Thursday, 5 January 2012

A chic weekend away in Paris, darling!

As mentioned in my last post, I was recently living it up in Paris. Myself and my sister went for three days/two nights and I fell in love with the place. The sights were amazing, the atmosphere was exciting and their lifestyle and culture is so different. In France everyone is so, so sophisticated! Swapping sweaty clubs for delicious French cuisine and glam bars and eating so much food but still staying so thin is definitely something I could get used to.

Anyway, here's what we got up to!

The first thing that amazed me about Paris is how thin everyone is! I know it's a common assumption that everyone in France is thin anyway but I had no idea how true this would be. Hand on heart I only saw one larger lady whilst being there for three whole days (and we visited a LOT of Paris) and I'm not even sure she was French anyway! It must be all the smoking! Also, people in France really do love baguettes. I spotted so many people walking around just munching on their baguette, or a baguette just randomly sticking out of their handbags. I don't blame them though, they were lush! The second thing amazed me as we travelled to our hotel is that in France they sometimes use double decker trains. I found this amazing. Why can't London have double decker trains?!

On the first day we visited Notre Dame de Paris. Notre Dame, based in the gothic quarter of Paris is so beautiful. It's stunning and I really loved how gothic it was. It looked almost scary with the various gargoyles and stone statues. I saw one statue in the entrance of a lady standing on a squished man?! Notre Dame has such a rich history as well and there was no way we could visit France and not go here. We did go inside but none of the photos I took came out particularly well as we were not allowed to use flash photography. We did make sure to light a candle for our Papa Roy though :)

The beautiful Christmas tree just outside of Notre Dame, we were lucky to go just after Christmas as all the decorations were still up!

We spent NYE at Champs-Élyées (also known as The Avenue des Champs-Élyées) which is a really famous avenue leading up to the Arc de Triomphe. Before that we also went to this super expensive restaurant for dinner which was, wait for it, SIX COURSES! We only managed to eat five courses though I don't even know how! Anyway, for events like NYE, Champs-Élyées is THE place to be. It runs for 1.91 km and on NYE the whole avenue is packed with crowds celebrating the new year. It is also popular because it is host to various cinemas, cafés, luxury speciality shops, clubs and restaurants (it is one of the most expensive strips of real estate in the world!). Champs-Élyées to France is like Leicester Square in London - it's where everybody goes to celebrate NYE.

Myself and my sister at Champs-Élyées, and the photo above showing some of the decorations that run along the famous avenue. In France it is tradition to exclaim 'Bonne Année' which translates to 'Good Year' when the clock strikes 12!

After this we got chatted up by a few randomers who discovered we were English and then we were, as usual (yes it happens on a regular basis to us) stalked! I am partly to blame for this because I was eyeing up some bloke at the Arc de Triomphe (as we walked along the avenue and up to it). But I wasn't eyeing him up, he just looked like a spitting image of one of my ex's friends only chubbier so for a split second I thought it was him! Anyway we left and found a metro station which is when they began chatting us up, asking us to go out with them, asking us for kisses etc. We told them we had boyfriends and then one asked us for a 'baguette kiss' whatever that is, whilst the other claimed that having a boyfriend doesn't count as we were in another country! Then they tried to bribe us to come to their market stall the following day to give us free makeup? In the end they followed us to the Arc de Triomphe ALL THE WAY BACK TO THE METRO STOP OUTSIDE OF OUR HOTEL. All this way! Me and my sister ALWAYS attract the weirdos!

The following day we briefly visited the famous Moulin Rouge. What I didn't know (which should have been really obvious) was that it was based basically in France's red light district among sex shops, sex shows and places like that! I was surprised to find how different it was then how I expected it to be from the film. I thought it would be much more glam and I definitely thought it would be tucked away somewhere, not sticking out in the middle of a street filled with dodgy shops! Nonetheless you can still see why it's considered to be so famous, inside it still seems very glam and the shows look amazing.

After that we visited Monmarte which is a 130 meters high famous hill in Paris. The street leading up to the hill is very popular in that it is the host to many nightclubs and restaurants. It is the main street towards the hill and was very crowded as we walked up. I'll just note as well that this area is apparently well known for pick pockets so we made sure to keep our belongings in small bags - we wore the straps across our chests so they could not be grabbed and wore these underneath our coats to be extra safe.

At the very top there is a church (Basilique due Sacré-Coeur) and from the top you can see a spectacular sight of the city. Along the climb there are also usually various artists performing such as buskers and mime artists (not typical mime artists but the people that are painted white all over and pretend to be statues, I'm not sure of their proper names!).  

A carousel at the bottom of the hill with Basilique due Sacré-Coeur in the background.

The view from the top

When we got to the top we found that there was a Christmas fayre still running so we got some delicious mulled wine and hot chocolate (seriously, the best in the world!) before going inside Basilique due Sacré-Coeur.

The next day, as you can see, we visited The Eiffel Tower! 

We waited in the end for about four hours to get to the top. We had wanted to go up in the evening and the long wait was horrible but it was worth it. We only actually stayed up the top for about 5 minutes and had to queue to get back down as well (I know you're all wondering why we bothered if we only stayed up there for 5 mins!) but I'm really glad we did. The view was one in a million, it was hand on heart absolutely astounding and made the wait more than worth it. The reason we didn't stay longer was because it was raining very heavily and it was extremely windy, I was worried the wind would blow the camera out of my hands!

This was taken from the second floor.

View from the very top. Sorry these photos aren't very good quality!

Then we went back to the gothic quarter near Notre Dame where they had all these cute slender backstreets which were filled with different places to eat and drink. Below is a photo of one of the streets, it doesn't do it justice. This area reminded me of The Shambles in York.

We ate in a cute Italian restaurant where we stuffed our faces yet again.

The ceiling of the restaurant.

The restaurant had notes from all different currencies hanging up and people had signed them which I thought was cool!

The Notre Dame at night.

The following day we were pretty exhausted and after checking out of the hotel we only had a couple of hours before checking our train. So we ended up in a posher part of Paris where we had a nosey around the shops and visited another pretty church before heading back.

We had the most amazing time ever and I'll never forget it!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The anti-climax that is New Years Eve

In my last post I explained how I spent last NYE in a club, with my boyfriend at the time, sober. This isn't strictly true. Last NYE was the worst NYE of my life. I had spent Christmas down south with my family and after much thought, decided to come up north to spend it with my boyfriend at the time who is a DJ.

My constant need for what I claim is a 'glam' NYE stems from the fact that when I was younger my parents left me - sulking - at my grandparents when it was the millennium. My whole family went out to parties and I was severely disappointed that not only was I having a boring NYE but it was an extra kick in the teeth because it was the millennium! Something I'd never experience again in my lifetime! Never mind the fact that I was 12 and couldn't really go to any 'party' anyway! Anyway, after that I dreamed about amazing ways to spend NYE.

So I was pretty disappointed last year when I spent £60 on a 5 hour coach ride to spend just one night in the north east to have a great new years and it turned out to be disastrous. After that I swore I'd never get excited about NYE again as it was always an anti-climax. I expected to be spending this NYE just gone by stuffing my face at the all you can eat chinese with my parents then going home, watching the countdown on TV then going to bed. Hardcore.

Instead I got my perfect New Years Eve this year. It was the most amazing NYE of my life and I'll never forget it. On NYE this year I found myself getting up bright an early at 6:00am to travel to the city of Paris where I spent three days with my sister over the new year. We began seeing in the evening by managing 5 courses out of a 6 course dinner in a very nice restaurant! After that it was time to make our way to where we were celebrating the countdown. We almost didn't make it, exiting the metro with only 10 minutes to spare and immediately becoming lost in a crowd of excited people, eager to get out and celebrate the new year. However we made it there with literally two minutes to spare and awed in amazement at the atmosphere at Champes-Élyées - the go to place when it comes to celebrating NYE.

Celebrating NYE at Champes-Élyées was the most awesome, amazing thing I have ever done and I will never forget it. The pure atmosphere was breath taking and it was so pretty as well. I honestly could not have wished for a better way to celebrate the beginning of 2012. 

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Goodbye 2011, Hello 2012!

With the start of 2012, we are again faced with the idea of new possibilities. A new year brings hope for a better start and the excitement of taking new chances. Nothing can beat that magical feeling as the clock strikes 12 and we all feel that bubble of excitement deep inside us. We think about what the new year will bring and we reflect about what we have experienced and learnt in the previous year. We hope the following year will be better, but we accept and appreciate what has happened in the last year.

2011 was a big year for me and brought many, many changes. I started 2011 by celebrating the countdown with my boyfriend at the time in an empty club, sober. I was living up north with my boyfriend and my landlord, attending university, working part time in a bar. I celebrated the end of 2011 and the start of 2012 in Paris with my sister, and I am now single, living at home again with my parents down south and I am a jobless graduate. A lot has changed!

There were a lot of highlights - and downsides - last year. Celebrating my two year anniversary with my ex boyfriend with a weekend away in York was amazing. Breaking up less than a month later was tough. Later. I took an internship at More! Magazine which is one of the top leading women's lifestyle magazines in the country - this was an amazing opportunity and will forever look great on my C.V!The first half of the year I was under a lot of pressure, constantly working on my dissertation and trying to work out my feelings as me and my ex continued to see each other whilst trying to move on from each other. July brought about the biggest highlight of the year with me graduating! I was extremely proud of myself and to this day I still can't believe I managed it. However becoming a graduate invited a lot of change which led me to saying goodbye to my life up north. I moved out of my shared house and out of the north east to back home again with my parents. I also said goodbye for good to my ex boyfriend and whatever relationship we had at the time. We both promised to make the effort to see each other again but now we are no longer a part of each others lives. I came home and signed up to job seekers, only to find a temporary job less then a week later. For the rest of the year I got my head down and concentrated on work. The last few months of 2011 flew by. Just before Christmas my temporary contract ended and I found myself jobless again. So, in total, 2011 was a year filled with ups and downs.

New Years Eve was a massive high point for me as I spent it in Paris with my sister! I had the most amazing time ever and celebrating the count down at the Champs-Élysées was the perfect way to see in 2012. The atmosphere was amazing and not only was it a far cry from my last new years celebrations, but it was the best new years eve I've had yet. It really got me optimistic for the following year.

So now is the time to look ahead. I know that every year I draw up lists of resolutions that I never keep and I vow to make the year amazing only for it to normally be average. I have made a few vague resolutions, but if anything I am being more optimistic. I know life has its ups and downs and that even the bad times mean something. It's impossible for 2012 to be perfect without something going wrong, but the important thing is to make the times that go right extra special. I'm definitely looking forward to what it may bring so I say bring it 2012!