Paris Day 1: Love at first sight

sunset at place des vosges, le marais, confused dasher, recommended restaurant in le marais paris, 5 day itinerary in parisThey say that every good thing must come to an end. I believe it holds true in almost every situation in life. However, it still feels quite sucky when it happens, right? Well, after 12 days of unadulterated joy, it was finally time for us to kiss the astoundingly charming Italy goodbye. I don’t know about you, but it was pretty tough for me because I really, really love the country. I tried to seek solace in the fact that we were leaving Italy for France; Lord have Mercy, leaving Italy for Vietnam would have been an entirely different story.

Our flight from Venice to Paris via RyanAir was scheduled at 1.30 in the afternoon. I have no clue what the root cause was but I remember being irrationally worried before the trip about how to get to the airport from Venice. So, if you happen to be like me and usually sweat over small stuff, I’m right here to assure you that it’s just a walk in the park. All you need to do is to take waterbuses from whichever part of Venice you stay in and get off at Piazzale Roma. There, the bus will take you straight to the airport in less than 20 minutes. The previous day we had bought a 24-hour waterbus card, which expired at 9.30AM on the day we left so we decided to be frugal and checked out early. Before we knew it, we were already at Venice Marco Polo Airport. I think it was only 10AM or so when we arrived.

EasyJet (along with RyanAir) is a budget-friendly airline to fly within Europe. Our tickets to Paris cost only 40-plus euros each, which were already considered expensive by many travelers’ standards. However, cheap is no longer an apt description when you take into account the extra fees for checked baggage especially overweight ones. I had been confiding in y’all how much of a fool I was for hauling  3 tons worth of clothes fully packed in 4 suitcases around Europe and I know I have absolutely no right to complain but can you lend a sympathetic ear for one second? Because I ended up having to pay in the neighborhood of another 50 euros for the excess weight.

Here are my two pearls of wisdom: 1. If you resort to budget airlines to get around Europe, always under-pack. You’re bound to buy this and that when you travel, and that doesn’t fare well with the baggage policies of dirt-cheap airlines. They’re cheap for a reason, right? 2. if you accidentally (I always give everybody the benefits of the doubt :P) overpack, don’t pay at check-in counters. Like, ever. Try to get on to your airline’s website on the spot and pay for the excess luggage there. Trust me, it’s an easier pill to swallow.

Anyway, for us, that wasn’t even the worst part. When it was my turn to check in, I was informed that the flight would be postponed for 3 hours at the minimum due to the union strike in Paris. “Are you fucking kidding me?”, I almost blurted out to the poor man. Just when I thought the only glitch of my Italy trip was the overweight suitcase…At least, they were nice enough to give everybody a sandwich voucher. We ate, window-shopped, slept, prayed (that it wouldn’t be more than 3 hours), and even used body language to chat with an old Parisian couple to pass the time. Fortunately at 4.30PM sharp, we were called to board the plane.

We sat next to this gracious Italian mother with two cutest toddlers I had ever met in my life. Again, maybe because we were exotic creatures in the toddlers’ eyes but they were so smitten with us. It might sound cheesy, but teasing them and receiving reciprocal affections really wiped away all my weariness and made me realize once again how marvelous Italy is. (I’m not playing favorites here but kids in the west could school kids in the third-world some lessons in manner.) Goodbye Venice. Goodbye Italy. Thanks for all the unforgettable memories and until next time…

Of all the 20-plus cities that I had been fortunate to visit up to that point, New York was the only place that made me literally hysterical every single time. Don’t get me wrong; I always feel excited and grateful whenever I get to explore a new city but New York is a whole different ballgame. Don’t you agree? However, as the airplane touched down at Charles de Gaulle Airport, I could barely contain my excitement. It was the same childlike exhilaration when the Manhattan skyline was within sights. Believe it or not, I pinched myself the whole time on the taxi to confirm that I was actually in Paris. Paris was a shot straight to the heart.

As for accommodation, we rented an apartment on Sogecri in the historic yet chic and trendy Le Marais district and couldn’t have a better time. Francois and Quentin de Pennart, the owner of the apartment as well as several others in other central parts of Paris, were incredibly easy-going and helpful and prompt.

The apartment itself was just a tad small but spotless and equipped with full amenities. Its winning point, though, is the location–only 2 minutes walk from Bastille metro station with many train lines. If you’re into walking as much as as we were, a lot of other important sites are within walking distances as well. I honestly can’t rave enough about how much I love Le Marais. It’s quiet, residential, full of history and beautiful architecture and de rigueur boutiques and restaurants. It truly offers you the best of both worlds. Now that I have stayed in Le Marais and spent time exploring other districts of Paris, I can say with certainty that it will be my home away from home when I’m Paris.

We were starving when we got to the apartment, but luckily this wonderful restaurant across the street was at our disposal where we reveled in the lovely Parisian vibe and savored a delectable dinner (my dish was Fillet de Bar in case you’re wondering). I whole-heartedly endorse this gem to you. After dinner, we wandered around for a bit to get a hang of the hood. We passed by the renowned Place des Vosges and witnessed one spectacular sunset at 9.30-ish. It had been a dragging day, so we retreated to the crib soon after and called it a day.

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