Late September/Early October 2007
United Kingdom – London & Brighton (England) / Swansea (Wales)
France – Paris
Now with added France! Yes, that’s right readers, I added a new country to my repertoire on my 2007 trip! This trip also featured the introduction of a couple of new traveling companions (at least for a little bit of the trip) as well as the retirement of William, though not for any specific reason I can recall (I think his schedule just didn’t jive with ours). Still, much fun was had and I was elated to be visiting another country (and I’m sure you’ll all be excited to hear about more than the UK this time!), so join me on another trip down memory lane, won’t you?
As I said in my last post, that was the trip where I felt like I started to fall into a rhythm of travel – how to plan, where to go, etc. But it was probably this trip where Ruth Ann and I started taking it as read that we would take a trip to the UK around the Sep/Oct timeframe. As such, I don’t have any memories of a “moment” when we started planning for our 2007 trip – it probably started happening shortly after we returned from our 2006 trip. 🙂 Once again in 2007, we had a Regenerations convention to attend in Wales, so we used that as our grounding point to figure out when we would be traveling, though by this point, the late September timeframe had become appealing to both of us anyway as school was back in session by then (even in Europe), flights were generally less expensive, touristy sights weren’t as crowded, etc. I’m pretty certain this was our first trip that crossed into October though and I think that’s because Regenerations was held later than usual. And we mixed things up further by starting our trip in Brighton (my first time back since 2003!) and, of course, by adding Paris to our itinerary. Speaking of which…
PARIS! The City of Lights is easily reached from London by Eurostar train (as well as by air, of course, but we chose Eurostar to avoid the hullabaloo of air travel) and you can (fairly) easily go there and back in the same day, so that’s what we decided to do. Of course, my memories from 11 years ago aren’t as fresh as they could be, so I don’t remember exactly when we made plans to put Paris on the itinerary, but I don’t recall it being a late addition. Trains run between the two cities every day, so we opted to try and get as close to a full day as possible by taking the first train out of St. Pancras on a Tuesday morning and returning on the last train out of Gare du Nord in the evening, which I think translated to a 6:30 AMish departure from London and a 7 PMish departure from Paris. The train ride itself is around 2.5 hours and you also lose an hour traveling from London to Paris, so it was mid-morning by the time we arrived there. Again, trying to make the most of our one day there, we booked a bus tour that would allow us to easily hit the highlights, including the Eiffel Tower, a river cruise on the Seine, Notre Dame, and the Louvre. If you’re thinking “Wow, that sounds like a lot for one day!” you would be right – it was a lot! But totally worth it, since neither of us had visited Paris previously, so I think we both look back on the trip with lots of great memories. And booking the bus tour was, in this case, a really good idea because it made it so easy to get around the city to hit the most important highlights. I’m not always the biggest fan of bus tours, but there’s no shame in taking advantage of them! And our tour guide, Veronique, was great! I wish I could remember exactly what company we booked the tour through so I could recommend them, but alas, that detail has been lost to the mists of time. I’m sure there are lots of options though, so if you’re looking to spend a day in Paris, I recommend booking one. Alternatively, you could stay for a night or two so you have more time to explore before returning to London (or just use Paris as your gateway to mainland Europe if London is just one stop on your itinerary vs. your home base). What I don’t recommend is doing a day trip like this the day before you fly home, which is what we did. If I had the trip to do over again, I wouldn’t have done it the same way. I can’t think if there was a specific reason for it, but I assume it was either the timing of Regenerations or the price of the Eurostar tickets (or maybe both) that made us pick the day we did. Moral of the story – when you’re planning your own trip, do your research and decide what works best for you.
Outside of the excitement of Regenerations and Paris, the other highlight of this trip was a return to Brighton after a 4.5-year absence. As usual with these throwback posts, the order of operations escapes me, but based on the fact that my pictures start with Brighton, I feel like we must have gone there the day after arriving in London. And that’s where we intersected with some additional travel companions – Jason and Nigel. Although they weren’t actually traveling with us, so let’s call them special guests. 🙂 They’re also both friends from the convention circuit, but Nigel lives in Brighton and Jason was on his own trip (from the US), so me, Ruth Ann, and Steve met up with them for a day in the sun (not on the beach, mind you, but it was gloriously sunny!). Being Doctor Who fans as well, I *think* they may have gone to Swansea as well, but I can’t remember. When you go to the same event year after year, it’s hard to pick out which memories go with which year!
If you’re thinking London seems to have taken a bit of a backseat on this trip, you’d be right! As I look back at the pictures I took, the only thing I remember is that our London weather was pretty crap, which is always a bit of a downer, but it’s to be expected in the UK (though Brighton and Swansea were, I think, very good). The only “special” thing I remember us doing in London was attending the Dalí Universe exhibition in London County Hall. Ruth Ann tends to be more into art than me (though I’ve certainly visited plenty of museums on trips with Scott), so I’m pretty certain this would have been her idea. I don’t think we were able to take photos inside (since I don’t have any pictures of the exhibition), so I’ve only got photographic proof of the two sculptures that were outside (see below for one of them). But Dalí’s art is definitely worth seeing, so consider this your recommendation to seek some out!
How’s that for a memory dump? Now for some more visual memories! As I was editing/reviewing this photos, I realized the quality isn’t nearly as good as the photos on previous trips – not sure if that’s down to camera settings or what. So accept my apologies for the less-than-stellar quality, but enjoy them nonetheless!
Me and Steve outside, you guessed it, the Pavilion! The photos I get from Ruth Ann always have the date stamp on them, so that’s why you see it in some photos. Depending on the photo, I can sometimes edit it out, but in some cases (like this one), I would end up cropping too much, so I leave it in.
We spent some time hanging out on Brighton Pier! Now that I think about it, I’ve never gone back to it (though I’ve walked by/near it many times). I’m pretty sure Jason was filming this – Steve is pretending to be Doctor Who actor Christopher Eccleston, but I’m not sure about Nigel.
The Horror Hotel was another attraction on the pier, though I don’t remember it being particularly horrifying.
The Swiss Centre was a fixture in Leicester Square for a long time, but was demolished in 2008.
We decided to take a ride on the Eye on this trip. It was at night, which can be a cool way to see the lights of the city, but the weather was pretty rainy, so the only good pictures we got were of the two of us!
The Dalí sculpture Nobility of Time outside the exhibition I mentioned above.
Are you still sitting comfortably? Ready to make the move from the UK to mainland Europe? Let’s look at Paris!
Passing by the Paris Opera. Another shot from the bus, which I had to settle for throughout much of Paris. Bus tours can be very useful, but they aren’t good for snapping photos from!
Unfortunately, this is as close as we got to the Arc de Triomphe, but thankfully I got closer on a future trip.
The Flame of Liberty is a replica of the torch held by the Statue of Liberty. It’s on the northern end of the Pont de l’Alma, where Princess Diana died, so it has also become an unofficial memorial to her (hence her photo and the flowers for her).
Looking down at the Trocadéro.
And now looking at the Champ de Mars. Love this shot!
Back on the ground again, looking at the bust of Gustave Eiffel.
Part of the Louvre Pyramid from the inside.
But there is SO much more to see inside, like The Wedding at Cana.
What a whirlwind day we had in Paris! I’m SO glad we took the time to do that on this trip, but I was also happy to spend more time in Paris on my first trip with Scott in 2013. I absolutely recommend using the Eurostar if you’re looking for a quick trip to Paris from London. And Paris isn’t the only city you can visit via train from London, nor is it the only mainland European city I’ve visited from London. But that will be a story for another blog.
Speaking of future blog posts, I suppose you’re wondering what’s next? Well, the year will be 2008 and there will be not one, but TWO trips to read about. Of course, there will be a UK trip (shocking, I know), but before that post, there will also be a separate trip to another new country. Which country, you ask? Come back soon to find out!