Thursday morning dawned, once again, unsurprisingly lovely, in Paris. We headed off super early (7am), in order to cover what we wanted to cover before catching our train to The Netherlands.
Our destination this morning was Sacré-Cœur Basilica. When we asked for directions at the Metro on how to get there, for some strange reason, they told us to take 2 seperate ‘trains’ and then walk this way and that, but when we decided to work it out ourselves, it was only one quick metro trip and a very nice walk up the famous street, Rue de Steinkerque. (Remember that they, while very friendly, have a quite thick accent, with broken English, so the translations are not always fab) I think what they may have been suggesting was the Funiculaire, which is a trolley/tram type system, taking you from the bottom of the hill up to the Sacré Cœur. The journey lasts 1 minute 30 seconds and takes you to the top of the famous steps in a quick and safe way.
The funicular began operation in 1900…. wowzers. People have been that lazy for that long ??? LOL. Kidding, I realise it is necessary for people with mobility issues etc, but man, it’s a lot missed though. While the walk up is quite long… maybe 15mins of steep ramps/steps, the changing view as you make your way up, is worth the effort.
I’m getting ahead of myself though… On our way up Rue de Steinkerque, I must admit that I was wondering what all the fuss was about in the many travel blogs I’d read about how you simple HAVE to walk up this street etc etc. The fantastic shopping and food vendors…. Um, no… all we saw were closed stores. But oh yes, wait, it was the crack of dawn.. barely 7.30… and Parisians are not known for their early risers. LOL. Thank The Lord there was a food vendor open at the very top of the street.. and they sold NUTELLA & BANANA CREPES !! Shut the front door… the best thing I’d eaten so far (Yes, even better than the Lemon & sugar crepe I had the day before while standing in the line for The Catacombs for nearly 3hrs (Yes, I did forget those 2 points in the part 1 blog.. whoopsie).
Also at the bottom of the grounds of Sacré-Cœur was a traditional, double decker, carousel. There’s just something about carousels, right. And with this being the first double decker one I’d ever seen… it was pretty exciting. (PS.. I’d love to say this is my photo, but it’s not.. thanks Google.)
After our mammoth walk up, with said delicious crepe on board, we arrived at the top, made our way around to the left of the Basilica, following the directions to the tour, only to find out they don’t open until 10. Whoopsie !! Praise God though, there was a lovely American tourist also wanting to take the tour to the top, and she pointed out that there was a self service ticket machine, for entry out of manned hours. Woot Woot !!!! Without this service available, we would have likely missed out, due to the time of our train departure etc.
The walk up, while long and hard work (bye bye crepe calories), was worth every single step !! The views from the top of the Basilica were AHHHMAZING !!! & check out the wear on those stairs….. having been walked up by many.. since 1914, when it was completed, after construction beginning in 1875.
After reluctantly making our way back down, inspecting the interior of the Basilica and then down the front steps & park area, we exercised our very best ‘make no eye contact with scammers’ skills, and found ourselves back in Rue de Steinkerque. Surprise, surprise, Parisians are now awake and at work !!! We walked up a deserted street a couple of hours earlier, and walked back down a packed, busy, bustling street. Much to look at, much to buy… and a fantastic atmosphere to enjoy !! THIS is what the travel bloggers were going on about.
Back to our hotel we travelled, enjoying our last view of Moulin Rouge and just the area in general. There’s no doubt that the area of Montmartre alone could easily be given days and days of your attention, and you not grow bored. (Note for next time.)
We completed our packing, checked out, and headed to the Metro stop. Not as fun as usual, with heavy luggage in tow, but we did it in the end !!! Karen’s ticket may have played up and I thought I was gonna be left on my lonesome on the other side of the turnstiles, but alas, a lovely Parisian showed her a way through. My luggage was started to ‘act weird’ at this point too. I don’t know if I packed it out of balance or what, but I barely made it to The Netherlands… and there was new luggage purchased for the return journey. (Yay, I now own a set of Dutch luggage !!)
Boarding the Thalys fast train at Gar de Nord was a very seamless operation, and in no time, we were in our comfy seats, enjoying our free wi-fi, and on our way !! I must say, I LOVE LOVE LOVE long distance train travel… as in I really enjoy it, so this was actually a highlight for me. There’s just something about… the dining car… LOL LOL LOL !!!
The dining car was where I had the revelation I was hoping not to have… that they sold Peanut M & Ms…. I swear, they’re my cryptonite. ha ha. But I mean, seriously, when they had a limited edition pack, in French colours.. I mean really, they couldn’t just remain on the shelf now could they !! (rhetorical question. ha ha)
OK.. so I just wanna take a second here to plug the Lou Lou Lemon scarf I’m wearing in the far right pic above. I know it’s a black & white shot, so a little hard to see, but HERE is the link for the item in the Australian store, so you can get a better look at it. I saw that quite a few travel bloggers recommended it, so I grabbed one. Even at the kinda pricey price tag of AU$59.00, I honestly don’t regret it. You’ll see in the previous blogs that I wore it as an infinity scarf, and above, I’m wearing is as a cardigan. So so versatile, and I’m jumping on the bandwagon with the seasoned travel bloggers and highly recommending it !! The link I’ve attached is a different colour to mine, but it’s the only one I can source at present. Darn it for finding this different colour.. as now I’m attempted. arrrgghhhh !! Self control Fi, self control !!!
The Thaly’s train travels at up to 300kms per hour, so it was a pretty interesting trip. Before we knew it, our phones dinged.. a message from our provider that we were now in Belgium and could enjoy service in that area. How nice of them… wonder how much that message cost me. ha ha. A couple of stops throughs Belgium, and then into The Netherlands… and another message to inform us of this. I think the only stops through Belgium were Brussels and Antwerp, but don’t quote me. We exited the Thalys train at Rotterdam and then boarded a city train to Utrecht Central where we were met by our new Dutch cousin (real Dutch cousin’s husband)(well, technically not real for me at all, or for my sister’s either.. but by marriage… Yes, I knew it was boring info that you didn’t need.. but hey, didn’t wanna ‘lie’ either.😂 Some of my readers get antsy about this.)
Our drive from Utrecht to our new ‘home’ at Nieuwegein was a lovely one, with some info given on the area we were to reside in for the next 11 nights. We did call it Norwegian for a while, until we got our head around how to say it.😂 Norwegian people should take this as a huge compliment, as the area of Nieuwegein is GORGEOUS !!
The one negative about the trip was that I couldn’t share anything that happened in the late afternoon/evenings with my family via video calls/phone calls etc, due to the time difference. It was 8hrs ahead at home, so by 1-2pm, my kiddos were in bed. It was was what it was tho. 😀
So, we were finally in The Netherlands…. and what do we have for dinner on our first night ?? Thai !! LOL. It was delicious though, and a a sign of the 11 nights of good eating ahead of us. Let’s just we ‘chose’ very well when deciding to stay with our Dutch cousins, Sandra & Richard…oh, and their dog Basil !!
OK… see you soon with Part 4.
Lv Fi . xox