Full Circle

Back in Paris for a second time, and this time I have an idea of how the rest of Europe looks in comparison. My mom and sister return home from here, and to be honest, half of me wishes I were going home with them as well. As much as I love travelling, you come to realize that an entire month of going out everyday is quite tiring. In Osaka, I had three months, so I could just live life normally and get a deeper taste of the city. This time, I’m rushing my itinerary to see as much as possible with my time here, and that in itself is highly exhaustive.

Anyway, this time in Paris we were welcomed with great sunny weather, and so we went back to a few of the places we’ve already been for a set of nicer pictures. We also went to two amazing lookout locations. One is the Tour Montparnasse, which is a very ugly tower, but since you’re on top of it, it doesn’t obstruct your beautiful view over Paris.

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In the evening, we went to the Montmartre, which is the hill on which the Sacre-Coeur is located around the northwestern side of Paris. It’s not actually very high – just a slight uphill walk – but because the rest of Paris is so flat, you get another amazing view over the city.

In the vicinity of the church, you can already see a buzzing area full of restaurants and pubs.

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We actually went in the nighttime, and the lights over the city seemed almost magical.

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Speaking of magic, I spent my second day in Paris at a truly magical place – Disneyland! We were originally on the fence about whether we should go or not, because that day was a Sunday and we expected there to be a lot of people. But we decided that we would actually prefer going to Disneyland over anything else, and the forecast also predicted another beautiful day, so we went for it! And thank God, there really weren’t too many people at all! Most of the visitors were couples with very young children, so the lineups for pictures were very long, but the lineups for rides were not bad at all. We collected fast passes to skip most of the lines, but we also didn’t really need to; we saw lineup times of around 20-30 minutes, which is really quite good for a May Sunday at Disneyland.

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Disneyland Paris really isn’t that big. It’s definitely bigger than the one in Hong Kong, but not huge by any means. In a way, that’s also good, because we were able to get through literally the entire park in one day. We went on all the rides, including the Disneyland train, and even watched all the shows.

My childhood image of Disney is basically going to the Disneyland in California when I was 8 year old. I really only remember three rides – Indiana Jones, Autopia, and the Disneyland Railroad that takes you around to different areas. Hong Kong Disneyland (which I visited 3 times within 18 months!) has both Autopia and the train, but I haven’t seen Indiana Jones for a while… not until I got to Disneyland Paris. Unfortunately, this ride is a mini-version of the one I remember, but regardless, it still brought back dear memories.

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The only thing I kind of regret is not meeting Rapunzel. She’s not always out! But the line up was two hours, and we would have been the only old kids among the crowd of parents with their five-year-old children. We opted for rides instead.

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One of my favourite shows that I watched was ‘Welcome to Spring’. It’s a short dance routine show, and the theme is springtime (with these two really awesome random penguins!), but the thing that really resonates with me is that all the songs are from Mary Poppins! As an ex-choir kid that sang all the classic choir songs, I naturally have all the lyrics to Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and Let’s Go Fly a Kite embedded in my head. I was happily singing along in the midst of all the other children 20 years younger than me 🙂

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Minnie’s Little Spring Train was a mini-parade with all these characters out in springtime costumes.

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Goofy’s Garden Party is similar – another come out to sing and dance parade – but it seemed a little longer than the first one. And there were definitely a lot more people and characters!

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I even watched the Jolly Holiday Band for a good 10 or 15 minutes. Most of the kids weren’t so interested because there were no characters, but I enjoyed their light jazz swing.

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And of course, there’s the Disney Magic on Parade which only comes out once during the day (the other shows all have multiple times). This is where you get to see the grand parade floats, with every classic character sitting in their respective positions and waving at you.

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Oh wait, I lied. I have a second regret – not staying for the Disney Dreams show at the end of the day. But seriously – the park closes at 10:30 PM! We were too tired to stay for that. So now I will have to live without knowing whether the show is simply a light show, or if they have fireworks as well.

Hong Kong Disneyland doesn’t have nearly as many shows. They have the same ones that come out every day – the Golden Mickeys, Lion King – nothing new. Hong Kong Disneyland’s Springtime Celebration also isn’t as grand as this one in Paris… they don’t even need a weekly schedule to keep up with the happenings.

And quite honestly, I’m just kind of glad that I got to see a real castle instead of the cardboard one last time in Hong Kong.

We got a ticket to meet a Disney princess, but you don’t get to choose which. There were only two inside, and one was Ariel (The Little Mermaid), who I would have loved… but instead, we got Tiana from The Princess and the Frog, and I never ever watched the movie. It was quite awkward when she asked me if I knew her story, and I was forced to say no… Nevertheless, I like the concept of these real Disney princesses. In Hong Kong, you only get the choice of taking pictures with characters in full body costumes; no real features. I wonder why that is?

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Some people say these things you can find all around the world aren’t very special. That’s why I like it when I see the same but distinctive products.

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After a very tiring (but fun!) day at the happiest place in the world yesterday, we are now in Geneva and looking at the next week in Switzerland. When we arrived in Paris, we took a taxi to our place to avoid the hassle of the subway. This time out of Paris, I had a shuttle booked for us, but due to various reasons, the shuttle service didn’t arrive, and we were forced to take the subway to the airport anyway. To be honest, its not actually that hard to get there by public transportation; it’s just a bit expensive in comparison to a booked shuttle service and it doesn’t seem worthwhile in terms of the added inconvenience. A one way subway ticket to the airport is already around 13e, and with that price, you have three(!) train transfers to make. This means carrying luggage up and down multiple sets of stairs, which is fine for me, but quite difficult if you have larger and heavier bags. Shuttle service is only a few Euro more – around 16e – and you skip all that hassle. If you have even more people, you may as well just share a taxi.

Lugging my suitcase around in usual fashion.

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So my trip is now more than halfway over. I have one week in Switzerland, one week in Italy, and then I’ll be back in Vancouver! Whether it’s the Europe adventures ahead or the thought of heading home, I’m pretty excited.

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