Paris j’taime! And I’m not talking about the movie. No siree! I’m talking about the REAL thing. Paris. The city of love. The city of lights. The home to Napoleon, Marie Antionette, Audrey Tautou, Coco Chanel, the Eiffel Tower, the Mona Lisa… and hopefully one day ME!
I arrived in the city on an overcast October 4 via train. To be completely honest, when I got off the train I nearly cried. I didn’t really know what to do. Didn’t know how to take the metro or even how to ask in French how to buy a ticket. I payed the 0.70Euro to go use the bathroom at the train station and sat in the stall for a good 10 minutes trying not to cry. I eventually talked myself out of it, grabbed my 50lbs worth of bags, marched up to the counter and luckily the lady spoke some English to me. I ended up buying a single day ticket for that day and then a 3 day pass for the remainder of my stay in the city. Soon after, I made my way through the labyrinth of hallways and eventually found the metro train I had to be on. I made the proper connection and within 20minutes I was walking back up to street level, coming face to face with the Moulin Rouge! I’m not going to lie, I was pretty much peeing my pants at this point out of sheer excitement.
I remembered from studying MapQuest that I had to walk up Rue Lepic and then I had to turn right on Rue des Abbesses. I knew that shortly thereafter I was going to have to turn right again on a little side street — but of course forgot the name of that particular street. I figured I would simply look out for the hostel sign saying Plug-Inn Hostel. Sure enough, I ended up walking WAY past it. To the point where I was an entire metro stop back in the direction I had already come from! By this point, I was literally sweating my ass off, despite the lovely cool temperature, the 35lb backpack on my back and the 15lb daypack with my camera gear and laptop on my front were becoming too heavy for me to handle. I saw a woman getting out of a taxi and I quickly walked over and asked the driver “Excuse moi, parlez-vous anglais?” to which he quickly and helplessly said “non”. FUCK. The woman, luckily for me, came over and asked me what I needed help with. I explained that I had gotten lost and could not find where I needed to be and asked if she knew where the Plug-Inn Hostel was since it was supposed to be off of the street we were standing on (Rue des Abbesses). She apologized and said that she didn’t know of such hotel/hostel and wished me luck. The taxi driver handed me his gps and I was able to punch in the name of the hotel and it quickly showed up stating that I was 1.7km away. At this point, there was no way in hell I was going to be walking 1.7km further with 50lbs hanging off me. I chucked my gear into his trunk and within 5minutes we were there. I thanked him profusely and apologized for my bad French skills.
Now… for anyone traveling to Paris and trying to do so on a budget, I highly recommend the Plug-Inn Hostel. I was in a 4person dorm room that had it’s own private bathroom. There was free wifi throughout the hostel, computers to use in the lobby, 24hr security, and a free breakfast offered until 10am every morning. I think I paid something in the 30Euros/night range, and I felt it was well worth it. Plus it’s very clean and decorated very stylishly.
Back to our regularly scheduled program… So I checked in and settled into my room (conveniently on the 2nd floor… yay only 1 flight of stairs!). I checked my emails and after about an hour or so, I was starting to feel like I should be doing something other than being holed up in my hostel. It was now dark out and I wasn’t quite sure what I should do, how to get anywhere… and was having a moment of realization (again) that I was completely alone in this massive city. Cue the door opening, enter Dan.
Dan, a fellow Canadian, quickly noticed the Canadian flag patch on my bag and said “Another Canadian, eh? We’re like cockroaches!” We got to talking and before I knew it I had made a friend and we were off to go check out the Eiffel Tower!
I was seriously freaking out once we got to the Eiffel Tower. For as long as I could remember, going to Paris was a dream of mine and I couldn’t believe I was actually there. Unfortunately in my rush out of the room, I forgot to bring my tripod, so the majority of my night shots of the Eiffel Tower are blurry… oh well. Dan and I went all the way to the very top and spent a good hour and a half up there. It was incredible and beautiful.
As we were leaving to go check out the Canadian pub at Place St. Michel (across town) a very persistent asshole placed a rose in my hand and continued on to make Dan pay for it. I felt awful and tried handing back the flowers continuously saying that I did not want them and that Dan wasn’t going to pay for them… he gave the asshole some chump change and we continued on our way. After walking for quite a while and taking the metro and RER to Place St. Michel he laughed as he noticed that I was still carrying the flowers. I had felt bad that he had to pay and therefore felt really bad throwing them away… but by that point I really did want to get rid of them, and he assured me that he wasn’t going to be offended if the roses found a new home in the trash.
The Great Canadian Pub! I had heard so much of this place from Dan that night, and my mom had sent me an email earlier in my trip that a couple friends of my dad recommended this Canadian bar to check out in Paris. I was very excited cause I noticed that on their cocktail board they had Bloody Caesars. The owner/bartender came over to take my order as I got settled in and I very happily and excitedly said “I’d LOVE to have a Bloody Caesar, please.” …. to which I got the lovely explanation that they were currently out of Clamato and would not be getting any in for at the very soonest a couple weeks. Cue my utter disappointment. Instead, Dan and I enjoyed some Moosehead… I suppose it was the next best thing… but man… I was looking sooooo forward to having a Caesar. Oh well. We stayed for an hour or so, got to know each other a bit, and spoke with the owner (whom I told that one day I would move to Paris and I would work for him! He laughed and agreed that the job would be there when I got back). By this point it was probably 1am or so and I had a pretty jam packed day of sightseeing the next day… so we went back to the hostel and went to sleep.
I just remember thinking “I can’t believe I’m actually here, I’m actually doing this… I can’t believe it.” After a rocky start to my solo travels through Paris, I was feeling a lot more confident and was pretty pleased with myself that I had made a friend so easily and quickly. I knew that this was just the start to my fabulous Parisian adventure.