'Dude, Where's My Car!!'
After not getting to sleep til midnight it was a lazy morning to wake up at as we've had a busy couple of days continually being on the run doing something. Mel i knew would probably need some sleep after a nights drinking, a 4 day bike ride and breakfast to consume after all those calories burnt. Nope she's up, showered and ready as she texted at 8.15am to say so! I'm already half way there, showered, ready, just need to pack up the van, checking to Ellie's morning routine and so we are off...well not quite as quickly as that because a) i threw away the map Mel gave me as to where her hotel was after we walked to get there yesterday and b) ...there are 15 Novotel Hotels in Paris....15!!!
After scouting through the addresses there is one in which i recognise and curse TomTom as it doesn't recognise the street name but hold on...it does recognise that there is a Novotel Hotel on this street and so that is pressed! Only less that 30 minutes to get there as we are both on the same side of town and as i pull near to the hotel entrance, well into a dodgy spot that's really sectioned off and i see a police station and policemen all around so probably not the best place to do so, but Mel is already at my door as she'd seen me drive on down.
So where to go in Paris, and best to drive into the city at least, as the hotel was a good walk away from anywhere to see. As Michelle was chatting yesterday she mentioned the things that they rode past and the one that wasn't mentioned was the Notre Dame so we headed on down to there. Notre Dame on our left and there's no where to park as the car park is for a height less than mine surprise surprise. So over the bridge and we come back on further on down but where TomTom wants to take us is closed after that. So we drive on round....finally we spot a place and there's just enough room for me to sneak on in. The person behind me didn't think so as they stayed where they were indicating where i was pulling into...haha, in your face, i'm in you're not!! Child, i'm such a child!
We head over to the ticket machine and Mel starts to read what the digital display says as i'm getting the coins from my stash for such occasions. Now Mel's French is very good, and maybe i could have interpreted what it was saying, but as she was reading it in a slow manner i decided to press the language key on the meter instead and up popped the English translation that clarified what Mel was trying to say...that Sunday was free!! Made me laugh when i saw her face as i pressed it to English...i've been to many a ticket machine to know that a flag symbol means language and more often than not the first time you press it it translates to English!
So we are only a minutes walk from the Notre Dame and so we don't need to worry about where we've parked the van as we clock that we need to be back there and ready for the off at around 12.30pm, therefore getting to the train station for 1pm to check in. So on the agenda is a walk around this side of Paris with an early lunch before needing to get her back and we do just that but not without bumping into a few people for Mel to say hello to! In the middle of Paris and she's saying hello, so it can only be those who cycled with her and they must be doing the same as us...as this is the one thing they didn't cycle past yesterday.
We have a stroll around and i'm trying to remember the cute old streets of Paris in the middle of a museum (yes i know there are lots of them) and Bastille...but i remember the route i took, albeit backwards from when i did it in May, but we don't quite manage to find it so that we can have lunch there. Nice walk anyway (!) and headed on back to the Notre Dame and the River whilst looking at some cafes but the majority of them were packed outside, which wasn't good for Ellie, or the really cute ones off from the main streets were very expensive. Well what do you expect of the cafes and restaurants by the Notre Dame and in the middle of Paris. There was though on the Riverside that we walked down before, along the side of the Notre Dame, a food festival being set up so we wandered back on there. Here there were food and drinks on stalls being sold and a sit down restaurant area ready to take lunch orders.
Turns out the prices weren't too bad also and as we were the only ones with another four people, out of about 100 of which could be seated here, sat down. This was an early lunch and our order came out so quickly with a glass of red wine to drink it with. Perfect as we are outside, the sun is shining, we're by the river, music being played and have the Notre Dame as the main view. What more to do on a Sunday morning?! The lady playing the Accordion made me laugh as she was dressed up in the French attire of a blue and white stripped top with a beret on her head and whilst playing she got everyone to clap and sing along, and so we did! It was only then that i saw that this place was absolutely packed and therefore it was best decision made, an early lunch!! As we chatted away, catching up and reminiscing the Italian adventure, she mentioned that her brother read my blog too...its so random the people i hear that do, he may have given up after being bored with a day or two of reading them but he clicked on in which is so lovely to hear.
With this place rammed it meant that Mel had to miss out on her dessert of cheese, of which we ordered, but from taking seconds for our mains to come the dessert wasn't looking like it was coming any time soon from the waitresses run off their feet. So we went to pay for what we had and walked back to the van...well tried to as the road i thought we parked on suddenly didn't look right at all as we were parked on a slight hill with shops next to us...this wasn't it. So the clock is ticking even louder now as after enjoying the ambience of where we were so much we already left it later than planned. Latest check in was 1.15pm, of which before we gave ourselves 15 minutes and now we've given ourselves nothing!
We walked the way in which we remembered TomTom tried to take us but couldn't after being blocked off by the police, we remember that the road bought us to the entrance of the Notre Dame...so 'Dude, Where's My Car', we need to to get on that train and out of Paris!!! Finally up ahead we could see the van, we were on the wrong side of the River and the best bit of having a high car is that you can spot it amongst others! So TomTom inputted for the station and we'll get there just after 1pm with Michelle saying that they've haven't even opened check in as yet so i think we are safe...that is until TomTom decides to take us own a no entry street to the entrance of the train station just 300 meters away. And so we have to go on round....time is ticking! This time we forget TomTom and follow the signs which i believe meant you could drop someone off in seconds at the departure area for the station we arrived at 1.12pm. Mel was out of that door and into departures with those little legs of hers and hoping a) that the soreness doesn't hinder her and b) check in is right inside that entrance!!! There's nothing more in which i can do, so fingers are crossed and i set off, to where though as i hadn't thought this far ahead!
All i put in is Mons, Belguim so at least i can get away from the departure drop off point and out of Paris for now, and then i'll figure out exactly where i'm going. With coming to Paris i know that i need to change my itinerary slightly but i don't know which town or city to head to first. Finally out of Paris i pull on over and it seems that Mons was correct in my thinking as it means i'll start straight up north of here which is the furthest south of Belgium i'll come to and just east of Lille i'll visit next week, to then head in a anti-clockwise direction to Bruges where i'll meet Mel once more the following Tuesday. What i was due to do originally was from Bingen head up to north of Belgium and head in a clock-wide direction, so not much of a massive change. At this time i'm texting Mel to triple check that she's made it okay...yes she's in!!!!!! Phew!!
TomTom inputted again with Mons and the toll roads of France taken off so with a near on 4 hour drive it doesn't matter so much as the view and scenery of France hits me once more and i really do enjoy travelling on through and seeing the villages as i do. Into Belgium and the roads suddenly change again to that rickety feeling, like on bridges that you cross...they really don't pave their roads very well here! I have to retract part of that statement though as further on down it did get smoother so i'll see what its like to further in i get into this country...maybe its just the outskirts! I pull up to a place in the guide of which i could rest my head in the city of Mons, therefore in the morning i'm right where i want to be. What i didn't realise was that i'm parking up outside what use to the an old residence of Van Gogh...this man certainly got around in Europe as he's been everywhere i have! With the bed on down it was time to relax and sleep...Belgium adventures are about to begin.