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Old 03-11-2013, 11:21 PM   #61
zanzibar138
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All that snow and fog-quite a different experience for an Australian! Glad you enjoyed yourselves regardless. We love poking around castles exploring all the different levels and always spend far too long in them so especially enjoyed your pics. I am always heading off following little paths that lead nowhere and making already tired "followers" walk twice as far as we retrace our steps!

Did the second bridge in Lucerne still have the macabre Dance of Death paintings? (or was it carvings-been too long I forget). They stand out in my memory as well as the lion monument.
It was certainly was a good time to go for the novelty factor And everything looked so pretty covered in snow!

I LOVE the little paths that lead nowhere - they're my favourite part!

I didn't see anything like that in Lucerne, maybe they've taken it down? How much did they stand out - is it possible I might have missed them?
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Old 03-12-2013, 02:30 AM   #62
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Zanzibar, I have just caught up on your TR and it's wonderful! Thanks so much for taking the time to do it and share all your wonderful photos. I must say I feel a bit cold just looking at them However it's bringing back lovely memories for me too as, although the last time that I was in Europe was roughly 16 years ago (pre-kids), on that trip, DH and I travelled around Europe by train and, among other places, our journey also included Paris, Lucerne and Innsbruck. Our trip was in September though so the only place we had snow was up the top of the mountain in Innsbruck. I can't remember the name of it but I know it was the tallest mountain you could go up and we caught a cable car to get there.

I currently have a dream to take our children to Europe and, since we are limited to school holidays and the only school holiday longer than 2 weeks is the Dec/Jan one, we will have to have a European winter holiday. So thats why it's extra interesting for me to see what your winter holiday was like! Looking forward to read more
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Old 03-12-2013, 02:41 AM   #63
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Originally Posted by Travel Mum View Post
I have just caught up on your TR and it's wonderful! Thanks so much for taking the time to do it and share all your wonderful photos. I must say I feel a bit cold just looking at them However it's bringing back lovely memories for me too as, although the last time that I was in Europe was roughly 16 years ago (pre-kids), on that trip, DH and I travelled around Europe by train and, among other places, our journey also included Paris, Lucerne and Innsbruck. Our trip was in September though so the only place we had snow was up the top of the mountain in Innsbruck. I can't remember the name of it but I know it was the tallest mountain you could go up and we caught a cable car to get there.

I currently have a dream to take our children to Europe and, since we are limited to school holidays and the only school holiday longer than 2 weeks is the Dec/Jan one, we will have to have a European winter holiday. So thats why it's extra interesting for me to see what your winter holiday was like! Looking forward to read more
Glad to have you aboard Travel Mum! I am also dreaming of a European Christmas adventure one day
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Old 03-12-2013, 05:00 AM   #64
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Snow! What a beautiful winter wonderland. Love the recap of the day and the shots. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 03-12-2013, 05:50 AM   #65
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Snow! What a beautiful winter wonderland. Love the recap of the day and the shots. Thanks for sharing.
Yep it was just Narnia or something And I'm so glad we got to see the frozen trees More snow to come though!
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Old 03-12-2013, 07:23 AM   #66
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Day 10 - Lovely Weather for a Sleigh Ride Together

Montreux – Paris

This morning I had booked an early train back to Paris. We got ready, checked out without any issues, and made our way to the train station. Luckily we had found a shortcut the day before (a path between one street and the other, but as the path was so steep, there was an escalator going up). We had a bit of brekky from the basic café at the station while we waited for our train.

We went through Lausanne again, but didn’t have to get off this time. The scenery between Lausanne and Geneva was mainly suburban or industrial, and we were glad that we’d chosen to stay in Montreux.

It was a quick and easy change in Geneva, and we’d finally figured out which end of the platform we had to stand on for the first class carriages! The train to Paris was packed, and we had to share our group of 4 seats with a stranger – I felt sorry for him!

There were some more vineyards coming out of Geneva. These ones weren’t terraced though.



Our one and only stop on the way was at Bellegarde. It stood out with its massive bridge.



I had read that this was a particularly scenic train ride, and soon we were right in the middle of the French Alps. We even saw some more frozen trees!







Then after a while we were out of the mountains and back into the rolling French countryside. The snow was all but gone, but there was still a lot of frost around and some frozen ponds and streams.





We were all quite glad to get to Paris, knowing that was the end of our long train journeys. What a great way to get around though! So much better than flying, much more comfortable and a great way to see some beautiful scenery.

We walked across the road to our hotel and checked in. We were in exactly the same room as before! After the other huge rooms we’d had, this one seemed tiny! But we got used to it again, and it was only for 2 nights.



We had to be at the Eiffel Tower by 4pm for Mum’s surprise, and time was getting on, so we thought we may as well make our way over there. I told Mum to rug up! Then we made our way to Gare d’Austerlitz station across the river, it was only a 10 minute walk. We already had our Paris Visite passes, and I had looked up which train we needed, so it was just a matter of finding the platform. We found it eventually and got on our train. 10 minutes later we were getting off the train at Champ de Mars/Tour Eiffel.





We had enough time to grab a quick lunch before our meeting time, so we walked down one of the streets away from the river and found a decent looking place with room for us. Mum and I had croque monsieurs, and Dad went with a croque madame, which both came with French fries!

After lunch we made our way to the Eiffel Tower and found the east pillar. Mum still had no idea what was going on, and we just had time for a bathroom break. When we’d finished, there was a horse and carriage pulling up. I pointed it out to Mum, then walked over to check in! Only then did Mum realise what we had in store for her. The driver told us we would have photo opportunities later, so we got in and were given blankets to put over our laps. I was glad to see the horse also had a blanket to wear between customers!



As we set off, a few light snowflakes started falling. We clip-clopped our way to Invalides.







Then we stopped for a photo opportunity between the Grande Palais and Petit Palais. The driver got out and went to great lengths to capture the perfect photo! He went right out in the middle of the road! Unfortunately he didn’t get the horse in the photo.



We kept going towards the Champs d’Elysee, and briefly saw the Arc de Triomphe on the way through.



Then we were approaching the Eiffel Tower again.



We stopped at Champs de Mars for a photo opportunity in front of the Eiffel Tower.





As we got back to the Eiffel Tower, heaps of people crowded around us trying to get photos, and we nearly ran over one! Once we’d parked, the driver got out to have a go at her lol! Since we hadn’t got any good photos of the horse yet, we tried to get some here, but we had to rush with all those people around.

The snow was starting to get heavier as we left, and we were pretty happy that we’d booked the earlier ride! It had been cold enough and we were all trying to get the feeling back to our fingers and toes! With the weather setting in and Dad coming down with a cold, we decided not to hang around at the Eiffel Tower.

We made our way back to the Eiffel Tower station, and eventually found the platform. I amused myself by watching the snow – it was the heaviest I’d seen so far.



We got back to Gare d’Austerlitz station and the snow was really coming down! Not only that, but it was actually starting to build up too!





I took a photo of the Gare de Lyon station as we walked past – it looked pretty in the twilight and snow.



Dad felt pretty bad that night, so we just stuck close to the hotel for dinner. We went to a place 2 doors away, which ended up being really nice. We all had an early night, hoping that Dad would feel better in the morning.
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Last edited by zanzibar138; 03-12-2013 at 07:27 AM. Reason: Sorry forgot to add the photos!
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Old 03-12-2013, 07:50 AM   #67
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Paris looks great by carriage. Hope your mum enjoyed the surprise. Looks like another magical day.
Hope your dad feels better.

And continuing the Narnia theme with the carriage, who was the White Witch??
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Old 03-13-2013, 04:48 AM   #68
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Innusbruck - sigh, it looks absolutely stunning. Absolutely loving the TR
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Old 03-13-2013, 05:21 AM   #69
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Paris looks great by carriage. Hope your mum enjoyed the surprise. Looks like another magical day.
Hope your dad feels better.

And continuing the Narnia theme with the carriage, who was the White Witch??
Um... I guess I'm wearing the lightest coloured clothing - does that make me the White Witch? Mum loved her surprise, and it was a great way to see Paris, even if we were freezing our butts off

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Innusbruck - sigh, it looks absolutely stunning. Absolutely loving the TR
Glad you're enjoying it Ms Shuttergirl
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Old 03-13-2013, 05:30 AM   #70
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Day 11 - Riding Along on Our Push Bikes

Paris

We awoke to yet another overcast day, and luckily, Dad felt much better after a good sleep. It wasn’t too much of a rush this morning, but we did have to meet at the south pillar at the Eiffel Tower by 11am. Since we’d already learnt about the trains and stations, and found our way around the base of the tower, we didn’t feel like we had to leave a lot of extra time. So there was plenty of time to get up at our own pace and have a nice leisurely breakfast before heading out. We went to Gare d’Austerlitz again to catch our train and got off at Champs de Mars/Tour Eiffel. It sure was a cold and frosty morning, with a light snowfall!

We soon found the meeting spot, and there were some people already there. We chatted amongst ourselves for a bit, and the tour guide joined us. We waited about 15 minutes after the allocated time for people who had registered but not showed up, but in the end, had to get on with the show. We had all just about turned into iceblocks standing around for so long!

It was about a 5 minute walk to the shopfront where all the bikes were. We were given a bit of a rundown on some ground rules etc before we checked in and got our bikes.



There were a few people milling around who helped us choose bikes and get familiar with them. They were quite clunky to ride, but after a couple of laps getting acquainted I felt comfortable enough with mine. She was called Violet Beauregarde, and I took a picture in case I lost her among the other bikes on the tour!



Meanwhile, Mum and Dad were getting acquainted with their bikes too.







Once we all had our bikes, we congregated in the street in front of the shop, and were given a few instructions. If the guide called out ‘dominate’, we were to spread out and take up the whole street to try and intimidate cars/trucks/buses etc. When pulling up at red lights, we were to bunch up so all of us could get through when the light went green. But if we were riding and the light went red when half the group was through, then the others had to stop, and the group would wait for them. Otherwise, because there were people from Australia and England on the tour, we were all reminded to keep to the right hand side of the road – the ‘proper’ way to ride…

We started out on the back streets between the bike shop and the Eiffel Tower, and practised our instructions a bit just to make sure everyone had the hang of it. Our first sight-seeing stop was at the end of Champs de Mars, in front of the military school. The guide gave a bit of a spiel about the history of the area, which was quite interesting at the time, but I couldn’t tell you much about it now lol! All I really remember is that the military school is not open to the public, and that the peace wall is an unwelcome addition and people want to take it down.





After a few minutes there, we headed off in the direction of Invalides. We approached it from the back, and stopped for a few minutes while our guide said a few things about it. I was having a bit of trouble with my seat by this time (I kept sliding off!) so was busy trying to fix it before we took off again and missed most of the spiel. I didn’t manage to fix it that well, but I could hold myself there most of the time by pushing against the handles.







We headed off again, around to the front. This was a heavy traffic area, so we had to ride single file. We stopped again once we got to the front for some more information and photo opportunities.



We headed off in single file still, towards the bridge. We stopped again there. By this time Mum and I were keeping towards the back of the group, and discovered that the guide wasn’t waiting for everyone before he started his spiel. Still, I managed to learn a few things, so it didn’t matter that much.





We headed off again towards the Louvre, still in single file. We got to an intersection where we were given some instructions, but being towards the back Mum and I didn’t really hear them. I’d kind of figured from inference and what I’d heard that upon the guide’s instruction, we were supposed to take off as fast as we could around the corner. So when he said go, I shot off like a rocket and left everyone else behind lol! Still, we all made it around in the end.

Once we got to the area between Champs d’Elysee and the Louvre, we had to get off and walk the bikes through, as only pedestrians were allowed in there. This is the point in the tour where they normally stop for lunch at a nice open air café, but not today with the freezing temperatures and snow! Instead we stopped at the Louvre courtyard and went into the galleries there. It was crowded but we managed to order and find a table in the end, then make it back to the meeting place relatively on time.

The snow had gotten heavier while we were having lunch, so we rugged up again and set off. We started with a walk around the courtyard area. We were amazed to find that the guys trying to sell Eiffel Tower keyrings etc still bothered us, and even our guide!







We got back on the bikes and headed off again. We passed the Joan of Arc statue.



Unfortunately I wasn’t quite ready when the group took off, the lights went red, and Mum and I got stuck! Nobody seemed to be stopping, so we took off up the footpath on our side of the road, and eventually we were able to cross the road and catch up. It was a bit scary though! From then on I didn’t try to take any photos while we were going along lol!

We didn’t really stop anywhere on the way back. We rode on Champs d’Elysee for a couple of hundred metres, then passed by Grande Palais and Petit Palais, before heading back via Invalides. We stopped halfway down Champ de Mars on the way back, and were given a photo opportunity in front of the Eiffel Tower while the guide made arrangements for our return.





Before long we were back at the bike shop, returning our bikes and heading our separate ways. We gave the guide a tip despite him nearly losing me and Mum lol! He had made it a fun tour.

Dad was pretty keen to head back to the hotel after the ride. We’d all just about frozen solid on the ride, and the weather wasn’t showing any signs of letting up. We decided we’d come back that night to see the Eiffel Tower lit up (which is something I really wanted to do).

Continued in next post...
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Old 03-13-2013, 05:33 AM   #71
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Day 11 - Riding Along on Our Push Bikes

Continued...

When we got back to the hotel, Dad had a nap, while Mum and I went for a wander around the local area. We asked at the hotel about local shopping and cafes, and the lady there said that being a Sunday, we’d struggle to find any shops open, but there were shops and cafes if we just walked straight down the road heading away from the river. We soon came across this big wall.



We walked along a bit further and found a nice looking café where we thought we might have some afternoon tea. Neither of us could decide on a dessert, so we shared two between us. One was like a chocolate lava cake with vanilla bean ice-cream, and the other was a crème brulee. I got a hot chocolate with mine, which it turned out I had to make myself lol!







When we got back to the hotel Dad was still asleep, so we all had a bit of a rest and some facebook time. Eventually it got dark, and we thought that we really should get going, so we woke Dad up and headed off. We were getting very familiar with the trek to the Eiffel Tower by now!

We walked along the river and crossed over when we got to the bridge. We wanted to be a bit further away so we could see the whole tower at once when it sparkled. We’d timed it quite well, and only had about 10 minute to wait. In the meantime I took some photos of the regular lights.





Then before we knew it, the sparkling started – it was actually a couple of minutes early! There were lots of oohs and aahs from the people around us.





Once the sparkles had finished, it was time for dinner! We thought we’d make our way back to the hotel and just go somewhere local for dinner. We went to a place a few doors down from our hotel, and had to wait about 10 minutes for a table. It seemed to be a bit of a seafood specialty place, and it was quite nice. I think I had some sort of fish (I’ve never eaten so much fish!).

It was relatively late by the time we finished dinner, so we headed straight back to the hotel to get organised for another move the next day before getting a decent night’s sleep.
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Old 03-13-2013, 07:39 AM   #72
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Paris

She was called Violet Beauregarde, and I took a picture in case I lost her among the other bikes on the tour!





Ohhh!!! How appropriate! We've gone from Narnia into Willie Wonka! White Witch to Oompa Loompa!!


Sorry....I couldn't resist that left turn at Albuquerque!



Back on track now.


Bicycling seems like a great way to see the city. Love the tower at night.
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Old 03-13-2013, 09:05 PM   #73
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Ohhh!!! How appropriate! We've gone from Narnia into Willie Wonka! White Witch to Oompa Loompa!!


Sorry....I couldn't resist that left turn at Albuquerque!



Back on track now.


Bicycling seems like a great way to see the city. Love the tower at night.


It was a great way to get around - Europe is much more bike-friendly than Australia. Would have been nice if it was a bit warmer though
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Old 03-13-2013, 10:03 PM   #74
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Day 12 - Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Paris – DLP

Today we were up relatively early as our tour of the Eiffel Tower was due to leave at 10am, and after that we were off to DLP! We got ready, packed the last of our things, had breakfast and checked out (but left the luggage at the hotel), and walked outside to see SNOW EVERYWHERE! Walking across the bridge to the Gare d’Austerlitz station, we took about twice as long as usual, trying not to slip on the ice lol! When we got off at Champs de Mars/Tour Eiffel, we were greeted by a completely white path, covered in mainly virgin snow!





We had great fun on our walk to the Eiffel Tower! This snow was easy to walk on since it hadn’t been compacted yet. We arrived at the tower to see snow still sticking to parts of the structure.



Walking up to our meeting place, I saw signs saying that opening had been delayed due to the snow and frost. When we got to the meeting place, we didn’t see any tour guides (we were looking for someone in a red beanie) or other tourists. We were about 15 minutes early (as per the instructions on the paperwork), so we stood around waiting for a while. I was thinking that surely if the tour had been cancelled they would have let us know. There were some women giving people information about the delay, so I thought I’d ask them if they knew anything about the tour. Just as I was talking to them, the man with a red beanie walked in!

We went to check in, and soon our actual guide joined us too – looked like she’d been off trying to get information. Apparently the tower might open at 10:30am-11am. We waited until 10:30am, and a few more people joined us. Just standing around for so long, we were all turning into iceblocks. At 10:30am the guide went off again to get some more information. She came back and said there was still a possibility that they’d open at 11am, so suggested we go and have coffee and meet back there at 11am.

We went off with another solo Aussie that had joined the group. She was from Sydney and was there for a work conference. We enjoyed sitting in a heated room, drinking our hot beverages, and having a chat, but before long it was time to go again.

On our way back to the tower, we saw the guide. She had been coming to get us to inform us that they would have to cancel the tour for the morning as the opening had been delayed again, and might not be until after lunch now. She said that we could come back for another try at 2pm, but as we all had other plans for the afternoon, we had to arrange to get refunds. We said that if we found ourselves with some spare time during the week, we’d call the tour company and arrange to tag onto one of their other tours. But I knew that we wouldn’t come back into the city.

I was disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to go up, as I hadn’t had a ‘view’ of Paris yet. After all, we’d never been back to climb the tower at Notre Dame, and we hadn’t even gone to the top of the Arc de Triomphe! We decided that we would go and visit the Arc de Triomphe, so at least I’d get a view of Paris from one vantage point. While we were at the Eiffel Tower, I took a few more photos and Mum looked in the official souvenir shop. The snow was definitely melting, just not quickly enough for us!







We made our way back to Champs de Mars/Tour Eiffel station. By then our white path along the river had gotten a bit slushy and slippery! We managed to find out which train to take and station to get off, and found the platform. This would be the only time we took a metro train (the rest were all RERs)! It was a nice quick ride, and soon we were on our way again. Only, it took us about 10 minutes just to get out of the station lol! It seemed to be quite a big junction, and it was crazy with all the platforms and different kind of trains and lines. Anyway, on the way through we found the line we needed to get back to the hotel (which happened to be the same one we would need for DLP), and that was nice and close to the exit/entry!

There was no line at all to go to the top of Arc de Triomphe. We just walked up to the ticket office, bought our tickets, then climbed the stairs. We made it all the way up without stopping, which I was pleased with.



We came out in the bridge area, directly above the courtyard. There was a camera there where we could see the activity going on directly beneath us.



We walked up some more stairs, and on this level was a bit more information about the structure and all the sculptures that are part of it.



Then we climbed the final lot of stairs and came out at the very top. There were warnings everywhere about it being slippery due to the weather conditions, and one side was completely closed off. It didn’t affect the views though, and we thoroughly enjoyed wandering around and taking it all in.









The good thing about the view from here, as opposed to the Eiffel Tower? That you could actually see the Eiffel Tower lol!



After we’d had a good look around, we climbed back down the stairs. I always hate going downstairs and was holding onto that handrail like my life depended on it! Eventually we made it down to the bottom safe and sound, and made our way back to the train station.

Unfortunately we’d ended up on the wrong platform, and caught the right train, but it was going the wrong way! Anyway, we realised when we got to the next station, and promptly disembarked and found the right platform. Then we were really on our way. This train was going directly to Gare de Lyon station, which was handy as it was the one just across the road from our hotel. Also, since it was the same train we would need for DLP, we could find out where we needed to go once we’d collected our luggage.

Getting out at Gare de Lyon was also a mission! But eventually we made it, and had a bite to eat at the station before going to get our luggage. We were actually right on schedule still. Although we’d saved time by not doing the Eiffel Tower tour, by the time we’d hung around there, then gone to the Arc de Triomphe, it was actually around the same time as if we’d have just done the tour. We grabbed our bags and headed back to the platform we’d gotten off at. If I thought it was a mission getting out, it was more of a mission getting in with our suitcases!



Soon our train arrived, and we got some great seats right next to the door with plenty of room for our luggage. As we went further out, we noticed that it seemed to be starting to snow again. We watched the stations go past, and eventually got off at Val d’Europe. It was really snowing again by then, so we hurried across the street to the hotel, checked in, and soon were up at our room. It was a nice big, modern room, and the beds were nice and comfy.





We decided to take the next shuttle to Disneyland. They weren’t that regular in the middle of the day, and it was a while until the next one, so we thought we’d get a hot beverage in the hotel bar before we left.





Then it was time to find the bus stop, which happened to be just across the road.







While we were waiting for the bus, we saw a curious kind of procession happening on the other side of the road. There was a group of little kids, all in costumes underneath their coats, and a few adults in costumes too, and a couple of older men in Robin Hood type costumes with a pan pipe type instrument and a drum thing. Then they all started dancing off down the road. Not long after that the bus arrived.



We couldn’t see anything on the way. The bus windows had stickers on them, and between that and the snow, everything just looked white and fuzzy lol! We made two more stops on the way, but there weren’t many people. Then I recognised that we were heading into Disney property, and pulling up at the bus stop.

Continued in next post...
__________________

TRIPS TAKEN
March 2011 DLR Engagement (HoJo & Peacock Suites) TR - March 2012 HKDL Honeymoon (HKDL Hotel) TR - Feb 2013 DLP (Hotel l'Elysee) & HKDL (Hollywood Hotel) TR - Aug/Sep 2014 RunDisney 10k DLR (DI&S & Portofino) TR

TRIPS IN PLANNING
Sep 2015 RunDisney Half DLR PTR - 2016 Shanghai Disneyland Opening Day PTR
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Old 03-13-2013, 10:08 PM   #75
zanzibar138
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Day 12 - Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Continued...

We got out and followed the crowds, went through bag check and headed to Disneyland! The snow was really setting in by now.





We headed through the turnstiles with our emailed passes with a big welcome from the CM there, and we were in, looking at Main Street station!



We wandered around in the area for a while, trying to find the AP office, then picked up a map and tried to find it on there, but with no luck. So our first stop was City Hall, to ask for directions lol! The first CM we spoke to had no idea what we wanted and went to get her supervisor. He understood what we were after and pointed us in the right direction. Anyway, the AP office was right actually in the park, next to the castle and kind of at the entrance to Discoveryland. Anyway, we were on a mission to get these passes first and foremost, so we walked right down Main Street USA.





The line for APs was out the door!



We were standing outside for about 5 minutes, then once we were inside the line went very quickly. We were called up to the English speaking desk, and it took about 10 minutes for everyone’s APs to be processed. Mum wasn’t prepared for a photo and was upset that she hadn’t had time to do her hair lol!

After we’d gotten our APs, Mum decided that she wanted to buy an umbrella. I remembered about the arcades, and we wandered up one side, stopping at a few shops as we passed. We passed the frozen water feature in front of Plaza Gardens on the way.



Mum bought her umbrella and some socks (since she’d decided she needed an extra layer on her feet). We came out in front of the station about 15 minutes before the parade was due to begin, so we thought we may as well hang around and watch it. We got a spot under the veranda near City Hall. We knew people would get in front of us, but we weren’t willing to stand out in the snow for it. And since we were under cover, I could use my good camera. I was actually surprised that they still put the full parade on with the weather how it was!





























We all enjoyed the parade, though I do think Hong Kong’s is better. After the parade, we wandered through the arcade on the other side, stopping at the Emporium on the way through. I bought a cute cat bowl that has Disney cats on it.

Continued in next post...
__________________

TRIPS TAKEN
March 2011 DLR Engagement (HoJo & Peacock Suites) TR - March 2012 HKDL Honeymoon (HKDL Hotel) TR - Feb 2013 DLP (Hotel l'Elysee) & HKDL (Hollywood Hotel) TR - Aug/Sep 2014 RunDisney 10k DLR (DI&S & Portofino) TR

TRIPS IN PLANNING
Sep 2015 RunDisney Half DLR PTR - 2016 Shanghai Disneyland Opening Day PTR
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