Europe Trip – Paris, France
Day 12 (may 20)
Wooooo onto a new country!! After sending Teresa off on her way and finally having it all hit me that I’m gonna be alone travelling now without one of my best friends, I collected myself (yes tears were shed at the boarding gate with her) and began to explore the airport for things I need to restock on. Shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, bandaids and a shirt (not necessarily needed) later and I was comfortable at my gate, charging my phone on the ground and waiting to board. Flight time = sleep. Only an hour and a bit and I’d be waking up in Paris, France. Crazy I know!
Arrived in France, caught the train from the terminal into the city to Gare Du Nord, which is a 5min walk away from my hostel St. Christopher’s. Check-in, rent a towel, head upstairs and lie on my bed for a bit. Attempt to regroup my thoughts and go throw all my ideas for Paris (I have an endless amount written down in my phone), then realize it is already 7pm and I haven’t eaten a decent meal all day. Luckily the hostel has a large bar/restaurant on the main level called Belushi’s that the hostel chain is famous for around the work. BONUS: 25% off on all food there… so yep, that’s my next plan.
Head downstairs and see a table that can seat up to 6 so I ask if I can sit as well seeing as a Asian man was already there. He said yes, and this begun the normal introductions of where we are both from (he’s from South Korea originally but is from the states and just quit his engineer job to travel the world), our names and what our travels have been like. Inevitably this led to other solo travelers asking to grab a spot at our table and join in on the conversation. Eventually after some awesome pub-style food we all decided to hangout at Belushi’s for the night and continue making new friends while easing into a new home in Paris for the week.
Day 13 (may 21)
A very late night hanging out in the hostel restaurant/bar of course led to a late morning start for the day. Though I was annoyed at myself for this, it actually ending being a great thing to happen seeing as I got to meet my first roommate in my shared dorm room. An unbelievably sweet girl from Uruguay, Estefania (or Stef as I liked to call her) and I hit it off right from the start already agreeing to meet up later on that day after we both do our own thing venturing out and getting settled in.
And I’m off… ready to have my first officially full day in Paris! Since it is beautiful out I decide to take advantage and jump on the metro to the Eiffel Tower. Come out of the transit station and I am stunned, there it is in all its glory right along the Seine where I get to walk and take in all the beauty that is around me. Endless photos are taking and another solo traveller and I decide to take each other’s photo in front of it. From here it only seems best to jump on the river boat cruise and venture only the Seine to see the sites and get a glimpse of what is to come. Plus: for 10 euro I got the scenic cruise for the hour, a crepe, olives, and a Heineken (score!)
Upon docking back at the Eiffel, I decide to walk under it and people watch everyone lying out on the grass taking in the spectacle. This leads me to a cute street with French shops, cafes and restaurants – so of course I find myself heading into an authentic cuisine place for a satisfying meal. Afterwards I stop in at a local wine shop to grab a bottle of French wine (2 euro option wins!) and then make my way back to the metro to go back to the hostel.
Meet up with Stef back in our room and we then get introduced to our other roommate Sandy who is from Ottawa (yay fellow canadian) – she’s just arrived from Scotland so definitely needs her rest and opts to stay in while we head out for dinner.
Some food, drinks, a random limbo game, girl bonding, dancing and a few new friends later and we head back to the room to sleep for a solid night’s rest for the next day.
Day 14 (may 22)
Today is the day for the Louvre! Or so I thought…
Naturally I indulge in the free breakfast downstairs which is provided by the hostel. Nothing fancy but regardless, FREE bread ham cheese juice coffee and cereal sounds like a freakin’ bargain to me. On the way to the metro to catch the two lines to the Louvre and hopefully beat some of the crowd – though I am behind considering yesterday’s shenanigans from walking all day made me sleep in till 10 again (mental note: need to set an alarm). Once I get off the metro and into the building that connects visitors to the Louvre, I find a small Museum shop that seems to sell tickets but doesn’t have a line. Thankfully the girl is from Quebec so my brutal attempt at speaking French is taking kindly. She ends up noting that since it is Sunday, the museum closes extremely early and though I can still go in it may be best to back on Monday so I can get a full day in.
Of course I take her advice and instead decide to explore all the unique shops and boutiques within the linked-Louvre building. It was so different – enormous places dedicated to decadent chocolate that were upwards of 400 cdn dollars each (Sarah you would’ve loved this!), a stunning tea shop with an endless assortment of every flavour you could imagine, fancy shmancy stores that I could never afford (ahem.. one day maybe), a photography boutique, Paris living shops, sculptures and wall murals everywhere. This in itself was even an experience regardless of the louvre being so close by with world artifacts. After all my perusing and window shopping, I placed myself at a cafe upstairs, grabbed a cappuccino and began to plan the next few days of my time in Paris.
Arriving back at the hostel, I headed to my room to see if any of my roommates may want to come to a musical show with me that night that was happening not too far away (for once I could actually walk it completely rather than metro). Sandy was feeling exhausted and Stef wasn’t back yet from the French Open that day (she had tickets for three days at the famous tennis event, lucky her!!) So I decided to purchase my ticket online, print downstairs and make my way over for the 815pm show.
Okay so the show was spectacular. The performers were so talented, beautiful voices and awesome dancers. So many people were enjoying the show on their own like me (with the few exceptions of the large elderly group of Aussies and a group of young high-schoolers from the states). With my ticket I got a half bottle of champagne – don’t mind if I do – and a cute, dimly lit table in the center area. I was feeling really classy tonight, champagne at a show does not typically happen in Hamilton.
Once back at St. Christopher’s I found stef and sandy upstairs who were wanting to head out to grab a late night snack and a beer. So out again I went with the girls, where Stef grabbed McDonald’s while sandy and I got a 2 euro Heineken (yep they sell this at mcd’s in europe). Afterwards we went back to the hostel to relax and rest.
Day 15 (may 23)
Second attempt at making it to the Louvre happens and this time I get in. It is pouring like crazy outside and of course the umbrella I bought decided to go inside out and bail on me. Into the garbage it went. Luckily an extremely nice girl from Singapore asked if I wanted to share hers while we wait in line together to get in. We both end up discovering we are both travelling alone through Europe, staying at different hostels though, and thankfully had both bought our tickets beforehand so we go to go in the fast line.
Once in we both agreed to head straight for the Mona Lisa as it is something you HAVE to do when in Paris, regardless of how excited you are or not. Ventured through the crowd to the front, saw her, took our photos, and both agreed that though we’re happy we can cross it off the bucket list… there are so many other exhibits in the Louvre that we are already more impressed by. BUT who are we to judge really… our opinion on the Mona Lisa definitely is not valid. Afterwards us two girls decide to part ways after exchanging Facebook information and explore the museum on our own.
A little over 3 hours later and I am finally exhausted and done with taking in all the Louvre has to offer. So many amazing sculptures, paintings and artifacts, but now my stomach is grumbling and this girl needs food quick. Decide to go for the restaurant inside the building attached to the museum – bad choice… tasted great but a rip off. Full and satisfies, back to the hostel I go.
Seeing as it is my 4th day in Paris, it is pouring rain, and the tiredness from very little sleep the past few days/nights, I decide to be very non-tourist and watch one of my favourite movies on my tablet. This being Ratatouille… which (a) is based around Paris and (b) is therefore acceptable to watch while in this city. With a glass of the wine I bought previously I relax for two hours in bed and enjoy a good movie.
Once Stef got back from another full day at the French Open and Sandy had come back from her day out, we headed down to the hostel restaurant for some food and a drink for Sandy’s last night. Here we found out that they’re playing a rerun of the Raptors playoff game against Cleveland so naturally Sandy and I freaked out and watched as much of it as we could see. Time to head back to our room to sleep after another great day.