June 2005

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The last couple of entries were transcripts on the partial diary I scribbled in a little notebook I had.

After that last entry, I made a trip St Victoire mountain at Francis’ suggestion and had a lovely time walking about in the little village located at the base of the mountain. I also had dinner again the following evening with Francis, his student tenant and her friend. It was great fun and we swopped emails, and it was a pity that I forgot to take some photos over dinner.

I left Aix for Nice , and managed to find a nice new dorm there thanks to a tip from a young American lady bunkmate I met in Aix. Nice is a really touristy seaside city, with it’s pebbled beaches a prime attraction for tourists from all over.

I made a day trip to Monaco which is just a 20 minute train ride away. Monaco is actually not a part of France, and is known for its rich-and-famous residents, luxury casinos, and the annual Grand Prix held infront of its lovely harbour . I trooped uphill to Monaco’s Prince’s Palace to catch the daily changing of guards .

After Nice, I returned earlier than planned to Paris to catch up on the sightseeing that I have yet to finished. I faithfully made my way to the Arc De Triomphe , stopping for a moment at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Eternal Flame that accompanies it. I walked down Champs-Elysées Avenue and made a stop at the Place de Concorde to admire the 3,300 year old Obelisk of Luxor , a gift from Egypt to the then King Louis XV of France in 1836. If you think about it, it must have been quite a feat to transport the 23-metre tall, solid granite column weighing over 250 tons all the way from Egypt to Paris… But if you were to think a little harder, you would marvel even more at the ingenuity of the Egyptians who constructed the Obelisk with such precision, considering the level of technology available 3000 years ago. I would love to be able to visit Egypt one day and see for myself the grandeur of their engineering miracles.

I spent an idyllic afternoon walking about the Tuileries Gardens, feeding a family of ducks . After which, I stopped and admired the gorgeous Opera buildling which was located just 2 minutes away from Galeries Lafayette. I was to spend a total of 2 whole afternoons at Galeries Lafayette, the famous department store, hunting through the countless luxury brands available, for the perfect presents to bring home. I saw, for the first time in my life, a queue forming outside the Louis Vuitton boutique, and only realised much later how cheaper it really was here in Paris. It was a great regret that I did not pick up an LV purse or two before heading home.

Except for the series of unfortunate events that kicked off the trip, and the severe bout of homesickness initially, I had a good time, particularly in Aix. I have truly learnt my lesson that very often it’s not the monuments and sights that makes for great travelling, it’s the wonderful people that you have had the good fortune to meet and know along the way.

Au revoir, France!