17th May 1993
Noora, Ayu and I had always planned to go to Paris together for a short trip. The Easter holidays were approaching, so one day after classes, we dropped by the Budget Travel in Nicholson Square and made our inquiries. After informing the agent what we were after, the old queer man clumsily flipped over his directories and guide books. He began picking up the telephone and scribbled what I believed was valuable information on scraps of paper. I remember us speaking Malay under our breaths, giggling and joking as we waited for the old man. Well, at that time, the internet basically did not exist. I guess we could have bought some guide books and directories, but making phone calls in French was err... probably not possible!
Hence, by the end of the day, we managed to book 3 return tickets from Edinburgh airport to CDG, Paris and accommodation for 2 nights in a 2 star hotel right in the middle of the city. We had a swell time exploring every single tourist point in Paris: in The Louvre, up the Eiffel Tower, in the Notre Dame, a cruise along River Seine, along Champ Elysees, Arc de Triomphe, the Pompidou museum, the parks, and even to the Basilique du Sacre Cour. Phew, it was indeed tiring! Not to mention, we spent a day in Disneyland (previously known as EuroDisney). I remember us returning to our budget hotel where the 14 inch TV was located at the very top corner of the wall, requiring us to only be able to watch it while lying horizontally on our beds.
The trip was fun and I remember using up 4-5 rolls of film!
11th June 2010
After a few years of dreaming, I finally made the trip to Paris with my four children a reality. Unlike other Malaysian post-graduate students, my interest in exploring Europe has sparked off, with the exception of Spain, which I haven't been to (although there are a few other countries I secretly dream of). I had travelled quite a lot during my younger days and the thought of travelling with four children in tow was a little daunting. What could possibly be the cheapest, easiest and least stressful?
Finally, after some thoughts and prayers, I booked our accommodations and tickets online. I had initially thought of taking the cheapest flight to Paris, but I never came across any good deals so the next best thing to do was to drive all the way there, as it would save us more than a couple hundred pounds.
To minimize stress, I chose hotels that offered comfort and practicality, as well as providing us value for money. I was not disappointed with my choice to book a 2 night accommodation at one of the Disney hotels, Davy Crockett Ranch because it was a self-catering unit which was brilliant. The deal included breakfast and 3 days in the 2 Disney parks: Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios. On weekends, as Disney hotel patrons, we had the privilege to enter the park at 8am (as opposed to 9.30am).
On our third day, we only stayed in Disneyland for half a day because we wanted to venture Paris. It was only half an hour's drive to the hotel but it took us a little longer as the traffic was manic. It definitely reminded me of driving in KL, except that we were on the wrong side of the road.
After checking-in the hotel, we quickly made our way to the nearest Metro station and headed towards the Louvre (main attraction: the Mona Lisa). My princess had asked to go to a few museums but I feared that it would bore the older boys who weren't too keen in anything historical. She had initially requested to go to the National Picasso Museum and the Marmottan Monet Museum. However, the Louvre itself took us awhile to explore and was enough for everyone to digest.
We then walked along River Seine, heading towards Notre-Dame. There was quite a crowd at Notre-Dame, so we didn't go in to count the gargoyles (as planned), but counted the number of statues on the front of the cathedral. We replayed the story of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame and even began to see whether we could spot a hunchback! Then, the plan was to get on a boat along the river but somehow, the children were beginning to get tired so they decided to skip the river cruise and head towards the Eiffel Tower instead.
Once at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower, Abang Z and my princess said that they wanted to take the stairs up the tower. I looked at them doubtfully. 'Are you sure you'll be able to make it?' We had, after all, walked quite a distance. I wasn't keen to climb up the stairs and hence, everyone had to come with me up on the lift.
When we stepped out of the lift, little D exclaimed, 'I don't believe we're on top of Eiffel Tower! Thank you, Mummy...'
I had purchased tickets to the 2nd level of the tower as access to the top was closed. Initially, I had mixed feelings about forking out some money to go up the tower, but as soon as I heard little D's shout of glee and looked at his brightly lit face, I knew that I had made the right decision. Alhamdulillah... praise the Almighty!
On our way to the Metro station, we walked pass a halal kebab stall. Our initial menu for dinner that night was cup noodles because we were in a hotel with just a kettle and fridge, but the aroma was so tantalizing that I halted to buy one for appetizer. Well, the two boys had earlier seen a halal restaurant near the hotel so they had already requested THAT for dinner. However, we reached the restaurant a little too late (11.05pm) and the only food they were willing to prepare were double cheese burgers with fries. Surely, that was enough for my children and in front of the TV back in our hotel rooms, the food vanished ever so quickly. For dessert, the children had cup noodles. Talk about hungry!
The next day, everyone slept in a little before we packed up and bid au revoir to Paris. It took us almost 3 hours driving to Calais, 35 minutes through Eurotunnel and then another 3 hours from Folkestone back to Coventry. It was a smashing break indeed...