Thursday, February 08, 2007

New Year's Eve in Paris, Yeah Baby!

Ah yes...time for the long-awaited (and just plain looong), highly-anticipated New Years Eve in Paris Post. It took ages to get to it but it is finally here! All rejoice in the land!

Though I must warn's actually not that exciting (and definitely isn't at all like the picture to the left). Although I like to pretend it was.

Yes, there was a moment when I thought I was going to die and yes it was a proud moment when I found my way through unfamiliar, dark Paris streets. But...honestly? We didn't really do much. I mean, really. That said, I did take a crapload of pictures as per the usual, have lots of stupid videos to share and it was the best New Years I have ever had.

Keep in mind, though, that I hate New Years and all of mine usually suck...a lot (unless I'm in any other place than Vancouver, so it seems).

I decided to skip over my last day's in Scotland because it was more sad than exciting. I did manage to cram one more castle into my trip:

Sterling Castle

But sadly it was from our moving car as it zipped towards the airport. Boo.

Anyway, it truly was hard to leave. I spent 6 days in Scotland and it was starting to feel like a really good way.

We had a late flight going into Lyon (we were to catch the TGV to Paris the next day) and upon landing Ross had the unwanted task of trying to explain (in French) to the taxi driver where his sister's flat was. Thing is, even though we had the address written down and we showed him, he had no clue. And we couldn't have told him where the nearest cross street was or nearest attraction. I kept mentioning the Wallace Pub but it was met with a blank stare. The taxi driver obviously wasn't a fan of Scotch.

Ross did an excellent job though, and despite for a moment thinking the driver was going to stiff us on route, take our money and deposit our bodies in the Soane, we ended up in front of Cat's flat and settled in for a very long sleep.

The next morning was, of course, December 31st. We decided to pop into the Wallace to hand over Cat's keys to the owner (they are a trusting bunch) and, well, it just seemed like a place we had to say goodbye to. Too many beers were had here, too many times my skirt was tucked into my thong (OK, once...but that's enough!)

The TGV was nicer going back to Paris then coming here as we didnt have to sit across from anyone. And of course we weren't so tired that we couldn't enjoy the landscape that whizzed by at 50 million miles an hour. The only minor thing was the fact that Ross forgot a duffel bag which housed his jeans, my (old) boots and Xmas presents. I only mention the fact that he forgot it because, for once, something didn't go wrong on the account of me. And I don't think it will ever happen again.

We arrived at the Gare de Lyon and I immediately switched into Metro Mode. I think I impressed Ross with my internal GPS which I accrued at a mere glance of the metro map. What was also impressive was our Parisienne welcome...classical buskers were hammering it out in the hallways.

In no time we arrived at our hotel. It was a piece of cake finding it since I had stayed there for a week the year before. The eccentric owner was the same, as was the neighbourhood cafes and shops. It felt familiar and nice to be back and it was great to be able to share my previous discoveries with Ross. It was even nicer to be able to eat in the local cafes with someone and not be alone as solo travelers usually are. And even nicer yet was getting Ross to order so I didn't have to embarass myself by ordering another "cup" of wine.

Of course, after we unpacked and had a nap, it came time for the crucial question.

It was New Years Eve. In Paris. We had no plans. What the hell were we going to do?

As it happened though, the room we were in this time was up 5 floors (no elevator, wheeeze) and not as soundproof as the one I had on my last visit. By that, I mean I could hear everything that was going on in the next room over and across the hall. That meant taps running, people peeing, doors creeking, beds squeaking...and every word of conversation.

Turns out the two rooms were taken over by some family of sorts from the states. With their loud Southern accents I could hear everything...and since one of the girls had actually been living in Paris for awhile, I could hear all of her advice for the evening.

Whatever she said was true. There was no point going to a bar or a restaurant because they were already booked or closed for private parties. When someone asked if it was best to go to the Eiffel Tower for the celebrations, she said the Champs Elysees was a better bet since the fireworks weren't going off at the tower this year.

So Ross and I eagerly took in this advice (not going out to eat meant saving money and we were bone dry after Britain) and got ready and for a night out on the town of all towns. I had bought this amazing dress off of the UK Ebay especially for the occassion: a Jane Norman satin strapless dress at 50% off. I was a bit concerned though since I had gained a few pounds since I bought it and the dress had already fit me like a glove. But I think I made it work....tried to anyway.

Only it started to piss outside with rain. And my camera ran out of batteries and I ran out of champagne. Being brave souls we decided to venture out into the streets to find a store that might be open...sans umbrella.

It didn't look good....

...but we braved it anyway.

Ten minutes later, with our mission accomplished, we were drowned rats and with New Years just a few hours away, all I could think about was how miserable I was going to be standing in the rain all night.

So he cracked open the champagne...

...and I cracked open the mini red martinis.

And we toasted each other while waiting to dry off...

...and tucked into our New Years Eve dinner that consisted of potato salad, Pringles, diet muffins, brie and bread. We pretended it was gourmet.(Warning: the following video of our hotel room is fairly boring).

Then as 11PM approached, I made some last minute finishing touches...

...which were a bit all over the place due to the quickly drunken champagne...and as you can see...I am also a bit all over the place. And no, I don't really dance like this..I swear.(Warning: the following video of me getting ready makes me look incredibly silly)

With booze tucked away in our clothing we headed out into the streets...and guess what? The rain had stopped. We made our way through the balmy, damp streets and down to the metro to wait with all the other drunken revelers.

To our surprise it wasn't as crowded as we thought it would be. That is till we got on the train. Champagne central!

When the metro stopped at Champs Elysee, well, that's when the chaos began...

It was mobbed. And I mean MOBBED. Several metro lines with hundreds of passengers each all bottlenecked together up a narrow stairwell...(Warning: the following video does not capture the full choas of the situation)

...then through only one open gate and then through to the outside. I was actually afraid for my life. There was at least 500 drunk people trying to go through ONE exit.

People were screaming! Girls were being trampled! People were pushing and shoving and pulling and yelling. I was soon soaked in random champagne. The police were there but even they couldn't do much but get swept through this outflowing tide. I just hung on to Ross and let myself go limp. We literally were squeezed out of the tube, at times I was moving and my feet weren't even touching the ground!

Thankfully we found our way to the top like gophers scurrying out of a hole (the one in Caddyshack comes to mind) and before us lay the Champs Elysees, that famous boulevard, all lit up with lights with the Arc de Triomphe at one end...

And the Place de Concorde at the other.

Before we even got a chance to let the vibrancy of the situation settle in, some young and drunk French guy accousted me and begged Ross to take a photo of us. We obliged and I smiled sweetly for the cameras while the guy yelled "Bonne Annee!" in my ear. Then he was off with a shot as fireworks from all around us started to go off.

OK, so this video actually is a bit entertaining...kinda

Ross's watch said we had plenty of time so we were a bit unsure if it was New Years or not. But after the billionth firework went off from beside us and the millionth person shouted "Bonne Annee!" we got the picture.

Happy New Year!

We toasted each other and decided to walk down the street towards the Arc but it was too packed (there was 500,000 people there! Can you believe it?) and there were too many fireworks/crackers. I've seen too many firecracker safety videos during assemblies in grade school to know how darn scary those things are.

So we found this little bench off to the side and spent our time drinking and watching the New Years Eve in Paris unfold before our eyes.

What was most amazing was the fact that it was warm! A humid breeze would occasionally drift past...and of course, still no rain. You couldn't have asked for a better night.

After awhile though we headed off for the hotel. We decided against the death trap that is the metro and would walk instead. We stopped in for an expensive drink at a cafe (talk about hiking up the prices for New Years)...

Contemplating the past year

And then set off. Here comes the amazing part. We were on the Right Bank. The hotel is on the Left Bank. While I have walked over the Pont Alexander (one of the many bridges across the Seine) before, it was over a year ago and it was always in the daytime. When you travel alone, you don't tend to frequent Paris streets at night.

So using the soaring heights of the lit-up Montparnasse Tower as a beacon, we walked. We went down streets I never heard of, around strange corners, past hidden museums and dark parks. There wasn't one street that I had heard of, one building that looked familiar (that said, all buildings in Paris look alike). I just kept walking as if I knew Paris like the back of my hand.

A half hour later we showed up in front of the hotel. I don't know how I did it but it wasn't to be the last time either. Too bad my internal GPS only works with geographical directions. I'd love to be able to apply it to the rest of my life!


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Rachel said...

ooh it looks like it was a good new years!

now i'm going to take advantage of your knowledge of gay paris..

we're heading off on Tuesday to spend Valentines day there and are wanting an extraordinarily romantic restaurant. Did you see anywhere like that when you were there? Last time I went was years ago so I definitely can't remember any :)

i hope you don't think i'm too cheeky!!

Rachel said...

oh - i just wanted to add that i really love that dress. beautiful!

Rachel said...

Hmph! I can't watch the videos at work. I will have to wait until later.
Love your hair. did you put it in hot rollers for the night?
It looks like you had a fantastic time.

Dan said...

I was in Paris for the millenium. Can you say bestest new years ever? Given that nothing could ever top that, I've stopped trying.

Becslifeonline said...

That looks like such a fun night! I've now added Paris to my list of the places where I want to spend New Years Eve from now on ha ha.

M said...

how beautiful!
(Paris looks good too).

In Australia we get excited when there's a building that's from the 1970s. We're like..WOW, NOW THAT'S HISTORY!! psh.

Wanderlusting said...

Hon T - You mean I'm a product now? Whooo hoo! I'm gonna list myself on the stock exchange!

Rachel - Hmmm well I don't know about super romantic but anything you do in Paris is bound to be romantic anyway.

Check out Les Noces De Jeanette...14 Rue Favart in the 2eme. Its classy and cheapish (like 30 EU for 3 courses) and you get my fav drink for free (kir royale!) I hear Chez Paul in the Bastille is also very good for romance.

And I like cheeky!

Rachel - thanks if I don't brush my hair or I get it wet, it waves...I also threw in a few hair peices into the mix!

Dan - Wow, I bet! My millenium we were kicked out of a house party at 12:05 :(

Becs - I recommend it because even if you aren't doing anything, you feel like you are doing something

M - Same in Canada...if it's a hundred years old it's declared a heritage house!

mareGa said...

well... it looks like fun for me.

Expat Traveler said...

It sort of sounds like what I went through on July 14, 2003.. But I'm sure there were more crowds. We had to travel far and so the metro we went. It was insane! I wished we walked now... But we were 2 chicks..

By the way, love the pics! You are so beautiful. ;-) Sorry been to busy prepping and interviews...

eurobrat said...

Looks like a blast :)

Lulu's Lost It said...

You look so cute! The videos are so funny, I like how interactive your blog is and I love the pics cauze it makes it really visually interesting too.
I really like your little wine thing in your column on the side, those french rabbit wines are fuckin awesome! mmmmmmm.