Blink and I am back from another Europe trip again! Instead of jetting from one place to another like last year’s Eurotrip, this time around, I’m focusing on one country only — Switzerland. Unfortunately, there is no direct flight from Malaysia to Switzerland, so we will have to make do with an open jaw arrangement. Flying in from Paris and flying back from Frankfurt.
One of the reasons I chose to fly in from Paris was because of this. The Airbus 380. In case you have been living on the other side of the moon, the Airbus 380 is the world’s largest commercial airliner. We managed to get seats on the upper deck. The leg room was much better than the one we had last year. Another plus point was the lack of turbulence and engine noise, probably from the fact that we were sitting a fair distance from the fuselage.
Paris’s Charles de Gaulle still had the same decor as last year and their baggage system left a lot to be desired. Although we were the only arrival, it took ages for our luggage to appear on the carousel. I am guessing it must be the distance from the plane to the main terminal. Paris was only a stopover while we wait for the TGV Lyria to Lausanne which leaves Gare du Lyon at noon. It was only 8am by the time we sat down on the bus heading towards Gare du Lyon.
This was the 850th year that the church existed
Although this is my third time in Paris, it is only my first time entering the famed Notre Dame Cathedral. This French Gothic church is one of the largest in Europe and since we were there early, there was no queue for entrance. Which was also a first! In my previous experiences, the queue was quite long. There were ongoing plans to celebrate the 850th year of the church’s existence from last December until November 2013.
The Notre Dame Cathedral is famous for its ‘flying buttress’ construction method of having arched exterior supports. The increased weight led to further construction of supporting towers and the infamous gargoyle water sprouts, to prevent unnecessary collection of rain water on the roofs.
If you haven’t read about my Eurotrip last year, there is one interesting fact about the church. On the left entryway (usually the exit), there is a statue without its head. This is the statue of Saint Denis. His head was chopped off during one of the persecutions against the Christians, instead of dying, he picked it up and was rumoured to have walked at least ten kilometres and even preached a sermon along the way.
There was another thing that I needed to tick from my to-do list, but time was not on my side. By the time I made it out from the cathedral, the queue for its tower was already 50-60 persons long. And it was not even opening hours yet! But their policy was to only allow twenty people on each trip up to the tower which hampered my chances of going up. So for those who are planning to visit the tower, it costs €8 and you need to be there around 9am, in order to be amongst the first to go up. The opening hours are from 10am-6pm if I’m not mistaken and during certain months, it could be up to 11pm! Entry to the church is free.
Tip: Be there at 8am to enjoy the cathedral, before making your way to the queue around 9am.
We took a slow walk back to the Gare du Lyon train station, passing through the stately Parisian buildings which are iconic for the city of Paris. Don’t you don’t think so?
(to be continued)