3rd to 6th November 2004
By way of celebrating Katy's first married birthday, we decided we would take off to that most romantic of cities, Paris. OK, so it wasn't the classic spring-time, rather more the depths of autumn, but we still had a lovely time.
Since we could only really spare a few days and wanted to make the most of what time we had, we decided we would give the Eurostar a try, speeding from Waterloo International to the Gare du Nord in not much more time than it took us to complete the Times cryptic crossword. We had spotted a few "special offers" in the papers, but it turned out that nothing could really compete with booking directly through Eurostar's travel agency, and we found a nice little hotel just a short stagger from the Gare du Nord which did us just fine for our three nights - and the train tickets basically came free.
With Katy still very short on energy due to her illness we perhaps were not quite as adventurous as we might have been, but we still did quite well in the days we spent there. Although it's perhaps the most cheesy touristy thing one can do in Paris, our biggest achievement was walking up the Eiffel Tower. Even on a weekday, we took one look at the queue for the lift and decided we would put one foot in front of the other repeatedly - several thousand times I suspect! We couldn't go to the very top by foot, but it was more than enough for either of us and still afforded rather splendid views over the city. We varied our mode of transport for the two main days we were there, getting a Metro travel card one day and a pass for the excellent Batobus river service the other.
As I have become happily accustomed when holidaying with Katy, food and drink tend to be the fixtures around which everything else has to fit in. As such we had plenty of coffee and crêpe stops to keep us going through the days, and ate out heartily (if not exactly traditionally French, apart from on Katy's birthday itself, when we dined at the exquisite Queue du Chat) every night.
In all, I'm not sure Paris really quite lives up to its romantic destination billing, but it's certainly an interesting city we would go back to again in time - and one that is far more pleasant than some claim. The interesting parts are compact enough to make travelling around even on foot really quite easy, something that cannot be said quite so easily for London say. The Eurostar bit was definitely a big success though, and we have used it again since, being so convenient especially while it's still running from Waterloo rather than St Pancras.