Merci, Paris!

Also known as: The lovely city of Paris <3

Oh Paris. <3

I always thought people who fell in love with the city of Paris was, well, kind of cliche. Maybe I’m just avoiding being mainstream. Or maybe, I just thought other places — like Italy, for instance — would be way better, more romantic than Paris. Some of the people who has visited Europe before told me that if I should visit some countries there, Paris is just okay compared to say, Rome, which was amazing. But still, Paris is Paris, and I am not one to choose.

So after three-hour train ride (and an impromptu household to boot!) from Geneva, we arrived at Paris-Gare de Lyon. Bonjour, Paris!

Just disembarked from the train

We were welcomed by Ashley and Angela, two girls from YFC Paris and they led us through the metro to get to the girls’ host home at Ashley’s sister’s place. Interesting thing about our hosts (and most of the YFCs in Paris) is they are French citizens but they came from Filipino families, so they are fluent in Filipino and in French. It was actually quite nice to hear them speak in Filipino — think of Ilonggos speaking. It just sounded so nice! And when they all start talking in French, all we could do was listen in awe. :)

Anyway, we arrived at Mel’s (Ashley’s sister) place in Liege, where we were welcomed by Mel and Toto, who were busy cooking spaghetti dinner for us. What followed was a fun dinner full of plans for the next day and things to do and lots of awesome, awesome French talk that we could not understand but loved to hear. It was a fun evening, and they were all so nice that I haven’t even been in Paris for more than six hours and I already knew I loved the place. Maybe it’s Filipino hospitality, or maybe, the “Paris magic”1 has caught me. Needless to say, I was very excited to see the city the next day2.

Tourist Guide – Paris

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  1. Or at least, I’d like to believe it is! []
  2. Especially since I only had one day to go around, because the morning after that, I was headed for Vienna []

Bonjour, Geneva!

Also known as: The little city of Geneva

Our first stop for the mission was Geneva, not only because the mission volunteer for YFC Europe was based there, but also because the cheapest plane fare we could get was from Madrid to Geneva. After another day of “shopping” and booking tickets (for me to go to Vienna), two of the three mission groups headed to the Madrid Barajas airport for our flight to Geneva. As if to excite us further, we also met another WYD delegate in the airport who was going back home to Geneva and she started telling us about the different things we should do in the city. :)

Our Swiss Air flight was delayed, which I kind of didn’t mind even if I was separated from the group again (I have the worst luck with plane seats). I managed to get some reading done and also a nap, which helped a lot because we arrived in Geneva around midnight because of the delay. It was a short flight, but because of the travel stress, we were glad to get there. :)

Welcome!

We were all expecting it to be cold there — at least, colder than Madrid was — but alas, it wasn’t. Oh well.

The YFCs in Geneva picked us up from the airport and the couple coordinators for the area gave us a ride to go to our host home. Here’s an interesting part of our journey there. We arrived at Geneva, but our host home was actually across the French border. So in one night, we managed to be in three countries: Spain, Switzerland and France. Awesome. :)

We had late, late dinner at our host’s house, and I must say: Filipino hospitality extends even to the other side of the world. :) We were happy and full that night, even if I ended up sleeping by two in the morning to finalize the rest of the mission details. I also ended up rebooking my flight back from Geneva to Madrid so I can stay longer in Vienna — I thought it was only a 6-hour train ride from Vienna to Geneva…turns out it was 13. Heh. Ouch on the wallet!

Buenos días, Ginebra … er, Francia!

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Gracias, Madrid!

Also known as: Madrid, the city that welcomed us for most of the trip

This post is a little over a month late — I apologize. Real life caught me in its grip and refused to let go. I still owe you guys like, a ton (or okay, five or so) entries about Europe. And so…here I am.

After the WYD festivities ended, we all had one more day to use up our free city passes and our unused food stubs from the past week. After a long night of figuring out our mission trip for the next weeks of our Europe trip (where I suddenly became one of the heads of our mission team) and booking our tickets, we all set out on a sunny Madrid summer Monday for a city tour. :)

I’m no expert in history or even tourism, and the fact that we had our city passes for free meant I really hardly got to experience Madrid in the most “rugged” way possible. We were only armed with a guide in our WYD pilgrim packs that lists the Top 20 places we should see in Madrid, which we attempted to visit. Attempted only, because the heat makes it really hard to go around. I think we managed to hit up to 8?

Anyway, photo dump up and comments up ahead!1

Here’s one thing I learned as we toured the city: the train systems are nice, but the best way to really experience and see Madrid is to ride the buses. The buses in the city are pretty efficient, and if you have a multiple-ride ticket for the metro, you’ll be able to use that for the buses, too. Oh, and they’re not like the buses here in Manila, too — they’re more of coasters with pretty comfortable seats and sometimes, Wifi. Interesting, yes?

Madrid buses!

We weren’t really sure were to head out first, so we just decided to ride a bus to Sol and figure stuff out from there. Of course, since it’s our first time to ride a bus to Sol and we were used to riding the metro, we weren’t sure where the bus would go. After some time, we decided to go down and we had no idea where we were going. But then we ended up here:

Plaza de Espana

And it turns out to be the real start of our walking in Madrid adventure. :D

Cookie at Plaza de Espana — one side of it, that is :D

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  1. I’ve decided to quit putting the gigantic watermark on the images — it was tiring, and distracting. More subtle watermark from this post onward :P []