The magical city of Paris
This is part four of mine and Matt’s 18 day interrail adventure in Europe! Over the 2 and a half weeks, we went to 5 countries across Europe, starting in Budapest. You can read how it all began here and my previous post on our fourth stop to Hamburg here. On our last two stops, our friend Darren joined us injecting fresh enthusiasm to the whole trip. 😆
🇫🇷 Paris in action
Day One: Getting from Northern Germany to France
Out of all the trains that we took, the two trains we took to get from Hamburg to Paris were all very clean and efficient. Matt and I had to double take when we got on the first train, because the cabin that we sat in looked first class but it wasn’t – it was just really nice. It got us wondering what first class looked like!
This was our longest train journey, with a total of 8 hours. We spent most of the time watching films, shows, listening to podcasts and audiobooks or in my case catching up with sleep.
We arrived to Paris during rush hour, and as we were figuring out how to get to our Airbnb, we quickly realised how far away it was from the centre of Paris. When we were first booking it, we thought that it was just a subway away, but it turned out to be multiple subways and a train. All the different tickets we needed were so confusing to understand and of course, quickly added up. Totally my bad. 😅
Update: We finally got to our Airbnb, an hour and a half after arriving into Paris. 🙈 The transport was crazy but at least our Airbnb is actually really nice! This one has been the most £££ because hey, we’re in Paris 😂— Pauline P. Narvas 🐾 (@paulienuh) May 2, 2019
Rush hour did not help at all. The final train that would get us to our Airbnb was packed! We couldn’t even get on the first one because they had guards blocking people from going in. The second one wasn’t great either, but we managed to grab a seat. It was an anxiety-driven struggle to get up and get out the train when we got to our stop though, I kept imagining the doors shut on one of us because of getting stuck in the crowds.
Out of all the trains and flights I’ve taken on this trip and beyond, that had to be one where my anxiety was flaring up bad. Once we got out though, it all turned out fine. We waited for Darren to arrive where he had to go through the whole experience (oops, sorry Darren 😂) and for the rest of the evening, we pretty much just chilled out and got ourselves ready for the next day.
Day Two: Disneyland, Part 1
“Here is the world of imagination, hopes, and dreams. In this timeless land of enchantment, the age of chivalry, magic and make-believe are reborn – and fairy tales come true. Fantasyland is dedicated to the young-in-heart, to those who that when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.”– Walt Disney
I know this is hard to believe, but at first, I didn’t want to go to Disneyland for two days. I believed that we could – if we were efficient enough – get through most of the two parks in one day. Whilst I still believe this, I’m so glad that Matt changed my mind because the next two days were honestly one of the happiest.
Getting there was quite a struggle. Again, it was a few subways and then a train. Being complete noobs, when we arrived at Chessy subway, we were stopped and fined for having the wrong ticket. Double oops. Luckily, the guy only fined us as a group instead of individually which we had read happens. 😅 Definitely a lesson for next time.
Ticket guy: That’s a 35 Euro fine for getting the wrong ticket.— Pauline P. Narvas 🐾 (@paulienuh) May 3, 2019
We quickly forgot about the fine once we got into the park. Happiest place on Earth? Yep, I will always believe it! This was pretty special. Matt hadn’t been to Disneyland ever since the first time he went when he was younger. And Darren had never been! Although I’ve been twice before, it was nice to feel the nostalgia in particularly from the first time I went as a child.
One of our goals was to get me to go on a few of the rides I went on when I was little. Back when I was 8, I distinctly remember going to a Haunted House and almost peeing myself from fear and accidentally getting on a few rollercoasters and trying to get off because I just wanted to get out of there (thankfully my dad was holding onto me 😂) These were the main things I wanted to overcome.
So, first things first, Phantom Manor.
As we got closer and closer to the Manor, I was chickening out. I just had these memories of being so scared that once we left, I cried until my dad calmed me down. Of course, I am now a grown woman but those fears are deep within. 😂
Once we got in, I quickly realised how much smaller it looks compared to my memories. As we went through, I could easily make out how things were done and how fake some things looked. At the end of it, I was a little bit underwhelmed and wondered if I went into the right one. 🤔
Nevertheless, proud of this achievement, we headed to Thunder Mountain – the rollercoaster that I accidentally went on when I was 8. Compared to the Phantom Manor, I was already starting to freak out as we approached the queue. 😅
I backed out as I started hearing all the screaming.
A lone explorer
Whilst Matt and Darren went on the rollercoaster, I decided to do a bit of exploring around the different areas in Disneyland – starting off with Fantastyland (which is my favourite) I was disappointed to find out that they didn’t really have anything built for Moana – I’m not sure what I was expecting, but definitely a lot more than merchandise. I still bought myself a shiny new Moana mug.
For the rest of the day, Matt and Darren went off on those adrenaline filled rides (question – how many times do you need to ride Space Mountain? Honestly? 😂) whilst I took my time in looking at all the different shops on Main Street, walking around Discoveryland and watching cartoons at Videopolis. A calmer way to enjoy Disneyland and feel the magic 😉
I did however go on the peaceful It’s A Small World ride, and yes, the song is now stuck in your head.
We wrapped up our first day at Disneyland Park watching the parade. The parade took me back to when I was younger and one of the seven dwarfs from Snow White took me from the crowd and asked me to dance. There’s a video of that somewhere 😂
I was quite disappointed that there was no Moana though. ☹️
Day Three: Disneyland, Part 2
Our next day in Disneyland started off at Walt Disney Studios Park. I didn’t quite remember this park as much as the other one, but as we got in, memories started coming back to me.
Compared to the day before, it was colder and it was predicted to rain. On this day in particular, we saw two massive hailstorms, sunshine and warmth – to the point we had to remove our layers, only to put them back on when it got colder again 2 minutes later.
Walt Disney Studios – Season of Superheros
I was quite excited about this park. We timed our visit at the right time, because it was Marvel Season! If you’ve been following along since the start of the year, you’d know how much I’ve turned into a Marvel fan after only seeing the movies this year. 😂
As Matt and Darren went off again to go on some big thrills such as Tower of Terror and Rock and Roller Coaster, I watched a few of the Marvel shows – the Stark Expo, Superheroes United and Guardians of the Galaxy Dance off. The action, music, costumes were brilliant! My favourite had to be the Guardians of the Galaxy Dance off, singing along to the songs from the film and seeing a real life Groot was a dream. 🤘🏻
Although exploring by myself was nice, company is always better. We regrouped and went on the behind the scenes tour of the park. Matt and I were amused knowing that the video they played was the same one from all those years ago.
Returning to Disneyland Park
After exhausting Walt Disney Studios, we headed back to Disneyland Park where we went on a couple of rides together including Light Buzzyear Astro Blasters and Casey Jr Circus Train (the closest I was to a rollercoaster 🤪) With some more time on our hands before the fireworks show, we explored the Alice in Wonderland Maze, Adventureland and Frontierland.
Matt and Darren went on a few more trips to Space Mountain (literally until the minute the park closed 😆) whilst I went back to Videopolis where I watched a few Star Wars shows that were showing to celebrate May the 4th. We all got ourselves a “may the 4th be with you” badge which I later found out from my colleague are very rare, because they only give them out on that day. Apparently people sell them on eBay for quite a bit. 💸
To finish off our magical 2 days in Disneyland, we watched the closing Illuminations show. It was truly magical. I was overwhelmed by how beautiful it was and actually ended up sobbing at some parts, people must’ve thought I was so weird but I had goosebumps.
I didn’t film the whole show because I was so into just being there and watching it all unfold in front of me. But I wanted to share it! Here’s a video I found on YouTube:
Edit: I totally cried watching it again. But nothing compares to watching it in real life.
Day Four: The city by foot
Because of the past 2 days being quite full on, we were exhausted so took our time on our fourth day. After some brunch, we headed to central Paris to get to our walking tour with SANDEMANs.
This tour was actually free with an option to give tips at the end. I didn’t know what to expect, but Darren quickly filled us in on his experience from his previous adventures where he used the same company. Our tour guide was everything you could ever want in a tour guide – factual, humorous and full of local knowledge.
We began our tour at Fontaine Saint Michel – a fountain built in the 1858–1860. The student quarter of Paris was just around the corner, and apparently it gets all sort of stuff put on it. Last year, during the world cup, there were cone heads put on Saint Michel and French flags to show France some support.
We then headed to the Notre Dame Cathedral. Well, what was left of it since the recent fire. Parisians were devastated to see it alight, but a lot of them and us are thankful that it still stands. They have closed it off to the public for now, and are looking into opening it again in a few years.
On our trails, we discovered the Place Dauphine which is quite a famous spot in Paris as this was the area where Me Before You was filmed. Nearby is the Pont Neuf and is the oldest standing bridge across the river Seine. Our tour guide recommended a cute date idea: get on a boat on the river Seine just before the sun set and get off at the Eiffel Tower when it lights up at night. Talk about romantic. 🥰
We finished off our tour at Tuileries Garden, a garden nearby The Louvre and Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel.
After a fantastic experience with them, I had wished that we booked a walking tour in every place we had been to so far but again, that is something I will do on future trips.
For lunch, we headed to the shopping centre below The Louvre; something I feel like we would’ve missed if our tour guide didn’t point it out.
Our next stop was the famous Eiffel Tower. We took a route that led us to an area that I’ve never seen before, and although the tower looks exactly the same from each side, it almost gave it a different “look”.
Matt and I reached a point on our trip where all we wanted to do was get home and sleep. Darren had to catch an early flight back to the UK and we had to get to the Eurostar the next day, so the rest of the evening, we prepped our journey back home and slept like babies. 💤
Day Five: Home
I had an idea where the Eurostar was, but not exactly. Luckily we left enough time to get lost. 😂
Upon arrival we were greeted with a 55 minute delay notice. After waiting around and finally going through control, we didn’t even leave the train station until about 45 minutes later. 😩
Although we ended up getting back to Leeds later than expected, I didn’t let it affect my mood on the truly epic adventure that we just had.
Honestly, I never thought that I would get on a train abroad and travel miles and miles. This trip has definitely given me confidence in every aspect of my life. If I can get on a train, wake up at different cities, navigate public transport in a different language…I can do anything.
That’s not the end of these travel posts. I’ll be sharing the overall interrail experience, how I booked it, how I organised it, money, travel essentials and more! Thanks for reading and until next time ✌🏻