A Travellerspoint blog

Mysteries of Paris Ghost Tour

overcast 18 °C

The Ghost tour last night was a hoot made especially so because of the guide who is clearly a budding actor. Loud and really into the role, the tour was more about the gore of the french than any ghosts. The french don't have a history of being cool, calm and collected. More like revolution, guillotines and murder.

We had to wait until dark to join the tour which commenced at a pub over near Pigalle (the red light district of Paris). Dark over here is about 11 - 11.30PM.

We consider ourselves to be fairly well travelled but have to say the Metro system has beaten me. If I never have to use it again, I'll die happy. Anyway, off to the drop off point for the tour. Scariest part of the tour was without a doubt my discovery that the Metro rail is unmanned........no driver, what the!!

First carriage - where's the driver gone......

First carriage - where's the driver gone......

It was the first time "up front" for us and something was missing, the driver. Great, now I really feel comfortable in the Metro. You can see from the photo the next station coming up and let me tell you, these things don't go slow.

Anyway, the tour started in the cellar of a pub, pretty creepy in itself having to go into a pub and not being allowed to have a beer.

The cellar had a bit of history but I can't recall what that was because I really wanted a Heineken and couldn't have one......hard to focus on what the dude was saying beyond that thought.

Off on the tour following the actor in the top hat.

Off on the tour following the actor in the top hat.

Note it was a 10.30 start and the sun still hadn't gone down. They don't need daylight saving in Europe; they have it normally.

It only took 30 minutes of the tour to summarise that the French are sick puppies when it comes to murder and mayhem. They have a long history of things to do with Sewerage and Water (Now we're talking) so my interest was finally tweaked away from the Heineken. The lack of hygiene in the Parisian way of life also explained a lot to me. Because of the lack of sewerage services (they used to dump it onto the street from the open windows) the cobbled streets have a V shape in them to channel the sewer into the river Seine. Charming, and it explains why the Rats are so big.

Ellie would have loved partying with these babies

Ellie would have loved partying with these babies

Check out the boss Rat. Wouldn't fit in a normal trap, would have needed to be netted and wrestled to the floor. The photo doesn't give it justice in size.

As big as a wombat......glad we don't have them this big at home.

As big as a wombat......glad we don't have them this big at home.

It finally got dark and the tour visited may sites along the Seine and back streets. We saw the spot we're the French used to hold their Sunday afternoon sports events (tearing the guilty and royals apart) whilst having a picnic lunch with the family. As I said a history of charming crowds. If we get into a crowd "pack" frenzy; we're out of here quick. Bloody charmers when they get wound up in a pack.

Finally night arrived but the top hat remained Mandy wanted one too

Finally night arrived but the top hat remained Mandy wanted one too

After a very late finish it was off to find the Sofitel. Not easy in the dark and having to use the Metro after a ghost tour about murder and muggings. Still I had Mandy to keep me safe.

Finally got back after missing the wrong streets and ending up in another red light district. I suggested asking some of the local ladies directions (my thought that they would know any direction to bed) but Mandy took charge, said I might get a mouthful in response and then got me home safely.

Sofitel has the best beds in the world, so comfortable and you wake feeling great.

Our tour of the city which was arranged for us before we arrived was really good. Although we have no clear idea of where everything is, it was apparent that we at least saw everything a tourist like us would expect to see. We had a walk around the Notre Dame but more importantly we had a good cup of coffee in an outdoor cafe.

Notre Dame pickpockets and all

Notre Dame pickpockets and all

Notre Dame the been there seen that photo

Notre Dame the been there seen that photo

The afternoon was ours to do what we wanted so Mandy's choice was to do the washing. Another journey and challenge but at least we didn't have to use the Metro. I am sworn of that experience forever.

Another successful laundry found and mastered - go girl

Another successful laundry found and mastered - go girl

What's with the laundry on your head Mandy??

Next up was my choice. Shopping. I'm sure our roles have reversed here somewhere.

Off to find some designer sunglasses for the goddess and Tyson. Ellie, don't fret you have shoes and an SLR camera.........

Tomorrow more time to ourselves to explore and shop.

We spent our first full day

Posted by mandt0413 23:35 Archived in France Comments (0)

Private Tour of Paris for Mandy

I'm one of the last big spenders........

sunny 26 °C

I organised a private tour of the Paris highlights to avoid the crowds. The plan being that very few people would be at the sights and that we would have clear access for photos and uninterrupted views.

So, I arranged an early morning wake up call from reception. After dressing in our workout gear, it was off on foot on the Tony Holmes tour. Shame about the time. First stop the Arc De Triomphe.

Not exactly what Mandy had in mind when I suggested a private tour.

Not exactly what Mandy had in mind when I suggested a private tour.

Not a tourist in sight and only street sweepers and hermits asleep at this time of the morning. Traffic was at a minimum, garbage and milkos (who else would be up at this ungodly hour).

A quick sprint down the Avenue Des Champs Elysees (avoiding the workers putting up barriers for the final leg of the Tour De France) we reached the best spot for viewing the Eiffel Tower. Well Adolf Hitler thought this was THE SPOT in 1940.

The insane dictator 1940

The insane dictator 1940

When we got there only street cleaners were working to clean up the mess from the previous night. This spot is used by keen photographers for the tower at night when it is lit up.

The girl from Tassie in the spot 2012

The girl from Tassie in the spot 2012

The researcher and organiser of the personal tour in the same spot with a "been there" photo.

What a guy, spares no expense for the goddess

What a guy, spares no expense for the goddess

By the time that we walked through the park, under the tower and back along the Seine River, it was time for breakfast.

Under the tower, I hate heights lucky the lift is closed for repairs

Under the tower, I hate heights lucky the lift is closed for repairs

Repairs to the lift to the top levels

Repairs to the lift to the top levels

The seine river, remarkably clean although I wouldn't swim here.

The seine river, remarkably clean although I wouldn't swim here.

A mid morning trip on the Metro to get a feel for the city transport, led us to Pigalli area for the Moulin Rouge and other shows.

Mandy was starting to succumb to a cold (courtesy of Switzerland) and so I relented and took her back for a nap. Tonight we are doing a Ghost Tour of Paris and having a look at the night lights. I know, I'm heartless. She has to "man up" it's only the flu and besides I haven't got it........

Posted by mandt0413 08:40 Archived in France Comments (0)

Zurich to Paris

sunny 23 °C

Another good nights sleep, Mandy is starting to come alive again after two in a row. We got up after 8 this morning and had a leisurely breakfast at the Hotel Zurich. Moved out of the room and a short walk the the train station. Zurich first class passengers have a lounge so we spent an hour in there trying to work out what happens when we reach Paris. The research that I did earlier had us in close proximity to the railway station. Wrong.

Euro Rail First Class lounge Zurich

Euro Rail First Class lounge Zurich

Internet access to sort out the next stage

Internet access to sort out the next stage

There are a few rail stations for intercity travel, I picked the wrong one. We are staying at the Sofitel outside the Arc De Triomphe and its miles from the De Gare station. No matter at least we know.

Time to catch the high speed

Time to catch the high speed

Mandy always insists on taking the bags. Always conscious of my bad back.

Mandy always insists on taking the bags. Always conscious of my bad back.

The TGV high speed rail left dead on time and we passed through Switzerland to Basel. The train is really nice and compares more highly to air travel. The individual train stations notwithstanding, train travel is the way to go. So far we have not encountered any dogs in first class.

The TGV High Speed

The TGV High Speed

The train is really cool. Travels at 320km per hour and the speed just can't be fully appreciated in words. Quick and quiet would be my best description. Mandy still managed to have a quick nap.

Mandy catching more than a train.

Mandy catching more than a train.

Arrived into Paris and hour late, no reason given. The trip included a lunch and it was really very good. I had a nice salmon. We also enjoyed a Heinekin in the bar whilst watching France go by at high speed.

We purchased a Metro Card for 3 days and caught the city metro a few stations to the Arc De Triomphe. The train was bloody crowded for a Sunday afternoon and we struggled with the bags to even get onto the train. I thought that Mandy was going to be left behind on the platform for a moment.

Walked up from the Metro and I shit you not, this was our first view of Paris.

Mandy was still trying to find our hotel

Mandy was still trying to find our hotel

As it turns out, I could hit a golf ball to our hotel from this spot. Checked in and the room is just beautiful. A good size and so far nice and quiet.

We walked down Des Champs Elysees which runs parallel to our hotel street, searching out a restaurant for dinner. An early night tonight we thinks with an early morning walk tomorrow to sus the place out before it gets too busy.

I stumbled on a steak in the menu, my first for 5 weeks and it was great. Mandy had the duck.......

Tomorrow we'll start exploring Paris.

Posted by mandt0413 13:10 Archived in France Comments (0)

Train trip to Lucerne

sunny 28 °C

Another good nights sleep (I don't know how Mandy can do it after yesterday) we were off on a train trip to Lucerne in Central Switzerland. I like to keep her moving. The weather today is much better and hopefully the Alps will not be clouded in or the lakes a dull colour.

Using the counters for bookings. Machines can't talk back.

Using the counters for bookings. Machines can't talk back.

Booked the return ticket at the counter so we could better understand where to go and what to expect. Rail terminals as we have found out are very confusing on the uninitiated and there is little time to getting on a train at a nominated platform in a short space of time. Although we travelled first class the cost of rail fares in Switzerland is like everything else very expensive. A return trip for 2 to Lucerne which takes 50 minutes one way was; wait for it $184. Admittedly the trains are very good, quiet, comfortable and clean. Not like the Bomo to Central. They also run on time.

Comfortable trains and so clean

Comfortable trains and so clean

Very comfortable seats

Very comfortable seats

Went through Zug......it was just like on star wars.

Zug, hard name to remember.....

Zug, hard name to remember.....

The train doors were even like in star trek. No need to touch them and they make that whooshing sound when opened. Cool.

To goddess returning from the toilet

To goddess returning from the toilet


Mandy suggested that we have a vegetarian lunch today, and I was not impressed. I need some meat baby.

Vegetarian my ar.....

Vegetarian my ar.....

Saturday in Lucerne is market day and it was fabulous. The cheeses, meats and flowers just had to be seen to be believed. The leather goods were excellent and Mandy has finally found "that" bag which will last a lifetime. Very nice indeed and it will take the load off my back.

Market day in Lucerne

Market day in Lucerne

Here's a snap of the bag.

"the bag"

"the bag"

Really, the bag not the person.

The Chapel Bridge

The Chapel Bridge

The Travelling Holmes'

The Travelling Holmes'

Lake Promenade Lucerne

Lake Promenade Lucerne

Colours everywhere which is so out of keeping with the rest of Europe

Colours everywhere which is so out of keeping with the rest of Europe

won't let her stay on her back for long, she'll be asleep if I turn my back

won't let her stay on her back for long, she'll be asleep if I turn my back

Time for lunch and so we walked around the back streets and markets. Lots of places to eat but many are full of smokers and the food not to our liking. We found a little place down a side alley and was it good. Makes up for all the past mistakes. The pizza that I ordered was the best that I've had and Mandy's fish was also as good as I cook (her words not mine). Perfect with a few Heinekins and watch the world go by.

Life doesn't get better than this

Life doesn't get better than this

It does get better, the best pizza ever and heinekin

It does get better, the best pizza ever and heinekin

And Mandy wanted vegetarian.....

And Mandy wanted vegetarian.....

And then we were down to one beer. Tossed for it and I won. Life is perfect.

A perfect day

A perfect day

We got back to Zurich at about 6PM and picked up some chocolate for dessert. Early night this evening as we leave tomorrow for Gay Paris. The train is a bullet which leaves at 11AM and should arrive about 3PM. Will have a quick walk around Zurich in the morning before checking out.

Posted by mandt0413 11:36 Archived in Switzerland Comments (0)

Mandy Visits Heidiland

I finally get to visit Liechtenstein

overcast 21 °C

Mandy is really into the Heidi thing. Love's anything to do with the story, the region and the look.

Heidi of Nowra

Heidi of Nowra

And so, out respect for the goddess our first day in Zurich was spent on a tour of "Hiediland" the setting for all the Heidi stories and movie. For real, its a village in the Alps near Maienfeld, but I'm getting ahead of myself here.

We joined the tour at 11AM after a much needed sleep. We were so tired after the river cruise and train trip from Amsterdam that we crashed for about 10 hours. The tour is run by a local bus operator (another Hansie) and it included a tour around Zurich, visit to Rapperswil which is just outside of Zurich and then to Liechtenstein. Afterward we visit Heidiland before heading back.

The bus tour around Zurich was very interesting and the place is all activity, clean and beautiful.

Mandy seeing the sights of Zurich, whats so interesting down there babe

Mandy seeing the sights of Zurich, whats so interesting down there babe

About an hour out of Zurich was the small township of Rapperswill and like the rest of Switzerland is either on a lake or in the mountains. Rapperswill is mainly involved with tourism and we spent about an hour walking the town.

Mandy touring Rapperswill

Mandy touring Rapperswill

And then off to Liechtenstein. What a place, if you blink you miss it. Mandy was really impressed with the castle overlooking the municipality as you can tell.

Wow what a place. Liechtenstein, everyone should come here.

Wow what a place. Liechtenstein, everyone should come here.

And then it was off to Heidiland. On the way up we went through lots of tunnels and they served us a small lunch. Mandy really enjoyed this meal.

A lunch time nap was better than lunch....

A lunch time nap was better than lunch....

We made it to Heidiland at about 3PM and Mandy really got a great view on the way up.

Look Mandy Heidiland.....Mandy

Look Mandy Heidiland.....Mandy

Finally arrived back into Zurich at 6PM. What a trip, Mandy had wanted her passport stamped in Liechtenstein and the good boy that I am, moved heaven and earth for her while she watched our seats.

Check out my passport, I've be to Liechenstein. Been there done that...

Check out my passport, I've be to Liechenstein. Been there done that...

All in all it was a beautiful day, albeit with very little conversation.

Principality of Liechtenstein Royal Family's Haus

Principality of Liechtenstein Royal Family's Haus

Downtown Liechtenstein

Downtown Liechtenstein

Heidiland

Heidiland

A few friends to talk to along the way.

A few friends to talk to along the way.

Hard to get lost in the Alps

Hard to get lost in the Alps

Posted by mandt0413 10:34 Archived in Liechtenstein Comments (0)

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