Originally I had planned to take a ferry across the channel, a longer, but much more romantic ride than a quick hop thru the Chunnel…unfortunately, with time as my enemy, I had to be practical. What would have once taken weeks, takes me a few hours. London to Paris direct. As I step off the train, what I decided to do really hits home. I’m alone in another country, where I speak absolutely none of their language. I’m intimidated by the stories I’ve heard of Parisians, and worried that I may be way over my head. As I spin around, trying to get my bearings, I hear someone shouting my name. It’s a girl and her boyfriend that I had met in my hostel on the first day I was in London. They had left the following morning, and gone to Paris, and now we’re on their way to Spain. Our meeting was quick, a “hello, you’ll love it, goodbye”. But it was just what I needed…excited again I set off for the metro, and to find my hostel. (I won’t bore you by telling you I was lost, BUT…six years later I was able to find my way back to that same hostel, with only one wrong turn!)
Paris is a magical city, meant to stroll along, and filled with art. In Paris there are many things tat have the sole purpose of being beautiful. Things are meant to be enjoyed, savored, and appreciated.
Unfortunately with two and a half days to “see” Paris, I had little time for the true spirit of the city. I raced around, saw the Mona Lisa, Notre Dame, (where I did sit for a little bit, and watched gypsies single out their “marks”-they never did approach me, I think It was obvious I had no money.)arch de tromphe and Versailles. (The next time I visited Paris, I would actually relax, and enjoy my time.)
I never went to the Eiffel Tower, I thought it was ugly, an eyesore…and even though my hostel was in Montmartre, I never saw the sacre coure.
When I went to Versailles I happened on a day when they turned the fountains on. Walking through all the gardens, I almost expected to bump into Marie Antoinette, or a musketeer. Imagining living here is crazy. (I’ve always said I’d love to go back in time, even if I’d probably be a servant or serf…being a servant at Versailles would be amazing.) I rented a bike and zipped along the grounds. Riding along the “grand canal” I realize how much money was wasted. King Louis had it built, and stocked with gondolas, and gondoliers-imported from Venice, so his courtiers could enjoy a canal, without having to travel to Italy. Marie Antoinette had a little village built as an “escape” from her hectic court life. You can understand, and see, the huge disconnect these rulers had from their starving subjects. The causes for the French Revolution suddenly become clear.
Leaving Paris I make my biggest mistake. Military time is still new to me, and instead of showing up for my train at 19:00, I show up at 21:00…I’ve been killing time in the Latin quarter waiting to go to the train station, and now I’ve missed my overnight train. I’m almost in tears as I try to reschedule, and he clerk gently reprimands me to use French. In the end, my eight-hour overnight train direct to Venice turns into a 15 hour meandering ride. And my train doesn’t leave until the next morning. It’s late on a Saturday night, so all the hostels are full. I decide to sleep in the train station. I’ve read about how you can “rough it” and that if you have a ticket most stations will let you sleep overnight. I guess the best thing that can be said for my new, more scenic route, is that I am able to finally catch up on some much-needed sleep!