Easter holiday travels, part I: London & Paris

I promised to tell you about my spring holiday adventures, and here they begin!  Our two full weeks of holiday began after classes on 15 March and I travelled from 16-29 March with my friend, Scott.  Six friends met us in Germany almost a week in, but that is for a later post.

The first leg of our trip began around 7.30AM on a Saturday (horrid time to be awake, I know) when we left our hall for the bus station.  We took a double-decker bus down to London [front-row view on the top deck!] and as we neared the English border we saw the first of a lot of snow on the trip!  This Southern lass was quite excited.  One exciting part of travelling with Stagecoach is that their buses have free WiFi access for passengers.  Chatting with friends and tweeting (and revising, of course!) make the time go much faster.  We truly are 21st century university students…

Me and Scott on the double-decker to London, early in the morning. We look much more awake than we felt!

Me and Scott on the double-decker to London, early in the morning. We look much more awake than we felt!

The sky views we were treated to along the way (when it was not precipitating) were breathtaking!

The sky views we were treated to along the way (when it was not precipitating) were breathtaking!

We arrived in rainy London for a late dinner and then had a couple of hours to walk around before catching our next bus.  Scott, who used to live just outside of London, led the way to Buckingham Palace, which is quite impressive even at night.

Buckingham Palace at night--massive and beautiful!

Buckingham Palace at night–massive and beautiful!

posing in front of the Victoria Memorial, across from the palace.

posing in front of the Victoria Memorial, across from the palace.

That was about all we had time to see before we had to make our way back to the bus station.  The next leg of travelling was an overnight bus (single deck this time) to Paris.  Scott and I managed to get the front seats again (more leg room!) and spent the first quarter hour or so laughing because the bus driver was sarcastic and quite the joker.  After we settled in and set off, we tried to get some sleep.  Unfortunately, buses stop every few hours.  We also had to cross the Channel, which ended up being a bigger adventure than anticipated.  We arrived in Dover after 23.00 and, after going through border control (another passport stamp!), found out that we had to wait an extra couple of hours to cross on the ferry.   We all hung around in the terminal or on the bus in varying degrees of sleepiness.  Finally, a bit after 2.00,  we boarded the ferry.  Whatever idea I had in my head of the ferry was shattered when I realised how absolutely massive the ship we were on was.  There were hundreds of people on board; we all found a couch or window seat to curl up and nap on.  A couple of hours later we arrived in Calais, re-boarded the bus, and were on our way.

We arrived in Paris fairly early in the morning and Scott and I set off to explore Paris!  The fact that it was cloudy and a bit drizzly just added to the romance of the beautiful French city.  Our first stop was the Arc de Triomphe, then we stored our luggage in the train station and continued our wanderings.  Following, and the next blog entry, are selected photographs from our day:

Le Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile on a rainy day. So impressive.

Le Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile on a rainy day. So impressive.  There is no way to cross the massive roundabout above ground, so there is a tunnel under the street to get to the centre.

Looking up...so many details over every bit of it!

Looking up…so many details over every bit of it!

Tomb of the unknown soldier, with an eternal flame.

Tomb of the unknown soldier, with an eternal flame. I was happy to see so many flowers and wreaths placed in memoriam.

Le Porte Saint-Denis in the middle of Paris; we saw so many gorgeous old detailed arches.

Le Porte Saint-Denis in the middle of Paris; we saw so many gorgeous old detailed arches.

The Conseil d'Etat (Counsel of State)--a very impressive government building.

The Conseil d’Etat (Counsel of State)–a very impressive government building.