Following the success of The Berlin Tourism Enthusiasts, I decided to turn it up to 11 in Paris. I loved it in Berlin, but truth be told I was itching to move on and explore.
One of my biggest sources of anxiety about this trip was wondering how well I’d handle travelling alone. It’s still too early to tell, but the signs are promising. Being introverted helps I think. Anyway, I was really looking forward to having a bit more independence and exploring Paris at my own pace. Turns out the pace I wanted was 100% relentless.
I arrived by bus around 10:30pm on Wednesday, figured out the Paris metro, and proceeded to a hostel that would be my base camp for the next four nights. It was the cheapest hostel I could find. I got to my room (an empty 12 bunk dorm) and sat down for no more than 5 minutes before the door swung open and in walked my friend Cukia Kimani!
Neither of us could believe it! After AMAZE Cukia headed to the Netherlands for a few days while I stayed in Berlin. Turns out he was on his way back to Cape Town and had an overnight layover in Paris, and he just happened to book the same room in the same hostel as me! What a weird and wonderful coincidence! It really is a small world, huh?
Anyway, the following day I took the 30 minute metro ride into the city center (turns out the cheap hostels aren’t right next to Notre Dame, who’d a thunk it?) and did another free walking tour. Again this worked really well. The guide wasn’t as good as in Berlin, but it was still a great way to get a feel for the important landmarks and historical events. I think these high impact tours are a great starting point to explore a city. I also think that they’re about as much tour-guiding as I can handle. Over the last few days I’ve walked past dozens of tour groups and felt genuinely sorry for the people trapped in them. It might just be that I’m culturally ignorant (I’ve definitely felt this way a bunch recently), but I can acknowledge that I’m not interested in knowledge as much as I’m interested in experiences. I don’t want to listen to a 10 minute lecture about the history of this tapestry (fascinating as it may be) because I’m going to see forty more tapestries before the day is done. I want to go see what’s behind this column, or at the end of this passageway instead. Learning is for nerds anyway.
After the walking tour I decided to keep walking. I walked through the Jarden des Tuileries, over the Place de la Concorde and then followed the Champs Elysees all the way to the Arc de Triomphe. Aforementioned Arc is very big and impressive. I would rave about it, but I’ve since become so desensitized to big and impressive that I’m basically expecting every urinal in Europe to be accompanied by a six foot marble figure honouring the roman god of indoor plumbing.
Following my walk I decided to walk some more. Paris is very low, (as in there are laws regulating the number stories you can build) except for one thing; the Eiffel Tower. Because I could see it (and felt obliged to take several crappy selfies with it), I walked to the Eiffel Tower. I didn’t go to the top. I probably would have if you were allowed to take the stairs all the way though.
Following my walk after my walk I decided to walk some more. The other thing that breaks the Paris skyline (I lied about there only being one thing earlier) is the Montparnasse tower, which is nicked-named “The mole of Paris” for this very reason. I had a vague idea of going to the top of the tower and seeing the city and the Eiffel Tower with all the lights on. So I wandered in that general direction. This walk took me through a very nice part of town. A very livable part of town with actual people going about their actual lives. A far cry from the city center where every building is a towering priceless relic with historical significance.
Along the way I bought some very French groceries and enjoyed a dinner of baguette and cheese. Now that I’m not seeing friends all day and night, my eating habits have taken a large turn in the low-budget direction.
When I finally made it to the tower I decided not to go up because:
A) It was really expensive.
B) It was still sunny out (despite being 9pm).
C) I really wanted to go home and be off my feet instead.
So I went back to the hostel and slept.