May 2006 - Tokyo & Europe

  • # of television channels available at George V: 74
  • # of these channels that are Middle Eastern: 24

Today was the day that I moved onto Paris and started my morning by having breakfast in Faventia (the restaurant at the FS) where I had these light and fluffy belgium waffles. What made my breakfast interesting was the other two guests in the restaurant with me, one was American; the other Canadian. They were discussing at great length (and rather loudly) where they wanted to travel and more importantly where they wanted to take their kids.

The American talked about how every year in August his family travels to Europe and spends four nights at the George V and four nights somewhere else, I think we all know these types of people. According to him his teenage daughters get quite upset if they don't go to Europe every year. By the way these people weren't sitting next to one another, they were two tables apart and I was in the middle on the other side, it was hard not to listen.

Things became interesting when the Canadian expressed an interest in Australia which the American then proceeded to debunk.

“I had a friend that went to Australia and if you go there looking for culture like here (Europe) you won’t find it.”

He also said something stupid like we were 150 years old. Sooo lucky I had my back to these people. I was indignant. The American hadn't even been to Australia!

Australia doesn't have the history of these places but that doesn't suggest a lack of culture. Anyhow, I'm not the type of person allow a conversation like this to happen right in front of me (or behind me). I walked right up to the Canadian (trying my best to ignore the American after I interrupted their conversation with apologies) and said, "What you perceive Australia lacks in culture is made up for in natural wonderment." I happily spent the next five minutes talking to the Canadian about Australia bringing out the best sales pitch I could muster before leaving. Hopefully I was more persuasive than that ignorant American and I can only hope that he learnt to be a little more careful expressing his opinion so loudly in an open restaurant. I was the only other person there and I was Australian, what were the chances of that? There's always a chance, no matter how small.

As I was driving into Nice I heard a radio announcement that there was a special event in the old part of town (where I wanted to go) and that both traffic and pedestrian traffic was restricted. Knowing this I tried to park further away along the promenade in the world's tightest parking spots (I may have left a mark on the hire car from a column whilst turning into the wrong lane to exit). I was still so far away from the city centre that I was walking along next to the airport. I gave up shortly after that, happily dumping the car back at the airport and celebrating my car free and me alive status.

So I barely saw beyond the airport at Nice and didn't get to Monaco. There will have to be a next time.

My taxi driver from the airport at Paris used to live in Australia and spoke perfect English. He pointed out the entire city on the way in, or at least where to find everything. We were driving along the River Seine and the Effiel Tower came into view for the first time. It hit me. I was really here, in PARIS!

We drove into the Place de la Concorde and saw the Louvre and drove onto the Champs Elysees and up to the Hotel, seeing the Arc de Triomphe in the near distance before pulling up outside the George V. This was the five minutes where I fell in love with Paris and told myself I couldn't waste a second here.

The Hotel is awe inspiring and it was funny standing at Reception trying to soak it all in. My room wasn't ready and the Receptionist said, "I am so embarassed that your room isn't ready. There is a standard room ready it has no view of the courtyard, the room that was blocked for you is a little bigger and overlooks the courtyard, I really want to give you this room." To which I replied "I really want you to give me that room.” I had to wait a total of 10 minutes to stay in the better room, a tiny price to pay indeed! My room is green and it has one of those small old style balcony's that look down into the courtyard area, I am on the 5th floor of 8 and any rooms below 5 don't have the little balconies, only windows. As I was taking photos of my room (and the outdoor hallway) I locked my keys in the room (oops. Clearly too excited) and had to get security to come and open the door for me, he was so nice and we had a little chat.

By the time I settled it was 4.30pm, I couldn't believe it! So I thought what better way to spend the rest of the afternoon than a swim in the pool downstairs. The walk down to the spa really gives you a perspective on just how grand this Hotel is and the pool, well it is just stunning, there are paintings hanging on the wall and backgrounds painted on the walls. They have painted precise white lines to give the illusion that it is sandstone. I decided after that I needed to go exploring and since the sun doesn't go down till about 9 o'clock here, it was perfect timing. So I walked up the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe and hiked the stairs to the top. What a perfect view! So symmetrical and I love symmetry! Soon the sun began to set so I decided to wait and catch a bit of the darkness too. It was a long wait but was worth it to see the city lights from up above.

I came back to the Hotel and dress in the best clothes I had to go down and have dinner in the Gallerie. I sat at a table that could only be described as the people watching table. So I enjoyed my dinner by watching all the different types of people coming and going. The trophy wives with elderly men; the lady that in the middle of the night wearing her sunglasses into the Hotel; the Americans so clearly excited about staying in the Hotel clicking and flashing away with their cameras and the college bound American girls clearly on daddy's money (I had seen them in the Spa earlier, and listened into their conversation.... It's so hard not too!) My waiter was very attentive and charming, and the food was about double the price of Provence and just as delicious, but I'm at the George V in Paris, I have to experience the dining!

PS. Yes that cool picture is real and I took it, no Photoshop required.