Remembering Paris

I visited Paris back in March, before I began this little blog. In light of the devastating events that have cast darkness over the city and caused great pain to Eiffel Tower by Dayso many people, I write this post with bittersweet intentions. Bitter, because it was the unspeakable actions of a few deranged individuals that spurred me to write this post, and yet sweet, because I want to remember the time I sent in Paris as illuminating, educating, and happy.

Paris is a beautiful city. This is well known and should be remembered. It is beautiful not only for A March view from the Arc de Triompheits buildings and monuments, but for the very way that these buildings and monuments are laid out upon the cities surface. Views from the tops of both the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomph command the city sprayed out below, streets arranged and connected via triangles and circles. The city presents itself from such heights as a geometric maze, at once stunning and intimidating. And while it is known that the city is huge, I still cannot fully comprehend its sheer vastness, even when beholding it from such heights. The city rolls into the distance in every direction, and it is impossible to even guess at its limits.

While I could talk about Paris’ architecture for days and days, I am sure there are Arc de Triomphe many other bloggers who have done so excellently. What I want to remember about Paris in these dark times is its very atmosphere, all at once excited and cosmopolitan, and yet with a calmness provided by the slow boats that glide on the river Seine, illuminated with hundreds of tiny lights at night. There were two moments in particular during which I really felt I was experiencing Paris, and both came somewhat unexpectedly.

Best duck I have ever had, without a shred of a doubt...
Best duck I have ever had, without a shred of a doubt…

The first moment I shall describe was actually one of the last things I did on my trip. I got lost in Paris in the rain. Now, I am the first to admit that I am a true Brit. I complain loudly about the rain, and I complain loudly about a lack of signposts etc. etc. But this was different. Firstly, I was with mon amore, and who better to get lost with than your better half, right? Secondly, we happened to get lost among the most wonderful little alley ways, providing no access to cars and lined with the most alluring restaurants. Combine this with the fact that we happened to stumble upon a chocolatier that sold the most delicious truffles, and you have the basics for a Parisian romance movie, no?

By night. This photo does absolutely no justice.
By night. This photo does absolutely no justice.

The second moment which captured ‘Paris’ for me (though the first chronologically) came in the form of the magnificently illuminated Eiffel Tower. It was our first evening in Paris, and after a delicious meal we decided to go for a walk and admire the gorgeous structure. And there it was, not only illuminated but glittering. We stood there, silently, while the Eiffel tower glittered before us. And in that moment nothing else was visible, I didn’t even notice the cold (a big deal for a Brit). It was magical. Pray for Paris.

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Copenhagen, Denmark, on a Student Budget

Copenhagen, Denmark, on a Student Budget

When a friend asked me if I wanted to go to Copenhagen on a day-trip for £16 return, how could I refuse? While the city is quickly becoming more and more popular among travellers, it is still cheap to get to, easy to navigate around, and close enough to home (the UK) to complete all in one day. It is a city full of Byzantine architecture, and while many of its most famous attractions cost a pretty penny to enjoy, there is much to do for those on a budget, and a tight schedule…

1) See Copenhagen from the Sky

Copenhagen’s Round Tower is the perfect place to get a stunning panoramic view of the city from its very centre. Situated five minutes from Norreport Station and

Copenhagen from the first floor of the Round Tower (the view gets even better than this!)
Copenhagen from the first floor of the Round Tower (the view gets even better than this!)

Rosenborg Castle (which I also highly recommend), the tower is not only accessible in terms of its location, but also in its very structure. For while almost all famous towers require their visitors to trek up a few hundred ridiculously steep steps, the Round Tower consists of one long, winding slope, which carries visitors to a beautiful roof-top view of the surrounding city. To make the tower even more novel, at its height is an observatory containing a ginormous telescope and several constellation maps. The towers history is tucked away in exhibitions that lead up to the observatory, and these afford sneak-peaks of the inside of the connecting cathedral. Admission to the Round Tower converts to just a few pounds, making it a great attraction for those who wish to see great sights, walk a little, and learn a lot.

2) Get a Danish Pastry from Holm’s Bagar

The best looking darn Danish pastries I ever did see...
The best looking darn Danish pastries I ever did see…

When I think Denmark, I think pastries. Cinnamon. Apple. Custard. Chocolate. So as the date of my day-trip loomed ever nearer, I found that more and more I was fantasising about finally having the opportunity to experience the real deal. And oh, was I in for a treat. Holm’s Bagar not only offers a wide selection of sweet treats, but of savoury ones too. The staff are friendly and welcoming and the bakeries location on the busy high street makes it the perfect place to relax and people watch for a while. So, first up, a puff pastry Danish swirl held together by a sticky chocolate substance and smothered with chocolate ganache. Followed closely by a cinnamon swirl topped with delicious royal icing. Holm's BagerEach was the size of a small plate, and cost the equivalent of about £2. Money well spent. So well, in fact, that will power could not stop me from sampling a third treat; an oaty, nutty, chocolate chip cookie approximately the size of my face. If you have a sweet tooth, Holm’s Bagar is your Copenhagen-haven…

3) Visit the Little Mermaid

At dusk, there are less tourists and you can get a gorgeous view of the nearby harbour...
At dusk, there are less tourists and you can get a gorgeous view of the nearby harbour…

While preparing for my visit to Copenhagen, I had read numerous articles for recommendations as to how to spend my time there. I notice that more than a few writers suggested that the Little Mermaid was not a priority. After visiting the Little Mermaid, however, I can honestly and gladly say that this is a load of old tosh (no offence to those writers). I had, of course, seen photos online of the statue, poised on her rocky perch at point where the water meets the land. It seems to me that these photographs overcompensate for the Little Mermaid; she appears grand and intimidating. They fail to capture her humble size, life-like proportion, and ultimate tranquillity. My own photographs cannot do justice to the skill that went into crafting such a piece, and I highly recommend that, when in Copenhagen with a few minute to spare, you go down to see the mermaid and see for yourself the beauty of her (for absolutely no charge whatsoever).