Oh my god, it is pretty hot. I think I got a sunburn. Tomorrow I’m going farther north, for sure.
After hanging around in the bar until about 1AM Paris time watching teenagers drink and play Jenga with the largest and noisiest blocks ever, it was time to interrupt the honeymooners. I timed eveything well, or the door was locked for a reason. At any rate, It was about one million degrees celsius in my room last night. I had a top bunk for showing up last, of course. So, it was a degree or two hotter than normal. In the morning, I met my roommates, a nice couple from Birmingham, UK and a gentleman from Ireland who came in later than I did, but had checked in earlier. The single dude didn’t stick around long. The room had a toilet and a shower, an upgrade from my hostel in London. The bed was more comfortable despite the heat. I suppose it should be for about three times the price as the London one…
My goal today was to walk around Paris and see all the touristy stuff. I forgot to apply sunscreen and left it in my pack in my room, of course. So I got pretty sunburnt no matter how much I tried to stay in the shade.
At first, I just picked a random direction and went that way. I was walking away from the city, but I bought a pastry and an apple for breakfast along the way. The pastry was delicious. I felt successful in purchasing these items without knowing any French except merci. Oui! I walked about a kilometer (okay, I don’t know how far) and crossed over a lovely canal in search of the palace de bitche. Oh! French words that sound like English swear words joke! I never found it because I ended up following the canal back towards the city center instead. My general plan was to walk to the Arc de Triomphe and see some other stuff that’s around there, like some tower and some church and some musem.
I walked and walked and walked and walked. Past lovely french stuff all over the place. I eventually arrived at one part of the Galleries Lafayette and saw a cool-looking cathedral. I took a stroll. In that direction, made my way through the thousand-way intersection and sat on a bench for a while. The cathedral was relatively normal-looking, but somewhat interesting, given that it was IN FRANCE!! But now for the juicy part of the story. As I was sitting framing up a picture, a mostly attractive, possibly French lady gave me a little smile, which I, of course, returned. She kept walking and I kept sitting on my bench. She made her way around the little loop and, on her way back, smile #2! I’m too thick still to get these hints (or maybe the tale that British romance novelist told us of Gandhi’s son’s wife vowing to never fall in love again after he was assassinated is still stuck in my head) so I missed my chance for a fling in Paris if there was a chance at all. The first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one, right?
After a few more minutes of rest, I got up and started heading towards the Arc de Triomphe. I didn’t expect much, so I was pleasantly surprised by the work of art when I happened upon it. It won’t look the same in the pictures or video I took, and for that, I’m sorry for you. I think it’s quite a fitting tribute to those that have died in wars. To think about the amount of work that went into carving the bricks that make up the arc is really astounding. The details of the roof are particularly enchanting. Plus it’s in the middle of the biggest roundabout ever. The only way to get to it is by tunnel or risking your life at the middle of the intersection of literally one million rues (that’s French for road!). Literally.
After the Arc, I made my way the long way around to the Eiffel Tower. All the museums are closed on Tuesdays, so it seems all that French people can do is smoke and lounge around on chairs in front of cafe’s and on lawns (the English still rule this skill). That’s cool. My first view of the tower was from the northwest, in the middle of some plaza/museum I can’t remember or look up right now. I also bought one of those french sandwiches on a baguette. Ouef something. So, egg sandwich. It was pretty rad to eat a French sandwich on some French plaza near the Eiffel tower.
I made the short trek across the Seine River to the Eiffel Tower itself. Again, the impressiveness of the structure is not due to the size, but the construction methods. An entirely steel structure (750 metrice shit-tonnes of steel!) built this awesomely in 1889. Ridiculous. I know Rick Steves said not to bother, but I decided to go up the tower anyhow. But not before I purchased the most delicious treat ever, pistache glacÚ. I did get to have a Parisian fling after all, but the object of my love was a pistachio soft ice cream cone. I ate it while I waited in line for the stairs and it made my wait the most glorious thing I’ve done on my trip. Maybe just beacause it was 90 friggin’ degrees outside.
I got in a paid my euros to climb 400 stairs and get a hundred or so metres higher above the city of love. Unfortunately, I had no one to propose to or make out with, so I just contented myself with walking around an observing the city and taking photos IN FRANCE!! After an hour or so of hanging out on the Eiffel Tower, I made my way back down and enjoyed the use of a free public toilet, a rarity in Paris. Gee, I wonder why my fair city had to sell their automated toilets at a hefty loss?
After the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower, I thought I should pay my respects to Notre Dame. I walked that direction and happened upon the war museum, it was a little late to justify paying 8.50 euros to see some old armor and Napoleon’s tomb, so I just passed through the free part and made my way past the closed Louvre (next time!) to Notre Dame. I made it there just to hear the 5:45 bell toll. I sat around and waited for the 6:00 bell toll. It was kind of anticlimactic, actually.
After 8 hours of walking around in the hot sun, it was time to start heading back. I went up Rue St. Martin, which had some cool shops and what not. I happened upon some other cathedral with it’s doors wide open, so I just waltzed in and checked out the scene. Apparently, I missed the improvised music festival by two days, which I was sorely dissappointed about. Ah well, keep walking!
I passed the falafel place in favor of risking my chances in my neighborhood near Place Stalingrad (seriously. The French name their crazy angled streets after anything they respect, Winston Churchill, Newton, Crimea, all kinds of stuff). On the way back, I remembered I should probably get my eurail pass validated and get a reservation for tomorrow. So, I went back to Gare du Nord an got in line at 7:23 or so.
At 8:45, I had a validated pass and a ticket to Brussels tomorrow at 10:25. Why Brussels? I don’t know. Adventure!
After getting my train ticket, I walked back to the hostel thinking I’d look up some vegetarian food. Screw it, I just walked up the block and started trying to translate French menus. Eventually I found a place where the host sort of spoke English and he assured me they had some things. I ended up with a salad, rice, some chips, a coke and some random bread pieces. It was pretty cheap and the restaurant might be translated as “the love of delicious” or maybe not, since I don’t speak French. I made due.
After eating, I took a walk back up the canal. It turns out the French way to eat dinner is to make a picnic and eat it with a group on the concrete edge of the canal. I took a seat with the picnicers and dipped my poor feel in the cool water of the canal, saying ahhhhh while looking for blisters. Seriously, I think I walked a hundred thousand light years. Hyperbole!
Now I’m sitting in the hostel bar listening to contemporary and somewhat old school American hip hop. This is much better than last night’s selection of electronic stuff.
So, since I’m leaving France tomorrow, what have I learned about Paris? Take public transportation, bring a girl, start drinking coffee at least, eat more ice cream, look out for scooters (they are insane and rule the road), my wallet is made for euros by accident, go to the Louvre, see everything.
Tomorrow, random Brussels. I don’t know what to do there. Let’s see what happens!