For her birthday I gave Ellie a piece of paper. This was not just any old piece of paper, though, it was an invitation for a mystery tour, which we finally had this weekend. It has been so hard keeping it a secret – for weeks now I’ve had to resist the urge to tell her about it, resist the temptation to talk about it on my blog, stop myself from telling other people about it. But it was all worth while, she loved it!
The day started at 7am when I picked Ellie up from her house and drove to the train station. There I gave her a day travelcard (so she still didn’t know where we were going) and we got on a train to London. Then we navigated our way through the underground system and arrived at London Waterloo station, at which point I gave her the tickets – a day return to Paris! I think it took a while for it to sink in! We got through check-in fairly quickly and painlessly, and sat around until the train was ready for boarding, and then took our seats.
The journey to Paris was quite long, though we sped up once we got into France (obviously they’ve got better quality rails than we do, no surprise there). On arriving at Gare du Nord we eventually found our bearings and headed south via a rather bizarre network of back roads (they looked bigger on the map) until we got to the Louvre. We stopped off on the way to buy some proper French crepes, freshly warmed and stuffed with slices of banana and oodles of chocolate spread! So that was lunch, eaten by the fountain in the courtyard of the Louvre.
After a rather messy lunch (the molten chocolate was kinda difficult to eat without getting it everywhere) we wandered past the big glass pyramid, through the gardens and ended up at Place de la Concorde, where there was a large obelisk in the middle of a roundabout. The granite monolith had been transported from Egypt a few hundred years ago, from the region that Ellie had been to visit back in January.
From there we walked along the river to find the Eiffel Tower. We could just about see it over the tops of the buildings, and we thought “hmm, yeah that’s pretty big”. We got closer and closer and thought “hmm, yeah that’s quite big”. Then we came round a corner and could actually see all of it, and though “Whoah!! That’s enormous!!” We had to queue for quite a while, but we eventually managed to catch an elevator up to the first floor (we would have liked to have gone further, but we were beginning to run out of time by this stage). Even from the first floor the view was incredible. We could see for miles, and being a clear day it was fantastic! We both took some pictures, and even got some passers-by to take a photo of the two of us together, which was nice.
By this point my feet were wearing out, so we opted to catch a bus back to the train station. The traffic was fun to watch, though I’m glad I didn’t bring Neddy along, it was pretty crazy! The don’t seem to bother with lanes, they just see a space and drive into it!
Back at Gare du Nord we grabbed some food, checked in and waited for the train to board. This was the icing on the cake really, because we were travelling first class! The carriage was less cramped, there was loads more space, and everything was so much nicer – the seats were more comfortable, the lighting was more soothing, everything was just that bit more luxurious. By this time we were both exhausted, so looked forward to getting some good sleep in to make the most of the comfortable surroundings.
Then a lady came by and offered us drinks. Red wine, white wine, champagne, beers, spirits… the lot. All complimentary. So we each had a soft drink, on the house! That came as something of a surprise, pleasant as it was. Then we settled back down to get some rest. And the lady came back again and put a menu on the table. A menu? Yes, they were giving us dinner as well!! Unfortunately neither of us were particularly hungry, but couldn’t bring ourselves to refuse the food outright, so as the brought out the starter of wild and button mushrooms we just stared at it and picked at it a bit. A little later they came by and cleared the table, and gave us the main course, which was roast turkey, mashed potato and a spinach cake. Again, we just picked at it, but it was very nice (apart from the spinach cakes, which neither of us liked). Then came tea and coffee, and just as we were settling down again to try to get some sleep we were given a chocolate truffle each! Then there was a hot towel too, before we were allowed to get some rest, by which time there wasn’t much left of the journey!
Needless to say, we were both exhausted by the time we got back, and it felt quite surreal to think that we’d been in Paris that day. Ellie and I both enjoyed it, and we have the pictures to prove it. I don’t expect it to happen again any time soon, but it’s something that’ll go down in our history books, something for us to look back on with fondness… quite an adventure! Happy belated birthday Ellie!