Monday, March 12, 2012

“Goodbye Piccadilly, Farewell Leicester Square..

 ...It’s a long, long way to Tipperary Paris, but my heart’s right there”

Yes, today was my day to depart London, hard to believe it’s already been a week since I left Christchurch. It was a restless night on the couch, not because I was sleeping on a couch, but because my entire days travel rested on the shoulders on a pocket sized computer that lay carelessly on the coffee table. I had set my iPod to wake me up at 5.00am, but my brain didn’t seem to trust it enough and was waking up every hour and checking the time. 5.00 came round and I leapt out off the couch and started hurling my clothes and laptop into their appropriate bags. Shower, teeth, get dressed, write a quick thank-you note on the back of a Christchurch postcard, slap it on the fridge and I’m out the door. 

It doesn’t take long before I arrive at Victoria station; I quickly return my Oyster card and start my power walk down the road to where the coaches depart.
I wasn’t sure what I was expecting for a coach station, but this was quite gross. I hurry through the terminal, following the arrows to the check-in desk, and arrive in a quiet open room full of people. It looked like they had spent the night here. It was silent and stuffy, with only a poorly tuned radio playing from the entrance to a grungy ethnic takeaway restaurant. The homeless people groaned and had a horrible stench; you could hear the other travellers snoring away as they lay on their bed of blankets/clothes covering a hard tiled floor. Nothing was open yet; it felt as though I had walked into a post-apocalyptic community that had gathered within the coach station. Okay so maybe a little extreme, but it was enough to make me look at a map to see how far I’d have to walk to catch the Eurostar train to Paris instead. When the desk opened at 8, the place came alive, and people were coming and going, and a steady busy murmur had filled the air.

 I saw the bus pull up that would take me to Paris. It was a double Decker. The child within me itched for those front seats that allowed you to look out the windscreen as if you were driving.
I stood up 15 minutes early just so I could be at the head of the line, 4 people were ahead of me, and as we walked out to the bus and climbed the staircase, they stood there trying to decide where to sit. “Back or Front?” they asked each other, I cleared my throat to remind them I was there and they quickly headed to the back while I leapt into the front seats. Success!! And to top it off, no one sat beside me! So I had two chairs to sprawl out on, extra leg room, and a complete unobstructed view out the front and sides of the bus. As the tight streets turned into roads, roads into motorways, I was soon outside the city and crossing underneath the English Channel.

Boarding the train on the Bus. 

It wasn’t very exciting, just driving into a container, 25 minutes later you’re driving out. The rest of the journey wasn't very exciting, nice to see the country side, but I couldn't keep my eyes open and had a quick nap. I arrived in Paris just before 4pm at the Eurolines station. Paris' metro is almost identical to London's Tube so it was very easy to switch trains and get to where I needed to. The hardest part was getting off the Tube and trying to find the right street to Nick's apartment. (Nick is my cousin who lives in Paris in an area called Montmartre, and it is set on a big hill north of Paris. It. is known as being home to many artists and generally being a very arty area; it is also where the famous Sacre Coeur resides which looks right out over Paris, at the top of the hill) 

Had a nice relaxing evening trying to catch each other up on the past.....probably 10 years since we last saw each other! That evening Nick took me on a quick tour of the hillside area...

Nick and Panoramic view

View from the church

The Sacre Coeur, check out the crowd, it's very popular. 

First sighting!

First impression of Paris, pretty incredible, I love the narrow cobblestone streets, and the endless cafe's stretching onto the sidewalk. Could quite happily stay here I think!! But still so much more to see! 


  1. Nice to see Nick and you getting a catch up - and lovely you have somewhere to stay in such an amazing part of Paris. (hi Nick)

  2. If you are ever in Glasgow the Buchanan Street Bus Station is the opposite of that which you describe. However I'd do a lot of things before I'd travel by coach to or from London (I was probably younger than you when I last did). However seeing Montmatre and Sacre Coeur again through your eyes (or camera) is a joy. I loved it there.