As Audrey Hepburn once said, “Paris is always a good idea”. I was very excited to be meeting my mum and Aunty here as they began their six week Eurotrip. My first night was spent at La Regent Montmarte Hostel, where I awoke early, transported my gear to Hotel Chopin on Passage Jouffrey and waited for my friend Dimitri to pick me up. Together we overcame some transport difficulties and eventually made it to Versaille where we had a lovely picnic after first exploring the grounds of this almighty palace. Afterwards we trained back and I spent the afternoon being guided around Paris by a local, seeing and appreciating this glorious city through whole new eyes.
I met Sandy and my mum back at the hotel shortly after, and after their rough plane ride we decided to eat somewhere local (I tried frogs legs!) before catching a good night’s sleep to ensure enthusiasm for our adventures the next day. The next morning we headed to Notre Dame, visited the Lovelock Bridge and walked through the Mais area, past the Louvre and onto the Champs Elyees. We had a macaroon pit-stop at Laduree, before heading to the Arc D’Triomphe and Eiffel Tower.
The day was wonderful, but the night turned into a disaster as EasyJet emailed me to inform me they’d cancelled my flight back to Milan the following afternoon due to an airport strike in Italy. Chaos erupted as EasyJet wouldn’t answer the phone, everyone seemed to only speak French, and I was told that I should jump on a 14 hour bus leaving immediately to make it back to Milan on time to catch my flight back to NZ. The strike ended at 5pm, so I ended up finding an astronomically expensive flight back to Milan via Heathrow Airport (something I hadn’t expect to tick off my bucket list!) landing at 10pm the next night.
The next morning we arose and headed out to Roland Garros. We did a tour, and combined with museum it cost €15.50. Although it was slightly less impressive than Wimbledon, it is a must see for any tennis fan, and it was just incredible seeing Nadal’s stomping ground in the flesh. The Davis Cup semifinal was scheduled for the following weekend so we were on the lookout for French players, unfortunately without any luck.
Here we bid farewell, as I flew from Paris to Heathrow to Milan, where Marco and Marika had both kindly come to pick me up from the airport; it was so lovely to see them again before I left. We went home for dinner, driving through the city and seeing all the oh-so-familiar sights made me home-sick for Milano, and I hadn’t even left yet! The next morning Marco dropped me off at the airport, and it wasn’t really until then that reality hit me: I was going home.
In true Nicole style, my flight from Abu Dhabi to Melbourne was delayed two hours, meaning it was a mad rush to make my plane in Melbourne. However after sitting on the runway for 2.5 hours, we were informed that the toilets could not be fixed, and we would therefore not be flying anywhere that night. I checked into the Mercure in Melbourne a little after midnight, only to be getting up again at 6am to make my way back to the airport. A huge shout out to Dad who had been in Auckland to meet me, and had to fly home the next morning – without me next to him!
Kia Ora New Zealand, I am officially home.