France, day two: Baguettes, monuments, baguettes & baguettes

Lachlan Smart has left the country, but not for a premature departure for his trip, rather he has made his way to France to make the most of an opportunity experience ferry flying first hand as he embarks on a trip from Toulouse to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, on a bona fide international ferry flight.

Earlier this week Lachlan spoke about his time spent with Garry Mitchell who assisted with flight planning and the intricacies of ferry flying, which you can read here.

Over the course of the trip Lachlan will be joining Mitchell and a team of pilots in the capacity of a cadet, with his aim to attain a better understanding of the international environment, specifically pre-flight routines and customs requirements at various locations as well as time spent learning HF radio communications and differing international communications protocol.

Over the course of his time away, Lachie will be sending us blogs of his trip where possible, so stay tuned for more information!

READ HERE: Blog Entry One: April 5, 2016 – Lyon, France

Blog Entry Two: April 6, 2016 – Paris, France

Yesterday was absolutely phenomenal.

After departing the TGV (which did end up taking me to Paris…Win!) I awkwardly found my way to the Metro and onwards to the apartment of a friend I was staying with in the east of Paris. I have to say, keeping in line with yesterday’s experiences, finding my way through the Paris Metro system for the first time was like trying to pick up that last grain of rice with chopsticks.

‘Wrong end of the station…Ok I’ll go the other way, wrong end again… How many ends does this place have?! OK attempt 3…. Line 9…yes that’s me! Correct line but the train is going the wrong direction…’

Eventually things would get back on track (pun intended) and I would make it to the correct line. Things became much easier after a couple of rides and I understood the system in no time. I found it absolutely incredible the number of people that could be transported in one carriage, sardines would have complained, it was really off the rails (yep, again).

Once you arrive at your stop you explode out of the pressurised container and begin the mad dash for the ‘sortie’ or exit, it certainly made for some good cardio train-ing (ok, I’ll stop now). Paris is definitely different to the tranquil Sunshine Coast region that I have grown up in!

IMG_2219Next I headed back into the city after dropping my bags off and getting into tourist mode. It was already midday so I had to be careful with my time, as I wanted to see a few things. First stop: The Louvre. Whilst I didn’t go inside due to the limited amount of time I had, it certainly was cool to see from the outside. Deciding a good walk was in order after devouring possibly one of the best sandwiches I have ever eaten I headed on foot along the Seine to stop number two: the Eiffel Tower.

(Lachie note: To explain this sandwich a bit more it was an incredible culinary experience. A beautiful baguette that was crunchy on the outside but soft and warm on the inside with fresh crisp lettuce; juicy, luscious tomato; smoky ham; cheese that can only be described as soft gold; and a sauce that was pretty much liquid perfection. Ok back to the Eiffel Tower.)

I never realised how big the Eiffel Tower actually was! I went to get a cliché tourist photo from the north of the tower in the same place that Hitler had a photograph taken during the Nazi occupation of Paris, before climbing up the stairs to level one and two of the tower where I enjoyed a beer overlooking the city. I could have spent hours up there just admiring the view of the city, however the rest of my sightseeing beckoned so I allowed myself an hour up on level two before climbing/tripping down the stairs back to ground level.

Unfortunately the top of the tower was closed so I wasn’t able to make it all the way up to the top. Next stop was the Arc de Triomphe!

Now I know that those of you who know Paris are probably thinking “Lachie you turkey you would have saved so much time and effort if you hadn’t zig-zagged your way across the city,” well let me explain. You see, my incredible sandwich that I mentioned earlier was the cause of all this trouble. Being a teenage boy I house the stomach of a whale, and the sandwich took most of my attention. So instead of taking the logical route (Louvre – Arc de Triumph – Photo from north of Tower – Tower – Photo from South of Tower) I ditched my plan and walked straight for the Tower from the Louvre. Silly, I know.

Moving on, I headed to the Arc de Triomphe and witnessed a car do about 5 laps of the roundabout trying to exit in similar fashion to National Lampoons Vacation. The monument itself was amazing, especially the intricate carvings and artwork on it, an absolute pleasure to visit.

It had been my hope to wrap up an incredible day at dinner with my generous hosts, however I was exhausted by the time I arrived home. So instead I found another sandwich and hit the hay. Day of exploring, complete.

Before jumping on the train to Toulouse, and writing this blog, I managed to make up for last night by having tea with my host Clémentine before departing. Paris, it got a big tick from me!

My next stop is Toulouse, an aerospace centre of Europe with the production factories for Airbus and ATR located in the airport. They also have the HQ for the European Space Agency (ESA), so really it’s heaven for me. Maybe I should drop around a few résumés?