower of London. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There is guided tour if you interested to tour around the towers.

It was getting late, we went to Tower Hill station to go to King Cross St Pancras station for our Eurostar to Paris. The trip costs us around GBP 120 for two. We had our lunch in one of the Chinese restaurant found in the area. We believed the owners of the restaurant are from Malaysia or Singapore. We ordered duck rice and Tom Yum soup meehoon. Not bad at all!! I think we must have had too much of western and pasta.

Before board Eurostar, it is required to go through immigration. Then, we have wait for the departure time in waiting hall. When the train was ready to depart, we need to take escalator up to the platform. The train is first class, much better than the Italia Eurostar (of course, the price also first class). It was comfortable, clean. There is overhead compartment for our jackets. The journey was smooth, the environment was not stuffy.

It was a 2 and a half hour journey. When we reached Paris Gare du Nord, it was half pass five. We were once again in a 'foreign' territory where we can't understand the language nor the signposts. Furthermore, France is an advanced country with excellent metro service. There are multiple lines of metro running in the busy city of Paris. Nonetheless, it didn't deter us for our determination to explore Paris.

We took Line 4 to St Michel. Our hotel was Hotel Cluny Sorbonne, which is near by to an university. Hotel Cluny Sorbonne is in Latin Quarter, so it is very convenient.

As expected, the lift of the hotel was small and slim, which can squeeze in two persons at one time.

The hotel room was nice, clean and quiet. We were paying about EUR90 for the hotel per night.

We left hotel for our first night in Paris. Latin Quarter and St-Germain Quarter are vibrant and happening. There are a lot of excellent restaurants. We walked along rue st Jacques towards Seine River. We stopped at a souvenir shop first, before we proceed to one of the restaurant for our dinner. We read the set meal available before we went in to the restaurant. Ordering was not easy for us as they understand minimal english. But, we managed to get our stomach filled with Pate, duck breast meat and two scoops of ice cream.

I must say, the decor in the restaurant was terrific and very detailed. Although the price of the menu was not expensive, but the owner of the restaurant take care of every detail of the decor to make the customers feel warm. Each table will have a pot of flowers and a candle light. When you sit down, they will lit the candle for you. The lighting of the restaurant was a bit dim, so, the candle light stirred up our appetite. Each of the seat will have a wine glass prepared.

After dinner we walked towards Seine River. Much to our excitement, Paris was very beautiful. It does live up to its name as the City of Lights. The city was well lit and the whole environment was very romantic.

We first reached Notre Dame. From afar, the Notre Dame was shyly hidden behind the tree. Yet, the lights with the dark sky as background, brought Notre Dame to be the star. Notre Dame beside Seine river is an eye catching sight.
As we approached Notre Dame, there were many tourists appreciating the night scene of Notre Dame. It was peaceful and calm. There was also a well decorated christmas tree in front of Notre Dame.

It was not our plan to visit Notre Dame as night, but we surely glad we did.

We continue strolling along Seine River. The dim yellowish road light, the well-ly lit and decorated lights of each buildings and the reflection in the river was very romantic. You will certainly fell in love with Paris.

There was one similarity in most of the buildings in Paris, most buildings are milky white in colour with blue rooftop. Although some of the buildings are not as old as Colosseum, they are well organized. We noticed that there are different kind of bridges along Seine river. One of the "must visit" bridge is a wooden bridge. It is called Pont des Arts or Passerelle des Arts. It is a pedestrian only bridge.

There are seats along the bridge for you to rest, relax and admire the beauty of Seine river and the buildings on both side of the river bank.

Palais du Lourve is on the right bank, while Institut de France is on the left bank. Both scenes were so beautiful.

We just couldn't stop taking a lot of photos from the bridge. We were so amazed with the sights.

We crossed Seine river towards Palais du Lourve. Lourve was closed at that hour. There was not much tourists around. But, the night scene of Lourve was still as attractive as the Mona Lisa. The shinning glass pyramid with the dimly lit buildings is a good combination of old and modern. I certainly not sure is there any Holy Grail under the pyramid as claimed by Da Vinci Code, but we sure like the beauty of it.
There are also ponds. The water was very still. It did match with the quiet and the solemn of the Lourve.
We seems very small surrounded by gigantic buildings.
Much we wanted to continue to explore Paris, we were tired of whole day of walking and our camera battery also flat, we finally decided to go back to our hotel for a rest. Tomorrow we will start our journey in Paris.

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