Revisiting Paris – or how I almost wore out my hiking boots over the course of a weekend

Joking aside, when your 50/50 French/Norwegian cousin invites you along to the city of cities, you should be prepared (mentally and physically ofc) to see and experience as much as humanly possible, within the given time frame. Oh yeah! ūüėÄ

We, the marathon team, can be seen below, eager to begin!

We arrived late at night (from the airport) in the apartment belonging to Johanna’s family, situated right in the middle of ‘everything’! What a luxury! Here is a photo of the backyard:

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Early next morning, (or, pretty late if you were to ask the other two, lol), we went out and got ourselves some fresh croissants (and my favourite, pain au chocolat)¬†from a local bakery. Note: Breakfasts doesn’t get any better than this. Really.

Warning #1: Quite a lot of architectural photos were taken on this trip, and consequently, the subset of images shown here, maintains that same proportionality. Sorry?

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Warning #2:¬†A new reader of this blog – if such a person exists – might think that we quite recently visited Paris. No, – no no no. This was 2 years ago, which, by the standards of this blog, is quite recent. What I am trying to say is: the level of detail describing the whereabouts of this trip,¬†encompassed in the bank of memories called “my brain” has shrunk somewhat.¬†Fear not, any memory of activities related to “food” and/or “eating” are still vividly alive.

Another thing I distinctly recall is a visit to the Jewish Quarter (Rue des Rosiers, as can be seen on the street sign below). Johanna, our lovely, local tour guide and travel companion, gave us an excellent tour of the area; the narrow streets, the small shops and best of all, the bottom left corner of the collage below:

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B-e-a-utiful!

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Later that day, or maybe it was the next day. Who knows, maybe this happened previous to the visit to the Jewish Quarter, the point is, I can’t remember lol…

…anyways, we had a nice break from sightseeing on foot by jumping onboard one of the “tourist ferries” going up and down the River Seine (never underestimate the joy of stretching your legs!). From there this view presented itself:

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We got to know the Paris Opera (fr: Op√©ra de Paris), at least from the outside – absolutely beautiful of courrrrse. (Yeah, btw, that’s right – the one below spelling “Academie Nationale de Musique”, haha, quick fun-fact: after looking at its Wikipedia-article, it became clear that this place has changed its name more times than you can count!)

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…and again, from afar:

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Next morning, clear blue skies with the moon peeking out from behind Notre-Dame (might need to enlarge the image to see it)

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We boarded an early train to Versailles to avoid spending hours waiting in line at the entrance. We then went on to spending hours in¬†line at the entrance. Also, on a side note, good thing a whole bus load of tourists didn’t cut in front of us, even getting the guards to side with them. Good thing…yeah

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Not much needs to be said about the garden(s) around/behind Versailles – sumptuous! …and large, over 800 hectares (8 km¬≤), filled with sculptures, pathways, fountains and tourists: around 4 million each year come visit.

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A hyperlapse-video of a walk around the¬†“Mirror Pool” can be seen below. The video was captured on a phone which unfortunately resulted in it being very shaky – and kind of unwatchable… luckily, modern video software has excellent stabilization filters built-in. For your entertainment – to see just how shaky the video really is, I have left the video uncropped:

 

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We lost track of time in the huge labyrinth-like garden, but still managed to sneak into Versailles right before close. This gave us a completely new view of the palace Рsuddenly the dense crowds were gone, and all we could see in the mercury mirrors were ourselves. What a stunning view both inside and outside (the palace, that is Рwell, us too lol)!

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Later that day we went to the well-known restaurant, La Coupole, that has served traditional French food since 1927! A walk back in time…

As the sun went down, we strolled through the streets of Paris, enjoying a mild breeze and pleasant summer temperatures.

This one guy also stayed up this night:

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Next day – woke up with sun burns ūüė¶ Meh! That’s what you get for staying out all day…

We went to¬†Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, a varied park with POIs like a large cave, kilometers of pathways, cherry trees and a temple on top of a cliff – surrounded by a lake. From the summit you can see all the way to¬†Sacr√©-CŇďur:

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But Paris has more to offer than just, “pfft¬†Versailles” and its large, lush parks… it has the most interesting waterways leading right into the hearth of the city.

But first, a photo of this smiling guy standing in front of some mildly disturbing graffiti:

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Canal Saint-Martin, ordered built by Napol√©on himself in 1802, is a fascinating sight with its locks that are still in use. I might even have a timelapse with a retro-twist to show later…

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As promised – video!

And now, rain. Lots of it. I loved it, my two companions, not so much… haha

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…I mean, I have seen her happier than this:

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We ran home, then used the (warm) shower as a means of resuscitation…

That same evening, we went to an intimate concert at Sainte-Chapelle. This was a wonderful experience and something I’d highly recommend if you ever have the opportunity! Saint-Chapelle is in my opinion the prettiest Gothic-style chapel in Paris; simply a must-view:

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More evidence of just how picturesque Paris is, ensues:

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Marit et moi, vis-à-vis de Notre-Dame:

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The picture above, (and below), is from a close-to 5 km long, partly elevated walkway known as Promenade plantée  or Coulée verte René-Dumont that was built on a railway that no longer were in use. It starts off at the Bastille.
A birds-eye view of the walkway can be seen here (link to The Guardian) РI even think the apartment building is the same one as above(!).

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When in Paris, do stupid stuff in front of the Eiffel tower. This is the law.

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I don’t even…

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On a more serious note, let’s end this blog post with the most well-known landmark in the world, – and without me. Paris, we love you! …and we will most surely return.

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Oh look, more Eiffel tower AND the French flag! Woah! Thought this blog post were finished already??

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This just doesn’t end.

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Oh well, it did. SO LONG, have a delightful summer!

Backpacking through Myanmar [part 3 of 3]

In the same way part 2 ended, part 3 will begin; fishermen (at display). One in colour, and one silhouette.

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Inle Lake is one of the many must-sees of Myanmar; a great lake with magnificent “floating” settlements (on bamboo poles). Beautiful, really.

Small boats are the essential tool for the locals to get around here, as witnessed in the coming pictures.

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Our first stop for the day was an open-spaced culture/festival/pseudo-temple place, whose entrance can be seen above. We sat down and our guide taught us about a special festival dish called “sticky rice”, which we also got to taste. Beside us, a drowsy cat enjoyed the warm sunlight that shone down at it through some cracks in the ceiling.

The multi-purpose temple was connected to a small, (but long) market by a tunnel of sorts, which we traversed to get to our transport, waiting on the other side. It made for a cool photo at least.

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Here is a picture of our guide and skipper for the day. Being a tour guide seemed to be a a high-status occupation here. She spoke understandable English, which made her stand out from the other guides we had (yeah, lol).

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While the houses are on poles, the wide-stretching gardens are certainly not. They float and can carry the weight of roughly a person per 5-10 meters (especially when they are small..). Below, three girls can be seen harvesting (not quite sure what exactly), while chatting and smiling happily.

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The roads are obviously water-ways:

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Nest stop was the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, a temple known for its “five small gilded images of Buddha, which have been covered in gold leaf to the point that their original forms cannot be seen“. Popular attraction. NB: males only as witnessed by the sign below! A fun aspect of the Burmese written language, is that it does not need spaces between words.

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Time had come to find some food, and we left for Grandma’s Kitchen. Maybe it’s her in the window, – who knows? The only thing we know for sure is that we got severe food poisoning, which kept us in bed the entire next day. Maybe grandma didn’t like us ūüėõ

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The final stop for the day was the house where the guide lived. She first showed us the cigarette-making facility next-door, where several older woman (with extraordinary fingerspitzengef√ľhl) cut, filled and rolled cigarettes at an insane pace! Then we got to try out the highly traditional facial make-up. “Now you become pretty, haha”, she told me after painting me with Thanaka. I am not so sure I would call it an improvement though haha..

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On our way home, the (morning?) fog were mostly gone and the slightly warmer afternoon light made for new photographic opportunities of the fishermen.

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As previously mentioned, the next day came and went without us ever leaving the hotel room out of fear of vomiting and/or something worse. A painful day. Moving on. The next morning, we had plans to explore the area by ourselves, and we started out carefully in the city centre.

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Later, we visited a vineyard where we ordered well-cooked food and drank “Aha” and “Power Peace” water. Very watery water. The best water.

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That was the last of the images from Inle Lake. The same evening, we travelled by bus down to Yangon; our final city to visit on this trip. It is a large city, and the most “city-like” city we had seen to date in Myanmar.

The first day were spent exploring by foot – and J√łrgen got to know a local taxi driver quite well (transcription from video):
– [J√łrgen] Do you have a wife?
– [Sj√•f√łr ] Yes
– [J√łrgen] What is her name?
– [Sj√•f√łr ] Yes
– [J√łrgen ]Do you have a kid?
– [Sj√•f√łr ] Yes
– [J√łrgen] What is his name?
– [Sj√•f√łr ] Yes
– [H√•kon] Jeg tror ikke du n√•r helt igjennom til ham xD (ENG: I don’t think you quite get through to him xD)

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The next day, we were again ready for an excursion Рthis time to the Golden Rock! On our way there we came across a small village focused solely around (the many ways of)  preparing Cobra Head Fish for eating.

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To get to the Golden Rock, you get “loaded” on repurposed trucks that can drive “vertically” up the mountain side. This is really, really fun, and an experience you should not leave Myanmar without!

We unfortunately arrived at a time of reconstruction, and so the rock were covered up. Not quite sure why an actual rock would need cosmetic treatment, but hey, we got to drive the trucks!

Another bonus with the trip was the deeply interesting items for sale at the top of the mountain. Like a toy replica of RPG-7. I can almost hear the commercial “…spend some quality time with your kid, with this ultra-realistic rocket-propelled grenade launcher!!”.¬†

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We stayed the night in a bungalow near the foot of the mountain. The next morning, we got to see how rubber is made from a sticky white liquid that is harvested from trees. Then we drove off to get a fresh watermelon before entering some of  the largest pagodas in the country.

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Because we like trains just as much as Sheldon, we decided to try out the Burmese railways on our way back. That was a slow, but bumpy ride I can tell you. Glorious!

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In the evening we celebrated (and mourned) that the epic journey was coming to an end. The next day consisted mainly of transportation, so I leave you with one last image from a book store in Yangon – try to spot the easter egg!

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We had one day in Bangkok before departing separate ways. The most memorable image from this day is this mugshot taken at an escape-room establishment.

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….and this, this is a hotel. Not our hotel, but the hotel:¬†Sky Bar at Lebua, State Tower (maybe known to some from Hangover 2).

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Martin & J√łrgen, – thanks for a great journey; exploration of unknown territory (*cough*) with many intense moments, sunsets and stomach pain. Where to next??