Jenny: Last summer, I went to France for two weeks with Penny, my best friend from uni. It was a really good experience, wasn't it, Pen? We had a great time.
Penny: Neither of us had been out of Hong Kong before, so it was a great adventure.
Jenny: When I was in Form 5, a guest speaker from the Alliance Française here in Hong Kong came to school to teach us a bit of French and talk about Paris. It sounded like an amazing city and I decided that I would go one day and see it for myself. This trip was my present to myself for graduating. It didn't take me long to persuade Penny to come with me.
Penny: We flew directly from Hong Kong to Paris. When we landed, it was all a bit overwhelming. It was like being on a different planet. Everything in Hong Kong airport is so well organised, and everyone is friendly, but Paris was crazy.
Jenny: It was very busy and people were rushing around all over the place. I don't know what I was expecting, but all the signs were in French with no English underneath. It took us about two hours to get out of the airport.
Penny: In Hong Kong there were massive long queues at immigration, but they have this sensible system where people queue in a long snake and then they are directed at the head of the queue to an available immigration desk. But the French don’t seem to have thought of this system yet. Everyone lined up in front of whatever immigration desk they wanted. We joined the shortest queue, but the immigration officer was so slow. The other queues moved much faster than ours did.
Jenny: But at least our luggage was on the carousel when we got there.
Penny: Yes, it was, and then we found the hotel shuttle bus pretty easily and didn't have to wait long for it to fill up and set off.
Jenny: The traffic in Paris is manic, completely insane. There must be rules about keeping in the same lane and not weaving in and out of different lanes, but no one was taking notice of them. Our bus had to pass through the chaos around the Arc de Triomphe. I recognised that monument. There were about 12 lanes of traffic all whizzing around with all the drivers trying to get in front of each other. A nightmare.
Penny: Fortunately we got to the hotel in one piece! It was a very nice hotel near the Eiffel Tower. Our room had a little balcony overlooking the park in front of the Tower. The view was splendid.
Jenny: Do you remember that first night? We decided to shower and have a little rest before we went out to find a restaurant for dinner. So, we both fell asleep, intending just to nap for an hour or so.
Penny: And guess what? Jenny woke up first and prodded me awake. It was eleven o’ clock at night. We had slept for four hours!
Jenny: That was our first exciting evening in Paris.
Penny: But the following morning, we were both wide awake early and raring to go!