Day 14-27th Sept Cruise (Amsterdam)

Another early morning for all, it was Amsterdam today, however not a planned excursion, we were doing it on our own.

Did the same thing as yesterday, headed up to see the morning sunrise and Amsterdam!Reaching deck 14, it was cold but not as cold as the prior day. The ship was slowly making its way to the port.

 

 

All disembarked the cruise just past 9am. Balia and Vik were selecting the best hop-on-hop-off bus/cruise option, got that for all, and then it was down to the canal awaiting our hop-on-hop-off boat.

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The boat arrived after about 10 minutes, BUT, it only had space for 14 and we were 16!! ARRGGGHHHHHH!!!
Waited for the next boat, which was a further 20 minutes away. We could have walked to the city centre in that time Sad smile. Nevertheless, we did all board the boat this time! Then it was cruising through the Amsterdam canals!

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All got off at the stop closest to the city centre, now to explore on foot – always an interesting challenge to herd 16 around streets whilst ensuring we were out of the way of cyclists who were on every street & corner!

 

 

So far of what we had seen, a very beautiful city! Lots cycles, small streets, lots of canals, and just cute streets! Entered a street with a lot of stores leading to the main square. Time for us to see stores selling Marijuana infused products! Neha, Pooja had no idea what that was, a bit of explaining and they were like, OMG they are selling drugs Disappointed smile.

This was a very slow walk, Balia and Vik were super interested in these shops, not for the weed but for the smoking apparatus that was being sold openly, in Oz that was illegal Sad smile. Balia was great though, he was visiting every store, but all along giving a great commentary tour to Priya and Neha – they both were enjoying it!.

We reached the Grand Dam Square, this was like the centre of Amsterdam – well I think so?

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In the square, towards one end, were a lot of pigeons – and they were a LOT! There was a guy selling bird seeds for one euro each! We missed Pigeon feeding at Trafalgar Square in London, maybe this was faith, the opportunity was here now! Pooja and Nita were YES we want to feed the pigeons. Pooja was loving it, and had a few rounds of feeding!

 

 

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It was time to find a lunch place, and then we would all split our ways, leading from the square, was a pedestrian only open mall street – hoping there would be some restaurants there. Time to explore.

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After a bit of walking found an Italian place, and a plus they could accommodate all of us!

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A good lunch of Pizza & Pasta, now to hit the road again. We all split up from here, and agreed to meet at the ship by 6:30pm, plan was feed the kids on the ship, leave them on board and then couples head out for a night in Amsterdam!

Lots of walking around the place and a bit of shopping as well. Pooja wanted Pandora, could not say no to my baby!

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It was then a walk thru the red light district, Neha was telling me that Bhavik kaka (my bro not Doc) had told her NOT to go there, Neha was “so what was it?”. No explaining but lets walk through.

Walking thru that lane was an OMG moment for them!

It was 5pm and Neha, Pooja were both getting tired, decided to head back, Taxi to the ship.

The others were all slowly showing up, Balia was the last to come aboard. Dinner was in the buffet, enough of L’Edera! Kids all done, for the couples we did eat from the Buffet, but instead of eating there, we headed next door to the indoor pool area, this place had lots of tables where we could all sit together and there was a bar close by! Drinks kept flowing and a couple of us kept heading to the buffet to refill finger foods! By the end of it, we had a good lot of plates on our table!

Neha was not feeling too well she decided to hit the bed early, for the other kids, we put Priya incharge, and they were happy to stay in the lounge next to the kids area. There were a few activities for them all, plan for them was to play till they were bored then head to the cabins. Most probably they would end up in the one cabin and cause havoc there!

Kids sorted, now we could get off the ship again to enjoy the Amsterdam night life.

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Out of the seaport, called an UBER van, when it arrived, it was then we were told only 6 could fit Sad smile and unlike Taxi’s, UBER drivers were very strict with the number of passengers they carried. Asked the driver where the best place to try space cakes were, agreed on an address, then Doc and I went in the VAN, Vik and Balia took a nearby Taxi to the same location.

The place we were recommended was Bulldog! Walking around the streets, we seemed to get to the right area, but there were 4 Bulldog cafes. Got into one! Lots of people around. Got to the bar to get the cakes and some beers/wine, the guy behind the counter was like – NO ALCOHOL HERE, only coffees or Tea!!! I was like, what da, you are serving cannabis cakes yet no alcohol!! Well that was to be, espresso’s with some special chocolate cake – this I was looking forward to!

My experience of the cake, it was super moist and one of the best chocolate cakes I have had. No real effect or maybe I was just enjoying it and did not realise anything. Spent a good amount of time here just chatting and lots n lots n lots of laughing ….. were the space cakes the reason ?????

Next was walking the red light area, had to show that to our ladies – Nita had already seen it, but the others had not!.
There was more fun and laughter that is best not shared online Winking smile.

It was way past 1 am, time for some dessert, unfortunately the “real coffee” shops (not the ones that sell cannabis) were closing or already closed!
No luck there with dessert, decided to head back to the ship, grabbed a Taxi van and got lucky, driver was prepared to take 8 of us. It had been a great night with some amazing Amsterdam experiences and memories, tomorrow was a sleep-in day, we would be at sea all day & night.

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Day 13–26th Sept Cruise (Belgium)

First morning in cruise! Today we were docking at Zeebrugge, Belgium, our excursion was departing at 9:15am.
Was up since 6am unable to sleep in, decided to go out for a walk to see the sunrise. On to level 14, the cold crisp morning welcomed me on the deck, with a great dawn view!
Could see mainland in the distance, still a fair bit of time before we would dock!

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Good morning Belgium!

Back in the room, time to wake up Neha & Pooja, they were still very sleepy. Managed to get them out of their comfortable beds, time for them to get ready.

Off to breakfast at Sahara Buffet. The place was big, lots of variety but also a LOT of people, it was very crowded. Finding a table was a challenge, finally managed to get one, told Pooja to sit there whilst we got our meals. The food spread was nice and adequate, am glad they also did omelettes, my go to station for the next 6 mornings! Pooja liked the Pancakes and chocolate pastries!!

Breakfast done, back to our cabin to collect our bags and stuff for the excursion, then it was to the Theatre to be guided in the right buses.
At the Theatre, Doc & Balia were already there. Minutes passed and still no sign of Vik, called him, he said he was running late and would catchup with us. We got out tickets and followed our guide out of the ship.
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Down the ramp to the waiting buses, which there were a few off. Getting on the bus told the guide we were waiting on one more family. It was then we noticed Vik & family coming down the ramp, however they were guided to another bus, tried to change but it was not to be! Sad smile

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The drive to Brussels was long, took us over 1.5 hours to reach the outskirts of the city. First stop was the Atomium, a steel sculpture representing … you guessed it, an atom! This was a 10 minute stop, chance to take a few pics.

 

Back on the bus, touring us around the city…. heading towards the inner city where we would finally have a few hours to roam about.

Off the bus, the guide led us around the city to the Manneken Pis – apparently a very famous sight!

Finally made it to the Manneken Pis, it was a SMALL status of a little boy pissing!! From here the guide left us on our own, we had 3 hours to roam about. First it was time for some Belgium Waffles!

The freshly made waffles, with ice cream and melted Belgium chocolate was simply amazing! Now to walk back to the central square and look for a place for lunch! On the way to the Market square, ran into Vik’s group, they were on the way to the pissing man!

We made it to the market square, a bit more roaming about to find a good spot for lunch.

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Lunch in Brussels

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Lunch in Brussels

Settled on a Belgium Bistro, ordered a variety of dishes, Pasta, Salmon, Calamari, all very good!

Lunch done, now back at the market square, we had half n hour to buy some Belgium chocolates and then it was heading back to the Bus. Long ride back to the cruise ship, most of us took a bit of a nap.

Got back to the cruise ship, and right behind us was Vik & family, all decided to meet at L’Edera just after 6pm, all dressed up for the semi-formal night!
Food at L’Edera was again a flop! Was not enjoying food in this alacarte restaurant!! Steaming mad

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Dinner done, with not the best food but lots of drinks – the liquid diet was fun for the guys!

Headed to Tiger bar, apparently it was Horror night, the crew were dressed up in Halloween style attire!

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Horror night dressup

There were a few photographers around to capture these moments, made the most of that, time for portraits..

Of course there had to be a boys pic…

us gang!

All done with photos! Now to head to another bar and try out at acting “Gallan goodiyaan” song. It was more of a comedy that followed, we had absolutely no planning or script, and as for music, we could hardly hear the song from the mobile phone speakers. Neha did her best to make us clowns look good in her vlogs! Sorry but no mater how much editing you did, the acting could not be improved!
Few more drinks followed taking us close to midnight. It was time to call it a night, tomorrow was Amsterdam!

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Neha’s vlog

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Day 12–25th Sept Cruise time (Paris–La Havre)

It was d’day for the cruise, today we were transferring to La Havre port to board the MSC Magnifica on our 7 night cruise of the north seas. En route to La Havre, we had arranged for a quick stop at Versailles, to visit the Palace of Versailles. Our transport was picking us at 9:15am.

Early morning start for Nita and I, we wanted to get another load of laundry done, so first up I was off to Laundromat, whilst Nita was organising the luggage and getting girls ready. With the ship cabins being small, we decided to leave 3 pieces of luggages at the hotel, no need to carry excess stuff on the ship, Nita was sorting that out.

I made the most of being at the Laundromat, another morning run of espresso (standing at the bar with a few frenchmen), and some freshly baked almond croissants!! By the time I got back to the hotel, it was around 8:30am, as planned Nita and girls had finished their breakfast, now all that remained was finalising the luggage and heading down.
All downstairs with the luggage, it was then I first met Balia & family in this trip, and did I get a good rubbing, where had I been last night & early morning, why were the kids down for breaky alone and where were you two then – lots of good laughs!!

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Ready for the cruise

Everyone had checked out of their rooms and excess bags stored in the secured storage area, now it was a wait for the transport, minutes ticked over and it was around 9:30am, still no sign and we were not able to call him – phone was not going through. Then just like that, the concierge brings this guy to us and checks if we were waiting for transport to La Havre – YES!!! So our driver who could NOT speak a word of English, was waiting in the lobby for what may have been a good 5-10 minutes for us!! Well atleast he was here, lets go, not yet, where was the mini BUS??? No where to be seen. Translating via the concierge, apparently the bus was too big to come in our street and it was on the main road, which was a couple of blocks away!! It was strange and we were like, look outside there are delivery trucks all around, surely you can come in. After some convincing, he agreed but we had to walk a bit further up the street,  atleast it was only a minutes walk.
Turning the corner, we could not believe our eyes and finally understood why he was soo hesitant, this was not a mini bus but a COACH, with capacity for 50+ passengers!!! Damn we could fit all three of our soccer teams in here!!

Time to load the coach…

 

All loaded and in the coach, time to move. The driver was saying something in French which we had no idea, so all we could say is, “yes lets go ahead” and kept pointing in front. We had only moved one block when the bus stopped, the guy was pointing ahead, finally realised, No Entry ahead and a very sharp left turn into a small alley which the bus could not make nor enter the alley. Now what, the guy talking to us in french and a lot of hand signals, finally figured it out, we had to reverse the bus but for that we needed to stop the traffic behind it!

Doc and I got off the bus, and went behind the bus to stop the traffic, wow, in Paris and we were controlling traffic. A few drivers were giving us the look but no one actually got angry!

Short video footage of the drama

After about 15 minutes of traffic control we were finally through, time to get on board, high 5’s with the driver, time to head out Smile. This is one experience we will all remember for a very long time!

It was just over an hour before we reached Versailles, lots of coaches parked around – this was a major tourist stop! Had no idea how big this was!

The queues were massive to get in, it would be atleast a good hour before we got into the palace if we queued, unfortunately we did not have that much time! Made the most of the views we had from where we were…

 

Time to move, back on the bus and heading to La Havre.
With sign language Doc was able to tell the driver that we should stop over for food and washroom break when possible! Was amazing how we communicated with each other, he did not understand english and we had the same trouble with french, still somehow we managed!!

Lunch break was at a highway roadhouse with a McDonalds. Time to refuel all of us, good 45 minute break, than it was back on the bus.

Another 45 minutes of driving, it was about 3pm we got in at La Havre. He got to the port however was not able to find a way of getting to the wharf where the ship was docked!! The signage to the wharf was for cars or small trucks only, it had a height restriction – bus was too high Sad smile. After two attempts of finding an alternate way, he told us the only way was to walk to the ship!! We could see the ship, but it was still a good 20-30 minutes walk, plus we had our luggage!! More debating and in the end we had no choice but to start unloading. Tried to find an UBER – damn no UBER in La Havre, taxi’s – none around! Frustrated we were almost set to walk, when the driver came back to us and informed us he had found another way, reload into the coach!! Phew!

Went around the corner and into a street that came to a gate for the British ferry, ahhhh not our ship?? Ok so it was a wrong turn, but instead of making a 3 point turn to get the bus out of there, he decided to reverse again. So how do you reverse on to a round about, simple, you get Doc and Dharma to get off and stop the traffic Disappointed smile, it was traffic control duties again, a few minutes of holding off traffic at the round about and then we were on our way. Finally made the right turn and it was at the departure point for MSC cruises!!YAY we were there. This was a big ship, well big for us anyways! Unloaded our luggage and into the departure building – which really was a large shed! All checked in and luggage processed, went through the photo area to take our pics with the ship wheel and then a lot of selfies with the ship, everyone was excited to board!

Boarding the ship was easy and painless, I guess we were boarding from a small port, the number of new guests were not many and hence there was no waiting and we were soon in our rooms getting settled. The cabins were nice, infact they were better than I expected and included a lot of storage. Nita unpacked most of the bags into the cupboards and hangers, this way we did not have to worry about opening the bags during the cruise!
Our dinner was booked at 6:45pm, so had a couple of hours to wonder the ship.
Whilst doing a bit of wondering, it was announced all new guests had to come with their life jackets to the theatre for the evacuation briefing.

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Emergency drills

Briefing done, time to drop off life jackets back in the room and we met the gang for dinner at L’Edera (This was a a-la-carte style restaurant.) Seated on two big round 8 seaters, kids on one, adults on the other. Now to get the drinks flowing!! The drinks package we all had was brilliant, no need to look at prices etc, just order what we wanted and keep staying hydrated Winking smile. Whilst the drinks and wine were brilliant, the food was not the best, very bland Sad smile. For the adults it was not a massive problem but was an issue for our kids!
Decided to head to the buffet post dinner, it would have more variety for kids.

Post dinner we headed to the top deck, above the buffet restaurant. It was good timing, sun going down and the ship had just started moving – good opportunity for more pics…

 

Was getting very cold in the open, time to come down to the buffet, kids wanted some snacks.
It was then off to the evening show, a dance musical. Nice musical, now to level 13 indoor pool area, this place had a good bar and lots of seating, plus it was enclosed – very important in the cold weather!

But first we took advantage of the many photographers around the place, lets take some portraits…and we had not even changed!

Now to join in with the gang on level 13,
It was time for more drinks and cocktails.

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Cocktail time

All sat around just going through the very eventful day, somehow with all the hiccups, we still made it to the cruise – wow!!
Around 11pm we decided to call it a night, tomorrow was the Belgium tour, we needed to be ready to go at 9am!

In the room, Pooja and Neha were super excited to be sleeping in their bunk beds. Pooja also found a small nook near the cabin window.

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Pooja enjoying her private nook

 

 

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Neha’s VLOG

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Day 11 – 24th Sept Paris (Disneyland)

Today was not a sleepin for the girls, it was time for the favourite – DISNEYLAND!! My second visit, 1998 was my first! Nita was not coming with us today, she was not too keen on the theme parks and wanted to spend the day roaming about in Paris.

By 8.30am, we had all left the hotel for the subway – it was a cold morning – around 12 degrees. Tickets purchased, then to the platform to catch our direct train to Disney – so lucky we were staying next to the best train line! In ‘98, I remember having to change two trains to get to Disney.

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Train journey was just over 45 minutes (Disney was the last stop on the line!), kids were super excited getting through the security gates of Disney! Walking through security, we could see the main entrance to the Disney park, on the other side was the entrance to Walt Disney Studios park, that we were doing later in the day, aim in the morning were to finish off most of the Disneyland thrill rides.

 

Through the gates and we were in the magical world of Disney, so true, this is the HAPPIEST PLACE!! Just love the Disney feel, am soo in love with the Disney Parks! Grabbed the park map and then it was time to attack the rides! We all agreed to split up, every family had different priorities, for us it was simply getting the major thrill rides done.

First the Hyperspace mountain – this is the old Space mountain, now renamed to align with Stars Wars! Lots of Star Wars themed attractions – love it!

 

 

The Hyperspace mountain was brilliant, flying in the dark dodging tie fighters! They have enhanced the space mountain coaster with Star Wars themes so well.

From here we went across to Adventure Land, where we ran into in with Vik and Dian, hung around with them for a few more rides.

The Indian Jones coaster was lots of fun. Next we decided to head to the Walt Disney Studio Park, time to finish the key rides there.

What a great entry, the Cars theme! Would have loved to spend more time here, but we only had one day to cover lots, time to quickly move to the rides…
Next ride was the Hollywood Tower of Terror, Pooja was sitting this out Sad smile.

Lots of screaming in this one, the 4 of us got the front row of the lifts !!! YAY!

 

 

Then it was the Nemo ride and Rock ‘n’ Roller coaster, a bit of roaming about and back to the Disneyland Park for a late lunch, finish off Big Thunder Mountain (final ride), and then some shopping for the girls!

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Lunch was at Hakuna Matata, good food there, Pooja and Neha enjoyed it!

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Roaming about the park, making our way to the Tea Cup ride, this was a simple but fun ride, still remember my baby Pooja having sooo much fun in this on at her first Disney in Hongkong.

It was then Star Wars shopping for me and kids!!

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(Pooja’s new Star Wars jacket)

Star Wars shopping done, it was time to head out of the park – wanted to avoid the Parade, the rush post that would be big! On the way out, one last stop at the Disney Pandora to pick up a Disney themed charm!!

Then it was time to say good bye to Disney… messaged the others that we were out of the park (the others left after about an hour or so).

Got the train back, Pooja was super tired and nodded off on the way. Reaching back at the hotel, Pooja was too tired to head out again for dinner and was super happy chillin in the room, she was like, “just get me some takeaway”!. Nita, Neha & I headed out for dinner @ Bollynan Indian – it was in the same street as La Perla – this place had good reviews on yelp and google. The place was small, more geared towards takeaway! Got butter chicken, palak paneer, fish curry, naan & a Elachi Beer!
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Food whilst not mind blowing was good. Discussing Nita’s day, she had been busy, roaming about Louvre museum and the mall underneath it & the Les Halles streets. For lunch it was Hippopotamus again, Nita was in love with their Chicken Burgers and mashed potatoes!
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(Nita’s lunch @ Hippopotamus)

She was however most happy with the green detox juice she found at an organic shop near our hotel! (Yes this may be very healthy, but definitely not for me Sad smile)
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(Nita’s green detox juice)

Dinner done, got a butter chicken and rice takeaway for Pooja and headed back. Stopped by a Gelato place for a dessert fix – yumm!!

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Back at the hotel, Pooja enjoyed her butter chicken. Vik called me soon after, he was with Balia, Doc & family at Hippopotamus –wow that place was a hit amongst us. We were all too tired to head out again, time to get some sleep and start fresh tomorrow.
Last night in Paris before our cruise.

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Neha’s Disney VLOG

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Day 10–23rd Sept Paris (Eiffel Tower @ Sunrise )

Early morning start, wanted to be at Trocadero before sunrise to capture Eiffel pics. Were up at 6am, and out of the hotel before 7am. Sunrise was at 7:30am, by the time we got to Trocadero, sun was just breaking the horizon, not that we could see that, it had been a wet night and morning, as a result a lot of cloud cover, atleast there was no rain for the time being. A big big bonus, the cranes that were there a couple of days back were now gone!! Woohoo!! I thought we may be the only crazy ones there this early, was surprised to see 2 brides there for photo shoots and many other photo shoots taking place!! We were not the only crazy ones to wake up early for this Smile.

Time to setup my tripod to snap away, creating memories to mark being in Paris after 20 years, last time we were both here was in Sept’98!

 

Trocadero done, ordered a UBER to Rue de Universite, the street with amazing views of Eiffel! Nita had identified the street through her instagram followings. The weather was playing games with us, light drizzle than stopped and than start again…. somehow we got lucky with a few pics.

Back to the hotel, it was past 9am by the time we got there, Neha & Pooja were still asleep, time for them to get up and get ready for breakfast. Plan now was to get to Galleries Lafayette – a massive department store in Paris, similar to Selfridges but bigger.

Asking the concierge for directions, he recommended the easiest and fastest way was the subway which was just opposite our hotel. Headed that way, first the tickets and then a bit of walk to get to the correct platform. Unlike London, subway stations here are not as clean – well it looked clean but smelled bad, smell of urine!! Also a few homeless people sleeping on the benches. Pooja was definitely not enjoying this and wanted to get out asap. Luckily the train came in the next minute and we were in that. The trains here were bigger but again not as clean. Got to our stop in no time, and were at the entrance to Galleries Lafayette – concierge was correct, this was soo efficient. Time to enter shoppers paradise!

Nita and Neha were having a ball at Galleries Lafayette – lots of ladies stuff there, me and Pooja were looking around, to be honest I was a bit over the place, there was only soo much window shopping I could do. Pooja located a Macaroons counter, why not, lets get that in us.

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Roaming about in the mens department, we ran into Vik & Dian, decided to all visit Angelina – a famous dessert place. They had a store in Galleries Lafayette! Vik also mentioned the amazing views from the top level, you could see Eiffel tower. Me and Pooja headed there, Nita had already been there….

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Next was Angelina, the entry counter  had the best cakes and macaroons …IMG_7286IMG_7291

Got seated, ordered a club sandwich, couple of cakes and chocolate drinks for all. Apparently their hot chocolates  is supposed to be the best, ladies skipped their mocha’s and also got hot chocolates. Drinks and food came soon, whilst the food was good, the drinks were all below par! Infact it was not worth drinking, all the hot chocolates and ice chocolates remained untouched. The chocolate tasted as if it had been watered down!!
Told the wait staff how very disappointed we were with the chocolate drinks, they were gracious enough to take this off our bill.
Time to head back to the hotel, stepping out, the rain was heavy!! Quickly got into the waiting cabs and off we went. Me and Vik decided to have an early dinner, it was just past 4pm, and since we all had skipped lunch, early dinner was looking like a good option.

We headed back to La Perla italian near our hotel, we had such an amazing experience on the first night, we were ready for a second round! Nita, Meeta, Vik and I all ordered the same dish – Gamberi Pesto Prawns – the best dish!! Kids had a mix of pasta and pizza, finished it off with a nice Tiramisu.

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Markus at La Perla must have enjoyed us visiting him again, he gave us all a round of Limoncello shots! This is the best drink I have had in a while, soo refreshing!!

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By 6pm, we were all done and there was still soo much daylight. Kids were all more than happy to get to the hotel by themselves, the four of us took off for a stroll along the market street.

Stopped by a cafe for some espresso and more chit chat.

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We may have been there for more than 30 minutes just chatting, than it was time to head back to the hotel. Time for an early night, tomorrow was an early start heading to Disneyland Paris!


Neha’s vlog

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Day 9–22nd Sept Paris Sights

Early start today for the guys, we had to pickup our orphaned clothes in the dryer at the Laundromat!! Three of us got there at 7am, were glad to see our clothes still there, phew!!
On the way back,  stopped over for morning Espresso at the cafe opposite our hotel. Saw some guys having espresso at the bar, decided to do that! Nice espresso and very reasonable, only 1.10 euro each!
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All downed this quickly, time for another round, this time we decided to take a seat, the same espresso was now 2.20 euro each?? Asking the guy why, turns out, if you stand and drink at the bar, it is cheaper, the additional cost to cover table costs – something new to learn. Decided to seat outside Parisian style, facing out! Espresso and cold weather – perfect combination!!
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Back at the hotel, time to get the kids ready and down for breakfast.
The plan today was to walk to the Latin Quarter (across the Seine river), and make our way to Notre Dame. From there it was a free day for everyone to do whatever.

Breakfast done, we all hit the road, first stop the Pont Neuf bridge.

Over the bridge, lots of narrow streets and alleyways to Latin Quarter….

 

 

A bit more walking, it seemed we were in the Latin Quarter, nothing to different it, all the Parisian streets were soo picturesque, more walking and came across a Starbucks – breaktime….. kids for some reason really love Starbucks!!!

 

 

A bit of shopping on the way, Doc ducked into Levis, whilst Neha & Nita headed for Promod. Also good chance for kids to take a break from continuous walking!

Break done, time to herd the group  forward towards Notre Dame. And was this a magnificent cathedral.

Being a weekend the queue to get inside was super long, even though it was moving fast, I decided to skip it – Pooja had been complaining today on how tired she was and I did not want to be going inside when it was soo packed, was taking a rain check on this one, will do it post the cruise!

We parted with the others and headed to the Hotel – only a 10 min walk from here. At the hotel, got Pooja/Neha some McDonalds, Pooja was more than happy to stay at the hotel for the afternoon – she was done with walking today !!!

Small break for us, then me, Nita & Neha headed out again. First stop – Jardin du Palais Royal, place where a scene from MI6 was recorded, with Tom Cruise walking through the gardens, we wanted to see that park! Quick UBER there…and it was time for lot of pics..

 

 

 

 

Weather was not holding up too well, it was grizzling, took cover and headed out to Champs Elysees, Vik had recommended the Abercrombie & Fitch store, not for the shopping but more the entry and its setup!

Found the Abercrombie & Fitch store with the help of Google maps, it actually did not look like a shop from the outside, big gates with nicely manicured hedges surrounding a curved path….. more looked like a resort entry!

 

 

The place is amazing and well setup, browsed around in the store a bit. Time to head out, Doc had recommended the Four Seasons Hotel high tea, we wanted to try that, messaged everyone that we were heading there so they could join us if in the area. Next stop Four Seasons, was a 10 minute walk! Walking in Paris is so so recommended, you get to see some amazing architecture, buildings and streets, every direction is something to admire!

The Four Seasons Hotel is just another big 5 star from the outside, however step inside and wow! Browsed around and of course visited their toilets – outstanding facilities Winking smile!. Got to the High tea area and inquired about it at the counter, unfortunately it was not meant to be, place was fully booked Sad smile. They did suggest the bar/lounge area near by, where we could have coffees/tea if we like. Took that offer and were seated in the last remaining bar chairs! Informed the gang through whatsapp, no chance of high tea todaySad smile. Ordered an espresso, Nita got herself a Tea and Neha got the hot chocolate.

Wow, what a hot chocolate, was like drinking melted chocolate …. yummm! Tea break done, now to head out to Champs Elysees again.
Passed the Louis Vuitton store, big queue of people wanting to get in, kept on walking, no need to queue up here Winking smile.

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To our left was the Arc de Triomphe, I asked Nita if she was game to climb the 200+ steps to get to the top, she was a big YES, whilst Neha was a big NO, unfortunately Neha had no choice but to follow us!!
Got to the other side of Champs Elysees to take the subway to the Arc entry. Getting to the top requires purchasing a ticket, line to which was not too bad and was moving rapidly. Tickets purchased, up the stairs to the security checks and then it was onto the spiral stairways leading up….

The climb was not too bad, we kept urging each other to keep going and before we knew it, we were at the top for the most amazing views of Paris and Eiffel!

We were blessed with good weather, after about 30 minutes on top, it started grizzling again, time to head down. Walked around the Arc and then it was back to Champs Elysees.

 

 

 

Bit of ladies window shopping to be done, than it was back to the hotel. Thought Pooja would be worried where we had been, nothing of that sort!! It was “ohh you back so early…” !!! It was after 8pm!! It was time for dinner, decided on Hippopotamus – a steak house that apparently had amazing burgers and ribs – Vik visited this place earlier that night and was telling me how I would love their pork ribs and Mojito!

I ordered the Mojito & Pork ribs, Nita and Neha settled on Chicken Burger and Pooja was happy with the roast chicken. The Ribs and the sauce were – OMG!! If you like pork ribs, you have to try this. Chicken burgers I am told were also great!

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(Porks ribs – before and after!)

Called it a night, tomorrow Nita and I planned on going to Eiffel at sunrise for some morning pics, Neha & Pooja needed their beauty sleep Winking smile.

 


Neha’s vlog

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Day 8–21st Sept Paris (Hop On Hop Off bus & sights)

First morning in Paris, today’s plan was to get on the Hop On Hop Off bus and cover most of the sights. First to breaky, the spread at Novotel was nice, not the best but better than Holiday Inn London. My favourite was the French Madeleine cakes, they were sooo good!! If you are in France, you so need to try that!
They did not have an omelette station, however the staff were happy to get us the poached eggs we wanted – nice service!

Back in the room post breakfast, kids had jumped out of our windows which led to an open courtyard overlooking a giant poster of Paris!! Wow, this was cool.

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The courtyard was connecting all our three rooms, soon everyone was out there rooms on to the courtyard, kids were loving it. If photographed at the correct angle the giant poster could be used as a great backdrop that could convince viewers to believe this was the real view. Whilst there, we called back home talking to mum and Neha wanted to show the backdrop to Bhavik kaka (my bro), we said to him look at our amazing view, and seriously for a few seconds he believed it that we were having such an amazing view!! It was not until I had zoomed out and shown him the surroundings that he realised it was just a poster!!

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Enough of mucking around in the courtyard, time to head down to the reception, where we purchased the tickets to the hop-on-hop-off bus. Our nearest station was the Louvre museum, a 10-15 minute walk. Time to hit the streets of Paris herding our group of 12!

 

We arrived at Louvre sooner than we thought, the place was amazing, more opportunities for everyone to take more pics …. unfortunately I forgot to reset my Camera’s ISO to auto, (last night I had it on a very high setting for some night pics) and thanks to that a lot of my days pics turned out very grainy and not sharp at all Sad smile. My girls (all of them) were not too impressed with me!

 

Enough pics, finally managed to move everyone to the bus stop, bus was already there and was leaving in 10 minutes, got on it and were lucky to get good seats on top.

 

 

Had decided earlier to not get off at any sights and wanted to see what was around, and in the second loop we would get off, unfortunately not the best move, this tour was taking a while to make one loop, let alone the second!! Got off at a stop post Eiffel, saw Laduree and it was time for Macaroons!!

A walk around the place to see if we could find a cafe for lunch, unfortunately not much there, time to get back on the bus and get off at Champs Elysees. A bit of walking about looking for a good place to eat, settled on Roma Pizza!
Everyone was in need of some refueling, a few Pizzas and Pastas were ordered to be shared!

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Food was very nice, we were soo hungry no one really had a chance to snap more pics of the food!! Post lunch, we all decided to hang around in Champs Elysees till around 4 pm (giving us close to 1.5 hours here), then we would catch the bus and go to Trocadero for some Eiffel Pics. All the families went in separate directions, lots to see around the place.
Walking around Pooja spotted Haagen Dazs ice cream, could not say no to that.

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Back on the bus, we headed to Trocadero, and the view from there is simply amazing!!

On the sides, located a statue which would make an interesting pic, Dian was more than happy to model the way I wanted!!!
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We headed across for some coffee, Paris style, seating outside facing the streets!

Whilst the espressos were great, the Mocha and Lattes were no where as good as what we get back home in Brisbane! I reckon Australia has the of best coffees in the world! Break done, back on the bus heading to Louvre, and then a short walk to our hotel, it had been a long day!

At the hotel, bit of a refresh then all decided to do a Laundry run and then head to dinner – the concierge recommended a French place which was very close to the Laundromat. Was funny, the entire group of 12 entered the Laundromat and took us a bit to work out how to use the machines which had instructions all in French! Washing started, now to head out for dinner.

Got to the French restaurant, place looked great and was packed!! We were not lucky for space, it was Friday night, we decided to atleast book for tomorrow. Whilst Doc was doing the booking, Tina browsed through the menu and not being too impressed, asked Meeta to also review it. Turns out the place had Frogs leg, Snails and lots of interesting varieties that honestly we were all not too keen on, other than Vik, all backed out, cancelled the booking and headed out to a nearby Thai place. All settled in and ladies ordered. Whilst they were ordering, me, Vik & Doc, headed back to the Laundry to start the dryers! By the time we got back food was already on the table, and was it good!! Very good Thai food indeed.

Dinner done, ladies took the kids back to the hotel, and us guys were back to the Laundromat to collect our dry clothes. Reaching there, the door was locked!! Oh oH! The place closes at 10pm, and it was 10:10pm, doh!, we just missed it. Nothing much could be done now, we simply had to get here tomorrow morning @ 7am to collect our laundry! Ladies were shocked to hear that, kids nighties were in the dryer!! Well time to improvise!

Put the kids to bed, then adults all headed out to Faust, the night club from Befikre movie. Stepping outside, it was cold, about 12 degrees now, noticed a 6 seater taxi, hailed him and we were off to the Pont Alexandre III bridge, under which Faust was located.

Getting there, we walked down to the lower area next to the Seine river. Amazing views to the bridge.

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First stop was the Flow bar, a floating club/bar on Seine. Time for some red wine and enjoy the Paris night!

Hung around there for a few drinks, however the falling temperature was not helping! Next stop was Faust, only a short walk from Flow, unlike the movies,  the club was not outdoors, I guess that would be a summer thing! Stayed there for a bit.
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It was getting late, called it a night, out of there, Up the stairs to the roads, and no taxis!! I called an Uber VAN, which luckily was only 3 minutes away! Doc and Vik had never used Uber before that and this was their first exposure to it. Got them to set it up, we would be needing a lot of Uber in Paris! Our Uber VAN come on time and we were off to the hotel. It had been a great day and tomorrow morning we had to be up early to get our clothes from the Laundromat Dryer!

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