Saturday, August 25, 2007


We took yet another trip from Hungerford to a different part of Europe! Yes, we went to (guess what?) Paris! And, if you don’t know of a better way to get there than flying, then it might surprise you to know that we didn’t fly. Instead we took a train system there called the Chunnel. (That means channel tunnel. You’ll find out what the channel means later.) But first let me tell you how we got to the special Chunnel station in London. (Yes, there is a train station just for that purpose.)

We got up early in the morning and did some last-minute packing before loading all the baggage in the car and driving to the train station. There we caught the first London-bound train. When we got to Paddington (Yup, at Paddington once again!) we took the underground to Waterloo station (that’s what the Chunnel station was called.) It’s a very nice station, with a glass paned roof and bright blue metal finishes. We went through some security checks, like those at an airport, and then boarded our train. It was very nice--like being in an airplane. It took forever for the train to start moving, and even after we had waited 10 minutes there was an announcement that we were experiencing technical difficulties, and it would probably be another 15 minutes until we would really start moving. When we finally did start moving it took a while to get up to high speed. Then we went into the tunnel after about an hour and a half of moving.

The tunnel was huge—it took at least ten minutes to go through. When we got out on the other side of the tunnel we were in France, but not in Paris. We were in a city called Coquilles. It took another two and a half hours to get to Paris. When we got to Paris Gare du Nord station we got all our luggage and walked out of the station. We ate a late lunch at a nearby restaurant and got a cab to drive us to our apartment.

Our apartment was very close to the Pompidou, a big building that is actually the most visited center in Europe! What makes it so special is the fact that it is literally turned inside out. All the pipes, elevators, and everything else that would normally be inside the walls and ceiling were covering the outside! Sophie thought it was hideous, but I thought it was cool.

Anyway, we drove past the Pompidou and rounded the nearest corner to our apartment. There we found a guy who was probably the owner of the apartment building. He showed us around our apartment. The first thing that caught my eyes was a ladder.

I climbed up to see what it was and found a loft with a small double bed, a fan, and a lamp! I knew this was where I was sleeping tonight. The guy showed us around the rest of the apartment. Well, everyone except me, who stayed admiring the loft. As soon as the guy left I announced that the boys (that means me and Anthony) got the loft. I expected Sophie to argue, but instead she just said there was another loft! I ran to the bedroom and saw another ladder that led up to another small double bed with another fan and lamp! And so, after getting moved in, the kids (that means me, Sophie, Cindy and Anthony) spent the rest of the afternoon going up and down the ladders, checking out the lofts over and over again. Until that is, we went to see the Pompidou.

We all got our shoes, socks and jackets on. Then we bounded out the apartment building. We walked down the street and rounded the corner. Then we walked down a long street until we were right in front of the Pompidou. We walked over to the side that had a huge escalator snaking up the side. Then we walked inside. The inside was huge. There were elevators on the other side of the room, a café to our right, and another floor below us. On this floor there was a very strange sight. There was a mountain of sandbags, and a rectangular break in the middle of them. In the break there was a single sandbag connected to a wire. Stuck on the sandbag was some humanoid marionette doll that looked like Pinocchio. The wire that was connected to the sandbag was connected to a larger wire that dragged the sandbag around the rectangular break path. The larger wire was being moved by a motorization device. We all took the elevator down for a closer look.

Then we visited the bookshop, which was pretty useless for me because all the books were in French and they were all about art. (In case you didn’t know, I. HATE. Art) Then we walked outside of the Pompidou. We were going to go on the giant escalator but it cost a lot of money, so we just walked to the River Seine. When we got there we walked along it for a while until we came across the Hotel de Ville. It looked like it should have been town hall, the outside was so fancy. I didn’t pay much attention to it, and we didn’t go inside, so I just watched the people playing volleyball outside, even though I’m not very big on volleyball. My parents looked at the hotel for a while, and then we walked to a pizzeria and had a lemon crêpe for dessert. Then we went back to the apartment and went to bed.

The next day we were going to go to the Eiffel Tower. But it was a rainy day, and while we were walking to the tower we altered plans and decided to go to the Louvre museum instead. We would go to the Eiffel tower the next day, since it was going to be sunny anyway. So we changed course and headed to the Louvre.

It was actually, as I later learned the biggest museum in the world of any subject. It was an art museum, and even though I hate art I was kind of anxious to go there because it had the genuine Mona Lisa picture there. I wanted to see it because 1) it was very famous, and, 2) It was painted by Leonardo da Vinci, one of my role models. But we didn’t see it for a while.

First we had to walk through a reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeely long room that had a bunch of regular paintings and naked statues, some of them decapitated. What really bothered me about these paintings, though, was that with the men, the you-know-what was always in plain sight, and that was really gross. Farther along there were these doorways that led into these side-rooms. One of them was really crowded, so I figured we should go in. we did, and discovered a huge mob crowded around one picture, which was (guess what) the Mona Lisa. Sophie and I squeezed our way through the mob and saw the small, rectangular painting behind glass. We looked at it for a little, then went back and found the rest of our family. We went back down the long room and then back. Then we looked at another section of the museum that was pretty boring, just a bunch of paintings.

Then we ate at one of the restaurants, and then we saw another section that was just another bunch of statues, (mostly naked) and left the museum. After the Louvre we walked back to our apartment.
Then we got ready for church and then walked to a huge cathedral called Notre Dame. It was so big on the inside that there were TV screens that showed you who was talking or singing, ect, ect. Since it was in French I didn’t pay much attention. After church we ate at a restaurant near the Pompidou with crêpes. We had Ice Cream for dessert. Then we went to our apartment and went to bed.

The next morning we walked to a pastry shop nearby and had pastries for breakfast. Then we took the metro to a stop near the Eiffel Tower. If you do not already know, we were going to the Eiffel Tower today, since it was very warm and sunny, not like the other days we had been in Paris. So it was the perfect day to go to the Eiffel Tower.

We took the metro to a stop close to the Eiffel Tower and then started walking towards it. We knew we were going in the right direction, even if we couldn’t see it. We rounded a corner and suddenly there it was, black, huge and awesome! Even from a distance it loomed in front of you like a giant steel behemoth. Of course, I didn’t think it was ugly, like so many people did shortly after it was built in the late 1800s. I thought it was cool, just like the Pompidou. But anyway, we walked down what was supposed to be the grand entrance. I had read that the Eiffel Tower was the tallest construction in the world until the Chrysler Building in NYC surpassed it, so since I never got to see the Chrysler building up close in NYC, as we got closer to the Eiffel Tower I started to get an idea of just how big the Chrysler Building really was.

When we got underneath the tower we started deciding what to do. I really wanted to go to the top, but of course everyone else said no, and the top floor was temporarily closed anyway. So we just decided to take the stairs up to the first and second floors. We didn’t take the elevators because it cost extra. So we climbed and climbed a bunch of stairs to the first floor. Even this low down, it was still an awesome view. We walked around all four sides and then we went up some more to the second floor. This view was even better. And when you looked straight up, you could see the rest of the Eiffel Tower looming above you. After having another 360° view we ate at one of the two restaurants there and then I looked at an exhibit about the international space station, a huge space station being built by a bunch of different countries, including Americans and Russians. (Why they had this exhibit in the Eiffel Tower, I have no clue at all.) Then we all went down.

Cindy and Anthony went on a kiddie carousel nearby, and then, after much deciding, we all agreed to take the metro to a stop nearby a big natural park, but first go to a really good ice cream place. So we did, and then at the natural park we headed for a big playground that was packed with screaming running French kids, but we decided to go in anyway. But, when we reached the one and only entrance, we realized with shock that (brace yourself for 7 words that are seriously ridiculous when you put them together) you had to PAY to get in!! Sure enough, there was a booth and a sign that showed how much it cost for adults and for children to get in. We decided instead to go to the big fountain/man-made lake in the middle of the park (not the playground). There was a guy with a bunch of boats that you could rent for either 30 minutes or an hour, and then push around the lake with big sticks. It was a lot more fun than it sounds. So after pushing several boats around for half an hour, we took the metro to an apparently very famous street of which name I cannot remember.

Anyway, we walked down the really long street looking for a place to have dinner. We passed some stands along the street that we later found out were stands for the Tour de France, which we had just missed. We stopped by a chocolate store, and then eventually found a restaurant to eat at. Sophie and Cindy plucked up their courage and tried escargot, which, translated in English means (brace yourself again) snails! Yep, believe it or not, escargots are a favorite meal of the French. Of course, Anthony and I didn’t dare try the escargots. We shared a big slab of steak instead. After a delicious dessert of cream puffs in whipped cream and chocolate sauce, Sophie and my mom went to do a little shopping while me, my dad, Cindy and Anthony waited in a Disney Store a little ways away. A little shopping? Hah! At least half an hour later my mom appeared and told us that Sophie was waiting in a humongo line to buy her stuff. She told us that we wouldn’t have to wait much longer. Hah! again! It had to be at least another half hour before Sophie came out again! And then they forced us into another shop for at least ten minutes before we finally took the metro home, got to the apartment and went to bed.

The next day we had to leave France. After packing we went to the same Pastry shop we had gone to the previous day, then went to a big candy shop, and then took the metro to Gare du Nord station. We took the Chunnel back to waterloo and then took the underground to Paddington. Then we took a train to Newbury and waited for a train to Hungerford to come. Unfortunately the next train that stopped at Hungerford was delayed by at least 10 minutes and when we finally got to our Hungerford house and went to sleep, it was almost 10:00 P.M.


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October 17, 2007 5:01 PM  

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