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[Entry 33] Well that was an anticlimax...

02 January 201101:13AMepic-triptravel

Yesterday morning we had planned to go on a tour of the Paris sewers, but for some reason, they were closed. We suspect the fact that the river was higher than it normally was probably had something to do with it. Instead, we walked down the Seine and found the hotel of some friends of mine who (it turned out) had arrived in Paris about 10 minutes before we ducked into their hotel reception. Oddly appropriately, I'd met this person (Jess) while on exchange to Reunion (there's a thing on the e, but I can't make Firefox do it) Island- her exchange student and mine went to the same school and were mates, so we ended up hanging out together a lot. We both just happened to be in Paris with exactly 24 hours (they arrived at 1, we left at 1 the next day) over new year- how's that for a coincidence?

Naturally, we met up with her family, and went out for lunch, and got our photo taken in front of the Eiffel tower together just to stir the Frenchies up (the persistent rumor on the exchange was that Jess and I had a little 'thing' going on, which we put down to a similar 'thing' we saw between our respective exchange students.) I wish I had this photo to put up here, but Jess' mum took it with a big expensive camera with a wide angle lens so we could fit the whole tower in, whereas my dinky little point-n-shoot takes six or seven tiled shots to get the entire tower in from closer than a kilometre. Then we met up again at about 9pm, and did New Year's Eve next to the Eiffel tower.

The atmosphere around Paris for New Year is probably the best thing about it. Well, not literally. Literally, the atmosphere was horribly freezing cold. The atmosphere in terms of people, though, was amazing. Pretty much everyone in the city was on the streets (mostly the Champs Elysees or by the Eiffel Tower where we were) doing some form of partying. I've never seen quite so many champagne bottles lying around, for instance- they were drinking the stuff the way Australians drink beer on Australia day everywhere alongin appropriately designated zones along the Swan River. Right near us there was a group of people playing the drums and tambourine and doing some kind of dance and singing (I think they may well have been African) which was pretty cool, and pretty much everyone we went past wished us 'bon annee'. So it was a great place to be.

And then midnight struck, and we all turned into pumpkins. No, that's not true, but it would have been exciting at least. What did happen is that the tower lit up and sparkled the same way it had every hour since about 8pm, and everyone yelled 'BON ANNEE' and opened their champagne, and that was about it. No fireworks, except the ones that people brought themselves (apparently they're legal over here), no countdown (unless you did it yourself), no music (except the all-singing, all-dancing, all-drunk drummers in front of us).

We were expecting a little more, I think. Between the hype that often surrounds anything in Paris, and our own expectations of the new year 'should be' celebrated (and is at home), we all came away saying, "That's it? I could get better than that in Sydney/Perth/Bunbury/Bruce Rock, even". But I don't think it's quite that simple. It's not necessarily worse. For the French (and this is just a wild guess, since I'm no expert), New Year is probably more about being with other people and celebrating in your own way (and drinking lots and lots of champagne), rather than about spectacle and awe (and only marginally less champ- sorry, 'sparkling wine') as it is in Australia with the Skyshow and the like. Not that there's anything wrong with either way- it's just an interesting cultural difference, and a fairly memorable clash of expectations for us, really.

So that was my new year. A couple more things before I go:

The alps from the air = amazing.

(Olympic Air, in case anyone was wondering, is both unknown and very pleasant, both probably because it's a new airline. Although how anyone in Greece can launch a new airline with the Greek economy the way it is is a bit beyond me.) Via Cairo tonight (airport hotel only- we've done Cairo to death, though I do need to grab a badge for my laptop bag...) and then Singapore for a couple of days staying with some friends. But for all intents and purposes, the trip is over, and so my posting frequency will probably drop off a little since there's very little to do in Singapore other than trying to avoid going clubbing with my former neighbour (my age) and buying cheap electronics (requests accepted up until... now), and I need a little bit to prepare my obligatory summary/conclusion post (see what school does to you) - which I guess is my way of saying thanks for reading. It's been a hell of a ride.

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